In the video below, Daily Star journalist Richard Peppitt reveals to the Leveson Enquiry that earlier this year the paper’s brief flirtation with the EDL was driven by pure commercial interest. This in itself is interesting, for if the messages given out by the EDL lacked public resonance, then the decision to produce articles broadly supportive of the movement would not have been taken.
How did the Daily Star ascertain the level of support amongst its readers? Quite simply, it opened a telephone poll asking for a “yes” or “no” response to the question “Do you agree with the EDL’s policies?” Of course, the EDL was not and is not a political party and thus had no ‘policies’ in a formal sense, but they were looking at tapping into what their readership thought of the movement’s general stance. Whereas Daily Star polls often elicited less than ten calls from readers, this one attracted 2,000 callers, 99% of whom expressed support for the EDL. This would seem to illustrate a considerable base of support amongst Daily Star readers for the EDL, but the paper chose not to highlight this fact. What, if any, implications could this have for the appeal of the British Freedom Party and its electoral strategy?