The British National Party is continuing to hit local newspaper headlines, often at its own initiative. Across the country the media are reporting BNP activity as a result of a single fax or letter sent in by the party. Unwittingly, local newspapers are giving the BNP publicity on a scale that the party could not achieve through thousands of leaflets. In the run up to last May's elections the party were able to win headlines for even the merest of utterances from the leadership. "BNP in bid for power" screamed the Yellow Advertiser, a free newspaper in Redbridge, East London. What had the BNP done to warrant such a glaring front-page advertisement? Nick Griffin had told the paper: "Redbridge is one of the areas we are planning to put a lot of effort into come the elections". The area had seen considerable BNP activity regarding plans to build a mosque. So it is understandable that the paper would be interested in what the BNP were doing. But a sense of perspective is needed. For the BNP to win power in Redbridge they would need to take 32 seats on the council. The BNP stood only two candidates. This is just one example among many of bad reporting. It gives the BNP the oxygen of publicity and the veneer of respectability. The BNP is systematically targeting the local media to spread its racist message. It realises that BNP activity is eagerly reported in the press and is keen to exploit this to the full. Editors must bear this is mind next time a BNP press release lands on the newsdesk. The BNP know that the paper will condemn its views but believes the publicity it gains far outstrips the negative editorial. Another way that the BNP use the press is through letter writing. By
picking on popular and emotive issues, for instance by targeting sex offenders, the BNP capitalise on the feelings of local residents. In the first half of 1999, a decision was made to move a convicted sex offender into the tranquil Rutland village of Wing Grange. Within days the BNP had moved into the town distributing "Hang Child Murderers" leaflets. Letters to the press promptly followed, with one stating in the Rutland Times that, "Yesterday a leaflet from the BNP landed on my doorstop and very refreshing it was to read. At last there is one political party out there with an ounce of common sense. I know where my cross will go come next election". When the second letter appeared a week later, Peter Golden, a local councillor, became concerned. It became apparent that BNP members and supporters, who did not live in the area, had been writing the letters themselves. The second letter came from number 31 in a street with only two houses. Radio also plays an important part in the BNP's media campaign. During a discussion programme in immigration, Radio Five Live was contacted by a man claiming to be black who asserted that racism was not the fault of the "indigenous British", but arose because there were too many immigrants here. The caller was later revealed to be Bill Woods, a member of the BNP's Nottingham branch. The BNP frequently uses local papers to promote its presence. Under the front page headline, "National Party Targets Town", the Newark Advertiser declared: "The British National Party is planning to hold a members' meeting in Newark to discuss a strategy to combat crime, which could involve vigilante style groups patrolling the streets". The Tamworth Herald also aided a BNP publicity stunt by running the
front-page headline, "Nationalist Party set up in the town", accompanied by the BNP's logo. On the inside pages the paper reproduced the BNP's political programme, alongside another story about job losses. Unsurprisingly, the BNP seized upon this free publicity with glee. Attempts are also made to shape what is written about the party. Behind this growing use of the media is the BNP's Media Monitoring Unit (MMU). Launched in 1998, it operates from an East Midlands base. Stuart Russell, the MMU's organiser, who calls himself Phil Edwards, has said that its aim is to monitor what was being said about the party, evaluate it, and fashion a response. The MMU also seeks opportunities to gain publicity for the BNP and its policies. Manipulating the press is a key strategy. Its publications regularly congratulate members for consistent letter writing to the press, and urge others to follow suit. They also jump upon the tone of the media with relish. With the current campaign against asylum seekers prominent in many national papers, the BNP feel they have been granted legitimacy. "The asylum seeker issue has been great for us", Griffin has remarked. Because the press has been so rabid, the BNP feel they are justified in taking these sentiments even further. The press is guilty of creating a climate of fear in which the BNP can flourish. But apart from using the press to its advantage the BNP is not overly fond of the media. The party leader, Nick Griffin, has written a pamphlet, Who are the Mindbenders? which outlines his belief that Jews control the media. He purports to name all Jews in TV, radio, and journalism as proof that they are Zionist controlled.