The Sun newspaper announced today that it will no longer be supporting the Labour government and will be supporting the Tories at the next election. Despite the publicity this is hardly a major shock. The Sun doesn't want to be be associated with losers, and can see which way the wind is blowing which explains its switch to the Conservatives.
Does it really matter who the Sun supports? A little bit, but not as much as the Sun would have us believe.
I brought the Sun today, something which I rarely do, as when it comes to the 'Red Tops' I've always been a Mirror man, it's the paper my dad always read. Seeing as they'd made this announcement, conveniently timed to overshadow Gordon Brown's Labour conference speech, I thought I'd have a look and see what they had to say.
They started off by saying:
"Twelve years ago, Britain was crying out for change from a divided exhausted Government. Today we are there again"
I wouldn't disagree with this. Every government has a natural shelf life, and it's clear that after 3 terms in office, Labour and the New Labour project is just running out of steam. There are probably many Labour supporters who agree with this, but the Sun would have us believe that by switching its allegiance it's somehow shaping the course of British politics. It isn't really.
Besides from what I've previously read, Rupert Murdoch hasn't been totally convinced by David Cameron, and like the rest of the country doesn't have the same level of enthusiasm for him that many people had for Tony Blair in 1997.
On page 2 of today's edition they went on to say that after 12 years of this government:
'Britain feels broken...and the Government is out of excuses'
They've clearly picked up on David Cameron's 'Broken Britain' statement. Is Britain really broken? I'm sure that if you look back over the last 50 years, there are plenty of things about British society you could pick out to highlight fundamental problems with the country at that time.
Growing up in the 80's I remember riots in Britain's inner cities, in places like Handsworth and Brixton, 3 million unemployed, civil unrest with the Miners Strike. Is Britain anymore broken today then it was 25 years ago?
When New Labour was emerging in the mid 1990's they actively courted the support of newspapers like the Sun and its owner Rupert Murdoch. This only helped to increase the paper's own sense of self importance.
The paper's decision is a blow for Labour, but I don't think the Sun has quite the level of influence it likes to think it has. It might still be the biggest selling paper in the country, but in terms of influence, I think it's now the Daily Mail; and if you look the Mail's sales it isn't really that far behind the Sun.
Secondly, most of the time when I see the front page of the Sun along with the Mirror, it's usually some celebrity gossip they're going on about, which makes me question whether British politics is really that important to many of its readers!
Reading the blog by Channel 4 New's Jon Snow, the reporter Gary Gibbon explained that the famous
'It’s the Sun Wot Won It'
headline from the 1992 election only lasted one edition with Rupert Murdoch telling the then editor to rip the headline up. I never knew this, apparently Murdoch didn't see the paper's role as being one to advertise its influence, but that doesn't seem to be the case with today's front page. I suppose after that headline everyone began to believe the myth of the Sun's influence on the British electorate.
I fully expect the Conservatives to win next year's election, and really it's for them to lose rather then Labour's to win. What will be interesting to see, is what kind of majority they'll get. It's easily forgotten just how many seats they actually need to win just to get a small working majority in parliament.
The Sun went onto say in today's edition:
'The Sun believes - and prays - that the Conservative leadership can put the great back into Great Britain'
(Yawn), what a cliche, boring rhetoric! The Sun has picked the odds on favourite to win so that it can be seen as being in tune with the public, but they're following public opinion, not leading it!