Politics Live

Full Fact’s rolling blog of fact checks, commentary and analysis.

21 June 2024, 6.18pm

UKSA says poor transparency may ‘damage trust’, in response to complaint about Labour figures

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) today warned about the risk that poorly explained figures may “damage trust”, in response to a complaint about estimates published by the Labour party. 

The complaint came in a letter from the Conservative party chairman, Richard Holden, who asked the UKSA to confirm whether it was misleading of Labour to say that the Conservatives had announced £71 billion a year of unfunded spending plans. 

In his response, the chair of the UKSA, Sir Robert Chote, also mentioned later analysis by Labour, which claimed that Conservative plans would “raise people’s mortgages by £4,800”.  

Full Fact’s own analysis has shown that Labour’s £4,800 figure was misleading, when quoted without due caveats, as it is speculative and based on uncertain assumptions.  

Commenting on both figures, Sir Robert said that underlying calculations, data sources and context should be provided alongside costings.

“When distilling these claims into a single number, there should be enough context to allow the average person to understand what it means and how significant it is,” he said. “Omitting this information can damage trust in the data and the claims that these data inform.

“To safeguard trust in official statistics, we encourage that statistical claims are presented clearly and transparently so that the public can test the arguments, and descriptive statements, that political candidates make about them.”

These words echo similar comments from the Office for Statistics Regulation on Conservative claims about Labour’s plans.

In today’s letter, Sir Robert said the principles of transparency applied to the analysis from both parties.

Honesty in public debate matters

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21 June 2024, 5.03pm

What did Rishi Sunak actually say about sanctions for failing to do national service?

In a post last night on X (formerly Twitter), Labour claimed the Prime Minister and Conservative leader Rishi Sunak would “deny you access to your bank account and driving licence” if you refuse to “enlist for national service”.

The Liberal Democrats have also claimed in a post that Mr Sunak suggested “national service or no driving licence”.

These posts follow Mr Sunak’s appearance on last night’s BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special, which we fact checked. The Prime Minister was asked how he would enforce the Conservatives’ plan to require all 18 year-olds to complete a year’s national service.

In response Mr Sunak said that there would be “a set of sanctions”, stating: “We will look at the models that are existing around Europe, and get the appropriate mix of those.”He added: “There’s a range of different options that exist. There's all sorts of things that people do across Europe, whether that's looking at driving licences, other access to finance, all sorts of other things.”

However he did not say that these specific examples would be used as sanctions in the Conservatives’ plans. 

Mr Sunak went on to say that “we will have a Royal Commission to look at that and come back to the government and recommend the appropriate mix of sanctions and incentives”.

We’ve approached Labour and the Liberal Democrats for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

20 June 2024, 8.54pm

Posted on X

On #BBCQT John Swinney said measures the SNP took on child poverty are keeping “100,000 children out of poverty in Scotland today”.

Modelling estimates this many children will be kept out of relative poverty in 2024/25 by Scottish government policies generally. #GE24

Of this number, 60,000 are expected to be kept out of poverty specifically because of the Scottish Child Payment. We wrote more about this here ⬇️ #GE24

20 June 2024, 8.45pm

Posted on X

On #BBCQT Ed Davey said people have seen “huge tax rises under this government to record levels”.

The tax burden was at the highest level for 70 years in 2022/23. The average earner’s effective personal tax rate is the lowest since 1975, however. #GE24


20 June 2024, 8.26pm

Posted on X

On #BBCQT, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey mentioned his party’s manifesto pledge to “recruit 8,000 more GPs”.

The manifesto didn’t say if those GPs would be fully qualified, however.

This is important because GP workforce stats can paint a very different picture depending on whether you count trainees.

The party has now told us that “at least 7,000” of the extra GPs would be fully qualified. #BBCQT #GE24 https://buff.ly/3zbXnpc

20 June 2024, 7.56pm

Question Time Leaders’ Special

We're watching the #BBCQT Leaders' Special tonight. 🍿

🔎 Follow us here on X for our live fact checks and analysis. And if you spot anything you think we should be checking out, please tag us and we’ll do our best to take a look. #GE24


20 June 2024, 4.43pm

No evidence Rishi Sunak plans to pay people £75,000 to leave the UK

Thousands of people have shared TikTok videos suggesting Rishi Sunak has plans to pay people £75,000 to leave the UK. 

