Tara Hamilton-Miller: Tories should be wary of The Sun

'Quite simply, The Sun is Britain in a newspaper,' said Simon Cowell this week.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

Does this quote make you want to do a Phil Collins and flee to Switzerland? Tough, it is as good as true. Britain adores celebrity and sport, and The Sun excels in both. We are not obsessed with inaccessible, dewy film stars, as teenage girls were in the 1950s; we like our Z-list reality show celebs drunkenly flashing a nipple at Big Issue sellers and our footballers in court for groping and theft.

With the paper drop-kicking Gordon Brown and backing the Tories in October, should David Cameron be thrilled? Readership is huge - and a single copy attracts more than one reader. Get on the Tube early and you'll see City boys devouring The Sun before they buy the FT at Liverpool Street Station. 'It was The Sun what won it ...'

The Tories should be cautious. There has to be give and take - and Rupert Murdoch is someone who will expect Cameron to put out. Murdoch is heavily pro-referendum on Europe, a subject the Conservative Party has been dodging for months, and he will want to see Cameron being tough on the public sector and cuts. The Tory leader should not dance to his tune.

Last week, Murdoch was less than complimentary about Google, a company the Tories have been courting for years. Ever since Cameron became leader, they have been highly seduced by the US West Coast - the lifestyle, the Holy Grail of Silicon Valley - and Google represents everything team Cameron admires. This is no secret.

A report in August suggesting that, under the Tories, patients would be encouraged to store their medical records with Google Health raised alarm bells. Although voters warmed to the scrapping of a centralised database system, they were wary of Cameron offering Google undue commercial advantage.

As flattering as it is to have high-profile support, the Tories cannot get dragged into accusations of corporate favouritism. With the general election months away, international media groups are positioning themselves to be on the side of the Conservatives, who can afford to be cool. Once Cameron has them on-side, he should thank them and get on with the job.

- Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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