The Conservative Party yesterday banned the Daily Mirror from traveling on the party’s battle bus.
Senior Tory aides told the Mirror as early as last week they could have access to the trip – the Tory leader’s first with the bus – but pulled the offer at the last minute.
Our reporter was then blocked from boarding the red, white and blue emblazoned campaign coach when she arrived in Manchester city center, where it set off just before 8am.
As the bus headed for crucial electoral battlegrounds in the north east with Mr Johnson, our correspondent was forced to wave goodbye.
The vehicle whisked hacks up to Bishop Auckland where they visited the UK’s only washing machine factory, before visiting an engineering plant in Middlesbrough.
The Mirror, which reaches almost 500, 000 households and more than eleven million people online every day, was the only major national newspaper excluded from the trip.
The Tories had blamed the Mirror’s critical coverage of the Prime Minister in recent weeks .
This has included front page stories on the state of the NHS and criticizing the Mr Johnson over his response to flooding in the north of England.
Two buses bearing the logo “Get Brexit Done” are touring the country as part of the Tory campaign.
The buses then traveled on to Teesside where the PM was met with tough questions from factory workers, a smattering of supporters and protesters shouting “stop lying Boris”.
Mr Johnson met workers at Wilton Engineering including one who challenged him on his tax plans.
The Mirror has been invited onto election ‘battle buses’ under every Tory leader since they were invented in the 1970, including Mr Johnson’s immediate predecessorsTheresa Mayand David Cameron.
In the days of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, newspapers would buy a ‘campaign ticket’ which guaranteed their seat on the bus for every day on the trail.
Later arrangements meant newspapers boarded the bus by invitation.
But no Tory leader – including William Hague, Mr Cameron and Mrs May – has excluded the Mirror, even when coverage has been critical.
The Mirror was also invited onto Vote Leave’s infamous’ £ 350 million a week for the NHS ‘bus during the Brexit referendum campaign – led by Mr Johnson and with many of the same aides now running No 10.
Former Tory chairman Norman Tebbit expressed surprise at the decision.
He told the Mirror: “I think if I was running this campaign I would p robably want to get my message through to Mirror readers. ”
Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship said:” I think it’s appalling.
“Freedom of expression involves supporting and defending the rights of others to say things we don’t want to hear.
“That should include political parties accepting journalists whose views they don’t share into their spaces.
” It reminds me of how Donald Trump behaves when he tries to eject journalists from White House press conferences because they don’t agree with him.
“Conservatives have repeatedly said freedom of expression is a key British value. They should show that by defending it and allowing Mirror journalists onto their their bus. “
Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips said: “Mirror readers have every right to know what the Conservatives have in store for them shouldBoris Johnsonwin the election.
“Our journalists have every right to scrutinise the Conservatives on our readers’ behalf.
“Blocking us from doing our job is deeply worrying for freedom of journalism and the protection of the truth . “
It came as the party were accused of misleading the public on social media for a second time in the election campaign.
Their name changed to ‘factcheckUK’ for the duration of the ITV debate and the Conservative Party logo was removed from the page.
The move prompted a furious backlash – with the CCHQ account resorting to retweeting jokes about itself in a bid to laugh off the PR disaster.
Hundreds of furious users on social media reported the account to Twitter and the social media giant issued a warning to the Conservative Party for ‘misleading’ the public.
This morning Twitter warned that any further attempts to “mislead people” during the UK election will result in action.
But they faced calls to immediately suspend the Conservative account in line with their terms of service.
The @CCHQpress account is verified by Twitter, displaying a blue tick which is intended to denote that a user is genuine.
Soon after their ‘rebrand’, dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts soon copied th e move to pillory the Tories, including Royle Family actor Ralf Little.
He changed his name to ‘Conservative Press Orifice’ and the description to ‘Not a fact checker. Or *** Conservative Press Office ‘.
But Mr Little found himself locked out of his account, apparently due to the name-change joke.
He said: “Assume I’ve been suspended. Which is fine. But only if the @CCHQPress account is suspended for the same thing. ”
A Twitter spokeswoman said:“ Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UKgeneral election. We have global rules in place that prohibit behavior that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts.
“Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action.”
Independent factcheckers FullFact hit back: “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as @FullFact, @FactCheck or @FactCheckNI ”.
General election 2019
On the first day of the campaign, Tory press officers pushed out a fake news video of an interview with Labor’s Sir Keir Starmer, edited to appear he was unclear on the party’s Brexit policy.
In a doctored video, which was viewed more than 200, 000 times on Twitter, the party inserted several seconds of Sir Keir’s face in silence after a question from Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.
In reality, Sir Kier had answered the question immediately.
WHAT HE SAID:Delaying Brexit is “costing this country an extra billion pounds a month”. (Nov 18)THE FACTS:This cost is only when compared to a no-deal Brexit, in which the UK refuses to pay any divorce bill.
WHAT HE SAID:Labor “would wreck this economy with a £ 1.2trillion spending splurge.” (Nov 18)THE FACTS:The £ 1.2tn estimate wrongly claims a four-day week would begin on Day One, and counts disputed estimates and conference policies unlikely to be in Labor’s manifesto.
WHAT HE SAID:“Parliament first voted to approve this deal, and then voted for delay.” (Nov 6)THE FACTS:Parliament did not vote to approve the PM’s Brexit deal – MPs only passed it through its first Commons hurdle in principle before crucial amendments.
(WHAT HE SAID:) “Corbyn would spend the whole of 2020 having two referendums. One on Scotland. ” (Nov 6)THE FACTS:Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in 2020.
WHAT HE SAID:Health spending boost is “the biggest increase in modern memory in the NHS.” (Nov 15)THE FACTS:The IFS says the Tories’ rise is 3.2% a year in real terms. Under the last Labor government it was 3.6% before dropping to 1.3% between 2009 / 10 and 2018 / 19.
WHAT HE SAID:“The Labor party have a policy of zero control” on immigration. (Nov 15)THE FACTS:Members voted at Labor’s conference to remove several controls, but not all controls, and it is thought the policy did not survive intact into the manifesto.
WHAT HE SAID:Jeremy Corbyn would “whack” Corporation Tax “straight back up to the highest levels in Europe.” (Nov 18)THE FACTS:Labor’s previous pledges to restore Corporation Tax to 26% would still be lower than France (32%), Portugal (32%), Germany (30%), Belgium 30%), Greece (28% (and Italy) 28%), according to the OECD.
WHAT HE SAID:“This government has put far more into flood defences than the previous Labor government.” (Nov 15)THE FACTS:While the annual figure is now higher than under Labor, spending plunged under the first three full years of the Tories from 2011 / 12.
WHAT HE SAID:London murder rate was “fewer than 100 for several years running “when he was mayor (Nov 15)THE FACTS:Official figures compiled by the BBC show there was only one year in Boris Johnson’s eight as mayor where the homicide rate dropped below 100. It hit 94 in 2014.
WHAT HE SAID:“I am very proud of what we have done in the last 108 days or whatever it is, 108 days or so. ” (Nov 6)THE FACTS:At the time Boris Johnson had been Prime Minister for 105 days, not 108.
For the full list of liesclick here.