Brighton Argus ban on BNP 'misguided' say anti-racists

Neither Hodgkinson, left, nor Bradshaw will publish BNP statements

An evening paper that has banned the far right British National Party from its pages has found a surprising opponent to the policy – anti-BNP group Unite Against Fascism.

The Argus, Brighton, has told UAF that it believes the BNP should be ignored “like hoax bomb scares”. And it refused to act on a press release that revealed Brighton’s three MPs were supporting UAF’s opposition to the BNP.

UAF spokesman Andy Player said: “This policy is formed from the best of intentions but it’s misguided. The BNP are going to get their propaganda out anyway and we think it’s really important they are exposed by people like local MPs and local councillors.”

UAF is supported by more than 50 MPs and the NUJ. It was set up as an alliance of anti-fascist and anti-racist groups to highlight the BNP’s bid to win seats in the European and local elections on 10 June.

Because the BNP is putting up candidates throughout the country, it qualifies under election law for a free leaflet drop to every home.

The regionalised PR system means that a party needs 9.5 per cent of the vote to return an MEP.

Player said: “We want to raise people’s awareness that the BNP are standing on 10 June and that they could sneak in on a low turnout.

“Their message will get out to about 60 million people between now and 10 June through their leaflets. It will say: ‘we are a credible alternative to the mainstream parties’.

“What they don’t say is they stand for the deportation of anyone who can’t trace their ancestors back to the Norman Conquest. Using the media is a major tactic for exposing them for what they are.”

The Argus, Regional Press Awards newspaper of the year, published two articles about a Unite Against Fascism rally in Brighton town centre earlier this month. Its no-BNP policy emerged when Player asked reporter Adam Trimingham why the paper was not acting on a follow-up press release.

Trimingham sent back a message from editor Simon Bradshaw which said: “The story that got in two or three weeks ago shouldn’t have done.

The BNP do not deserve the right to publicity and even condemning them in the way the UAF does (quite rightly) only gives the BNP the credence and respectability they crave.

Like hoax bomb scares, the best – and my – policy is to ignore them.”

Bradshaw declined to comment to Press Gazette.

In Yorkshire, the Evening Post has a policy that contrasts with that of The Argus. It plans to launch an anti-BNP campaign later this month.

The BNP is particularly active in West Yorkshire and has already won a number of council seats there.

Evening Post editor Neil Hodgkinson said: “We campaign quite vociferously and make sure everybody knows what these far right groups stand for.”

He said the Evening Post also has a policy not to publish any BNP statements or allow it right of reply.

“We don’t allow them to spout their lies through our newspaper.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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