The British National Party is predicted to make significant gains in next week’s local elections, causing a debate among editors about how they should cover the far-right party.
The BNP is putting up a record 23 candidates in Leeds. The city’s Yorkshire Evening Post has won the Commission for Racial Equality’s regional newspaper of the year award twice in the past three years under former editor Neil Hodgkinson.
YEP reporter Pete Lazenby said: "We are going to be looking at the individuals. We have a twin-track approach which is exposing the truth about the BNP then, in addition, all year round we do positive stories about the issues on which they thrive. We look at the positive contribution made here by people who arrived in this country as immigrants or asylum seekers."
Dewsbury & District Press editor Danny Lockwood has been criticised for giving the BNP too much coverage, but he insists it serves to expose the party.
The BNP is standing for all 69 council seats in Kirklees.
Lockwood said: "We treat everyone as being part of the political landscape.
Previously we interviewed the BNP leader and he showed them up for what they are. They were hoisted by their own petard. We are an open forum for debate, which defuses temperatures. It’s only when you deny someone a voice that you fuel antagonism and fears."
Meanwhile, the editor of the Barking and Dagenham Post, Barry Kirk, has dismissed claims that a large number of voters in his circulation area want to support the BNP. His paper dedicated just one page to claims by Barking and Dagenham MP Margaret Hodge that eight out of 10 voters in the constituency were considering voting BNP.
Kirk said: "There is a problem, but it seems to have been blown up. Yes we do have the BNP and yes they are putting up six candidates — a record number.
The thing that I question is whether eight out of 10 voters in Barking and Dagenham would be thinking of voting for the BNP — it’s not something we have found. It is a staunchly Labour constituency."