New Times,
New Thinking.

12 November 2009

The Sun, the Tories and Labour

Murdoch's needless "influence"

By James Macintyre

My column in this week’s magazine highlights the iniquitous role of the Sun in bashing Labour.

In hounding Gordon Brown, the tabloid has returned to its natural comfort zone after an uncomfortable 14-year ceasefire, before which it hounded Neil Kinnock with even greater venom.

However, a question remains for Labour’s leaders. If — as Peter Mandelson has no doubt correctly alleged — there is “presumably” some sort of “contract” between the Murdochs and the Conservative Party, then what was the “contract” between the Murdochs and New Labour?

The main point here is that Rupert Murdoch’s supposed “influence” exists only because politicians of both sides needlessly feel they must win him over with right-wing policies, forgetting that Murdoch is — first and foremost — a businessman who simply backs winners.

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Why, Tony Blair probably could have merged with the Liberal Democrats, taken Britain into the euro and resisted war in Iraq, and still the canny media mogul would have felt unable to back the Tory party of Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague. It is only because Murdoch thinks — and yes, by the way, he still may be wrong about this; and Labour will certainly win the Glasgow North East by-election being held today — that David Cameron is going to win that he backed the Tories at the end of September. Gordon Brown, now so viciously attacked by Murdoch’s Sun, has also been proved misguided in bothering to court the proprietor.

Labour is right that the Sun is a Tory paper pursuing a Tory agenda. But Labour helped build Murdoch’s fake “influence”, and so, in so many ways, it has only itself to blame.

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