8 months, 1 week ago

Party political literature: always read the label

On our quest to find party political literature passing itself off as newspapers and magazines, our attention has been drawn to this pamphlet from the Conservatives. ‘You & your family’ bears more than a passing resemblance to real life mags like Pick me up and Chat, albeit with a political twist.

We wrote about political parties churning out fake local newspapers yesterday, and as with many of those examples, this pamphlet only seems to indicate that it originates from a political party in the small print at the bottom of the front page. And if they’re thinking of making this a regular feature, there is already a parenting magazine in the USA that shares the name.

Props to First Draft for finding this one. Please do tweet or email us at team@fullfact.org if you spot any more.

8 months, 1 week ago

Sajid Javid on homelessness

This morning on Sky News, Sajid Javid claimed that homelessness had fallen by half following a 2008 peak under Labour.

This does not seem correct. Homelessness in England was about the same in 2017 as in 2008, and has risen since 2010, by the main measure.

We’ve asked the Conservatives whether Mr Javid was referring to something else.

We’ll publish a full fact check shortly.

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.