Election: Fact Check & Analysis: Felix Dodds

All the parties put out election leaflets, but how much in them is actually true when examined? We are checking the leaflets in the same order we have run all election coverage, alphabetically by party.

Here we look at the material for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Felix Dodds.

Felix Dodds is the candidate with the most impressive ecological and international credentials, but he has also engaged in the most deceitful format for some of his election material. Some of his election material is disguised as a local newspaper. Despite distrust in the media due to the behaviour of mass media tabloids and papers with a political bias founded by wealthy owners, voters recognise the format and are likely to comprehend it as news rather than campaign material, for which there is more distrust.
Nailed has a ban on any advertising or promotional content which is disguised as news. News regulators insist that such be labelled clearly.

The ‘newspaper’ includes some facts and some lies. They are included in other material and will be discussed below.  It is propaganda, as opposed to campaign literature.  The party has not surged as described. It describes Jo Swinson as charismatic, which nobody else has described her as, and in fact the opposite makes headlines.  It says that she is popular, which is not true, with voters having problems with her historical votes to cut benefits (including disability payments), to cut youth services, and to protect the wealthy by voting against a tax on bankers.

The main leaflet delivered to homes is the following one:

The leaflet starts out with an attack on the Conservatives, which does not talk about what the Lib Dems offer.

“The Conservative party has veered to the extreme.”
This is accurate.  Austerity is extreme, especially when faced with the information on the consequences, which include a 165% rise in homelessness and over 130,000 dead because of benefit cuts.  The current party kicks out MPs who don’t agree with the leadership, rendering democracy, and allegedly law , optional.  Members of the party, including MPs, have criticised the behaviour of the leadership and the direction it is taking the party.  Philip Hammond (1 of 2 former Chancellors expelled for disagreeing) said, “I am saddened that the Conservative Party (run by people who were serial rebels under Theresa May) has resorted to purging anyone expressing dissent. We all know only too well where that road ends up”  and that members were trying to turn the party into “an extreme right-wing faction.” They talk of removing human and workers’ rights with Brexit.  They kept trying to hold the same vote over and over until they got the answer they wanted, being stopped by Speaker, John Bercow. They employ Dominic Cummings as an advisor, who worked out how to manipulate people into voting Leave by targetting them on social media, and has links to Cambridge Analytica.  Cummings is said to have orchestrated the attempted illegal suspension of parliament, the expulsion of moderate MPs, and broke electoral spending laws (proven and admitted).  Former Prime Minister John Major, and party grandees Lord Hesseltine and Lord Patten, have all urged voters to vote against the party they led.  This claim is factual, albeit not explaining anything about the Liberal Democrats.

“Who knows where Jeremy Corbyn stands on Brexit?”
This is misleading.  It suggests that the Labour party has been unclear.  They have been confusing on their stance in the past but for this election they clearly state that they will hold a referendum, and Jeremy Corbyn declared that he would be neutral because his job is to listen to the people, not direct them.

“The Lib Dems would stop the Brexit chaos on day 1.” 
Stopping Brexit will take more than one day, but the pledge they make is to cancel Brexit by cancelling Article 50.  It is not just an act, but a process involving the EU, and its member states. This is possible, and likely to be accepted by the EU.  This is a pledge they can’t break as it is the platform they stand on – to end Brexit and Remain in the EU.

 

The graph uses EU election figures, which are not relevant to a general election because people vote differently.  Projections for this election from bookies put the Liberal Democrats in joint last place with the Green Party, and tactical voting sites recommend Labour as a tactical vote against Conservative, which matches the bookies figures of Labour in 2nd place at 20/1. The graph is not true for its purpose.

“Urgent Climate Action”
This is indeed a crucial issue to focus on, but this section again just rubbishes the other parties instead of setting out any aims.  The Liberal Democrat leaflet is the one, out of all 4 parties, which does this the most.  The behaviour tells you nothing useful and argues on the basis of “Everyone else is rubbish, vote for me because I’m less rubbish.”

