8 months, 1 week ago

Sign of the Times: Party political "newspapers"

As sure as night follows day, an election campaign leads to a flurry of dodgy graphs being printed on campaign leaflets. 

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 team@fullfact.org.

8 months, 1 week ago

Parliament didn't block the Queen's speech

On yesterday’s Andrew Marr show, Boris Johnson claimed that “one of the reasons we’re having this election is because we have a Queen’s Speech that was blocked by parliament”.

That’s incorrect. Parliament voted in favour of the government’s Queen’s Speech in October. The speech is put forward by the government, setting out its proposed policy agenda for the new session of parliament. Losing a vote on the speech has historically been considered as parliament showing it has lost confidence in the government.

8 months, 1 week ago

The Queen: Not Dead

On Sunday night, the Queen was trending on Twitter. As one Twitter joke goes, a name trending is usually a sign of very bad news.

People were debating whether a screenshot from a WhatsApp group had announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

The WhatsApp screenshots do not have a date on them, but were posted on Sunday evening and said that the Queen’s supposed death would be announced at 9.30 am tomorrow. Considering the calm with which Monday has passed, it feels safe to say that the Queen is not dead. If something had happened to her, it would be odd for royal social accounts to be sharing photos from her grandson’s trip to Kuwait.  

However, it felt for some all too appropriate that in an era of chaotic and unpredictable news cycles, a head of state’s death might be leaked via a lads WhatsApp group.

WhatsApp has long been a source of rumours and misinformation, with monitoring the claims that spread there an almost impossible task. It’s worth taking the information found there with a pinch of scepticism.

If you’re interested in what actually happens, protocol-wise, when a monarch dies, you can read about that here.

8 months, 1 week ago

Fact checking two seven-way debates

On Friday and Sunday nights, the BBC and ITV broadcast two televised seven-way debates between leaders and other representatives of the major parties running in Great Britain: the Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Brexit Party.

We checked the parties across topics, including Brexit, the NHS, criminal justice and immigration. You can read our fact check in full here. You can also see our live fact checking responses on our Twitter account. 

For more election coverage; including fact checks of debates, manifestos, and circling misinformation, head to our 2019 election page



8 months, 1 week ago

Fact checking Boris Johnson on LBC

This morning Conservative party leader Boris Johnson took part in an audience phone-in with Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio. Full Fact was at LBC’s offices to fact check the claims the Prime Minister made. (LBC has also invited Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson to do similar phone-ins, and we will fact check them as well.)

Mr Johnson was asked about a number of topics from the NHS and social care, to police numbers and education funding. 

He was unable to provide a figure for the number of post-Brexit trade deals which have been concluded—there have been 18 ‘continuity deals’ with 48 countries, but while we’ve held preliminary discussions with some countries we can’t yet formally negotiate on ‘new’ deals. And when asked about the number of buildings which have had Grenfell-style aluminium cladding removed from them he was unable to give a figure—118 buildings have so far had work completed, with a further 318 identified as in need of work. 

He also seemed to extend a Conservative manifesto promise on tax, transforming it from a commitment to not increase the rate of income tax, national insurance and VAT, to a pledge not to increase these taxes at all. That’s something quite different.

You can read our full fact check of all Mr Johnson’s claims here.