• GE2019 badge
  • Debunked badge

Here's All The Disinformation In The 2019 General Election Campaign So Far

Campaigning hasn't even really got going yet and it already looks like a vintage election for bullshit.

1. Fake Jo Swinson tweets were doing the rounds in the run-up to the election.

Other doctored tweets appeared on Facebook shortly after her appearance at Lib Dem conference — a summary of them can be found here.

2. This bar chart from the Bath and North East Somerset Lib Dems, which at a quick glance appears to show levels of support in the area, is extremely misleading.

It actually shows how people responded to the question of which way they'd vote IF the only competitive parties were the Tories and the Lib Dems.

And so it got called out and went very, very viral.

actually screaming at the small print https://t.co/R3Ney3wgkT

Whereupon a bunch of people took the piss.

Just got this through the door lads

As a result, the Lib Dem leader had to defend it on Sky News, and it didn't really go all that well. Also worth noting, to say they have previous on this is an understatement: We've been pointing this out since 2014 for a start.

.@SophyRidgeSky challenges Lib Dem leader @joswinson on some of the party's campaign literature which some have accused of being misleading. Follow the day's political news live here: https://t.co/CF1pdcTrBh

3. Days later, another very questionable Lib Dem bar chart emerged.

Another very dodgy campaign leaflet from the Lib Dems. Just spoke to YouGov and they confirm they have not conducted any polling in Putney.

It resulted in the party being accused of misinforming voters by the very company whose data they used to produce the chart.

Flavible release a statement accusing the Lib Dems of “intentionally misinforming” voters with data taken from their website. https://t.co/HeGCClTkdP

4. The Conservatives edited a Good Morning Britain interview to make Keir Starmer look confused when asked about Brexit.

So this happened. The Conservative Party took an interview from @GMB this morning. They edited it to add on the last shot in which Keir Starmer looks stumped. But that didn't happen. In the original Keir Starmer immediately answered @piersmorgan 's question. https://t.co/G8tU2SUpbq

Good Morning Britain demonstrated how the clip had been edited.

The Conservatives have been criticised for editing a GMB interview with Labour's Kier Starmer. We play both interview clips side by side. #GMB

And Tory politician Johnny Mercer apologised. Which should have been the end of it.

It would appear this has inexplicably been doctored at the end. I apologise and will remove it. The original interview was bad enough - I have no idea why this needed altering. I will call this out-whichever side does it, including my own. Sorry folks. 🙈 https://t.co/NuxA6sp8xD

But it wasn't, because for some reason Tory chair James Cleverly defended the editing the next day.

To claim this was edited in the same way news programmes edit material is utterly disingenuous .... https://t.co/jViLGJ5lYe

All the while this row was going on, the doctored video was racking up the views.

James Cleverly on #r4today says the Tories posted the full GMB Starmer interview “contemporaneously”. Tory edited version posted on Twitter at 11:58am, also uploaded by various MPs: at least 1.2m views. Quote tweet of official GMB edit posted at 4:33pm. It’s had 336,000

Then there was a massive furore over the fact Cleverly didn't turn up to a Sky News interview, which he claimed he'd never been booked for in the first place. To be quite honest, there's no point trying to get to the bottom of this one as we're getting off the point now, but here's some enjoyable Kay Burley action.

On balance this is actually one of the best media performances by a Tory politician in the last 24 hours

5. This viral tweet claims Jeremy Corbyn was central to the Northern Irish peace process.

There is no historical evidence to support this claim, which has been circulating online for years.

In a 2015 interview, Corbyn talks about how Margaret Thatcher changed her policy on Northern Ireland so that it more closely reflected his views, and this appears to have been misinterpreted by some of his supporters.

View this video on YouTube


There are also long-standing claims being repeated that he was Northern Irish secretary Mo Mowlam's "peace envoy" during the Troubles.

This is not the case. He was, in fact, at one point condemned by her for inviting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams to Parliament.

You can read about Corbyn's views on Ireland in full here.

6. This joke about a BBC Question Time member went viral.

It then spread to Facebook. It's impossible to tell how many people sharing it took it seriously. This post says the audience member is an actor, which is true — but his social media posts suggest he has always supported Brexit, as Full Fact has pointed out.


All of which resulted in a rather frustrated BBC producer.

But . . When someone insists I have a son called Cyril who I have planted in the Question Time audience (I don’t have a son called Cyril and I don’t work on Question Time) then I think it’s best that I don’t hear from them again. Sorry! https://t.co/v3oSQi3Ioj

7. Contrary to internet rumours, Jo Swinson's husband doesn't personally benefit from European Union funds, and this is not why the Lib Dems are opposed to Brexit.


As explained in this BBC post, he works for the UK branch of Transparency International, which has received far smaller grants than those claimed online.

As the BBC reports, the claim, which started on Twitter, went viral on Facebook after it was picked up by the Leave.EU page. The BBC reported: "It has now been posted by at least 248 different pages and groups, had close to 50,000 interactions (shares, comments and likes), and the story has now been viewed by a potential audience of over 1.5 million."

8. A Facebook advert claimed Labour’s tax plans would cost “an extra £214 each month”.

The main problem was that Labour's tax plans hadn't even been published.

Another issue is that the advert was posted by a former Boris Johnson aide called Alex Crowley and was banned because it broke its rules on political advertising — every advertiser has to register with the social media firm and every advert has to show who has paid for it.

Crowley said the claim was based on a New Economics Foundation report from August, but as the Guardian reported: "The only report from the NEF published in that month says nothing about Labour’s plans."

Then there's one more thing worth pointing out, because it reveals one of the major challenges in reporting on this stuff: The ad seemed to have very little reach at all — until it became a BBC story.

That advert that has been endlessly retweeted, led the BBC News site, appeared on the Today Programme and News at 10? It came from a page with 13 likes. We're being played. https://t.co/GGEiNwnBjy

9. This Lib Dem leaflet quotes the Guardian, saying the party is "on the up"...but the Guardian was quoting...Jo Swinson.

Dodgy leaflet watch: get home to find this from the LibDems, complete with upbeat headline from the Guardian. Well, it is from the Guardian - but we were quoting Jo Swinson.

10. When former Labour MP Ian Austin said voters should back Boris Johnson, in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, there were a number of comments made on Facebook — and by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor — claiming he was "employed by the Tories".

John Woodcock joins Ian Austin in campaigning against Corbyn

These claims were based on the fact that he is the prime minister's trade envoy to Israel — an unpaid role (though concerns have been raised in the past about the expenses incurred). It's a cross-party role; another Labour politician, Rushanara Ali, is also a trade envoy (full list here).

11. This Diane Abbott tweet is highly misleading.

Ian Austin, 1 year as a junior minister at DCLG, says he won't vote for Labour. Wall-to-wall coverage. Ken Clarke, 9 years as Secretary of State, including as Chancellor, says he won't vote for the Conservatives. Silence. Balanced election coverage?

Ken Clarke said there was a possibility he wouldn't vote for the Tories, but it was heavily couched — and he even added that he didn't expect them to run a campaign he couldn't vote for.

12. A fake BBC reporter clocked up 8,000 retweets with a lie about Jo Swinson.

The disinformation was even shared by a Conservative candidate, who would later apologise and say: “As soon as I was made aware that the account and content was false, I retracted the tweet without hesitation, in the spirit of the positive campaign we are running in Kensington. We must call out false news and I hope that the other candidates will agree to do the same as the campaign begins.”