A new campaign is targeting advertisers in a bid to shut down newspapers that report crime committed by migrants, rather than covering it up.
The Stop Funding Hate campaign is urging companies to pull advertising from the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Express, claiming that they use “fear and division to sell more papers”. The campaign’s founder, Richard Wilson, called the newspapers’ reporting of migrants “toxic”.
Wilson, an NGO worker, believes Stop Funding Hate will be successful because the public don’t want to be “inadvertently complicit” in “hate campaigns”, which he compared to the BNP.
The group’s first campaign seeks to persuade Virgin Media to “take a stand against racism” by pulling advertising from the Sun.
A petition to Virgin Media’s CEO by the campaign charges the Sun of “misleading reporting” and “playing off one group against another in pursuit of a divisive political agenda”.
The plea contends that the Sun’s “demonisation of immigrants” claims the Sun’s headlines led to “a wave of violence against immigrant families”.
Recalling multi-millionaire, island-owning Richard Branson’s criticism of “anti-immigrant rhetoric”, when he accused politicians of “pandering to unfounded anxieties and exaggerated fears” the petition argues that pulling Sun advertising would make a “bold stand for unity and tolerance”.
Wilson stated: “Only a relatively small proportion of the population actually buy these newspapers, but they are everywhere. So even if you don’t personally buy them, the chances are you are shopping with a company that is helping to finance their activities.
“I’ve been a Virgin customer, for example. We don’t want to be inadvertently complicit in these hate campaigns through being customers of these companies”.
A promotional video on the group’s Facebook page claims “society is being poisoned by headlines selling hatred”, and displays a series of Daily Mail front pages with headlines such as “Migrants Threaten to Kill Truckers” and “4,000 Foreign Rapists and Murderers We Can’t Throw Out”.
The video asserts that “hate pays”, and tells viewers they can stop this by joining the campaign, as “when advertisers start buying less ad space, printing hatred becomes bad business”.
Stop Funding Hate’s video says advertisers “spend a fortune promoting brand values like honesty, decency and inclusivity.
“So if they pay for ads in papers that deal in hate, prejudice and lies, we will call them out.”
Wilson said the group is “fully in favour of freedom of expression and believe that a free press plays a vital role in a democratic society” and that the role of the government in tackling hate speech is a “contentious issue”.
“So this campaign is not proposing any kind of state action beyond the laws that already exist on incitement to racial hatred.
“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights would actually go further than what we’re saying – he’s asked the UK government to take stronger action against hate speech – but just as we wouldn’t want our money being used to help fund the BNP or Britain First, we don’t want our cash to help finance the Sun, Daily Express and Daily Mail’s hate campaigns,” the campaigner added.