Sign of the Times: Party political "newspapers"
But another feature, which has been discussed less, is election campaign material which appears to be something else altogether.
Consider this leaflet from the Liberal Democrats, which was spotted in Winchester, and is made up to look like a local newspaper. It includes a made up title, “Mid Hampshire Gazette”, and refers to itself as a “free newspaper”.
The front page of the newspaper sings the praises of Jo Swinson and local Lib Dem candidate Paula Ferguson, and it’s only in the small print in the top right hand corner that it’s clarified that this isn’t a genuine local newspaper, but party literature.
Katie French, who edits the nearby Basingstoke Gazette said: “This is a flagrant attempt to manipulate voters by presenting them an advertisement in the form of a front page news story. Frankly it is insulting to the public who deserve better from one of the leading political parties.”
It’s far from the only example this election. The Liberal Democrats did something very similar in Lambeth, circulating campaign material in the form of a “newspaper” they called“Lambeth News”.
The Conservatives have circulated similar materials made to look like local newspapers in Pudsey, West Yorkshire and West Bromwich West. The Pudsey edition bears a passing resemblance to the Pudsey Times, a genuine local paper which previously circulated in the area.
The Conservatives have also circulated materials with the appearance of a lifestyle magazine and local newsletter, neither of which contained any party branding on the front and only stated in the smallprint at the bottom the names of the candidates they were printed on behalf of.
Another example of a campaign newspaper comes from the Brexit party, but it makes clear that “The Brexiteer” is “the newspaper of the Brexit party” and that the front page article is “by Nigel Farage”.
We’ve not seen any examples from the other parties so far, but may have missed them. Please send us any you spot by emailing email@example.com.