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The election has been factchecked

1st Jun 2015 | Mevan Babakar

The election has been factchecked, as we promised.

We have checked a constant stream of political claims during the past 6 weeks, analysed the manifestos in detail, and promoted these findings as widely as we could.

We've seen an incredible enthusiasm and appetite for change, with 120 volunteers donating a total of 4,192 hours to the election centre. 

Here's a look at some of our best bits...

 

General Election Factcheck 


Politics is what you do with the facts you have, depending on your priorities, your principles, your appetite for risk. The parties’ manifestos offer not just different plans for the future but different views of the present and past. Not all of them can be right. That’s why the work of Full Fact’s specialised factcheckers is so important.


We offer our General Election Factcheck 2015 as a guide to the clashes between the manifestos; the real and apparent contradictions. It is also a toolbox of information to help voters navigate through the hazards of political claims that we have spotted during the election, with concrete examples of why they matter.

 

Volunteers

Without our volunteers none of the work that we did in the election center would be possible. We would like to take this chance to thank each and every person who has given us the gift of time: thank you.

Our wonderful volunteers donated over 4,000 hours. There are only 720 hours in the whole of April! We've gone around the clock 5 times.

Collectively we watched, listened, read and raised our eyebrows at almost every factual thing that has come out in the past 6 weeks. The remarkable media monitoring operation has over 5000 reports.

This has meant that our monitoring and analysis can be done much faster — and getting a factcheck out there fast is more than half the battle.

Here's what some of our volunteers had to say: 

"As someone who normally fulfills the role of apathetic teenager, Full Fact helped to revitalise some of my faith in representative democracy because of the work they do and the way the staff and volunteers seemed to care so much about it. I felt as though I was of use and able to help out with something which is immensely useful and groundbreaking." - Freddie

"I often read claims by different politicians in the media and it has always interested me to know just how truthful they are.The answer is not very, and Full Fact is a great opportunity for me and the other volunteers to give people in the UK the whole truth. I have been looking at parties claims on the economy, immigration and cracking down on tax avoidance. I have learnt a huge amount in the short time I've been here and I am hoping we as a charity can help others understand too." - James

"Being a Media Monitoring volunteer has been a great experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to become member of a vibrant and committed team that have truth, transparency and accuracy as a priority. I am learning a lot about British politics! Having worked as a journalist, Full Fact gave me the chance to change roles and contribute for the benefit of the voters, who have the first and the last word in every election." -Vasiliki

"I've had a great time volunteering here. I've met friendly and funny people who are all passionate about their work. The experience has also been hugely beneficial for me. One of the main reasons why I volunteered is because it provides an invaluable service. In the run up to the election, people will be bombarded by all of the political parties, all putting across competing claims and facts. But Full Fact ensures that the public can cut through all of the political rhetoric." -Steven

We've had volunteers from all walks of life, from recent graduates to retirees, from digital marketing experts to senior statisticians. In the photo above are Joanna, Joe, Paul and Gurpreet, who were with us last week. Three of them are from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and one from the department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The secondments we've had from like minded organisations has been incredibly valuable. It has meant that we can bolster our analysis operations without losing any quality. It's been great to be able to lean across a desk and say "You helped compile these statistics, can you help me find this fact?"

We are so grateful to the individuals, department heads and all the organisations for valuing the work we do and allowing the secondments to take place. 

 

Live factchecking

We live factchecked like never before. We acted as an objective voice in as many live events as we could.

We checked the "Battle for Number 10", where David Cameron and Ed Miliband both got a grilling from Jeremy Paxman; the 7-way party leaders' debate on ITV and the 5-way opposition leaders' debate last Thursday on the BBC.

As well as factchecking on our own site and Twitter during the debates, we also published factchecks on BuzzFeed and the Guardian liveblog. Through them, our work was read by a much wider and more diverse audience.

 

Ever wondered how we live factcheck?

If you'd like to know more about how factchecking plays out practically, read these:

 

Behind the scenes

We factchecked the media, but we also worked with them, to make sure they had the facts when they interviewed the party leaders. Andrew Marr devoted the five minutes he had before interviewing the Prime Minister to coming to our election centre and invterviewing us. We were called upon, sometimes in the middle of the night, to help shows such as the Today Programme analyse press releases before they went on air.

We also worked behind the scenes to ensure that corrections happened fast enough to counteract the original mistake. In one instance, we got Newsnight to broadcast a correction in the same programme as its error.

 

A Case Study: Zero Hours Contracts

During a speech, Ed Miliband referred to an 'explosion of zero hours contracts', claiming that there are three times as many people on zero hours contracts than in 2010. The Conservatives responded with the claim that zero hours contracts account for just 1 in 50 jobs.

We've factchecked claims about zero hours contracts before so were well prepared for this - and in this case, as in so many others, preparation was the key.
 
We knew that the statistics do not and cannot show an 'explosion' in zero hours contracts. Comparisons of the number of people on zero hours contracts over time aren't reliable, as the Office for National Statistics has made clear. We also found that there are around 1 in 43 people on zero hours contracts, not 1 in 50.
 
We put out a factcheck and a press release quickly after Ed Miliband had made his speech. Soon after, top journalists were tweeting their favourite facts from our press release: for example that 66% of people on zero hours contracts don't want more hours.


 
We went on Sky News, BBC 5 Live and Good Morning Wales to set the record straight, and our research was quoted in the Mirror, The Sun, The Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Independent. Labour are still making their case about employment insecurity, but they've stopped using these flawed claims about zero hours contracts. 
 
Our job was done: the political argument could still happen, but now it was rooted in reality.
 

Our election podcast

We launched our first ever podcast. Over the election campaign we brought you the key claims of the week. The pilot episode featured zero hour contracts, news from the Election Centre and how much the Coalition has spent on the NHS.

 

We were spotted in...


The Telegraph columnist Sue Cameron visited us in our election centre last week. A few days later she published an article in which she christened Full Fact 'the anti-spin doctors'. You can read it here, and here's an extract: 

"...high above the Thames in the former anatomy museum of King’s College, London... There a team of researchers is working 18 hours a day during the election dissecting the claims and counter-claims emerging from the body politic. They work for a charity called Full Fact and they might best be described as anti-spin doctors.

On the walls posters proclaim: “Spurious makes us curious”; and “You spellcheck spellings – now factcheck facts.”" Read more...

On Sunday we were on the Andrew Marr Show (~36 minutes) to discuss housing – we were particularly pleased as our segment was just before a high profile interview with David Cameron.

You might also have seen us in...
The Sun, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Mirror, Buzzfeed, on local radio stations, Sky News, the Today programme, Nicky Campbell's phone in show and factchecking Victoria Derbyshire's new programme on the BBC.

 

We couldn't have done any of this without...

the donations of 1,293 people from our crowdfunding campaign, the volunteers who donated their time, our staff who gave up their social lives for months, Kings for coming to our rescue and giving us the beautiful Anatomy Theatre - and to all our readers for believing that there can be more to the General Election in 2015.

Thank you.

 


We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.