British National Party and legitimisation thesis:
A thematic analysis of press coverage of the BNP
University of Liverpool
Introduction and Methodology
Chapter 1: The British National Party and the Media
Chapter 2: Nick Griffin on Question Time: An analysis of national newspaper coverage Chapter 3: The Liverpool Echo: An analysis of BNP coverage during 2009 Chapter 4: Conclusion
Appendix A: Content Analysis Data – Question Time (19/10/09 – 24/10/09) Appendix B: Content Analysis Data – Liverpool Echo (01/01/09 – 31/12/09)
The British National Party has been active in British politics for well over 20 years but has had limited success, with it claiming that one of the main reasons for this lack of success is that the mass media in the UK is largely biased against it. The purpose of this dissertation is to establish if there is any truth in the party’s claims by establishing the extent to which the party has been accepted as legitimate by the British media. The national newspapers the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Sun were used, as well as the regional newspaper the Liverpool Echo, using thematic analysis, as developed by the Glasgow University Media Group. The findings are interesting as they show that the BNP has been accepted as legitimate by the national media, with the exception of the Guardian. This is an interesting finding in itself as a paradox emerged in that the Guardian does not accept the BNP as worthy of mainstream media attention, whilst at the same time affording it with the most media attention of the three national newspapers in the analysis. The findings of the Liverpool Echo analysis suggest that it does not accept the party as legitimate, but this finding is backed up by a lack of interest in the BNP.
Introduction and Methodology
The British National Party has been active in British politics for well over 20 years but has had limited success, especially when compared to other far-right political parties in Europe, most notably Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France. The party claims that one of the main reasons for this lack of success is that the mass media in the UK is largely biased against the party. The BNP activist handbook states: “to a certain extent, [our] image is determined by the media who predictably portray us in a bad light to dissuade people from voting for us” (Activists & organisers handbook, 2009). With politics being such an important issue it should be expected that journalists should be able to put their individual views to one side and report impartially on what is happening (Allan, 1999). The aim of this dissertation is to examine specific outputs of the UK mass media, to evaluate the BNP’s claims to establish whether or not there is any validity to their argument. My first chapter is a general overview of the British National Party and how it has been reported by different media over a number of years. This was done by simply reviewing key events in the party’s existence and by looking at what has already been written about the issue. My second chapter involves a piece of new research concerning press attention surrounding the party during the week when its leader, Nick Griffin, was invited to go on BBC1’s Question Time programme. The research involved a content analysis of three newspapers: the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Sun. These three newspapers represent the three main sections of the British press: quality press, midmarket and tabloid, as classified by Richardson (2007). They also cover the different political perspectives of newspapers, from the liberal Guardian to the conservative Daily Mail. The articles that were analysed were located using the news article database Lexis Library, using the search terms “British National Party” or “BNP”. Readers’ letters that came up in the search were discounted as they were not available for all three newspapers, plus they represented...
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