Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Sun Sets on New Labour

Tony Woodley rips up the tabloid at the rostrum, a delegate complains that Murdoch's mouthpiece didn't give our Prime Minister a fair hearing, and Gordon Brown rightly points out that voters not newspapers decide elections.

All of which misses the point that No self-respecting Labour Party would want the support of The Sun to start with.

In fact, The Sun's support over the last twelve years is proof if proof were needed that New Labour was doing something very very wrong.

New Labour has walked into a trap of its own making. In the run-up to the 1997 General Election, Tony Blair and his coterie pulled out all the stops to secure Murdoch's support, following him round the world like desperate puppies, promising whatever he asked, even changing policies to meet his demands. And all this despite the fact that Labour could easily have won that General Election with or without the backing of the Sun.

If New Labour lackeys now complain of the excess power of the press over public opinion, they might reflect on the fact that their government has had twelve years to do something about that. It could have legislated stricter controls over media ownership, it could have resourced greater access to publishing for working-class people and progressive organisations.

Instead, it chose to adapt its policies to the baying tabloids and now does not even get their support. Perhaps it thought that wars would impress the warmongering Sun, but today The Sun is lining up bereaved military families against the goverment. Perhaps it thought that promising to corrall feckless teenage mothers into Big Brother houses would win over the redtops, but no - not impressed.

New Labour used to be anti-working-class and popular. Now it is anti-working class and unpopular, so The Sun has jumped ship. But had Labour done the right thing, supporting rather than attacking the working class, implementing socialist policies rather than Tory ones, The Sun would also have jumped ship. And good thing too.

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