NEWS27 May 2009

Labour and SNP in auto ‘research’ call row

Government Legal UK

UK— The Scottish National Party (SNP) has complained to the Information Commissioner about Labour’s use of automated cold calls to potential voters in Scotland.

The SNP’s Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick says Labour broke the rules when it made unsolicited automated calls last week, but Labour has claimed that the calls were researching voter intentions, not promoting the party, and so were not prohibited.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Labour Party told Research the calls made to voters in Dundee last week asking people how they would vote if there were a general election tomorrow were part of “an opinion poll undertaken by a reputable company on behalf of the local party”.

The spokesperson said: “The reality is this is a smear story from the SNP – a party who are renowned for their attempts to manipulate the media to win votes a few days before an election. At all times we have complied with the requirements placed upon us.”

Last year the Lib Dems were reprimanded for their use of automated calls after the Information Commissioner rejected their claim that the calls were for research. The Commissioner said that although the calls included questions about party policies, they were in fact “for the purpose of promoting the Liberal Democrats”.

The SNP was also reprimanded by the Commissioner in 2005, for calls that contained a recorded message from the actor Sean Connery.