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27 March 2010

News of the World backs David Cameron. Sort of

Ex-editor Andy Coulson delivers for his new boss.

By Jon Bernstein

File this one under “dog bites man”. It should come as little surprise that News International’s News of the World has followed its stablemate the Sun and is backing the Conservative Party.

Nonetheless, it will please the party’s director of communications and former News of the Screws editor, Andy Coulson, who was brought on board in no small part to get the red tops onside. Coulson’s time at the paper was troubled and ended in his resignation, but he will enjoy the “endorsement” over breakfast.

I put the word endorsement in quotation marks simply because the 1,000-word leader — misleadingly entitled “It’s time for change and time for hope” — devotes some 950 words to telling readers what’s wrong with Gordon Brown and just 50 to backing David Cameron.

“It is time to give change a chance and move forward with fresh vigour and hope,” sounds more like a toss of a coin than a positive argument. The anti-Brown sentiment is not matched by pro-Cameron feeling.

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And here the News of the World is not alone. As a very senior editor of another right-of-centre paper said privately this week: “I’ve been asking people to complete the following sentence: ‘I want David Cameron’s Conservatives to win the election because . . .’ “

“The only rule of this particular parlour game is that you are not allowed to say, ‘Because I don’t want Gordon Brown’s Labour in power.’ “

So far, no one has been able to answer the question to his satisfaction. And that includes members of his own editorial team. The News of the World team appears to be struggling, too.

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