The question is prompted by the front page of yesterday’s Daily Star, which ran a story claiming that the English Defence League wanted to become a political party:
As I pointed out yesterday, the quote from the EDL’s leader, “Tommy Robinson” (real name - Stephen Lennon), that the Star based their story on was dubious at best.
“Tommy” was quoted as saying:
We aren’t ruling it out. I think this country needs a party that’s not afraid to say things some would consider unpopular.
My hope is still that the Tories will take a tougher stance.
We are a single issue group and at the moment we would rather have a dialogue with the other political parties – but that could change.
That certainly indicates that there’s a possibility in the EDL becoming a political party in the future, but it doesn’t justify the Star’s headline of “English Defence League to become political party”.
But whether the Star’s story was accurate or not, Ian Burrell’s piece from the Independent asks if, by publishing such an uncritical story of the group, the paper is throwing their support behind them:
It’s a rare thing for the Star to “splash” on politics. And although the coverage referred to the EDL as being a “far-right group”, it reported its activities in an uncritical manner and noted that, in a phone poll of readers the previous day, 98 per cent of respondents had “said they agreed with the EDL’s policies”.
The newspaper’s long-standing editor Dawn Neesom is one of Fleet Street’s stalwarts. A proud East Londoner and keen kickboxer, she follows West Ham United home and away and prides herself on being in touch with the instincts of the Star’s working-class readership.
The EDL draws much of its support from football followers. Sources said it was Ms Neesom’s decision to give the group such a high profile, and not that of the paper’s owner Mr Desmond.
It’s not hard to see why the Star would choose to back the EDL. The paper has a long and well-documented history of publishing stories that paint Muslims in a negative light, some examples of which can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
And this is just a choice salad of such stories; there are many, many more.
And there will be many, many more to come.