Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brown loses Sun newspaper backing.

One of the biggest jokes of the nineties was the claim by The Sun newspaper that "It Was The Sun What Did It!" when the Tories were swept back into power against all the odds after the 1992 election.

Then, later that decade, The Sun mysteriously fell in love with New Labour and Tony Blair, causing some of us to think that they simply saw which way the wind was blowing and adjusted their sails accordingly.

Well, we can all tell what way the wind is currently blowing, and it's not blowing towards New Labour, so it's utterly no surprise to find that The Sun has changed course once again.

Gordon Brown's hopes of reviving Labour's fortunes suffered a setback after the Sun newspaper backed the Conservatives to win the next election.

The paper on Wednesday says "after 12 long years in power, Labour has lost its way and now it has lost us too".
They hope by doing this to pretend to the general public that their influence far outweighs what it actually is and to imagine that people actually read their newspaper for it's political content.

They will now claim that Cameron's eventual and undoubted victory next year was somehow influenced by the fact that they changed sides and backed what we all know to be the probable winning horse.

George Pascoe-Watson, the Sun's political editor, said that in 2005 the paper had "warned Labour that it had one last chance... to try and prove it was the right party for the country.

"We've now decided after four more years, particularly after the prime minister's... underwhelming performance in his conference speech, that it was time now to take a verdict and announce that verdict to the nation," he told the BBC.

"The prime minister failed to convince us he was the right man for the country.

'We feel it's time for a new leader''.

Mr Pascoe-Watson said the paper believed that Tory leader David Cameron had "the vision, the energy, the drive, the ideas to take the country forward".

He added: "We believe he will cut away a lot of the red tape which is strangling British business.

"We think he is a fresh administration, he's got good people around him, and we will be holding him to account.

The notion that Cameron will be held to account is an especially sick one. This man has risen in the polls precisely because newspapers like The Sun don't even ask what his policies are.

It's astonishing to me that this man is set to become our next Prime Minister without any of us having any real idea of what he proposes to do. But newspapers like The Sun have made a big deal out of the fact that he is not Gordon Brown, as if that in itself is a quality which entitles one to high office.

And the ways in which he is not Gordon Brown are often ways which suit the business interests of Rupert Murdoch. For example, as I've written about before, Cameron is already promising to put Murdoch's interests before the Tory notions of true competition by promising to eliminate Ofcom as we know it. Ofcom have been spending their time recently looking into the "monopolistic control" Sky television have of certain areas of British broadcasting:
Its [Sky Televisions's] 80% of Premier League football and 100% of movies from the big Hollywood studios prevent others from entering the market, and Sky sells these rights to others at too high a price. As a competition regulator, Ofcom's job is to keep the market open. Its new ruling requires Sky to sell on its rights to all comers at some 30% less than it currently charges. BT reckons this will drop the average cost of watching top-flight football by £10 a month.

Ofcom's boldness drew an amazed intake of breath from industry players and observers. This is the first time a regulator has seriously challenged Murdoch's market power. Those who stood to gain – BT Vision, Virgin Media, Top Up TV and others — were delighted their protests were so bravely answered.

Sky's chief executive replied immediately that it would challenge Ofcom using "all available legal avenues". This time, however, Ofcom is not expected to allow Sky to use the tactic of delaying regulators in the courts for years – it must comply and can appeal afterwards.
Cameron has earned The Sun's backing by his reaction to that Ofcom judgement:
"Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist. Its remit will be restricted to narrow technical and enforcement roles. It will no longer play a role in making policy."
So, by promising that the power of Murdoch to dominate the British media will not be challenged by any overseeing body, Cameron has helped make himself The Sun's next preferred Prime Minister.

This would be shameful enough if The Sun actually decided elections, but it's far worse to think that people like Cameron are giving away so much for so very little.

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