The Liberal Democrats have been accused of misleading voters in key Yorkshire marginal seats with Facebook adverts claiming Labour has no chance of winning in their constituency.
Research shared with the Yorkshire Post shows two targeted adverts urging Labour voters to back them to stop the Conservatives on the basis that Labour "cannot win here" have been seen by voters in Yorkshire constituencies where Jeremy Corbyn’s party is either holding the seat or the main opposition.
Angry voters have described the videos posted into their Facebook timelines as “utter nonsense” and “rubbish”.
One video, which has been viewed more than 170,000 times on Facebook, claims: “Theresa May wants you to vote for Labour on Thursday. It might sound crazy but it is true. You live in a constituency where Labour cannot win. They were miles back in third place last time.”
But the video has been seen by voters in both Sheffield Hallam and Leeds North West, seats where Labour finished second to the Liberal Democrats in 2015. It has also been seen in Sheffield Central, a Labour seat where the Liberal Democrats finished fourth two years ago.
It has also been shown in the Scarborough and Whitby seat, where the Liberal Democrats finished fifth in 2015. It was also seen in Calder Valley, where the Liberal Democrats finished fourth and Labour second at the last election.
Research by Who Targets Me and the Bureau Local, part of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has involved more than 650 people in Yorkshire recording the political adverts that have appeared on their Facebook feeds in the past few weeks.
A similar Liberal Democrat video reported as being viewed in Sheffield Hallam says: “In your constituency, a vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will just help the Conservatives. If you want to stop the Conservative’s Dementia Tax and cuts to NHS, vote Liberal Democrats on 8th June. Labour can’t win in your constituency. Voting Labour here won’t stop Theresa May’s heartless cuts.”
The claims have prompted anger from many who have seen the videos.
One said: “Utter nonsense. Sheffield Hallam is a Labour-Lib Dem marginal. The Tories were a distant third in 2015. Hallam constituents have also received a letter asking Conservatives to vote Lib Dem to stop Labour. Are the Lib Dems doing so badly they can only win by borrowing votes from both sides?”
Another wrote: “Rubbish! The Conservatives don’t stand a chance in Sheffield Central - next door’s cat would get more votes.”
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said: “With Facebook advertising it is never possible for any party to target with 100 per cent accuracy – if people live in postcodes that straddle constituencies or if they spend a lot of time in another constituency (for example, through work) it is possible they might pick up advertising aimed at another seat. It is in our interests to target as accurately as possible and we constantly review our processes to make our advertising as accurate as possible.”