Charlie Whelan: The Sun no longer shines over Cameron

Most politicians spent the long winter break trying to think about anything but politics. This is why we had headlines about missing penguins, Wayne Rooney being ‘more famous than Jesus’, and Tom Jones being knighted.

However, we saw little rest within the David Cameron camp, which continued to pump out fresh media messages. With Labour 'between leaders' and the Liberal Democrats tearing themselves apart, the new boy on the block has been winning the PR battle hands down.

When was the last time you heard an Old Etonian quoting Gandhi to Tory Party members? Cameron has succeeded in changing the image of the Tories in just a few months, and that has rattled Labour.

But it has also rattled a few cages in the media – and particularly down in Wapping.

The Sun's shiny new political editor George Pascoe-Watson may have been singing the praises of Cameron (telling The Guardian that he is 'showing a sense that he understands what people want in this country') but a piece by economist Irwin Stelzer in the same paper this week suggests something different. Stelzer, Rupert Murdoch's representative on Earth, has been having a public row with Gordon Brown recently, which has encouraged the Tories to believe that Murdoch will switch to supporting them at the next election. But following Cameron's attack on big business, Stelzer is now expressing his doubts, accusing the Tory leader of being just an 'echo' of New Labour.

It will be interesting to see how Cameron responds. Will he take the same tough stance as he did with the Daily Mail, which in the end was forced to back him?

I believe it would only improve Cameron's national standing if he refused to bow to Murdoch as Tony Blair has done. Okay, so he would lose the support of some big-selling newspapers, but it could provide his own 'Clause 4 moment'. After all, Brown and Murdoch will never represent a meeting of minds.

Cameron will soon have to face a right-wing backlash within his own party. Looking at the letters page of The Daily Telegraph, one can see many traditionalists are horrified at some of Cameron's
recent statements. So long as he sticks to his guns though, the future looks bright for the Conservatives. 

But the real test will come when Brown replaces Blair. Just as he shocked the establishment by giving independence to the Bank of England, expect more big changes. Let the battle commence – and sooner rather than later, I hope.

charlie.whelan@haynet.com

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