In an interview with Nick Robinson on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday, Jeremy Corbyn answered some questions on the Scottish Referendum.
Taking a leaf out of Donald Trump's book, he said that there had been "mischievous reporting" about his position on a Scottish independence referendum, during an interview with the Press Association Scotland.
Katrine Bussey asked him:
Do you think another referendum is now inevitable given there seems to be an increasing gulf between Theresa May's hardline Brexit and Nicola Sturgeon and her demand for Scotland to stay part of the single market?
Well, if a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held.
It's not... I don't think it's the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda.
I do think we should set it in the context of the economic relationship with the rest of the UK and the question of devolution of EU powers to English regions and to Scotland, and to parts of Scotland rather than just to the government in Holyrood, because the principle of regionalism is that it goes to everybody within a region, not just to the central powers and the SNP have a bit of a tendency to centralise things around themselves.
He was asked to clarify:
If there was a vote in the Commons on holding another referendum?
We wouldn't block it.
Here's the video of his response:
Labour leader @jeremycorbyn told the Press Association it is "absolutely fine" if Scotland wants to hold a second i… https://t.co/Wf1N3fHtzq
The interview quickly gained traction, as Corbyn appeared to show support for a second referendum in Scotland, when asked a direct question about the likelihood.
The Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale made it clear she opposed this statement.
Corbyn was then asked by Robinson on BBC Radio 4:
Many people say the policy has been unclear, and they say it's particularly unclear on Scotland, with the First Minister of Scotland due to make a speech in a couple of hours time with some speculation she may even call there and then for a new referendum on independence, I'm not clear, is Labour policy in favour of this referendum or against it?
No, we're not in favour of a referendum.
Seemingly u-turning on his position.
He then clarified:
There was a bit of mischievous misreporting going on there.
He was told that the quote was accurate and was asked why he said it was fine that it should be held. Corbyn replied:
I was asked if, in Westminster, we would block the holding of a referendum. I said: ‘No, if the Scottish parliament decided they wanted to have a referendum, then that would be wrong for Westminster to block it.'
But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think there should be another referendum. I think that independence would be catastrophic for many people in Scotland.
Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief of the Press Association then refuted the claim that the transcript of the interview was inaccurate, with the Press Association providing the above video evidence of the transcript:
The only mischievous thing about this episode is the suggestion that PA has done anything beyond what it already does - accurately report what politicians say to us in an entirely impartial way.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn has since rowed back on his claim of "mischievous reporting," defining his quote as in the direction of other news outlets:
Jeremy was not referring to the Press Association, which provides a good service, in his Today interview.
He was talking about other outlets which presented what he said out of context.
Labour and Jeremy's position is clear, we oppose a second referendum, and will do so in the proper place, the Scottish Parliament. The 'absolutely fine' comment referred to a referendum agreed by the Scottish parliament. Jeremy and Labour do not want a second referendum but believe itr would be wrong for Westminster to block it.
To be clear, Corbyn did not speak clearly.
He did not once in the answer to Katrine Bussey's question say that the Labour Party currently opposes a new referendum, given that his position is that he opposes a new referendum right up until the point that Scottish Parliament votes for one.
That he failed to make clear his position, is not the fault of news outlets that accurately report his statements.