Politicians from both parties, advisors and spin doctors fought with each other and jockeyed for position to persuade, charm and convert the executives of News International on a daily basis.
Ongoing events at Westminster have differed from most occurrences in memory. Labour declared war on Murdoch, a Conservative Prime Minister promised enquiries into media ethics and the relationship of police to News International and we witnessed possibly the most powerful media mogul ever quite literally eat humble pie in a commons committee!
Today, members and commentators from both parties are condemning News International. Labour MP’s now tell us “The party was never comfortable about cosying up to Murdoch; many of them have been sickened by it”.
This is a much different tale to when Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell flew half way around the world to cement a powerful link between New Labour and Murdoch. According to Lance Price, a former No 10 insider, Murdoch was in reality “the 24th member of the Cabinet”, saying: “No big decision could be made inside No 10 without taking account of likely reaction by Murdoch.” Furthermore, Alastair Campbell has often been quoted as saying that The Sun’s decision to back New Labour as of 1997 was his finest hour in politics.
This all changed completely under the Brown PM years, and News International reverted its’ allegiance towards original allies, the Conservatives with The Sun Headline; “Labour’s Lost It” signalling an end to the Labour/Murdoch love in of the Blair era. This also signalled a return to Conservative support in Murdoch publications and brought back memories of support for them during Thatcher era. Example: 1992 headline condemning Labour; “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”
News International newspapers have become an ever present influence within the corridors of power at Westminster over last twenty years. With recent events, have we witnessed the starting point of a different media/political landscape?
It will certainly be interesting over the next year to see whether the Murdoch Empire will have the same stranglehold over mainstream political parties in England, or whether the once feral beast is now a toothless tiger!
Written by Jonathan Lavery – A Politics student with a keen interest in British and Irish politics. Jonathan is also a Campaign Manager & Branch Press Officer in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) @JonnyLav