The Sun is less powerful than politicians believe, Stephen Glover argues in his On the Press column in The Independent today. This follows Tony Blair’s latest pilgrimage to talk to senior Murdoch executives at their conference in California.
With Murdoch being coy over whether he will support Labour’s heir Gordon Brown or the Tory new man David Cameron once Blair has left Downing Street, Glover fantasises about the two men standing up to their tormentor.
The Sun is much less powerful than Mr Blair believes it is. For one thing, it is selling about 10 per cent fewer copies than it did in 1992 when, so Neil Kinnock believed, it lost the election for Labour. (Actually, he can probably claim credit for that himself.) For another thing, as turnout declines particularly markedly among working class electors, so an increasing proportion of the Sun’s readers is not bothering to vote.
But the most important reason why the Sun is less powerful than New Labour believes is that newspapers cannot simply instruct their readers how to vote. This admittedly is a highly controversial area. Consider though, as I have mentioned, that the anti-Tory Times has not persuaded a majority of its readers to vote Labour. Similarly, during the Daily Express’s pro-Labour phase, which lasted for about five years, a majority of its readers remained resolutely Tory.
He concludes there is no need for Brown and Cameron to genuflect and crawl before Murdoch as he teases them.