It’s an interesting day in media land; only the Mirror seems sure about who it’ll back come the next election.
What about The Sun, you say? Labour blogger Luke Akehurst has picked up a very interesting story: former Sun editor has written in the paper slamming Cameron for surrounding himself with old Etonians like Zac Goldsmith.
Here’s Luke’s summary: ‘He asks why Cameron is only on 37% in the polls when Michael Howard was on 33% “when we were all billionaires”.
He concludes it is because Zac Goldsmith “represents the rich boys club which so dominates the leadership of the Tory Party … I worry that they don’t really understand the ordinary working man and woman in this country … The trouble is, I’m not sure that the Tories haven’t simply become a Jobcentre Plus for Old Etonians. Gordon Brown has made a terrible hash of things but his heart has always been in the right place. If the Tories want to run our country, they must prove to the electorate that the heart is not something simply next to the wallet.”‘
As he points out, this won’t have been written without clearance from up top. So we can conclude that The Sun has backtracked slightly on its position as ultra-cheerleader for the Conservatives.
What about the other papers? And who cares anyhow, surely the voters make up their own minds? Of course they do, but papers build up images of party leaders over time. The Prime Minister is often most damaged not by individual stories but his failure to get on top of them – think of the bad press the unproven allegations of dodgy dealings with the Libyans provided. It’s important to gauge where the papers stand on the parties because then we can get an idea of how the party leaders and their policies will be portrayed.
Only the Mirror has decided where they stand – not so much pro-Labour, and rarely pro-Brown, but definitely anti-Cameron. Today’s front page hammers Cameron for claiming sweets on his expenses, although frankly it’s unlikely this will register with anyone after months of expenses stories like this.
I wrote about the FT last night – they’ve cut into Labour’s claim to be the part of industry and show that they accepted the Thatcherite endorsement of the service industry. It’s not a vote winner but it’ll hurt morale just at a time when it’s recovering. I spoke to a Labour activist last night who confirmed to me that the party was feeling much more positive because of the latest opinion polls and that canvassers are getting a far more positive reaction (although they like Labour, not Brown). It’d be foolish for them to back the Labour party if they remain as unpopular in the city as they face a challenge from a resurgent WSJ Europe keen to win their readers over.
The others, they’re a bit all over the place. The Telegraph will back the Tories but at present they’ve been keeping their distance from Cameron – and they distinctly dislike Philip Blond. The Times are in the Murdoch empire, and whilst they get more levity to make up their mind, there’ll be pressure on the editor to ensure they go the right way. Currently, the right way is the Tories, but as Luke Akehurst points out, Cameron hasn’t fully sealed the deal with News International.
What about the Lib Dems? Well, there’s aways the on/off will the Independent back them story but I doubt they will.
The paper seemed ready to back them during their abortive party conference and wrote a very positive leader for the party. However, the Lib Dems didn’t take the initiative at their conference and relish the increased publicity, instead they looked like they were still desperately trying to grab whatever headline they could and so rushed into their now rethought “Mansion tax policy”. All Vince Cable had to do was stand up and take the applause, but the Lib Dems fervent desire for backing will probably scare off anyone who would. They’ve got real potential to win votes in this upcoming election and take a share of power too but Keen for Coverage Clegg needs to settle down and let his ideas take over.