In June 2020, the House of Lords recommended that a code of practice should be developed for election material that ‘restricts fundamentally inaccurate advertising.’ The government response to the recommendation was, Mourinho-style, to ‘park the bus.’
Ever since the appearance of the ‘factual claim’ below in 2016, it has become increasingly obvious that political organisations cannot be trusted not to distort, manipulate, conceal or ignore data, evidence of which assertion we published in 2019 and 2021.
Those reports assembled a quantity of election material that we judged to be misleading or factually inaccurate or both. Very few of the decisions we made could be described as contentious. Most political untruths in advertising are pretty straightforward and in many cases almost risible, if it wasn’t for the fact that it is an election that is being influenced.
Nevertheless, come the 2022 local elections we decided, in the context of a particularly toxic political environment with the integrity of information very much under scrutiny, that we needed to establish a broader credibility and to demonstrate, in particular, that it is desirable and possible to establish a process by which election advertising can be reviewed by a broader constituency than our own resources could offer.
We have formed ‘EARP’, the Election Advertising Review Panel. We invited six senior people from inside and outside the advertising industry to create an executive that reviews factual claims in election ads and judges whether they are truthfully presented or otherwise. This exercise constitutes a ‘pilot’ for the next General Election, by which time we are planning involvement from established regulatory bodies.
The members of the Executive are:
- Dr. Katherine Dommett, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield
- Jake Dubbins, Co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network
- Arvind Hickman, Media Editor, Campaign
- Will Moy, Chief Executive, Full Fact
- Poppy Wood, Public Policy Lead, Reset
We were obviously delighted that Lord Puttnam, responsible for the House of Lords recommendation referenced above, agreed to chair EARP. Here’s what Lord Puttnam has to say about it:
Download the Exec’s findings “Cost Of Lying Crisis. Lies For Votes” below.