Yesterday saw the first point during the election campaign when the leaders of the two main parties went head-to-head, in a debate on ITV.
As the debate got underway, the Conservative press office changed their Twitter logo and renamed their account ‘factcheckUK’, tweeting out “fact checks” which were supportive of Boris Johnson’s claims.
The debate itself inevitably started with Brexit, with Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson clashing over their Brexit timetables, and what Mr Johnson’s deal means for the Irish border.
Next up was the NHS, with claims about nurse vacancies, the extent of government funding, and whether the Conservatives have committed to build 40 hospitals, or to reconfigure six.
This was followed by a third main section on the economy, and topics covered included poverty, inequality, the UK’s economic performance, and corporation tax.
Both Corbyn and Johnson got some things wrong, and plenty of claims needed more context. You can read our assessment of last night’s claims here.
After an hour’s respite with I’m a Celebrity… ITV resumed the election coverage with interviews with the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, The Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, and the Green Party’s Sian Berry.
We’ll be posting fact checks of some choice claims throughout the day on our liveblog.
We’ve been taking a look at a number of claims in the Green Party’s manifesto, which was launched today. Here are our first two quick fact checks (we’ll keep looking into the other claims in the manifesto).
Claim: “Our century is only 19 years old, but already we have had 18 of the hottest years on record. This summer saw the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, and the hottest month ever recorded across the world.”
According to data from NASA, 18 of the 19 hottest years on record have happened since 2001 (the only other ‘hottest year’ that didn’t happen this century was in 1998).
The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was recorded in July 2019. A high of 38.7 degrees celsius was reached in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on 25 July.
According to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Institute, July 2019 was also “marginally” the warmest month ever recorded globally.
Claim: “15% of people... take 70% of flights.”
This is based on analysis of government survey data from 2014 (the data doesn’t seem to have been updated since then). We fact checked this in 2016 and found it was a reasonable estimate. Read more about our findings here.
Over the weekend the Conservative party announced plans to increase the immigration health surcharge for everyone coming to live and work in the UK to £625. In the announcement it said that at the moment those who are here on a work, study or family visa only pay a £400 surcharge to use the NHS.
It’s correct that the surcharge is currently £400, but claiming this is all that migrants pay into the NHS isn’t correct because it ignores the fact that immigrants pay taxes which go towards paying for things like the NHS.
You can read our fact check here.
Right at the beginning of the election we criticised the Liberal Democrats for putting out information overstating their chances in parliamentary seats by using polling questions that ask about specific scenarios, rather than general voting intention.
We've recently seen an interesting new example of this approach.
On Sunday the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kensington Sam Gyimah (formerly of the Conservative party) tweeted out polling which asked voters in three London constituencies (including Kensington) who they would vote for if the only two parties with a realistic chance of winning were:
In the Conservative/Labour head-to-head, the Conservatives “won” all three seats. But with a Conservative/Lib Dem head-to-head, the Lib Dems took all three.
Now this is all very interesting, but it’s not how elections actually work. Voters are not told which parties have a “realistic chance” when they’re in the polling booth. (The point of this kind of campaign technique, of course, is to try and convince voters of your favoured interpretation of the parties’ relative chances.)
So using that data, as, as Mr Gyimah did, to say that “Only the @LibDems can stop the Tories in Kensington” is pushing things a bit far—especially as Kensington is currently held by Emma Dent Coad, a Labour MP.
The poll to which Mr Gyimah refers also looked at the actual voting intention in Kensington, when respondents are not told that only two parties have a realistic chance.
It shows the Conservatives on 36%, the Lib Dems on 33%, and Labour on 27%. So the Lib Dems are polling ahead of Labour, but the data suggests all three parties have a competitive chance of taking the seat.