“A fair economy that works for us all”
Still surrounded by attack, this section spends fewer words on the plan to create a green economy and link up Derby, Nottingham and Leicester to create new industries and other vague improvements.  It doesn’t offer any idea of what this means.

Bio
Felix’s bio is impressive in regards to environmental work.  He is the most influential, well-connected, experienced and evidenced environmentalist in the election and has advised official bodies on the climate crisis.  He undersells this in favour of emphasising his local connections.

“A more prosperous Britain”
This section is a statement of party philosophy, that we are better off working with Europe.

Tackle the Climate Emergency
This is a statement of belief that Britain should be leading other nations in tackling the issue.  It doesn’t include details of how, but Felix Dodds is the only candidate who has focused on and worked in climate politics, with strong international links, having worked for the United Nations on the issue.

Healthcare
Here the Liberal Democrats promise to invest in the NHS, but do not specify by how much (scroll down for manifesto pledges).  They state an £11 billion investment in mental health care.

Does the manifesto give more detail?

The manifesto continues the established pattern of getting in as much criticism as possible.  We cannot assess it as plain English, because it veers away from statement of intent towards negative campaigning within the text of the manifesto.  The online presentation of the manifesto is needlessly complicated and arranged like a website with clickable sections.  This is one of the more expensive manifestos.

Big promises

 £130 billion investment in infrastructure, to upgrade transport and energy systems, and build schools, hospitals and houses. Included in this is a continuation of HS2 construction, a commitment to build 300,000 homes a year, including 100,000 social homes, and £5 billion start-up capital  for a new Green Investment Bank to attract private investment for zero-carbon technology.

Introduction of a £10,000 “skills wallet” scheme for every adult in England to spend on education and training throughout their life.

The addition of a  “wellbeing budget” to the national budget, with the intention of making government spending decisions on what will improve wellbeing, in addition to existing economic and fiscal indicators.

Tax and wages

Corporation tax would be restored to 20%. This affects small businesses, but there isn’t much difference between the parties on this issue.
Capital Gains tax-free allowance would be abolished, and capital gains (selling heirlooms etc.) would be taxed. 
They intend to scrap the marriage allowance in tax and have a single allowance per person.
These promises are the same as the Labour Party’s.  The last point tackles the prejudice towards marriage in tax law.

They also intend to add a penny to income tax, which aims to raise £7 billion a year for repairing the damage done to the NHS.

They promise to consult with real people across society to work out what a real “living wage” would be.

A new “dependent contractor” employment status would be created, which would entitle some kinds of self employed workers to rights such as minimum income, sick pay and holiday entitlement. 

They want to tackle zero hours contracts by setting a 20% higher minimum wage for people on those contracts  and give them the right to go onto fixed hours are a year.  The higher wage is so that they earn more when they get given normal hours, to cover their bills when they get no hours.

Education

Free childcare for children, for all working parents, beginning at 9 months of age of child.

Reversing cuts to school funding, employing an extra 20,000 teachers, paying teachers more, and repairing educational buildings.

Scrapping SATs and “league tables” of schools.  They don’t give a full explanation of what wll replace this but state “a broader set of indicators.”  They also intend to replace Ofsted with a government inspectors.

Environment

They want to insulate all of Britain’s homes by 2030.
They promise that 80% of UK electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030, and 100% by 2045. 
We only have until 2030 to sort this out, so this falls at the bottom of the promises to tackle emissions in regard to the climate crisis, with all other party plans promising faster progress (Labour – majority 2030, complete in the 30s; Conservatives – 2029; Greens – 2030)

They will ban fracking,  ban single use plastics, plant 60 million trees a year, make the railways and all cars electric by 2030.

A £5 billion flood prevention and climate adaptation fund would be created.

Health

With £7 billion a year from the extra penny on income tax, they mirror the Green pledge to make social care and mental health equal with physical health.

