AM calls for Senedd debate about campaign advertising

16 May 2017

Julie Morgan, the Labour AM for Cardiff North, has criticised the Conservative Party for adverts they placed in local newspapers on Friday 5th May.

The party paid to have advertisements that looked like a front page wrapped around local newspapers all over the UK on the day of the local elections. The wraparound featured in a few North Wales publications as well as the South Wales Echo.

In Tuesday’s Plenary Ms Morgan called for a Senedd debate about political advertising in print publications and said the front page advertising wraps “gave a misleading impression of political bias towards the readers.”

She says she wants a debate about “the need for balance and fairness in reflecting Welsh politics.”

As it currently stands there are no laws against print advertisements but parties must make it clear ad are not an endorsements or news piece.

The Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, responded by pointing out the Conservative Party would have to declare how much they had spent on the adverts and said they would face scrutiny.

But she said there would be a debate if AMs supported it.

Last week there was a protest about the South Wales Echo’s decision to publish the ad. People gathered outside the publication’s office in Cardiff.

One of the protesters, Adam Johannes, says:

“I have been reading the Echo for twenty years. In all that time the paper has never run a full front page advert for a political party during election time.

“Like many readers I was shocked and did a double take when I saw Theresa May splashed on the front page with a call to vote for her.

“Increasingly it seems the front page is not about news, but something to be pimped out as advertising to whatever business or vested interest is prepared to shell out corporate dollar.”

The Welsh Conservatives and the South Wales Echo have been contacted for comment.

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