A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, April 14, 2008

BNP adverts in Archant newspapers

Our local paper, the Hackney Gazette, is owned by newspaper group Archant.

Across London Archant, which owns over 20 titles, seems to have agreed to run adverts from the BNP.

I've sent the email below to Archant's CEO and Chairman:

"Dear Mr Jewson and Mr Fry,

I am writing as ward councillor in the London Borough of Hackney to express my shock and concern at reports that Archant are planning to allow the BNP to advertise in the Hackney Gazette.

Hackney is a borough with excellent race relations and community cohesion and although there was a National Front presence in the 1970s there has been no local far right presence in recent years.

We are one of the most multi-cultural boroughs in London and the Gazette's readership must reflect this. Many Gazette readers from ethnic minority groups - and others who value Hackney's ethnic diversity - will be horrified to open their local paper and see an advert from a far right party.

The BNP is not just another party that has an equal entitlement to advertise. The race hatred it peddles has been directly linked to increased violence and abuse against people from ethnic minority groups in areas where it is active. The nature of the BNP's ideology and tactics have been extensively catalogued over the years - key members have convictions for race-related behaviour and criminal violence, and a history of promotion of neo-Nazi concepts such as holocaust denial, which is particularly offensive in a borough with a large Jewish population.

I have always been pleased that the Gazette has a policy of being politically neutral, but this should not extend to allowing a fascist party to have a platform through advertising - I am sure that the Gazette would subscribe to certain core beliefs such as support for democracy and opposition to racism that allowing the BNP to advertise would contradict.

I do hope you will reconsider your decision to take their advert.

Cllr Luke Akehurst
Chatham Ward (Labour)"


Anonymous Ciro said...

So much for freedom of speech.
In this country we are meant to live in a democracy. Luke you and your political party New LAbour are eroding this freedom more and more. If the Gazette bans BNP adverts will it ban all political adverts? Or just keep those susposedly impartial Council adverts

4:34 pm, April 14, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I would rather they banned all political adverts than allowed the BNP to advertise.

I don't support freedom of speech for people who don't believe in it and would remove it themselves. Nor do I think democratic rights should be extended to parties who would overthrow democracy.

5:09 pm, April 14, 2008

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Well said Luke. This isn't a freedom of speech issue. Newspapers take decisions about who they take adverts from, and indeed who they report on, every day - and do so from a perspective of what's best for the paper. For a newspaper in an area like Hackney to take an ad from racists isn't just politically wrong, it's commercially stupid and culturally insensitive. I know that a lot of Archant staff are extremely uneasy about this - rightly.

Keep up the pressure.

5:35 pm, April 14, 2008

Anonymous Clapton Pond Life said...

You treat the people of Hackney with utter contempt. Do you think the readers of the Hackney Gazette are stupid enough to be taken in by the nasty BNP and their crappy adverts? Do you really think they are so thick as to believe the rubbish the BNP talk?
The people of HAckney are not imbeciles, they are intelligent enough to make their own rational decision on who to vote for in the coming election without you telling them what to do.

Anyway I thought you said you do not comment on Hackney issues!

8:32 pm, April 14, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the view from the stable of Northcliffe Media Group:


I must say that the Advertiser lot have it right, just like the BNP website - they will be vile, hatred based ads. They will be so close to the mark.

Thats why Labour should not be afraid to discuss immigration, controls, point based systems and what not.

11:16 pm, April 14, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Luke, the BNP are a political movement and have the right to advertise as long as they don't incite racial hatred. THATS THE LAW.

The BNP are a growing movement and this growth is the direct result of Labour policies so you only have yourselves to blame. Ironic that the BNP are at it's most popular under a Labour government....and ironic that it is this Labour government that has allowed record numbers on immigrants.

Allowing too many people into the UK too quickly is the result. People are choosing the BNP because they don't want uncontrolled immigration from the EU and outside of the EU.

Please remember Luke the recent success of the BNP is because people are voting for them. This is their choice and the question you should be asking yourself if why people are making this choice. This has very little to do about race, it's about people trying to protect Britain from over population.

Again I warned you months ago about this and you thought I was some nutter.

Ban it will only have the opposite effect. You're job luke is to adjust your policies to make them palatable for all the majority.

11:24 pm, April 14, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No one has a "right" to advertise - newspaper owners are free to make value judgements about whether the ads they take reflect the editorial stance of the publication.

9:09 am, April 15, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Broadly speaking, this is an issue about whether there should be curbs on fascist parties or not. We certainly shouldn't be treating them as 'any other party' - they are fascists and not part of the democratic stricture by default.

I do not think that the way to deal with the BNP is to adopt their policies. I think they are wrong, and the Government - any Government - should be prepared to say that they are wrong, and why.

There is controlled immigration from outside the EU, but in terms of the EU there are open borders. At the moment, that means a large number of people from Eastern Europe. Not necessarily something permanent. The days of Fortress Britain are long gone (unless you intend to prevent those leaving doing so as well!)

It isn't about 'overpopulation', given that there will always be shifts in population and migration patterns. In the main, its about people not liking those they perceive as 'different' from them.

It would be abhorrent if the Government bowed to that sort of agenda. Sometimes you have to do what is right, not what is populist or 'palatable'

10:07 am, April 15, 2008

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Luke. The BNP, like most of their fascist brethren, irrationally attack people from the BEM communities AND lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT).

You rightly point out the threat BNP poses to the BEM residents in your ward and in Hackney. However, you totally omit to mention the threat this poses to LGBT residents. Why?

12:20 pm, April 15, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

You are right, I was just trying to keep the message simple for Archant, who given their initial stance seem not to be terribly politically aware.

1:22 pm, April 15, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If community relations are so great then what's a BNP advert going to do?

Freedom of speech often offends people, doesn't mean we have to restrict it. If people are so tolerant, then what's this advert going to do?

Unfortunately freedom of speech extends to everyone unless you're actively promoting violence (which is a shady area in itself). Unless the BNP advert said "go kill Jews" or "BNP: The Party of Holocaust denial", I can't really see the problem.

4:34 pm, April 15, 2008

Blogger Dr. Duncan Hall said...

They have the right to send in the advert. Archant have the right to refuse to print it.

A newspaper company who believes in a a free, diverse society has a duty to refuse to print it.

5:48 pm, April 15, 2008


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