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Saturday 14 September 2019

Tory Facebook Dirty Tricks Farce

[Update at end of post]

Who could have predicted that a party now effectively run by polecat Dominic Cummings, infamous for Vote Leave’s crude and dishonest Facebook adverts telling voters that Turkey was about to join the EU, and that our border would therefore be with Iraq and Syria, would just have been caught doctoring BBC news reports in yet another round of misleading Facebook adverts? Sadly, many could have predicted it.
And that’s why the revelation has come as no surprise, although the crude and mildly ungrammatical doctoring suggests standards at The Blue Team are not what they once were. The Tories’ chosen specialist subject on this occasion is education, and the article they have claimed as their own is about a recent spending announcement.

Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had made a claim of another £14 billion to be spent on schools, or as the Beeb put it “Next year schools will receive a £2.6bn uplift, rising to £4.8bn the following year - with schools spending £7.1bn more than at present by 2022-23”. The Corporation’s head of Statistics, Robert Cuffe, though, warned that all was not what it seemed with that £14bn claim.
Boris Johnson's announcement of extra money for schools will be welcome to many, but do the sums add up? … An additional £2.6bn next year, £4.8bn the year after that and £7.1bn in 2022-23. When you add all three together, you get £14.5bn, but that's not normally how we talk about spending increases. We talk about budgets for each individual year … Describing this as a £14bn increase would make the government seem more generous than it is in fact being”. That did not stop the Tory Facebook warriors.

As Martin Belam of the Guardian pointed out, “Conservatives are currently running Facebook ads where they have changed the headline of a BBC News article to make it say schools are getting an extra £14bn. In the text of the BBC article they link to it literally describes the £14bn claim as misleading. It's just shameless”. It is?
Let’s have a look at the Tory Facebook advert, which is “Active” and started running last Monday. They have added their own heading “Tell this news to a friend … We’re giving schools a record £14 billion, levelling up per pupil funding across the country”.

So far, so much propaganda - then comes the doctored BBC headline: “£14 billion pound cash boost for schools”. A word in your shell-like, Tory ad person. If you use the Sterling currency symbol before the number 14, you do NOT say “pound” or “pounds” afterwards. The word “pounds” is implicit in the use of the Sterling currency symbol. Oh dear!
The Tories have been caught red-handed fiddling with BBC headlines, which is bad enough, but worse is that they have also been caught being inept with it.

But seriously, this will be only the first of many, many more examples of Facebook-driven Tory dirty tricks. The presence of Polecat Dom guarantees it.
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[UPDATE 1710 hours: Facebook has taken a dim view of the Tories' tactics, and has now removed the advert. As the BBC has reported, "The social media giant say [sic] the Tories had 'misused' its advertising platform and it was working to stop headlines being changed in this way".

The Blue Team's comment was priceless. "The party has said it is reviewing the way its Facebook adverts are produced". In other words, it's going to see how it can get away with dirty tricks without having its ads banned]

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