Journalists launch campaign to challenge BNP in run-up to election

Campaigning journalists and media workers are to launch EXPOSE, a campaign aimed at "revealing the undemocratic and racist nature" of the British National Party.

The new campaign will tackle the BNP's "attempts to construct a respectable public image" and support media workers who refuse to work on uncritical programmes or material, the group announced today.

EXPOSE aims to brief reporters and news editors to help them challenge the BNP's statements and spokespersons in the run-up to the UK election, the campaigners said.

A launch rally at the Amnesty UK headquarters in London on 23 February will feature Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, columnist and broadcaster; Mehdi Hasan, political senior editor for the New Statesman; Sunny Hundal, editor of the Liberal Conspiracy blog; and Peter Hain, secretary of state for Wales.

"The political and media consensus appears to be that the way to tackle the BNP is to meet it halfway, by talking up tough anti-immigration measures (...) this conventional wisdom must urgently be challenged," said one its founding supporters, James Macintyre, political correspondent for the New Statesman.


"The BNP is not an 'ordinary' political party (...) So why does the media, including the BBC, give them so much time, space and opportunity to spread their bile?" added his New Statesman colleague Mehdi Hasan.

The campaign is also backed by the unions, with speakers at the launch event including Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Journalists; Pat Styles, national official for BECTU, the media and entertainment union, and Weyman Bennett of joint secretary, Unite Against Fascism.

"Journalists have a duty to hold up to the closest scrutiny the claims and activities of those who would foment racial tension and violence. The BNP's inflammatory rhetoric about immigration cannot be taken at face value," said Stanistreet.


HAT TIP SIMON DARBY



LEE J BARNES
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