Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1066/29936
Tory election campaign's dirty tricks and lies
Tom Baldwin, Bristol Socialist Party
Tory dishonesty has been all over the news. The latest incident saw them attempt to mislead voters by rebranding one of their Twitter accounts as a fake fact-checking service for the duration of the ITV leaders' debate.
The name of the account was changed to 'factcheckUK' while the party logo was replaced with a neutral looking white tick on a purple background. The description said it was "fact checking Labour from CCHQ" - the little-known acronym for Conservative Campaign Headquarters. Several tweets began "FACT" but followed with pro-Tory claims.
Fact-checking services are usually provided by media outlets or other organisations, independent of political parties. The Tories impersonating such a service themselves was a clear attempt to deceive people.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has claimed that "no one gives a toss" about the incident but it has attracted criticism from many corners. These include Twitter itself which criticised "attempts to mislead people... seen during the UK election debate" and promised action if it happened again, although none was taken at the time.
The ruse may prove to have been an own goal for the Tories as it has drawn attention to a series of dirty tricks they have deployed in this election, mainly in online campaigning.
They greeted Labour's manifesto launch with the website labour manifesto.co.uk which is displayed in Labour colours but contains Tory material. They also targeted adverts at those searching for 'register to postal vote', prompting accusations that they were harvesting people's data. The website gave the misleading appearance that you could apply for a postal vote directly through it.
They doctored a video of Labour's shadow Brexit secretary to show him hesitating for several seconds after a question on Brexit, which was actually answered immediately. This move was even criticised by a Tory minister. These are signs of desperation from a party that can't be sure of its support after years of austerity and failure to deliver a Brexit which Boris Johnson said he would die in a ditch over.
The biggest deception of all is their claim that we can expect different from them in the future. They claimed to be building 40 new hospitals but it's been revealed that just 6 will be upgraded in the next five years. Scrutiny of their promises often shows them falling well short of the headlines. Even if delivered in full, they would not reverse the damaging cuts they have previously inflicted.
Dishonesty seems to come naturally to the Tory Party. It's no wonder that Johnson's claim in the leaders' debate that the "truth matters" was met with derisive laughter from the audience.
In The Socialist 27 November 2019:
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