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Illegal, indecent, dishonest and untruthful, how political advertising in the 2019 general election let us down

The advertising in the 2019 general election is ‘illegal, indecent, dishonest & untruthful’ according to a review launched today by the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising.

Yougov research commissioned by the coalition found 87% of adults thought that ‘it should be a legal requirement that factual claims in political adverts must be accurate.’

The review, which the commission believes to be the the first of its kind, found examples of misleading advertising from all the main parties.

The commission believes it is a significant problem when billions of voter impressions online are based on misleading or insufficient information and that damage is also done to the advertising industry itself, which is brought into disrepute.

The Coalition claims in the review that while this is a serious issue it is a fixable one — provided that political parties agree to be regulated then it might be possible that the ASA, or a ‘specialist extension’ could regulate this type of advertising, and calls on Lord Puttnam’s Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technogies to bring parties together.

Alex Tait, Co-Founder of the Coalition, said: “this has been a serious problem for far too long. It also shouldn’t really be that difficult to fix. With a significant drop in the public’s trust in politicians and in the democratic process we hope this paper illustrates the urgent need to set out some basic rules for political advertising content. There currently aren’t any. The ASA’s mantra of legal, decent, honest and truthful should apply to political ads just like it does to all other forms of advertising. This election has provided ample evidence of the need for leadership from the political parties to act.”

The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising, a not-for-profit and cross-party initiative, was founded by Alex Tait and Benedict Pringle.  Alex Tait has worked in marketing departments for some of the world’s biggest companies and Benedict has run the website for over 10 years.

The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising is a group of organisations from the advertising industry, citizens, other businesses and not-for-profits which believe that the open and honest debate of issues facing our countries is fundamental to democracy and who want to reform political advertising legislation to help maintain it.

Members of the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising in the UK include two of the main political parties, the Green Party and Independent Group for Change, as well as the UK advertisers’ trade body, ISBA.