More information is better

In her column for MJ, Claire argues that one thing canvassers might remember is that voters are free-thinking individuals who can change our minds if we hear a better argument.

We know political parties are interested in spinning their own messages but, dare I say it, some are playing more fast and loose with the truth than usual. A classic of the genre is the Liberal Democrats, whose election leaflets quoted a partial headline about the party’s success in a by-election in Wales, attributed to the Guardian – when the original author of the words was its own leader, Jo Swinson. As such, the party has been accused of distributing ‘misleading and irresponsible’ endorsements.

Then there is the minefield of social media – which is often blamed for giving a megaphone to misinformation. Labour MP Diane Abbott’s claim that former Tory Ken Clarke won’t vote for the Conservatives has been retweeted over 4,000 times and liked over 11,000 times, even though Mr Clarke never said that.

Then there’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson – a man hardly associated with fact-checked accuracy. Not a day goes by without someone bringing up the Boris bus saga. This is nothing new – politicians have lied, spun and twisted information for years. But it seems we are now more obsessed with disinformation than ever before – and the issue has been internationalised. As an MEP, I have spent this week at the European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) in Brussels discussing the issue of disinformation, fake news and ‘foreign’ interference in elections.

Read the full article here.