But there’s no such plan in the party’s manifesto, and the claim appears to have first been shared by a parody account. 

Read the full fact check here

Honesty in public debate matters

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20 June 2024, 4.34pm

The ‘tax burden’: explained

Over the course of the election campaign we’ve heard Labour repeatedly claim that under the Conservatives the so-called ‘tax burden’ has reached the highest level in 70 years, while the Conservatives have claimed to be cutting people’s taxes.

We’ve just published a new explainer which takes a detailed look at what’s happened to the tax burden in recent years, how it could be affected by Labour and Conservative proposals, and why a high tax burden doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is paying more tax.

20 June 2024, 4.09pm

Statistic about fall in violent crime does not include sexual offences

The Conservative party and the home secretary, James Cleverly, have shared an image on X (formerly Twitter) claiming violent crime is down by 44%.

But it’s worth noting that this figure does not include sexual offences.

The figure has been calculated by comparing the most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) data with the year before the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office. 

This shows a decrease in the annual estimates of ‘violence incidents’—among people aged 16 and over—from about 1.8 million offences in March 2010 to 1 million in December 2023. This is a fall of 44%, in line with an overall decline from a peak in violence offences in 1995. 

The CSEW figures on violent crime come from a section of the survey involving an interview, and are estimates for offences including wounding, assault with minor injury and violence without injury. But sexual offences are covered by a self-completion part of the survey, rather than an interview, and so are reported separately from these violent crime figures. 

The prevalence of sexual assault (including attempts but excluding causing sexual activity without consent) among adults aged 16 to 59 was 2.1% in the year to March 2010 and 2.2% in the year to March 2020 (the latest comparable data). The prevalence of rape or penetration (including attempts) was 0.4% in the year to March 2010 and 0.5% in the year to March 2020.

More broadly, the ONS says the CSEW provides important information on longer-term crime trends, but advises it may not be the best measure of “higer-harm but less common types of violence, such as those involving a knife or sharp instrument (knife-enabled crime)”, which it says are better observed by police recorded crime. 

We’ve contacted the Conservatives about this and will update this blog if we receive a response.  

20 June 2024, 2.42pm

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour have earned voters’ trust so far

Both the Conservatives and Labour are misleading voters about the impact of each other’s policies in this election.

It is misleading to say without proper context and caveats, as the Conservatives often have, that a Labour government would mean “£2,000 in higher taxes for every working family”. This figure is unreliable and based on questionable assumptions, not an independent forecast worth taking seriously. 

Likewise, Labour is misleading people when it tells them—again and again, also without due caveats—that Conservative plans “will mean £4,800 more on your mortgage”. This figure is speculative and based on uncertain assumptions, so again talking like it’s reliable or definite misleads people.

No one knows exactly what will happen in the future. Taxes could indeed go up under Labour, or mortgages under the Conservatives. But as we and other fact checkers have shown, these figures are partisan attacks on a political enemy, not credible attempts to put a price on voters’ choices. 

It’s not only Full Fact and our supporters who think this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. The party leaders have said themselves that they need to earn people’s trust.

On becoming Prime Minister in 2022, Rishi Sunak said: “This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. Trust is earned. And I will earn yours.”

In a speech at the start of this year, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We have to bring the country together, have to earn trust as well as votes… And yet, trust in politics is now so low, so degraded, that nobody believes you can make a difference anymore.” The Labour party manifesto promises “the highest standards of integrity and honesty”.

We’ve not seen enough of this from either party so far. (We could make similar points about other parties, but we've chosen in this piece to focus on specific claims made by the two largest parties in the UK.)

Politicians should be truthful with voters because it is the right thing to do. 

But if they need more convincing, there is evidence that the people whose votes they are fighting for are also among the most likely to distrust them. 

A new Savanta poll commissioned by Full Fact shows that 78% of people who are unsure how to vote said they were not confident that the parties have run honest campaigns. 

This is an opportunity for politicians who are prepared to behave differently.

Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer are both quite right to say that trust must be earned—but just saying so isn’t good enough. They must prove they mean it in the final fortnight of the campaign.

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