Most people of a political persuasion will remember, or at least be aware of, the 1992 claim that it was the Sun 'what won' the 1992 election for John Major's Conservative Party. The campaign against Neil Kinnock is as infamous as it was vindictive, though I have my doubts whether or not a newspaper, even one with such a huge circulation, could play such a huge part in winning a particular election.
1997 saw the Sun Rupert Murdoch has always been a clever man, and a brilliant throw its support behind Tony Blair and his New Labour project, the very project that it today ditched in favour of cuddly Cameron and his 'new' Tory party. Do not be fooled, however. Rupert Murdoch is an extraordinarily clever businessman. Switching support between the two major parties is not a case of genuine national interest from Murdoch and his paper, but rather a cynical attempt to get onside with the party he feels will form the next government. He did it with Labour, and was rewarded with unparallelled influence in Downing Street over the next twelve years as his business escapades, questionable in terms of press ownership, went largely untouched by Blair and then Brown.
This new change of policy is no different. The coverage in today's paper was crude and self-serving. But it worked. Brown is on the backfoot after a decent display at the party conference. The Tories are jubilant. Sales of the paper went through the roof. But nobody will be able to claim come May, or whenever the next election is, that it was the Sun 'what won it'. Today's move was purely cynical. Murdoch and his cronies do not shape public opinion, they follow it in the hope of establishing the Murdoch empire with the next administration so that his ventures can continue to go unchecked. Part of me hopes for a Labour victory in the spring, if only so that this odious man's influence on British politics and the media worldwide can be debated and criticised at a higher level in a way that has not happened as yet. I doubt that will happen, and it is my bet that the Sun and the greedy opportunists who run it will continue to trumpet their own importance for decades to come.
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