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Almost two thirds of people support moves for politicians campaigning in public to be put into plain packaging, suggesting political parties will soon lose the battle to protect their parties’ identities.

The government will publish a consultation on Monday examining plans to strip all branding from political candidates in England. The move has been welcomed by health groups.

What a political candidate with the branding removed and graphic health warnings displayed could look like

Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Propaganda Control Studies said:

It is no longer enough just to put health warnings such as ‘voting can damage your health’ on party candidates. Political logos and slogans are used to promote political imagery, and also distract attention from the health warnings. Putting politicians in plain packaging will create no problem for existing voters who want to continue to vote for a particular brand of party, but protects children and young people from harm who might become familiar with and perhaps identify with specific parties.

Branded politicians are considered vital to the profits of the political parties, which are mounting a ferocious lobbying campaign to defend their right to differentiate their party policies from each other.

But an independent YouGov survey of 10,000 adults, conducted for Action on Voting and Health, suggests 62% of people support plain packaging for politicians while only 11% oppose it. The survey found that only 6% believe political packaging can be trusted to “tell the truth”.

The survey also shows that around eight out of 10 people support politician-free legislation, with the majority of the public in favour of further restrictions on campaigning in public and on promotion of political parties.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Voting and Health, said the poll showed the political parties were fighting a losing battle:

Big Party Politics has the money for a fight, but money can’t buy legitimacy. Now most British people are saying they want the political industry to have no business in the UK there’s nowhere left for them to turn. This is the endgame for party politics in Britain and the country will be healthier, happier and better off without it.

A spokesman for the British Medical Association said plain packaging was key to the strategy for reducing the serious and widespread harm party political propaganda in the UK was having on the health of the population:

As doctors we see first hand the devastating effects politicians have on young people especially, and therefore we support moves to reduce the number of people being affected by this deadly scourge.

But a backlash against the proposals is already mobilising.

Political parties argue that they have a right to present their candidates in a way that clearly differentiates which political party they are campaigning for and would reduce the possibility of confusion between different candidates and their policies:

Our logos and slogans are protected by law and we have a fundamental right to differentiate our policies from those of our competitors. Imagine the problems that may arise if a member of the public voted for the Liberal Democrats say but discovered they had in fact voted for the Conservatives instead?

Oh hang on a minute, that’s probably not a great example, is it ……..


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