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Conservatives fake newspaper ‘Peterborough Future ’turns the air blue

The Electoral Commission said: ‘Voters have expressed concerns to us’

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Fake newspapers produced by the Conservatives – including a ‘spring 2024’ of ‘Peterborough Future’ featuring MP Paul Bristow – are not illegal, says the Electoral Commission, but it admits “voters have expressed concerns to us about the presentation”.

Mr Bristow is not the only Tory MP to switch colours – all use a red masthead – and many have taken to social media to complain about them.

In Peterborough, for instance, Toby Wood, the vice chairman of Peterborough Civic Society, took to @X (formerly Twitter) to observe that “noticeable that the Conservative Party logo isn’t there – hardly mention of the Conservative Party … and using Labour Party colours.

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“And, crucially, no mention of the Conservative Party in the ‘promoted by …’ section.

“Who’s funding this then???”

The influential Byline Times reports it has been “inundated with examples of the Conservative Party publishing party-political leaflets dressed up as local newspapers in what appears to be a national campaign strategy”.

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It reports: “Lincoln Conservative MP Karl McCartney has issued a leaflet to residents branded as the ‘Lincoln Chronicle’ – the same name as a weekly newspaper in the seat that was closed 15 years ago, and which many residents remember.

“The tactic was used successfully in Uxbridge and South Ruislip last month, with the party’s ‘Uxbridge and South Ruislip People’ urging people to “Stop ULEZ” (Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone expansion). The fake magazine mirrored the title of the local council-run Hillingdon People, which is meant to be apolitical.”

In today’s online edition of the newspaper industry’s website Hold the Front Page, a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Voters have expressed concerns to us about the presentation, labelling or layout of campaign material. We encourage all campaigners to undertake their vital role responsibly and to support campaign transparency.

MP Paul Bristow features prominently in the fake ‘Peterborough Future’ newspaper that has been delivered to homes in the city

MP Paul Bristow features prominently in the fake ‘Peterborough Future’ newspaper that has been delivered to homes in the city

“However, we don’t have the power to regulate campaign material. There is nothing in law to control the style and presentation of campaign material. The Commission’s remit when it comes to campaign material relates to whether printed material has an imprint, and we regulate party and campaigner compliance with the law.

“Existing imprint laws require campaigners to be clear about who is responsible for producing and promoting campaign material, although these do not require the inclusion of a specific label or text identifying it as election and referendum campaign material.”

The Society of Editors  has vowed to call out fake newspapers and “name and shame” parties and candidates who continue to attempt to mislead voters by distributing campaign material disguised as local newspapers during upcoming elections.

The society’s involvement came earlier this year after it considered fake ‘titles’ produced by the Liberal Democrats.

 

 

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