Illegal, indecent, dishonest and untruthful, how political advertising in the the 2019 general election let us down

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Download our review of misleading ads in the UK’s 2019 general election Illegal, Indecent, Dishonest and Untruthful, How Political Advertising In The 2019 General Election Let Us Down.

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  • Much of the advertising in the 2019 general election is ‘illegal, indecent, dishonest & untruthful’ according to a review launched today by the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising.
  • YouGov research commissioned by the coalition this week found that 87% of adults thought that ‘it should be a legal requirement that factual claims in political adverts must be accurate.’
  • The uncomfortable fact is, though, that political advertising in elections remains unregulated, and political parties appear to take advantage of that situation with some seriously misleading advertising that would normally come under the ASA hammer in any other form of advertising.

The review, the first of its kind as far as we are aware, shows examples of misleading advertising from all the main parties. Examples are included in the attached document.

The review points out that it is clearly a significant problem when billions of voter impressions online are based on misleading or insufficient information and that damage is also done to the advertising industry itself, which is brought into disrepute.

The Coalition claims in the review that while this is a serious issue it is a fixable one – provided that political parties agree to be regulated then it might be possible that the ASA, or a ‘specialist extension’ could regulate this type of advertising, and calls on Lord Puttnam’s Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technogies to bring parties together.

Alex Tait, Co-Founder of the Coalition, said: “this has been a serious problem for far too long. It also shouldn’t really be that difficult to fix. With a significant drop in the public’s trust in politicians and in the democratic process we hope this paper illustrates the urgent need to set out some basic rules for political advertising content. There currently aren’t any. The ASA’s mantra of legal, decent, honest and truthful should apply to political ads just like it does to all other forms of advertising. This election has provided ample evidence of the need for leadership from the political parties to act.”

A more detailed overview of our findings is available in the report but you can see an overview of some of the ads we’ve been tracking here.