In the recent referendum on the EU one thing became clear to me: in political campaigns it’s becoming hard to distinguish fact from fiction. I’m worried this is undermining the integrity of our democratic system.
It’s obvious now that both Leave and Remain were misleading in their election campaigns: Nigel Farage has said it was wrong for the Leave campaign to suggest the EU would give us an extra £350 million a week for our NHS, and George Osborne has now fudged his “Brexit Budget.”
And this isn’t the first time. In other recent elections, such as the London Mayoral campaign, candidates said contradictory things. It wasn’t apparent to me who was telling the truth and who was making things up. This has to stop.
Us voters feel hoodwinked. We need someone holding political campaigns to account so we can make an informed decision about our future.
We have a body, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), that monitors truth in corporate campaigns. It’s about time we had one for politics as well.
I would like to see UK party leaders and the Electoral Commission working with advice from groups such as the ASA to establish an independent Office of Electoral Integrity (OEI) to factually verify the truthfulness of claims made during political campaigns.
The OEI should hold campaigns to account, with powers to issue fines and factual clarifications.
There’s a precedent for a body like this - a body in Australia monitors political claims and ensures people have their facts straight. Why don’t we get something similar here?
We need an Office of Electoral Integrity to make sure that the British public are told the truth. Let’s restore faith in our democratic process.