30 Sep 2009

What is the cost of the Sun's backing?

The Sun’s associate editor, Trevor Kavanagh has confirmed that Rupert Murdoch was central to the Sun’s decision to switch horses in British politics.

Should we care?

It might be worth considering what New Labour ever got out of supping with the old media war horse. Tony Blair flew all the way to Hayman Island off Australia’s Great Barrier reef to secure his backing in 1997.

Since when Rupert has been seen scurrying in and out of Downing street on a very much more than annual basis. Surprisingly this has continued under Gordon Brown’s leadership.

Freedom of Information revelations have spelt out some of the ways in which Murdoch’s interest have benefited from Downing Street’s assistance. But a full inventory will never be established despite FOI.

It was after Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans and revealed failings in the Bush administration’s response that Blair is quoted as telling Murdoch “the BBC is full of hatred of America”.

It quite simply cannot be good for democracy that one man can so play with the interests of a land of 61 million souls.

It is now being said that Mr Cameron’s Tories now themselves have a ‘deal’ with Murdoch whose Sun newspaper has come out in their support. What is it and how will the electorate be kept informed of its influence and antics?

It is fair to say the Sun doesn’t have quite the traction it once did. But News Corp and its parent News International is a multi-platform entity with influences that reach every corner of the world.

When the Sun shines, Murdoch has switched the light on – what’s the charge for the power source?

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

49 reader comments

  1. Paul Parsons says:

    I cannot think why the Sun — a self-professed mouthpiece of the people — would seem to have been blind to an inexorable decline in Labour’s fortunes and only now jumped ship. Unless, of course, it has taken a while to strike a deal with the Tories. Or more intriguingly, perhaps the real reason is that the Sun wanted to be much more sure of its gamble this time, before changing allegiance. Why? Maybe it is reflection of the waning power of print media and the keys to number 10 are no longer an automatic right. Perhaps we are seeing the Sun turn from King Maker to Camp Follower.

  2. Ray Turner says:

    No.I don’t particularly care what Rupert thinks. I know what I think and that’s what will influence me most when I’m in the polling booth with pencil and ballot paper in hand.

  3. RedJoe10 says:

    The Sun has never been as important as it thinks it is. This is a new world compared to the 1990s, newspaper sales have been on a steady decline which is partly why Murdoch wants to start charging for his online content and more people are using the internet for news. Look at the Obama campaign to see evidence of the shift.

  4. Ian says:

    I suspect that this change of allegiance will have a major impact. Between now and the election a large group of potential Labour voters will be reading about all Labours past and planned disasters and all the good things the conservatives are planning. This is bound to have an effect and is likely only to move people from Labour to conservatives (or at least away from Labour). Of course not everybody will change just because the Sun says so, but it is bound to move more people away from Labour than to Labour. Thus Brown might dismiss it but is is again either being naive or not completely honest (again).

  5. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    As long as page 3 continues , Murdoch will sell his papers.

    Quite amused by Cathy Newman’s Comments that it was news which sells papers and not opinions, but at the same time love that purest opinion.

    In the meantime I hope Mr Murdoch will turn his attention to Samoa.

  6. carol fry says:

    The media in what ever form it is, will make or break someone.I’m afraid it’s best to take what your read in newspapers or hear with a ‘pinch of salt’ and make up your own mind about politicians and their plans for the country and it’s citizens.It shouldn’t be the influence of some journalist.That said.. I wouldn’t trust Gordon Brown or ‘new labour’ to keep any promise,they ‘u’ turn too often.He and his cronies change manifesto promises like a kids eat sweets.Infact,I would suggest that many of us have very little respect for any politician regardless of their political view,given the recent scandalous actions over expences and I for one,like many many other people I’m sure, won’t give a damn about the ‘Sun’ changing its’allegiance from the labour party to conservatives.
    It’ll take more than the ‘sun’ newspaper to make me want to vote for any of the greedy self righteous bunch we call M.P’s.

  7. Saltaire Sam says:

    The sad truth is that – despite all the media studies in schools etc – many people in this country read their newspapers unquestioningly. If the Daily Mail/Sun/Mirror say Brown’s speech was awful/bland/brilliant, people believe it and over the weeks and months it forms their view of politicians, parties and events such as immigration

    The first questions Sun readers should be asking are:

    How can they make a judgement before the Conservatives have even soelled out their policy. Will they back them whatever?

    What deal has been struck with Murdoch, especially over undermining the BBC?

