The Regulation Of Political Advertising

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The chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority takes to The Guardian to talk about the regulation of political advertising. The interest being that there’re loads of people talking in the comments about how desirable this all is. And no one at all – well, except me – asking how it would actually work.

What is it that cannot be said, how would regulation change what has been said? Someone, somewhere, really needs to answer this question:

Why not try to apply regulation to an ad that has already happened and see what we’d say about it?

Take the red bus and the £350 million or whatever it was. Exactly the sort of thing that is driving this insistence that there should be this regulation. Actually, exactly the example that is.

OK, regulation of political advertising would mean what in this case?

It is not possible to say that the UK sends money to the EU? It is possible to say that but not that it’s £350 million, but only £240 million? (Or whatever the difference between the gross and net number is/was). It is possible to say that it’s £240 million and this is a good thing, but not possible to say that it’s £240 million and a bad thing? It’s possible to say that the money is sent but not that if it weren’t it could be spent on the NHS? Or what?

What would the actual difference be that regulation would make to this specific example that so many people complain about?

Anyone want to try this? What would the – or any – proposed system of regulation have done about this specific claim?

Interested in any useful answers here …….

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Phoenix44Leo SavanttBloke in North DorsetSpikeBloke on M4 Recent comment authors
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Ben S
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Ben S

Simples. Artificial intelligence, the same one they use for detecting fake news!

Boganboy
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Boganboy

I’m not a Guardian reader. Clearly they will be the arbiters of what is true and what is false.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

Claims vs counter-claims is the best way. Cameron had every opportunity to explain why the numbers were wrong and what they actually were, but didn’t, probably because people would have run the clip of just how much the net cost was “even David Cameron admits it’s at least £240 million”.

Or getting politicians into studios and asking them to explain a claim on an ad. How convinced are the public by the fiscal accounting of Diane Abbott or the Green Party?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Despite being run by experienced and successful politicians (OK, Stephen Kinnock) the Remain campaign handled this issue spectacularly badly. Instead of trying to move the debate on to other areas, where they could have put their positive arguments for remaining in the EU (my tongue is firmly in my cheek, at this point) they kept banging on about the £350 million a week number being wrong. It was obvious that every time they did so, all the voters heard was “we send a load of money to the EU and get bugger all for it”. Anyone with an IQ higher… Read more »

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

According to Tim Shipman’s book, this is precisely what leave did. They worked at trying to keep the media on the money rather than the softer stuff about the EU.

Bloke in North Dorset
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Bloke in North Dorset

It wasn’t just Kinnock, it was ever Remainer in the media. The BBC in particular thought they were being clever by letting them raise it in every debate, usually with Brexiters outnumbered.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

And that’s the issue – did anybody vote Leave because they thought it was £350m whereas they would have voted Remain if they knew it was “actually” £240m? It’s a stupid claim made by stupid people, because what the bus showed was it’s a shedload of money. The actual amount didn’t matter, it was the shedfullness of it that did.

Spike
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Spike

Twitter has notoriously tried to regulate things that have already been said (tweeted) and the result is to promulgate a huge set of “objective” rules, which in practice attach disclaimers to opinions that Jack and his acolytes happen to disagree with.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Regulation of advertising in principle seems fair enough, if a manufacturer claims their cars get 100 miles to the gallon and they only get 50, then they should be held accountable and forced to advertise more honestly.

Regulation of political appeals, which really aren’t adverting at all, should of course be regulated, but by the voter and by the voter only. Regulation of political “adverting” by the ASA or any other quango is most undesirable, full stop.