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Why A Newspaper In Yorkshire Refused To Publish An Article By David Cameron

The Yorkshire Post was "incredulous at how shallow" the prime minister's article was.

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This week the Yorkshire Post was pitched a "very personal" piece from David Cameron by the Downing Street press office.

To mark English Tourism Week, the paper was offered a bylined article from the prime minister promoting the region and its attractions, beginning with the words "I love Yorkshire & the Humber".

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The paper, however, declined, and today published its reasons why.

The column was "very formulaic, lacked empathy and only made passing reference to the misery caused by the Yorkshire floods", an op-ed stated.

"As many of you will be aware, the Yorkshire Post is still waiting for Mr Cameron to respond to this newspaper's open letter, published on January 26 exactly one month after the floods, when we challenged the Tory leader to answer a series of key questions on flooding policy – and how he intends to provide this region with the level of investment currently afforded to the South," the article says.

"After careful consideration, we chose to spike Mr Cameron's article on editorial grounds – it would have been a disservice to our readers to give the Prime Minister such a platform when so many homes, businesses and tourist destinations, the latest being Jorvik Viking Centre and the iconic Settle to Carlisle railway, are paying such a high price for the floods."

Comment editor Tom Richmond told BuzzFeed News the paper's senior editorial staff were "incredulous at how shallow" the article pitched by Downing Street was.

The article, he said, ignored "the extent to which Yorkshire tourism has been hit by the floods, and did absolutely nothing to assure people that the government is committed to better protecting the country in the future".

Rather than instantly rejecting the letter, the paper slept on the decision and, "out of curiosity", looked online to see whether the "very personal piece" had appeared anywhere else.

Sure enough, you can find Cameron extolling his love for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the Plymouth Herald, saying he "loves Lincolnshire" in the Lincolnshire Echo, and stating he "loves Northumberland" in (wait for it) the Northumberland Gazette.

Another version of the English Tourism Week article in the Eastern Daily Press caused minor embarrassment when Cameron declared his love for Holcombe, which is in Devon, instead of Holkham, which is in East Anglia. Meanwhile, the York Press did publish a pro-Yorkshire article bylined to the prime minister.

Richmond said he did not blame any publication for carrying an English Tourism Week article from the prime minister.

But he said for the Yorkshire Post to have done so would have been a "betrayal of our readers, a compromise of our integrity, and a betrayal of the victims of flooding".

The paper, which officially has no party affiliation but is traditionally a centre-right publication and did endorse the Conservative party at the last election, is not worried about alienating the government, Richmond said.

The article pitched to them was, he told BuzzFeed News, "symptomatic of a government that talks about a Northern Powerhouse, talks about a one nation agenda, but is increasingly London-centric".

"It would take something like this to shake them out of their lethargy," he added.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the Yorkshire Post was entitled to its opinions.

Matthew Champion is a weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Champion at matthew.champion@buzzfeed.com.

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