The Tories have not earned the right to rule

This election has become about trust. And we can't trust Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson

In the battle for Number 10, many a dirty fight has been fought. Yet the steep rise in the use of social media and its sophisticated targeted content in the past decade, combined with that of populist voices that we so wrongly thought we’d left in the past, the 2019 General Election seems to be a completely different ballgame.

Yesterday we found out that almost all of the Conservative Party’s paid Facebook ads at the beginning of the month contained misleading claims, such as their plans to open 40 new hospitals or create 50,000 more jobs for nurses. By comparison, nothing misleading was found in the ads run by the Labour Party.

With little regulatory scrutiny of online political advertising, we’ve seen slander become the stock in trade of both Tory and Brexit Party politicians. The assault on Jeremy Corbyn has been unprecedented. The North East’s French-resident Brexit Party MEP Brian Monteith is a prime example. As the Director of a propaganda outfit called Capitalist Worker, they have spent £15,000 on anti-Corbyn Facebook ads, according to Open Democracy research

During the first Leaders’ debate of this election campaign, the Tories rebranded their headquarters press office Twitter account to ‘factcheckUK’ instead of their usual ‘CCHQPress’ – a blatant attempt to deceive their 76,000 followers and beyond. Political analysts did point out that it could have been a cunning plan to bury a potential story about the Prime Minister having a car crash debate. It could very well be true.

Earlier in the year when Johnson’s premiership was still fresh, he raised many eyebrows with a seemingly off-the-cuff revelation that he makes model buses out of wine crates as a hobby. This became top news for a while, mostly for its bizarre nature, but we can all think of what other Boris bus story had been replaced on Google’s top search results by it.

The Prime Minister gave us a masterclass in PR crisis management just a couple of days ago, when desperate to get rid of press headlines reminding him of his promise to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow Airport’s third runway, he bulldozed through a wall with his message of ‘get Brexit done’. Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures.  

Unfortunately for the Tories – who seem to get away with almost anything – their attempt at burying news of children sleeping on hospital floors, due to the government’s failure to appropriately fund the NHS, backfired significantly. Their cover-up was an allegation that an aide to the Health Secretary who was visiting the hospital in Leeds was punched in the face by a Labour supporter. Footage of the scene later emerged and rendered it a barefaced lie. To use this to deflect from the suffering of a four year-old, and many others like him, for your own political gain is inhumane.

A General Election comes at the end of a chapter to open a new one. It signifies the completion of a cycle when we draw the line to assess if the way the country has been led is what we would have wanted as its people. It’s the moment when every party leader tries to gain your trust, the voter’s, that you can leave the fate of the country in their capable hands for the next few years. Nothing the Tories have done while in government is good enough to send them back into Number 10. Worse still, the way they’re trying to convince you otherwise is by selling you a complete pack of lies. Don’t buy into it today.

Jude Kirton-Darling is a Labour MEP for North East England.

One Response to “The Tories have not earned the right to rule”

  1. Blissex

    «almost all of the Conservative Party’s paid Facebook ads at the beginning of the month contained misleading claims […] nothing misleading was found in the ads run by the Labour Party.»

    Seen from a cynical point of view, the Conservatives really want to win the election to make their very rich sponsors much richer, and labour does not really want to win the election, but to be “really nice”. I like Labour because it is largely based on principles and nice principles too, and I don’t believe that nice people always finish last, and fighting fire with fire is dangerous, but perhaps Labour could dial up the propaganda a bit without sacrificing the principles.

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