Update: The Dawn Butler google ad appears to have been pulled. Whether this is just a contract coming to it’s end, or something else isn’t clear. In any case, if you search “Dawn Butler” on google now, there’s no ad. Intriguing, eh?
When I opened my gmail this Wednesday morning*, I “noticed a google ad headlined my account. “Watch Dawn Butler’s Shame” it said. The only other reference was “news.bbc.co.uk”. YOu get a similar, if slightly longer winded version if you search for Dawn Butler on google. Intrigued, I clicked through, the advert taking me through to a BBC news report. I doubt the BBC is spending taxpayers money advertising against Dawn Butler, so it’s reasonable to assume someone else is paying for this ad.
The trouble is, there’s no evidence in the ad as to who. The obvious suspects would be the Liberal Democrats who are both second in Dawn’s constituency and web innovators. But if we don’t know who is paying for it, doesn’t it breach Electoral commission rules?
The electoral commission guidance on adverts is pretty clear in reference to election campaigns:
“Election publicity also includes materials that prejudice, criticise or disparage the electoral prospects at the election of other parties or candidates or (as the case may be) by prejudicing the standing with the electorate of other parties or candidates, even if that material does not expressly mention the name of any party or candidate”
“The intention of imprint requirements is to enable anyone to contact or trace the source of the material, for example, in case of any complaint or query about its content. There is no requirement for an imprint address to be a home address, as long as it is somewhere the person can be contacted.”
…and goes on to state that a breach of these rules is worth a fine of up to £5,000.
Now that advice applies to election periods, so I suppose whoever is paying for these adverts could claim they’re not electoral in nature, but in any case, surely we should have a right to now who’s paying for these adverts?
- Just caught this error. I tend to write my posts in the evening, then schedule them to post duting the working day (which is how I get so much done at work, everyone! ) in this case, this means that the “Dawn Butler” google ad was live yesterday 1st April. As of 10.45 on Thurs 2nd April, it was gone.