The Conservative Party is up to its old tricks again, using more and more deceptive leafletting for its political campaigning. This time, it’s dropping ‘NHS surveys’ through people’s doors. They look like actual surveys, but in reality they’re a data-gathering exercise. Of course, the Tories have form on this – just look at the scandal over them distributing campaigning material dressed up as local newspapers.
‘Let’s protect our NHS’… kind of…
Chris Rand is a writer and community organiser from Cambridge. On 14 October, he shared an image on X which has now gone viral. It showed a Tory Party leaflet which, in his words, was “Literally pretending to be the NHS”:
Even worse than pretend newspapers, look at THIS party political bollocks that's just come through the door, personally addressed. Literally pretending to be the NHS, in an attempt to gather data. pic.twitter.com/PIi6KmMb6y
— Chris Rand (@ChrisRandWrites) October 14, 2023
The Tories circulated it for their MP candidate for South Cambridgeshire in the next general election, Chris Carter-Chapman – whose name is missing punctuation on the leaflet. It wasn’t the only error on the leaflet, which also asked people:
How would our rate local healthcare services?
Rand was furious. As he wrote on his website:
There’s a bit of blurb saying the survey is from the “South Cambs parliamentary candidate”, which will sound alarm bells to many people, although not all. And note there’s no mention at this point of any political party. There is some small print at the bottom, making it legal; and by the time you get to the second page, a “Conservatives” logo does appear, although we might well skim over that as we go through the form that we’d been ordered to complete (“Fill in your details now”!)
The Tories even sent the leaflet with a pre-paid return envelope. However, as Rand pointed out, the address on that gave little away to it being from the Tories. He summed up by saying that these kind of leaflets create an “air of suspicion” around what drops through people’s letterboxes.
People on X were unimpressed. EveryDoctor founder Dr Julia Grace Patterson was livid:
This is terrible – how many people would have mistaken this for an NHS survey?🚨🚨🚨 https://t.co/bo16VxTdhG
— Dr Julia Grace Patterson💙 (@JujuliaGrace) October 15, 2023
Another user reminded us of another, albeit bigger, con some Conservatives previously pulled:
This is a fucking new low.👇👇 These utter charlatans, once again exploiting people's vulnerabilities, like they did during the Brexit referendum and the NHS £350m bollocks on a bus. #GeneralElectionN0W #ToriesOut465 #GTTO https://t.co/ezMxri0gku
— Chirpy Chet (@ChirpyChet) October 15, 2023
Meanwhile, regulator the Electoral Commission was predictably limp regarding it – saying no law had been broken:
Imprints help to ensure transparency about who is campaigning, and should therefore be clear and visible. It is an offence not to include an imprint on printed election material but the law in England does not specify any rules on the size of the imprint.
— Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) October 16, 2023
There’s also the issue of exactly what the Tories will be doing with people’s data from the survey. The party will be getting a lot of personal data – yet it’s unclear from the leaflet what will be done with this, how it will be stored, and whether it is even safe. Even the government’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), felt the need to tweet:
If a political party asks you to complete a survey or a petition, it should be clear how that data will be used in the future.
If you’re worried with how the information’s being used you have the right to object: https://t.co/9YcOD8BVr7
— ICO – Information Commissioner's Office (@ICOnews) October 16, 2023
Tory Party form on fake leaflets
As one X user pointed out, this is hardly the first time the Tories have pulled such a stunt:
Incredibly disappointing from @Chris4SCambs. As if fake newspapers weren’t bad enough, a fake NHS survey that is a data-gathering exercise for the local Tory party is really inexcusable. This deception just destroys faith in politics and demeans it. @SCambsTories @clearpolitic5 https://t.co/U92CdTpKOu
— Elizabeth McWilliams (@ElizabethMcWill) October 14, 2023
The Canary previously reported on the ‘fake Tory newspapers‘ scandal. As we wrote:
In the three by-elections held recently, the Tories… [used] fake news tactics:
- In Selby and Ainsty they distributed election propaganda posing as the “North Yorkshire Chronicle”.
- Over in Somerset, it was the “Somerton and Frome Chronicle”.
- In Uxbridge, the Tories published the “Uxbridge and South Ruislip People”.
Another example was this gem:
Someone on X also reminded us that the Tories also changed their leafletting colours as well:
They tried the same Bollox with a Green coloured leaflet. Again, you had to look hard to realise it had come from the Cons. so they are at it again. https://t.co/Kl0tl3Wa2Y
— #gotyourbackNHS. #ToxicTories #BrexitbrokeBrittain (@lynwis) October 15, 2023
Again, as the Canary previously reported, some Tories have changed their local leaflets to be green in colour – again, probably to fool voters. Foreign secretary James Cleverly is one such offender:
Posted this before. Cleverly probably thinks he is in the Green Party, he’s taken great care not to mention Conservative. pic.twitter.com/GZBZAH7ppJ
— Ian collins (@Iancoll94354676) August 6, 2023
Manipulated by all three parties
Of course, it’s not just the Tories who are guilty of this. Rand pointed out the Lib Dems used dodgy voting figures in one of their campaign leaflets. Then, Labour previously ran those highly questionable ‘attack ads’ on Rishi Sunak.
Overall, as the Canary previously wrote:
it seems there’s no level of manipulation to which the three main parties won’t stoop to try and dupe people into voting for them. The Tories are, of course, the worst offenders. However, it seems the public aren’t daft – which poses a huge problem in itself. This century, voter turnout at general elections has been the lowest since 1918.
The Tories dressing up campaign material as the NHS is about as low as it’s got, though – until whatever trickery they decide to come up with next.
Featured image via Chris Rand
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