The Tories won’t be at all happy about this!

The Tories won’t be at all happy about this!

Postby Guest » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:17 pm

The elections watchdog has called for far-reaching changes in election law, and the Conservative government won’t be happy. Because the new rules could shut down a tactic the Tories have depended on in the last two general elections.
‘Democracy under threat’

The Electoral Commission has spent a year looking “at how digital campaigning was used in the EU referendum and the 2017 general election”. On 26 June, it published its recommendations [pdf]. The commission’s chair, John Holmes, says:

we have seen serious allegations of misinformation, misuse of personal data, and overseas interference. Concerns that our democracy may be under threat have emerged.

The report, he says, is a:

call to action for the UK’s governments and parliaments to change the rules to make it easier for voters to know who is targeting them online…

A problem for the Conservatives

After Carole Cadwalladr’s series of explosive revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU in the Observer, this may seem like a no-brainer. But the recommendations have serious implications for Britain’s political parties too – especially the Conservative Party.

The Conservatives have relied on digital campaigning far more heavily than any other party during recent UK elections. In 2017, the party spent £2.1m on Facebook advertising, dwarfing Labour’s £577,000 and the Liberal Democrats’ £412,000. And in 2015, it spent £1.2m compared to Labour’s £16,454.

This spending included Facebook adverts targeted at voters in key constituencies. As BuzzFeed reported on 7 June 2017:

The Conservatives have launched a barrage of targeted Facebook adverts ahead of tomorrow’s general election that make the most of a previously unnoticed loophole in electoral law to enable the party to spend a near-unlimited amount on localised messages in key target constituencies… ... ouncement/

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