Liberal Democrats stand by campaign ‘newspapers’ delivered in Leeds

Image of street with Labour sign

The Liberal Democrats for Leeds North West have faced criticism for distributing campaign news in the style genuine newspapers.

The Lib Dem newspaper used stereotypical newspaper mastheads and stylising to promote their candidate for Leeds North West, Kamran Hussain, who hopes to take the seat from Labour MP Alex Sobel.

Alex Sobel said on Twitter: “No other party here would trick voters like this.”

The National Union of Journalists referred to this practice as a “cause for concern” and an academic has branded this “pure promotion” designed to appear as news.

Sign on door reading: "NO TORY (FASCIST) OR LIB DEM (SELLOUT) LEAFLETS!!!"
Kane Daly Anti-canvassing signs have been seen across Leeds discouraging certain political parties from knocking on their doors.

“Anyone who reads it for two minutes will obviously know what it is,” a spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said.

“The newspaper is factually correct and we stand by the content of the newspaper.”

A window with a "Vote Labour" and an anti-canvassing sign.
Kane Daly Five of the eight Leeds seats are held by the Labour Party.

A journalism lecturer from Leeds Beckett University, Chris Pomery, said: “They want to appear as ‘news’, and steal those values. It’s pure promotion.”

Window with multiple political posters reading, "register to vote" and "kick out the Tories".
Kane Daly Tactical voting sites recommend voting for Labour in Leeds to loosen the Conservative majority.

A woman who used to volunteer for the Liberal Democrats, who did not wish to be identified, said: “They did stuff like this all the time.

“It’s similar to what other parties do but it’s not the best. I can see how it’s disingenuous.”

Kane Daly This news comes just weeks after the Conservatives were criticised for rebranding their Twitter to ‘factcheck UK’ during the televised debates.

In 2017, the NUJ described political parties hijacking newspaper mastheads and disguising advertising as news as a “cause of concern”.

NUJ national executive committee member for the Yorkshire region, Adam Christie, said: “Those organising political campaigning appear not to have learned lessons from two years ago.”

About the Author

Ben Barry & Kane Daly
LeedsNow journalists.

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