19 Mar 2015

Did The Sun tell the whole story?

I’ve had some trouble explaining The Sun’s front page to foreign journalists this morning.

It’s a picture of George Osborne doing the “epic strut” — emulating a guy who cross-dresses for an ad for Moneysupermarket.com because he’s just done a great deal.



As always with Sun front pages, it needs a bit of semiology: the “text” is that George Osborne has achieved a lot for Sun readers — namely “savers, strivers, drinkers and drivers” — each given their own pound shaped medallion.

And it makes gentle fun of Osborne is flaunting his (in this case transgendered) wares to the electorate.

The subtext however is in the choice of an advert that most middle class people will find amusing but irrelevant.

Moneysupermarket is one of the price comparison sites for people for whom every penny counts — ie the aspirational working class people the Tories are targeting at the election.

And it’s mainly about borrowing – which George Osborne is still doing to the tune of £90bn this year.

And borrowing is what’s behind Britain’s recovery. If Osborne had – as promised – eradicated government borrowing by now, the economy would probably have tanked. And if he had not stimulated borrowing in the housing market, with state backing for mortgage lending in 2012, the recovery would probably have been anaemic.

In 2009 the Sun very publicly came out in support of the Conservatives; I’ve been wondering what their front page might look like in an alternative universe where this had never taken place.

What if, say, the Sun’s subeditors had taken a good look at Martin Wolf’s column in the Financial Times – which warns that all low-wage jobs created are damaging productivity? Or warnings from the Institute for Fiscal Studies or the Resolution Foundation that we still face unprecedented and unspecified cuts?

Or Fraser Nelson’s concerns in The Spectator  that we risk a future labour shortage of low-paid jobs?

For now our mock-up is going to have to do.

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