Opinion: Leader - Will The Sun win it? Watch this space

It's the day after the election was called. Time to pick up The Sun - the country's best-read newspaper by a mile - and see which party it is endorsing this time around.

But wait, there's no mention of the election on the front page. There's nothing in the leader, just a mish-mash of election stories on page 2.

Indeed the biggest election-themed piece in the whole paper is a double-page spread entitled 'No.1 for Politits' from 'Our man in Breastminster'.

This is a far cry from The Sun in the 1980s and 1990s, a highly politicised paper that left its millions of working-class readers in no doubt about which way to vote.

Throughout the 1992 election campaign, the tabloid ruthlessly ridiculed Labour leader Neil Kinnock and later claimed it was 'The Sun wot won it' for John Major.

Subsequently, in one of the greatest PR triumphs of all time, Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell managed to win the paper's backing (along with other Murdoch-owned titles) for the 1997 and 2001 elections.

But, for the moment, it remains schtum.

Contrast this with the Daily Mirror which, on the very same day, ran a cover screaming 'Why Vote Labour?' alongside a handwritten letter from Blair.

On Monday, during Radio 4's Today programme, The Sun's hugely respected political editor Trevor Kavanagh insisted that the paper was waiting for the launch of party manifestos before deciding who to back. This seems strange. After eight years of Blair and the Labour administration, and an election campaign that effectively began on 3 January, can The Sun really be leaving it up to the days of tactical campaigning to make up its mind?

Much more likely that its executives want to be seen to back the winning side. There is a growing school of thought that far from being an influencer of politics, Murdoch is a consummate politician, careful to associate himself and his products with the powermongers of the day.

Whatever it is thinking, compared with the belligerent commandments of yesteryear, The Sun suddenly feels distinctly lacklustre as a media brand.

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