Editorial: The Tories and PinkNews.co.uk

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

The Conservative party is well-known for its ad campaigns.

From the iconic 1979 “Labour isn’t working” posters, to the “Demon Eyes” of Tony Blair in the 1997 election campaign, through to the “Five Pledges” of Michael “are you thinking what I am thinking” Howard in 2005, never let it be said that the Tory party were short of a strategy. Some, of course, more successful than others.

Today marks a new stage in the party’s attempts to disseminate its message to the voters.

For the first time, the Conservative party is advertising in the gay press – on this website to be exact.

The decision by the management team at PinkNews.co.uk to run this advert and take the revenue that comes from it should not be seen as an endorsement of the Tory party.

We are proud of our ability to engage with all political parties and interest groups, even the ones, such as Christian Voice, with whom we profoundly disagree.

The Tory adverts on PinkNews.co.uk are part of a wider internet strategy that has seen the party buy ad space on social networking site Facebook, on zeitgeist gossip portal Popbitch and even on NHS doctors’ websites.

The aim, we suppose, is to try to reach the places billboards and traditional “dead tree press” adverts cannot.

The political parties are prohibited from advertising on television, so the net is a new opportunity for all of them.

A casual glance at the millions of words written about the impact of the internet on the American political process should convince even the most hardened cynic of the growing importance of net campaigning.

From ObamaGirl to YouTube clips of a Republican candidate in drag, to the groundbreaking Democratic Presidential candidates Logo debate for the gay community, it is clear that online is the place to engage with disaffected voters, particularly younger ones.

We are aware that some of our readers will be angered that PinkNews.co.uk has decided to take adverts from the Conservative party.

We can only stress that we look forward to the day when all the parties see the value of advertising on our site and understand the value of the unique access to clued-up, engaged and switched-on gay and lesbian readers that we can offer.

We will never endorse a political party or try to tell our readers how to vote.

By the same token, if advertisers, from retailers to charities to pressure groups to political parties, want to reach our readers, we will make a judgment on their product and decide whether or not to let them on our site.

PinkNews.co.uk is a work-safe website.

We do not publish images of naked men (or women) because we think it is possible to present information to the gay community without having to use sex to ‘sell’ our product.

We would never run an advert from anyone that seeks to harm the gay community. There will be no adverts for ex-gay movements on PinkNews.co.uk.

20 years ago, by the same logic, had we existed, we would have struggled to accept adverts from a Tory government determined to demean and belittle gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

However, the messages that the Conservative party in 2007 want to share with the gay community are ones we feel comfortable with.

That being said, we are keen to hear from our readers.

What do you think? Should PinkNews.co.uk run ads for political parties? Should the Tories be targeting the gay community in this way?

Click here to take part in our survey and share your views.

You can also leave comments and discuss the issues with others on our message boards.