    Why does the Sun think that a party of Old Etonian toffs is going to be good for 10million ordinary working people?

  8. Jeffrey Lam says:

    No the Sun won’t change my vote (I’m not decided yet anyway). However, we have to accept that there are people out there whose vote the Sun will change. The question is how many?
    I imagine there are some Sun readers who don’t vote for anyone anyway, they probably won’t vote Conservative. I imagine there are some who vote Labour no matter what, and they won’t change. Maybe some who vote UKIP or BNP no matter what. But I’m sure there are people who will be influenced by this.

  9. Jeffrey Lam says:

    Actually I was just thinking… there are still lots of lorry-driving, factory production-line working, greasy-spoon cafe eating and other manual working people out there who buy the Sun paper out there… **or are there**? With a big decrease in industrial output, perhaps there aren’t so many of these people going to work, buying the Sun and reading it during their tea breaks…

  10. Bill says:

    Just who does channel 4 think it is ?
    If you address the prime minister of this country you call him Prime Minister.NOT Gordon Brown.
    Quite rightly he got up and left.
    You have no manners and I hope when the next government come to power you receive nothing – no favours no money nothing .
    You disgust me.

  11. Rob McBryer says:

    The worry is that the working class; shop workers, industrial workers, the builders etc. are the target and the base of the labour vote, when this is combined with the low price and distribution of the Sun to those people, it begins to become a worrying fact.

  12. Robbie Aikman says:

    I have a strong dislike for the sun. It thinks its more important than it actually is. I will vote Labour at the next general election, and that sham of a newspaper, wont stop me! Gordon Brown is a good Prime Minister, who has more conviction than David Cameron!

  13. ClattyClarity says:

    Would we stand for this if this was a russian newspaper tycoon?? very doubtful, so why do we allow a hypocritical ego maniac to have this much influence over our lives and politics?

    Surely someone who has this much of an opinion and influence on our politics should be a resident of the UK.

    Lets not forget as well that the Tories PR man is an ex Sun employee, then theres the issue of the phone tapping.

    The rag in question organises witch hunts against sex offenders then has celebs in skimpy school girl outfits on the next page, his digital platform provides an easy access to pornography, but yet the papers revel in sexual controversy, this man and his spawn have a twisted set or morals.

    Do they cared about society as much as they claim, do they fu..

  14. Laurence says:

    Iam sure the Suns shift of allegience will have some effect on swaying the minds of the easily swayed.
    For me the move would only make me more hopeful of a labour victory (even though at the minute i would not vote for them myself) if only to break the inordinate amount of power the mass media seems to have in setting political agendas in Britain and cast itself deeper into irrelevance

  15. tobi anderson says:

    what happened to the independence of the press? this whole sun saga and the way the rest of the media are taking this lightly as if its just one of those things is quite sickening to watch, listen or read about. The press is supposed to be INDEPENDENT and not backing any political party. but i guess i live in cookoo land. if i do, then its no wonder so much has gone wrong with society, and this same hypocritical media guilty of not being independent politically will also complain about society’s “ills”. well one of them is the fact that you all take sides politically dividing the nation and providing substandard biased information. what a nonsense

  16. Colin Todhunter says:

    I wish I could believe it myself when I say The Sun isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Unfortunately, as people in Liverpool and other victims of this paper’s lies will tell you, Its owners and editors affect how many ordinary people think and how politicians act. Perhaps it lacks the traction it once had, due to the decline of the print media, but eight million (not ten) readers is a very healthy figure these days.

  17. evie murray says:

    Not because I support labour or tory, simply because Murdoch is of concern to me….. Morally Questionable on so many levels and bad for this Nation.


  18. evie murray says:

    Jon if your right and David Cameron is behind the sudden change of heart then it does not say much about the man. Is his goal to give the PM a nervous break down? Lets see a clean fight Cameron, playing dirty with your smile attached on its delivery is not the Country I envisage!!!!

  19. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Events,opinions, correspondence with what is said and who originally thought it or said it has been switched around to such a great extent.that all the souls are now in a flux of confused ideas, but ,it doesn’t matter any more.

    The Jehova’s witnesses said they set a template many years ago for these things to happen and keep happening .

    One thing though deception is rife and no one in the end will win, for whoever holds poltical power or pull will eventually die too.

  20. phil dicks says:

    “What is the cost of the Sun’s backing?”
    Nothing, as usual. It doesn’t cost them anything to follow the crowd, and new Labour’s totally aware of it. Brown’s probably amazed it didn’t happen sooner.
    The Sun’s a past-master at this alpha-male-but-no-risks strategy. They will never dare stand up for a contrary opinion (unless Joanna Lumley pushes them there). It has to be the most craven newspaper in Britain (and that’s going-some).