They intend to reform the Health and Social Care Act to make the NHS “work in a more efficient and joined-up way, and to end the automatic tendering of services”. This is a promise to reverse the privatisation of the NHS through increasingly contracted services from private companies, which has occured in recent years.

Crime

They intend to invest in community policing and focus punishment on rehabilitation.  This policy is in line with the Green Party.  They intend to employ 2000 more prison staff for this rehabilitation.

The manifesto promises an immediate 2% pay rise for police officers, to end the “disproportionate use” of stop and search powers and replace Police and Crime Commissioners with local councillors.  Neither PCC’s nor councillors have necessarily got any relevant experience in policing (ours was a probation officer and social worker).

Welfare

Welfare policy revolves around reforming Universal Credit. They will reduce the wait time for first payments “from five weeks to five days.”

They will introduce a “legal right to food” as law and other policies would be checked for how it might affect that.

WASPI women, born in the 50s, who lost their pensions when the Conservatives raised the pension age would  be “properly compensated” for the increase in the state pension age. Labour also make this promise (although not in their manifesto) but have come under more scrutiny for the cost of the plan.

The basic state pension would rise in line with the highest of wages, prices or 2.5% (triple lock).


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Clare Washbrook

Current Editor-in-Chief News and magazine editor since 1995 Post-grads: Literature; Theatre; Journalism, Ethics & Law Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green, Belper's WW1 Poppies, Amber Valley Solidarity No political party memberships/affiliations.

5 thoughts on “Election: Fact Check & Analysis: Felix Dodds

  • 11th December 2019 at 10:50 pm
    Permalink

    You’ve offered no evidence to back up that there are ‘lies’ in this literature. You have taken opinions and claimed that yours are more factual than those of Mr Dodds’ campaign, that is completely different to objective report of facts.

    How you can offer a factual opinion on a judgement like ‘Jo Swinson’ is charismatic or ‘Labour’s position on Brexit is unclear’ or ‘this graph uses figures from a EU election, which are not relevant to how people vote in a General Election’?

    You can say that they have never before been relevant, but that they won’t be relevant this time. Disagreeing with a statement in campaign literature does not qualify as fact checking. Your claim to be objective in this election looks distinctly suspect.

    Reply
    • 12th December 2019 at 12:06 am
      Permalink

      Hello AJM. This sounds like the objection of a party member. I apologise if I’m wrong but only party members have used the words “charismatic” and “popular” in regards to Jo Swinson.

      We didn’t analyse or display the fake newspaper in full, because it is not the main leaflet which has gone through people’s doors and our intenton was to label it as additional propaganda.

      To answer your specific points:

      I was not analysing whether Jo Swinson is actually charismatic. My own opinion of her is not included in the article. I checked whether the propagandist language of the fake newspaper was held up in the public opinion cited, and it is not. It is a lie that she has higher approval ratings that Johnson or Corbyn. All are in negative figures – Johnson -14, Corbyn -30, Swinson -45. Clearly Swinson is doing significantly worse on the approval ratings. Even if not paying attention to all of the reactions to politicians at the moment, there are large numbers of articles reporting on how unpopular and uncharismatic she is perceived to be, in those exact words – Telegraph, Scotsman, Guardian, Times, BBC, Express, New Statesman and then there’re the public opinions across social media, and the real polls for this actual election, and the odds. And other appraisals. The New European says “scatty” and “obstinate”. All show a completely different reality to this blatant PR propaganda. Do a Google search for “Jo Swinson charisma” and see if you can find anything to support the contention. The language of this fake newspaper is propaganda and what was written was a language analysis, which threw up some factual issues, and it is my job to tell people that.

      The graph is irrelevant. That’s not an opinion. Use of these deceptive charts, falsifying a surge in support that claims the Liberal Democrats are in 2nd position either by area or nationally, has been criticised widely by everyone fact checking and analysing the tactics of their campaign. It made headline news this morning, and criticism of various graphs has been reported since November. You’ll find that all independent fact checks have come to similar conclusions and the party has had to respond.

