|So, the jury has retired to consider its verdict. Meanwhile, our national press continues with very low-key, reasonably sympathetic coverage - despite some pretty dramatic but largely uncovered claims. A number of the media 'biggies', including Sky, appear to have left this alone for the minute but those that have been keeping us up to date appear to me to be leading on the men's defences rather than the accusations, as headlines show.|
First, the BBC (which has carried the most regular updates) reported the rather alarming accusation made by David Jackson that Robert Cottage suggested locations where he could plant a ball-bearing bomb and believed if there was not "blood in the streets" the country was "lost". But that's okay because we hear that little Dave wasn't a bad person, he was just 'sad' over UK.
So to recap, we've got a guy found with a huge amount of material that could be used to make chemical weapons and a handbook about making bombs, not to mention some crossbows and other stuff, who had suggested places he might bomb and wanted to shoot the prime minister. All of which, and maybe it's just my experience as a subeditor talking, is pushing some massive, much-used, brightly flashing tabloid headline buttons. So imagine my surprise when the Daily Mail went with... Chemical traces found in BNP man’s home. How terribly low-key.
Alongside this, there seems to be a tendency to focus, particularly in headlines, on their defences - *why* they felt compelled to make bombs, stockpile weapons and plan to kill people - as opposed to what they were accused of planning to do. The Guardian's My weapons were for imminent civil war, says ex-BNP candidate, for example. The Times, on the other hand, doesn't even think the whole bomb thing is worth a headline mention - Armed BNP candidate denies plan to kill Tony Blair. I suspect Times readers are probably expected to sympathise.
In a perverse way, I look forward to the coverage of the outcome, although I fear it at the same time.