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Rejoin EU’s Richard Hewison is the latest London Mayor candidate to agree to Reform Political Advertising’s campaign pledge

Rejoin EU’s Richard Hewison is the latest London Mayor candidate to agree to Reform Political Advertising’s campaign pledge

Alex Tait
April 14, 2021

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Reform Political Advertising welcome the commitment by Rejoin EU Candidate for Mayor of London Richard Hewison in agreeing to their pledge as part of his campaign. 

There are now 6 candidates so far for London Mayor that have agreed to the campaign pledge including Sian Berry, The Green Party’s Co-Leader and Mandu Reid The Women Equality Party’s Leader. We’ll be announcing the others in the next few days.

Our Yougov research shows that 85% of UK voters think that ‘it should be a legal requirement that factual claims in political adverts must be accurate.’ In the absence of the political advertising content regulation that we are campaigning for the pledge is a way of showing to the UK public clear intent and commitment not to mislead them in a manner that was so prevalent in the 2019 general election. 

Richard Hewison stated:

“Our country has been undermined by lies. Lies written on a bus during a political campaign that have had untold consequences on so many people since.

We were told £350m a week was coming for the NHS after Brexit, a lie. …and what did NHS workers actually get after Brexit? A derisory 1% pay rise. …and what did the government chose to spend its money on? Nuclear weapons.

Recently we’ve seen more and more obvious untruths written in front of us day after day. And if we still find it hard to see all the lies in front of us, then a quick eye test at Barnard Castle will illustrate what I mean.

This is why we need a real, independent standards body to police political adverts, take real action when lies are seen and not corrected.

Factual claims must to be substantiated, and not by websites set up as factcheckers by the very parties they’re checking facts on!

The campaign to Reform Political Advertising are leading the way on this issue by looking to regulate factual claims in paid for political ads , and I wholeheartedly support the work they are doing. 

At the moment such adverts have no public body to refute claims made in them before entering public discourse.”

The UK trade body for advertisers ISBA also supports our campaign and pledge. “Phil Smith, Director General at the ISBA, has commented: 

“ISBA support Reform Political Advertising’s pledge and the wider campaign for content regulation for political advertising, placing it on the same footing as commercial advertising and holding it to the same standards.”

The pledge is simply:

We <name of party> will practise responsible election campaigning and pledge to:

1. make sure that when we make factual claims in our advertising they have been checked beforehand with authoritative and reliable sources.

2. source the evidence for our claim in the ad where feasible, or quickly make it available on request.

3. revise or withdraw any claims that an independent, nominated fact-checking service finds to be misleading.

Our nominated fact checking services are Full Fact, Channel 4 FactCheck and BBC Reality Check.

For more information about Reform Political Advertising please contact Alex Tait at alex.tait@reformpoliticaladvertising.org.

About Reform Political Advertising. 

Reform Political Advertising is a not for profit, politically neutral organisation campaigning for the modernisation of the rules for political advertising. A key aim for our campaign is the introduction of content regulation to prevent misleading claims. 

We believe that the open and honest debate of issues facing the UK is fundamental to the functioning of our democracy. However, our politics is suffering because of a refusal to reform political advertising.

Our review of 2019 General Election advertising highlighted some of the worst recent cases of misleading claims. Neither voters, opposing factions, the media, consumer groups, or legislators had any recourse whatsoever: there are no rules against false statements of fact in electoral advertising.

This is not an issue confined to lobby groups and political commentators: in 2019, we fielded research via YouGov that found that 85% of UK voters think that ‘it should be a legal requirement that factual claims in political adverts must be accurate.’ 

We are approaching all political parties campaigning for the local, Mayoral, Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections on May 6th and asking them to agree to our election pledge. 

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