Brentwood newspaper cozies up to BNP

Last year I was horrified to see on my local newspaper website an advert by the BNP. This year things are a little more serious for one Essex newspaper.

Martin McNeill, the editorial director for Newsquest, who own Basildon Echo among others, on which website the advert appeared, made the excuse to Jon Slattery that:

We are accepting paid-for advertising from any political parties or candidates standing in the current elections. I appreciate how strongly many people feel about the BNP, but it would be undemocratic and against the principle of free speech to refuse to accept any party’s advertising provided it falls within our guidelines.

It might explain this Essex newspaper having its hands tied – though I think the excuse is rather a lame kop-out. But this article in Brentwood will not be able to carry the same excuse off.

It reads:

“The party operates under a veil of secrecy to protect members from those who oppose their beliefs and did not reveal the location of the meeting until just minutes before it was due to start. With the pub set to become a regular meeting place for the new group, they have asked us not to reveal where it is.

“Christine Mitchell, a 68-year-old grandmother from Chelmsford, will be running the branch from here on in. Mrs Mitchell, who is contesting the newly created Saffron Walden seat in the general election on May 6, said: ‘We are fighting for British jobs for British workers, that is the start but we are standing for other reasons – crime rates, the state of the education system and the fact MPs have stolen from the public.’

The former Conservative leader of Westminster Council, Peter Strudwick, spoke for more than an hour during the meeting, rallying support for what he called “ideologies” for the future…

“Searching faces scoured the room until a man who had until then sat quietly in the corner, put his hand up to pledge £100. Others then thrust crisp £50 notes in the pot before the less well-off handed over their screwed up £10 and £20 notes. There was much applause and hand shaking as the money came flooding in, uniting the room in the campaign to bring about radical change.”

The last line is of course the most disturbing; this isn’t just an account of the meeting, it ends in a partisan way, not challenging the notion that the BNP are “radical change” – which of course might be true, but not in any way to be celebrated or uncontested.

As just a brief conclusion, I will point out that this is Essex is part of the Essex Chronicle, which in turn is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust, which of course owns the Daily Mail. Not that that means anything of course.

(H/T left foot forward)

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