Another day, and still Young Dave is out in front, by seven or eight per cent. I looked at the potential downside of reprising the Thatcher spending cuts (and her monetary policy) yesterday, but is there anything else of a distinctive nature that a Cameron Government could bring on? How about those pesky trades unions?
The Thatcher parallel is not a straightforward one here: the unions are a shadow of the players in the late 70s. Yes, Unite is a big union, but big out of the weakness of its component parts – the unions that merged to form Unite had little option, with their dwindling membership and declining influence. It’s not easy to see what more could be added to current union legislation, and Young Dave is thus far not proposing anything in this direction.
But just look back to 1979 once more: the media empire that swung behind Thatcher, and has backed the winner at every poll since then, is that of our old friend Rupert Murdoch, spearheaded of course by the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. It was one of those no brainers: the Tories were going to deal with the unions, and for anyone on Fleet Street (as was), anything that restricted the ability of the unions got their vote.
Why so? Well, the print unions were easily capable, should they be so inclined, of stopping the presses of any national paper. The reason could be that they didn’t want certain stories to be run, disputes over pay and conditions, or, on occasion, anything they liked. Murdoch, who later got hold of the Times and Sunday Times partly because Roy Thomson had tired of battling the unions, was up for any trade union restraint he could get.
So, looking at the upcoming contest from Rupe’s end of the telescope, what would he be up for now? Well, what gets in the way of his money making activities in the UK right now? And the answer can be put directly: the BBC. Murdoch (and Junior) hate the Beeb making news available at no extra charge via their website. The Beeb’s raft of original programming dwarfs Sky, despite the latter enjoying a larger income.
Young Dave has, obligingly, said the Tories would hobble Ofcom, and his shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has made noises about tearing up the corporation’s charter. Rupe backed Margaret Thatcher out of self interest in 1979, and his support for Cameron now appears likewise.
All we need now is for the Tories to drop the broadcast impartiality rule, and then we’ll get Sky News (“first for breaking wind”) morphing into another Fox. Perhaps a campaign could be started to persuade Jon Stewart to move to the UK.