      “Labour’s position on Brexit is unclear” is stated as a reality, not an opinion, so that must be checked because people are being asked to believe it. The position is not unclear, it’s simple and the fact of that position is written in a legal document.

      Matthew Parris is not a Tory Grandee. He hasn’t been an MP since 1986 and was only a Conservative politician for 7 years. It is claimed that huge numbers of voters have come over to the Liberal Democrats. There is no evidence to support this contention. What is mentioned is a handful of politicians and former politicians. This does not prove the contention. Real figures disprove it, which is why they are odds on to come joint last in Mid Derbyshire at 100/1.

      Reply
  • 12th December 2019 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    Clare is right to question the Lib Dems claim to be in contention in Mid Derbyshire. The extrapolation of the Euro Election result to an electoral ward makes no statistical sense, and is not directly comparable to the ward results in the 2017 General Election.

    A breakdown of the percentage of the 2017 Mid-Derbyshire result shows the Lib Dems only got 3.6% of the vote (figures from wikipedia). It would take a mighty swing to the Lib Dems for them to be anywhere near to unseating Pauline Latham (58.6% of the vote) who has a majority of 11,616. If we choose to extrapolate from the 2017 Mid Derbyshire ward results, the Lib Dems main battle seems to be the avoidance of being in 4th place.

    Conservatives: 58.6% (29,513 votes)
    Labour: 35.5% (17,897 votes)
    Lib Dems: 3.6% (1,793 votes)
    Greens: 2.3% (1,168 votes)

    Reply
  • 12th December 2019 at 11:53 pm
    Permalink

    1. You are quoting ‘evidence’ of Swinson’s lack of charisma that post-date the deliver of this leaflet to my home. That is typical of biased assessments to forget the timing of the opinion. By the way, an opinion remains an opinion not a fact. So cannot be a lie, sometime people just disagree. 2. The alleged clear position on Brexit is no such thing, in my opinion. I’m sorry that your demonstrably Labour Part view is exposed as nonsensical but that is the reality. The result of this election is evidence that most of the UK population agree with my opinion (which is still not a
    fact). Perhaps you feel that negotiating an unspecified deal, holding a referendum (which you previously opposed), and remaining neutral on the key question of the election is clear. I do not and you suggestion that it was is laughable. Corbyn is personally culpable for the Brexit that will now be inflicted on Britain. He went on vacation during the Referendum (because he is a life long Brexiteer) and now he has led the most inept campaign in political history. 3. Since when is Grandee a defined adjective? It is a total nonsense to suggest that is something with an agreed definition. You are making a different judgement about Matthew Parris. You are welcome to that opinion. What you are not welcome to do is use your alleged independent news source to peddle biased assessments. You have still not offered a single fact about which this candidate (for whom I did not vote) lied. To state that someone lied is a very extreme allegation. You should not make it as a ‘journalist’ unless you have a factual (not opinion) basis for that claim.
    2.

    Reply
    • 13th December 2019 at 1:27 am
      Permalink

      Hello again AJM,
      There is, in responding to someone arguing with work you know is accurate, a risk that you will pick the wrong tack. Treat them like an idiot and they may think they are being patronised. Credit them with intelligence and they may just keep saying that nothing is good enough. And of course nothing will be good enough for them until one agrees with them. These articles are too long for a lot of readers anyway, and giving intricate listed details of every element of how a person who is immersed in politics gains understandings and assesses information of many sorts, many of which are not merely statistics, would be absurd. There are hundreds of sources. The articles would be dissertation length. So we summarise our conclusions.

      You are, in all points, incorrect. I will not continue to argue it though. It stands. You may dislike it as much as you choose.

      However – Grandee
      All words are defined in English. You can find these definitions in dictionaries. Grandee is a noun, not an adjective. It has 2 meanings. The original was an official title applied to the highest ranking most revered persons in old extreme systems of nobility, this is still repurposed for non-noble persons, indicating high levels of power and influence. In terms of British politics it is used ONLY for politicians of continuing influence, who have served the party for a long period of time.

      Reply

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