The Biggest Whoppers And Dubious Tactics Parties Used In The Election Campaign

The Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, Brexit Party and just about everyone else is guilty of at least one of these.

No one is quite sure when the old saying “a lie can travel halfway across the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on” was actually coined, but what is certain is that it needs updating.

For one thing, social media has shortened the timeframe so much that any half-baked mistruth has usually gone viral while The Truth is probably still in bed hitting the snooze button.

The run up to Thursday’s general election has been no exception – fibs, falsehoods and deceptive tactics have been on display from all the major parties.

We’ve helpfully compiled a non-exhaustive list of just some of those aired so far.


‘Senior Tories’

The claim: Matt Hancock was variously “punched” and “assaulted” outside a Leeds hospital.

The reality: Nobody was punched but senior journalists reported it as such after apparently being briefed by “senior tories”.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston was one of them but later moved to correct himself, saying: “It is completely clear from video footage that [the] adviser was not whacked by a protestor, as I was told by senior Tories, but that he inadvertently walked into a protestor’s hand. I apologise for getting this wrong.”

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg made a similar apology.

Tory leaflet

The claim: Jeremy Corbyn will slap a tax bill of more than £1,000 on your home every year.

This was the claim made in very big letters on a leaflet dropped through letterboxes a few weeks ago.

Tory Homes Tax Leaflet
Tory Homes Tax Leaflet
HuffPost UK

The reality: The claims were made in a paper titled “Land for the Many”, commissioned by Labour from a group of independent environmentalists and edited by George Monbiot.

But the findings of the report have not been adopted by Labour and are not part of their manifesto.

Conservative Party Twitter

The claim: Kier Starmer can’t answer a simple question about his party’s stance on Brexit.

The reality: No such thing happened. The clip of the shadow Brexit secretary during an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain was deliberately doctored to make it appear Starmer was unable to answer a question.

Rishi Sunak, the chief secretary to the Treasury, later said “sorry” for how the Conservative Party edited the video.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters

The claim: We are fact checkers.

During an election TV debate last month, the Twitter account of the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) rebranded itself as “FactCheckUK”.

The reality: It was still just the same old CCHQ Twitter account, albeit one indulging in some very questionable and very misleading shenanigans.

Boris Johnson

The claim: Labour wants to “disband MI5”.

In the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack last month, Boris Johnson was grilled on whether or not Tory cuts had left the country more vulnerable to such events.

In an interview with Andrew Marr, the PM tried to turn the heat on Labour by claiming: “Jeremy Corbyn wants to scrap MI5. MI5 is responsible at keeping us safe, MI5 monitors thousands of people such as Usman Khan.”

The reality: Scrapping MI5 is not Labour policy. In fact, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged more investment in the security service.

Sajid Javid

The claim: Homelessness has fallen under the Tories.

During an interview with Sky News presenter Kay Burley, the chancellor was asked to defend the government’s record and he claimed that homelessness had “peaked in 2008” and since “fallen by half”.

He went on to say that “Labour was responsible for the massive rise of homelessness”.

The reality: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Homelessness did in fact peak in 2004, when Tony Blair was prime minister, at which point there were 101,300 households living in temporary accommodation. Rough sleepers are counted separately but the figures are much lower.

Between 2004 and 2011, which was the year after Labour lost power to the Tory-led coalition, that declined to 48,010.

It is a fact that the number of families living in temporary accommodation has risen steadily since then, standing today at 84,740 households.

The figure represents a 77% increase on 2010, the year David Cameron took power with the Conservative-led coalition.


Jeremy Corbyn

The claim: Violent crime has doubled under “the Conservatives’ austerity programme”.

The reality: Not true. It prompted the head of the UK Statistics Authority to write a letter to Corbyn, pointing out that official data actually showed “little change” in overall violent crime.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses for a photo in a coffee shop to mark Small Business Saturday, while on the General Election campaign trail in Barry.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses for a photo in a coffee shop to mark Small Business Saturday, while on the General Election campaign trail in Barry.

John McDonnell

The claim: Labour would save families an average of £6,700 a year and put an end to “rip-off Britain”.

The reality: An analysis by the Guardian found most of the figure relied on presumed savings made due to nationalisation of public utilities.

The problem with this is that it’s largely guesswork right now – the exact numbers involved have yet to be determined, and the companies that currently own and operate these utilities are unlikely to just hand them over without a fight.

Lib Dems

The claim: We are winning.

Leaflets distributed by the Lib Dems in Putney claimed a poll showed the party neck-and-neck with the Conservative Party, with both polling at 31%.

The Labour Party is shown as polling at 18%, with the leaflets telling residents Labour “can’t win here”, even though the Lib Dem candidate came a distant third in the 2017 general election.

The reality: The data used was from independent polling company Flavible but the Lib Dems had done some dodgy analysis throwing national data into the picture. Flavible later released a statement on the “misuse” of its data.

The Brexit Party

The reality: The Brexit Party only put forward 274 after leader Nigel Farage faced criticism for potentially taking votes away from the Tories in some seats.

The party said it would not contest any of the 317 seats won by the ruling Conservative Party at the last election.

All major parties

The claim: This is a newspaper.

The reality: All the major political parties have been warned to stop sending out political advertising that mimics local newspapers, after a series of examples were spotted during the campaign.

The Society of Editors, which represents the editors of the country’s top newspapers, said it will expose the worst offenders that attempt to pass off political advertising as real, independent newspapers.

Local news organisations, including Newsquest, have accused various parties of misleading voters by publishing material that looks similar to the local media in the area.

And finally...

It wouldn’t be a round up of political fibs without a mention of Donald Trump.

The claim: I’ll “stay out” of the general election.

The reality: Literally seconds after saying this, he backed both Boris Johnson and Brexit.


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