11 July 2024

Fact check: Claims about politicians, ULEZ exemption and Labour seats

11 July 2024

This roundup of claims has been compiled by Full Fact, the UK’s largest fact checking charity working to find, expose and counter the harms of bad information.

Claims about politicians from Labour and Reform UK

In the days following the general election we’ve seen a number of false claims about politicians circulating on social media.

Posts on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook claimed that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves said “the state pension is a benefit, it can no longer be an entitlement for all”, and that she had announced “new pension rules” whereby those earning £30,000 or more, who pay into a work-based or private pension for at least 30 years, will no longer qualify for a state pension.

But there’s no evidence that Ms Reeves has made any such comment, and no such plans have been announced. The claims may have stemmed from a suggestion made in a radio interview by Sir Edward Troup, reportedly an adviser to Ms Reeves, that the state pension could be means-tested at some point in the future. But a Labour spokesperson said: “These are not Labour party policies.”

Other posts shared thousands of times on social media have claimed that a Reform UK candidate who stood for election in Clapham and Brixton Hill in south London may not be a real person, with speculation that he “looks AI-generated”.

However the candidate in question, Mark Matlock, is very much a real person, as he explained in a broadcast interview and confirmed by other media outlets. Mr Matlock did however say that his image on campaign leaflets had been “altered to change my tie and suit”.

And in case you were wondering, a picture of the new Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer wearing a pink hijab—which has had over 2.5 million views on X—isn’t genuine. Although we don’t know for certain where the image comes from, it was posted by a satirical website in October 2023 and has since been shared out of context. It may have been generated using AI as there are some discrepancies with the hands pictured, which can be a telltale sign.

ULEZ exemption

It’s been claimed elsewhere on social media that an exemption to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for electric vehicles is to end next year.

This isn’t true. While a discount to London’s congestion charge for zero emissions vehicles is due to end in 2025, all electric vehicles remain exempt from the daily £12.50 ULEZ charge.

A news article pictured with the claims we’ve seen circulating actually refers to the change in the congestion charge for electric vehicles which comes into force in 2025 and does not relate to the separate ULEZ scheme.

Did Labour win 411 or 412 seats?

Finally, you may have spotted a slight discrepancy in reports of the number of seats won by Labour in last week’s general election.

Some sources, including media outlets, the House of Commons Library and the Institute for Government think tank, have said that Labour won 411 seats. But according to other media outlets, Labour actually won 412 seats.

The difference is down to how Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s seat in Chorley is counted. Sir Lindsay was originally elected in Chorley as a Labour MP in 1997, and was affiliated with the party until 2019. But he was required to renounce his party allegiance when elected as Speaker in 2019, after having been a Deputy Speaker to John Bercow since 2010.

As Speaker, Sir Lindsay stood as a candidate without party affiliation in this year’s general election, and neither Labour nor the Conservatives fielded a candidate against him in his constituency, as is convention. He was re-elected as Speaker by MPs at the first meeting of the new House of Commons on Tuesday.

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