  21. Ann Pennington says:

    I think John Snow’s socks rock! It’s not the news that leaves an impression but the socks that make a statement.

  22. Saltaire Sam says:

    It wasn’t Channel 4 – it was Rupert Murdoch’s Sky!

  23. sherly cole says:

    Health care reforms in America are being blocked by wealthy politicians on both side, who have ties to news media insurance and drug companies and ultimatley banks. I supose one needs to look after ones friends in times of trouble and need. Where’s the conection with the sun newspaper and the sudden switch to the conservative party? could it be Murdocks friends need a little extra help to stave of impending reforms of bankers pay;are they thinking ahead,insurance,drug companies,utlilities,they may all need a little XTRA HELP from the man that likes to say YES Rupert Murdock because lately Gorden Brown appears not to be using the word free market much these days though. mind you if these friends of mr murdock who needed the help in the first place, pay back the money, we won’t need a newpaper to scare us of how bad the cuts will be because we borrowed to the banks.so does that mean we the tax payers are now like bankers and could be in poffit and the government like baillifs to bankers?

  24. Plum Tart says:

    I’m more interested in what Rupert Bear thinks………

  25. G Murphy says:

    Could it be as simple as the Tories pledging to reduce corporation tax rates (and other such business orientated policies). At a time when the news and media industries are suffering, Murdoch must be looking to back the people who’ll make him the richest… or least poor!

  26. Alan says:

    It’s as simple as The Sun not wanting to be on the losing side of the election.

  27. david thompson says:

    of course we should eb concerned , as it means the Dirty Digger intends this to be a real battle ! and Labour should not underestimate the power of News Corp
    do your homework and go back to it is time 1972 Whitlam Australia one moment your friend and then you are deserted !
    Blair went to Hamilton Island i 1995 yes 1995 to obtain his support and so won 1997 and got through all the scandals.
    Remember, not been in office a few weeks and organizing a meeting with the Italian PM with Murdoch!! Powerful Man ! and a Papal Knight so will not wish to see a jewish gay PM for PM !!

  28. phil dicks says:

    Apparently, they’ve got a sign in their offices, saying “Walk Tall You Work For The Sun”.
    Can you imagine “Walk Tall You Work For NASA”, or “Walk Tall You Work For The Sunday Times”? It doesn’t quite work, does it? It isn’t exactly necessary.
    Only at The Sun do you need to be told not to be ashamed of your employer.
    Even the Daily Star has more self-respect.

  29. Neil Cooper says:

    When George Pascoe-Watson is introduced on news items as the Sun’s ‘Political Editor’ it makes me roar with laughter – it must be one of the least demanding jobs in publishing. I’m sure he could write any old tosh – I bet less than 10% read it? The one thing that will influence people is the absurd derogatory banner headlines screaming out from the front page and news stands.

  30. phil dicks says:

    Saltaire Sam: you’re broadly right, but people aren’t berks. They/we/you/I may buy these papers, but we don’t totally ‘buy into’ them. It’s like marginals at General Elections – newspaper proprietors have to grab the floaters, which isn’t to say that the regulars are blindly content with anything.

  31. phil dicks says:

    Margaret: when it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I think “which era do you think is better than this?” They never say.
    If only for anaesthetics/modern dentistry/ad inf, these are the best of times.Game over. game on…

  32. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    I aree with Bill though, Gordon Brown deserves respect. But I do too.

    That is it, I was qualified as a STATE registered Nurse. The State gave me a feeling of dignity . I was paid for by the Country , not some simpering ,brassy private concern who call themselves POSH when they have big black shiny 4 wheel drives to clumsily take along.

    My father was a clever chap parasitised by others in Dr Barnados when he was a kid when grandma died of TB.

    The state took that indignity away. I now see the spoils of respect with gutter ethics , brassy cheats who because of their nephitism have acquired large sums of money and attempt to condescend.

    Please respect a chap who came from a church background and thinks of nothing but trying to get it right and has had to face the world as a shadow of Tony Blair in recession.

  33. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    nepotism ! Dont know why Nephiti came into it.

  34. Renu says:

    Exactly my point too.

  35. vicc says:

    He bought the sun – because of its influence.
    He can, if he chooses, influence large swathes of the general population through the media over which he has control.

