Stop lies in political advertising ahead of a 2nd referendum or snap general election

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Problem

On the 23rd March many people marched to demand a second referendum.

However, as many people now know somehow political advertising is currently free to make wild and unsubstantiated claims. We urgently need you to support our campaign to change this – especially as is does seem possible that there may be a second referendum or snap general election over the next few months.

The reason for this is that unlike ads for consumer products, shockingly, campaign material in the UK is not regulated. There’s nowhere to complain to if you come across a dishonest political ad. And with no regulator or body responsible, nobody has the power to remove or give penalties out for political advertising that is misleading.

Since we launched in May last year we’ve made significant progress in our campaign. The Chair of the Disinformation & “Fake News’ Inquiry asked late last year for a political ad code including all the 4 points in our plan. The report from the Inquiry also had 2 of our points directly included in their recommendations. It also has a recommendation calling for a “comprehensive review of the current rules and regulations” surrounding political advertising.

The Government can ignore the report’s recommendations which has happened frequently with previous reports. Sign this petition to show you demand a positive response to the report’s recommendations.

Solution

We’ve 4 mutually reinforcing points in our plan. We’ve chosen them as we think they are all both very hard to argue with (so easier to get consensus around) and that they will also have a significant impact. 


1.   Require all objective factual claims used in political adverts to be substantiated
2.   Give an existing body the power to regulate political advertising content or create a new one to do so
3.   Legislate so that all paid-for political adverts can be viewed by the public on a single searchable website (so groups can’t hide dishonest ads from anybody)
4.   Require political advertisers to carry an imprint or watermark to show the sponsor of the advert

You can read more about what we are proposing here. https://reformpoliticaladvertising.org/background/

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Personal story

Benedict Pringle has run the website politicaladvertising.co.uk for over 10 years and Alex Tait has worked in marketing departments for some of the UK’s biggest companies.

They both noticed that in recent elections and referenda more groups were creating more political adverts more often.

In the pre-digital era there were relatively few political adverts and it was possible for the media to hold politicians to account for their claims. Whilst a lack of regulation in political advertising would occasionally cause problems, the scale of the issue was small.

However the huge growth in social and digital media has meant that many more people are trying to impact the result of elections and it is impossible for the media to be able to hold even a small proportion of actors to account for their claims.

Both Alex and Benedict feel that lies in political advertising are contributing to a degradation in political debate, a perpetuation of “fake news” and a decline in the legitimacy of democratic decision-making.

Together they founded the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising. It started in the ad industry but now includes citizens, businesses and not for profits that believe that the open and honest debate of issues facing our country is fundamental to our democracy and who want to reform political advertising legislation to help maintain it.