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Callout: Help us track general election campaigning and leaflets
The UK is gearing up for a general election next year, and we need your help.
The next general election will be the most important in a generation, especially for Leicester. In the run-up to the local elections last May, we received reports of dodgy leaflets, misinformation-filled WhatsApp messages, and, in some instances, outright false social media posts.
Many of the leaflets and WhatsApp messages we saw during the local elections were partisan, but a worrying amount sought to pit religious and cultural communities against one another. At the time, City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said:
"I hope that all of us now can reflect on what's happened during the election campaign and can reflect on the fact that, frankly, weaponising religion in politics is something that is very dangerous, not just to the political process, but for the communities we all seek to represent. I think if people look at the pattern of results as such... I think there are some disturbing elements in the way in which people have been used and have been misinformed about other people's attitudes towards religion".
The Great Central Gazette is now in a better position to collect, sort and publish instances of negative campaigning from across the city and its three constituencies: Leicester East, Leicester West and Leicester South. Thanks to funding from Your Co-op, we will investigate all material spread by political parties, their candidates, and other groups working alongside them.
By law, the next general election should be held by January 2025. But some speculate it will be called in May that year to coincide with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Leicester and local elections elsewhere. Local political parties are already selecting their candidates. Campaigning has, unofficially, begun.
We need you to be our eyes and ears.
Campaigners circulated leaflets that flouted election rules during the local elections. In many instances, they omitted imprints on printed material. Imprints state who is responsible for publishing campaign material and who they are promoting it for.
How to send us printed material
- Take a picture of both sides using your phone, even if one side is blank. The quality of the image does not matter as long as we can read the leaflet.
- Upload the photo to the form below.
WhatsApp messages are the most difficult to trace. Compared to other social media platforms, we cannot just look up who initially said what and when. Campaigners forwarded messages between friends, family and close connections without evidence pointing to their origin. If we catch WhatsApp messages soon after people send them, we can find their source – but if they quickly spread, it becomes almost impossible.
How to send us WhatsApp messages
- On your phone, screenshot the message. You can find out how to screenshot on Android here and iOS here.
- Upload the screenshot to the form below.
Social media platforms like X, formerly known as Twitter, have watered down their content moderation policies in recent months – meaning misinformation is more likely to spread during the general election.