The tweet from the Conservative party (tweets are subject to regulation for most advertisers, incidentally), which includes the claim that ‘Labour are backing the strikers’ is the kind of unfounded assertion that wouldn’t survive in a commercial arena but which continues to be permitted in this kind of political advertising, content for which is unregulated.
There is no evidence that Labour are backing these strikes: Sadiq Khan has conveyed his frustration and a counter-attack here and the likely truth anyway is that TFL have become a political football while the Conservative government and Labour mayor duke it out over bail-outs and working practices. Meanwhile, the commuter and taxpayer picks up the tab, financial and otherwise.
It’s clear, and consistent with previous approaches, that the Conservatives wish to cement (and paint red) the link between Labour and the unions. That element of the advertising may well pass muster if subject to the rules that most advertisers are required to observe, but not if there’s a specific supporting claim – ‘Labour are backing the strikers’ – that is without foundation.
Meanwhile, if you’re a Labour voter, the advertising is mildly irritating and not entirely unexpected. If you’re a more thoughtful Tory voter, you may even think the same thing, because there are surely better things to get on with than throwing mud at Sadiq Khan and Labour. Some floating voters may be vulnerable to an approach such as this, however. The Conservative party knows that, of course, just as it knows they can lie in their advertising.
We should add that all the major political parties lie in their advertising, because they can. Or Khan.
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