Cameron anger over BBC 'stupidity'
David Cameron has hit out at the BBC over the Eastleigh by-election debate, following claims the Conservatives are seeking to "hide away" Maria Hutchings.
The Tory candidate has come in for criticism after reportedly turning down the opportunity to take part in a Radio 5live debate with her rival candidates this morning.
The Conservatives say Ms Hutchings did not take part because the husting clashed with the Prime Minister's visit. But Lib Dem president Tim Farron accused the Tories of "trying to hide her away".
Speaking from the campaign trail in Eastleigh, Mr Cameron said the Tory candidate had been preparing for his visit, and accused the corporation of behaving "stupidly" over the debate.
Asked by a BBC reporter why Ms Hutchings had not taken part in the debate, Mr Cameron said she had been "doing hustings up and down the constituency".
“Maria has done hustings all over the constituency,” Mr Cameron said. “I think the BBC has behaved badly and stupidly over this from everything I’ve heard about it, but she has been doing hustings.”
The Prime Minister denied his party was seeking to "hide away" its candidate, and urged reporters to concentrate on "the substance" of the election.
“This is a totally got up thing by the BBC. You know you’re not the most important thing in this by-election – the candidates are," Mr Cameron added.
In this morning's debate, Conservative MP George Hollingbery - who stood in for Ms Hutchings - defended the Tory candidate over her suggestion that state schools could not deliver an appropriate education for her son.
She had earlier claimed it would be "impossible" for her son to be state educated because he wanted to be a surgeon.
Mr Hollingberry said Ms Hutchings faced "real challenges" at home as her two children had special education needs.
"It’s a very, very difficult choice for her to make," he said. "She would have much rather have sent all of her children to state school, but this child wasn’t getting the education he needed because of circumstances at home, because of circumstances at school."
But Labour candidate John O’Farrell accused Ms Hutchings of being out of touch with the Eastleigh voters, claiming the Conservatives "don't understand what it's like for people in state schools".