As we all head to polling stations this week for the General Election how many of us will be voting for parties as opposed to against them? How many ordinary people will have been influenced by blatant political lies and misinformation from all sides of the political spectrum?

Boris Johnson, when asked what punishment should be allotted to politicians who tell lies on their campaign trails, said “Well, they should be made to go on their knees through the chamber of the House of Commons, scourging themselves with copies of their offending documents which claim to prove one thing and actually prove something quite different.”

Politics isn’t working

Whilst the BBC Leaders Debate audience may have found this amusing last Friday, it’s very serious to campaigners for democracy.  Groups such as Open Democracy and Compassion in Politics are calling for the first-past-the-post system to be reformed.  The Electoral Reform Society indicated that their polling data has revealed that 80 percent of voters feel their influence on decision making is little or none. And 85 percent said that “politics isn’t working”.

BBC Question Time audiences over the past few weeks have consistently brought up mistrust in politicians.  Many voters have said they have no idea who to vote for because they don’t know who they can trust.  Too numerous to mention are the politicians who have been called liars across the media. It would be easier to list those who have not.

Political lies and misinformation

Labour Party

For example, during the leadership debates and in parliament Jeremy Corbyn was seen waving documents around, the content of which had been mostly redacted.  He suggested that this paperwork proved that the government was prepared to sell the NHS. Later in the week, we saw loud newspaper headlines stating that the documents had been ‘leaked’ by the Russians.  Mr Corbyn described these claims as “nonsense”.  It would be useful if Mr Corbyn took a lie detector test to establish where exactly he obtained the documents.  Various social media platforms including Facebook and Reddit have closed suspicious accounts that they say have shown “Russian activity”.

Mired in controversy regarding institutionalised antisemitism, several of the Labour Party MPs have stated that they have acted quickly against complaints regarding it.  According to Jewish MPs this has not been the case.  Leading politicians of the party insist it’s true.  Who is telling lies?

Liberal Democrats

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, refuses to apologise for her party distributing ‘fake newspapers’.  A media storm brewed following the discovery that people had received what appeared to be newspapers with titles such as the Cheltenham Courier and York News. They were in fact election promotional materials printed and distributed by the Liberal Democrats.  Ms Swinson says this type of campaign promotion has always existed over decades.  Has anyone ever seen other party literature masquerading as newspapers?  We can’t find any evidence of it.

In terms of whether or not voters believe Ms Swinson an interview she had with BBC’s Andrew Neil may help them make up their minds. It can be accessed by clicking here

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party were no better, when they rebranded a Twitter account to look like an official fact checking account.  They got a warning from Twitter and Boris Johnson seemed to dismiss it as the norm.  Posts on the account specifically targeted the Labour Party and one suggested that the Jeremy Corbyn’s party would spend over a trillion £s on the NHS during the next 5 years.  This was later debunked by a real fact checking organisation, Full Fact.

Boris Johnson has stated in various media interviews that there will be no border checks for goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Britain after Brexit.  Mr. Corbyn says he has proof that there will be checks.  On the same day as Boris denied there would be, an article in The Guardian reported that he had conceded there would be some checks.  This followed a leak of Treasury documents stating as much.

Is it acceptable for politicians to lie?

Described as one of the “dirtiest UK election on record” by Open Democracy it seems the main parties are more intent on winning than telling the truth.

It is interesting to note that Boris Johnson has refused to be interviewed by BBC’s Andrew Neil, despite other party leaders submitting to scrutiny.  It may be that the Prime Minister is worried that Andrew will expose more political lies and misinformation, as he has done with each of the party leaders. We strongly recommend you watch all of the interviews which can be found on YouTube.

As our regular readers know we have invited several politicians to take polygraphs this year. None have taken us up on our offer.  Is this because political lies and misinformation are seen by them to be acceptable?

Would you like politicians to take an annual lie detector test? Let us know your thoughts.