Political advertisements are an important part of local democracy

editorial image

The Hastings Observer has responded to complaints on social media about an advertisement ‘wrap’ around last week’s newspaper placed by the Conservative Party.

The law permits political parties to advertise themselves and it is a cornerstone of democracy that they are free to do so, especially in the run-up to an election.

We support no political party and remain proudly independent

Gary Shipton

Editor In Chief Gary Shipton said: “If a newspaper makes available a position in its title to a commercial advertiser then it is difficult to argue why a political party should not also have the same opportunity; and indeed we could be accused of bias if we refused to do so.

“Newspapers like the Hastings Observer do accept advertisement ‘wraps’ as a general matter of policy and the Conservative Party was therefore free to purchase the space in the same way that any other advertiser would have been able to do.

“Had a similar request been received from any other lawful political party they too would have been entitled to purchase the advertisement on the same terms and conditions.

“Indeed, other parties have purchased wraps in other parts of the country and this particular advertisement appeared in a similar format in other newspapers published both by ourselves and other companies.

“We did insist that the advertisement feature was clearly labelled as such, not least because the artwork provided to us had been given an ‘editorial’ look by the political party.

“In addition, we inserted a prominent article within the main paper making clear that this was an advertisement and that its acceptance did not imply that we endorsed either the party or the message.

“We support no political party and remain proudly independent.”

Mr Shipton said that the paper’s editorial coverage was always objective and free of any party political agenda.