Conservative leaflets omit key words from image of Mail headline

19 February 2024
What was claimed

A Daily Mail headline said: “Starmer will hand families a £2,200 tax bombshell with £28 billion green jobs investment promise.”

Our verdict

This is misleading. The original headline included the words “Tories say” at the end, to make it clear the Mail was paraphrasing a claim from Conservative party chair Richard Holden, and the article went on to say Labour had denied the claim.

Conservative campaign leaflets distributed in at least five different constituencies include an image of a Mail headline apparently stating that Labour will hand families a “£2,200 tax bombshell”. 

This is misleading, because it suggests the Mail was reporting the £2,200 figure as fact rather than a claim from one political party. The image in the leaflet omits the key words “Tories say”, which appeared at the end of the original headline. 

The Mail’s original headline made it clear that the paper was paraphrasing a claim from Conservative party chair Richard Holden MP, and the article went on to report that Labour had denied the claim.

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What do the leaflets show?

The leaflets were received by voters in at least five constituencies—Truro and Falmouth, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Chesham and Amersham, Ipswich and also Tamworth—in February. They all have a similar format, and are presented as a local magazine which includes a mix of national and local content. 

A page inside each of the leaflets includes a section titled: “Getting our country’s debt down really matters to everyone. Except Labour that is!” Beside this, an image of a newspaper cutting features the headline: “Starmer will hand families a £2,200 tax bombshell with £28 billion green jobs investment promise”. This is attributed to the “Daily Mail” and dated “30th December 2023”.

However, the image of the headline omits key words that were included in the actual headline published by the Mail. 

The MailOnline headline on 30 December actually said: “Starmer will hand families a £2,200 tax bombshell with £28 billion green jobs in investment promise, Tories say”. A shorter version of the headline also appeared in the Mail on Sunday on 31 December, saying “Starmer will hand families £2,200 tax bombshell, Tories say”. 

The article goes on to say that Mr Holden had claimed Labour’s pledge to invest £28 billion in boosting the green economy, without increasing borrowing, would raise income tax by £2,200 for the average two-income household. The paper also reported that Labour “strongly denied” the claim. 

The Labour Party has since said on 8 February that it has dropped its £28 billion green investment pledge, which was first announced in September 2021.

We asked the Conservative party press office about the leaflets, as well as the local Conservative parties in the areas we know the leaflets were distributed. Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, referred us to the Conservative party press office and the Conservative party press office declined to comment. We did not receive any other responses.

Other misleading leaflets

This is not the first time we’ve written about misleading campaign leaflets from political parties. Last month we reported that a Liberal Democrat leaflet attributed a supportive quote about the party’s electoral prospects to the Guardian, even though the quote was actually the headline of an opinion piece written by the party’s own leader Ed Davey and published by the outlet. 

Similarly, in 2019, we wrote about another Lib Dem leaflet that attributed the words “Lib Dems winning and on the up after by-election victory” to the Guardian—this was actually an edited version of a Guardian headline, which made it clear that the paper was reporting the words of then-Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. 

Ahead of the general election, Full Fact is asking political parties to pledge not to use deceptive campaign practices that risk misleading voters and undermining trusted independent media institutions. Almost 15,000 people have already signed our petition on this—you can add your name here.

Image courtesy of Full Fact 

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Richard Holden to request that the Conservative Party ceases publication of leaflets featuring the misleading headline.

We are waiting to hear back from Richard Holden.

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