Creepy Uncle Rupe plays down his influence over the political process in countries where he enjoys a significant media presence, despite the overt cheerleading of his papers, especially the Sun. But this does not match the reality: Murdoch is the one with the power, the one whose approval they all court. And now he has decided to stick his bugle into the future of Scotland.
The independence referendum campaign has been steaming along for several months now, not that most in England have taken much notice. So they may not have noticed that Scotland’s First Minister Alec Salmond met Murdoch in Edinburgh last February. They started to notice this morning, after Rupe’s supposedly upmarket troops at the Sunday Times asserted that the Yes campaign was ahead.
Murdoch had clearly been given advance notice of the YouGov poll, telling “London Times will shock Britain and more with reliable new poll on Scottish independence”. Note it’s the “London Times”, the suggestion being that this is still a paper of record (I know, I know, don’t snigger at the back), that the poll result can be relied upon as accurate. And there was more from the ageing Mafia Don.
“Scottish independence means huge black eye for whole political establishment, especially Cameron and Miliband” warned Rupe menacingly. Yeah, those two hadn’t courted him, or, in Young Dave’s case, had dropped Rebekah Brooks like a hot potato. At least Cameron hadn’t found part of that former Police horse in his bed. But doubts about the poll were beginning to circulate.
Mike Smithson at Political Betting asked the obvious question: “Wonder why Sunday Times [is] not using its normal IndyRef pollster, Panelbase, for its latest poll?” Why indeed. YouGov has form on referenda, and it’s not exactly encouraging form. Smithson also Tweeted “How YouGov performed against other pollsters the last time there was a referendum – the AV vote in May 2011”.
YouGov’s online poll was almost 16% out in its estimate of the No vote on that occasion (Angus Reid’s online poll was also way out, being almost 14% off). Now look at the poll of polls helpfully provided by Angus Curran, and you will see that YouGov is the only pollster showing the sudden movement towards the Yes campaign. Panelbase is showing a steady lead for Better Together.
Small wonder that the likes of Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have responded cautiously to the Sunday Times splash. This referendum is Scotland’s referendum. The decision is for the Scottish people, and they alone, to make. That thought is not allowed to enter in the world of Rupert Murdoch: here he is, once again, sticking his oar in to show that he is the real kingmaker.
Shove off and leave them to it, Don Rupione. Yours is an offer they can refuse.