    I’ll admit a lot of people are quaintly amused by the objections some have – but then a few others are influenced and that can make ALL the difference.

    What can do actually do about it ? precious little.

    Those who do – boycott news int – entirely.

  36. wilma miller says:

    I am surprised that some people still seem to believe Gordon Brown’s ‘son of the manse’ line. He has been a very dodgy poilitician for a very long time- best pal Damian McBride, bullying tactics, over 3000 ‘communications officers ‘in this government etc etc. I thought he looked as if he was in total denial when interviewed by Jon Snow. He looked blank when Iraq was mentioned , similarly when the deficit came up and altogether seemed very put out that people refused to talk about what HE wanted. I do believe he has forgotten or blotted out the fact that Labour has been in power for 12 years- reminding him of it seems to confuse him.

  37. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    The trouble is the problems were caused by bullying and the dismantling of small business in the 70’s-80’s. To counter all that went wrong then a hard line needed to be taken.

    As for looking blank that is an individual perception and I think that Jon Snow and he interacted well.

    This opinion does not derive out of a bias towards the labour party or a bias against the Conservatives or Lib Dems,

  38. Natasha says:
  39. Natasha says:

    “I’m more interested in what Rupert Bear thinks………”.

    I agree with you Plum Tart, so am I !!

  40. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Come on Jon ,we are changing allegiance. It’s BBC’s world service correspondents now and their perspectives .

    Get the ball rolling on another subject.

  41. Gilly says:

    I’m quite frankly very concerned over what this backing by a Murdoch controlled press will entail. I will vote for my first time in the next general election and to be perfectly honest I have little idea as who to vote for. But with this deal in mind, it leaves me with little doubt as who to not vote for. I’m definitely not voting Conservative. I’m frankly appalled by this what seems to be a pact, as much as I was in understanding the standing government has done the same. If this carries the threat of reworking the BBC for NewsCorp’s own ends – or anything else for that matter which would suit its interests – it leaves me deeply worried.

  42. jr says:

    on BBC Radio4 this morning I heard that some 17% of the UK (adult) population is pretty much illiterate. these are the people who “benefit” from papers like the Sun or the Mirror — you know, sport and a bit of titilation for “the lads”, and all societal ills blamed on immigrants.
    and now the Tories are proposing to privatise school management.

  43. jr says:

    agree Pennington, but don’t forget those ties! ;)

  44. phil dicks says:

    Wilma Miller: “blotted out” – that’s exactly right. Some of us desperately wanted him to be ‘what it said on the box’, but he hasn’t been. I think, tragically, he’s the fag-end of lefty expectations.

  45. Magdalena says:

    So Murdoch is back where he belongs. It is no secret that most other media he owns, including Fox News, are very conservative indeed and are known to be run in questionable ways with regards to the integrity of the news. The fact that he has supported Labour in the past goes to show that he was only backing the winning horse at the time.

  46. Acca says:

    It is not healthy for democracy for so much media power to be vested in one organization [NewsCorp]
    We in Britain should not allow
    Foreign owners [Murdock-Aussey yesterday-Yank today-Kosha tomorrow?] to control our press or broadcasting.

  47. Steve Willis says:

    The Sun’s a newspaper?

  48. phil dicks says:

    jr: no-one hates The Sun more than me, but you have to give it its due – if its readers are illiterate then by now they’re illiterat-ish. Literacy and intelligence/sensibility/an interior life are not the same thing.We mustn’t be snobbish – that plays into The Sun’s hands.If The Sun makes people read/think/argue then it’s doing better than any National Curriculum.
    I think, sadly, The Sun’s been responsible for more literacy/intellectual debate in this country than any 19thcentury educational institution.
    The tragedy is: it doesn’t realise it’s a force-for-good rather than a spur-for-easy-judgment.

  49. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    I am afraid The Sun’s ability to promote intellectual discourse pales by the side of comics like Beano and Dandy and these days Homer and Bart Simpson.

    If you look at BBC Fours programme on A I and robots , it becomes apparent that the future is computer information and technology. We and more so the youth of today are responding to computers. Computer logic and categorisations are having an effect on the way people think. Sad really but inevitable as you know. When we get those multichoice questions which give you 5 options and you dont want any of them , but have to tick the nearest:it narrows choice and the subtleties of expression are lost between the boxes.

    Robotics are already trying to compute emotional intelligence, so robots will be able to teach us how to feel. Mind you perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing. Altogether a more sterile friend who doesn’t want sex but can still love.

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