Hugo Rifkind has written a very good article in today’s Times newspaper outlining his concern that voter segmentation, targeting and communication practises – now in common use (to some degree) by all mainstream political campaigns – are preventing politicians from being held to account for the claims and promises they’re making to voters.
You can read the piece here.
The conclusion he reaches is one that I wholly agree with and have been calling for regularly for some time: political advertising needs to be regulated.
Rifkind’s solution to the lack of transparency on political campaigns’ advertising is:
“It should be law that every last piece of paid political communication is made public, perhaps on the Electoral Commission’s website.”
The implication is that journalists, interested citizens and opposition groups would then be able to scrutinise the ads and hold the purveyors to account.
I would go further and setup an independent committee of fact-checkers to rule on whether factual claims in political adverts are misleading and give them the power to take down communications that are not truthful.
However, for this to be possible they must have visibility of all the ads being run and so some sort of monitoring (or pre-clearance) system will certainly be necessary.