A change.org petition calling for the creation of an Office of Electoral Integrity has attracted over 170,000 signatures. The suggested new body would ‘factually verify the truthfulness of claims made during political campaigns’.
I recognise the concerns that have given rise to the petition, in particular following the range of claims and pledges made during the recent EU referendum campaign.
For instance, the Vote Leave group during the EU referendum campaign claimed that an extra £350 million a week could be spent on the NHS in lieu of the UK’s EU membership contribution. The Opposition held a parliamentary debate focusing on NHS spending in light of this claim recently, in which it called on the government to set out proposals for additional NHS funding.
It is important that during elections and referenda that the public are given the widest range of information in order to exercise their right to vote responsibly. At the 2015 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which included a commitment to introduce legislation which would require all major parties to have their manifesto commitments independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
I will continue to follow this issue closely.