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Monday 22 February 2016

Sun Sitting On The EU Fence

[Update at end of post]

Among the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, one media magnate stands out in his express dislike of the EU and all it stands for. Rupert Murdoch has been unswervingly opposed for years, and no wonder: all that talk of fair competition is anathema to him. So his papers have veered between scepticism and forthright hostility, and no paper has been more openly hostile to the EU than the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.
This is, after all, the paper that brought us “UP YOURS, DELORS”, as well as several instances of “NO THANK EU” and the like. But a glance at the Twitter sentiments of the paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn suggests the Murdoch doggies are either hedging their bets, or may even have got cold feet over the very real prospect of Young Dave invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty after an Out vote.
Newton Dunn began by commenting approvingly on the sentiments of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite: “Whatever face saving and face lifting exercise we do @EUCO - decision belongs to British people”. And not to Rupert Murdoch. And he had little time for Bozza’s bluster: “The mighty @bbcnickrobinson really sticking it to Boris on #Marr. All about him being PM, ‘this will he or won't he really won't help him’”.
That matters twice over: Bozza wants the Murdoch press to endorse his actions. Instead, TND was more approving of Dave’s actions. “Cameron takes on Gove directly: ‘You might feel more sovereign, but you're less in charge of your own destiny’ … Cameron's caustic 11th hour appeal to BJ: ‘If Boris really cares about getting things done, remaining in the EU is the way to do that’”. No spirit of Kelvin McFilth detectable there, then.
Moreover, Newton Dunn had his eyes glued to the hated BBC - no Murnaghan for him. “PM quotes Patrick McLaughlin: I’d love to live in Utopia too, but I get a feeling when we get to Utopia, the EU will still be there’ #Marr”. Then it was on to Sunday Politics, and another minus point for the outers: “Can you guarantee we'd have full access to EU trade, out of it, @Jo_Coburn asks Chris Grayling four times? Four times, ducked”.
Yes, TND is thinking of his readers, but also being highly sceptical of the Outers’ case, a scepticism that continued as he joined the throng Chez Bozza: “Boris - ‘Actually I love Brussels’. This hasn't started well”. Correctamundo. He also homed in on Bozza’s shambling delivery: “NOT the key Boris quote: ‘I will be advocating Vote Leave, or whatever the team is called, because I understand there are many of them’”.
There was yet more scepticism when Newton Dunn got his first sight of Bozza’s latest “Chicken Feed” generating column for the Telegraph: “Boris: the plot thickens. Strong suggestion in his Telegraph column he'll Vote Leave for a better deal to Remain”. The Sun man is clearly not persuaded by Bozza’s volte face, nor by the rest of the Vote Leave case. The Sun is talking of a “fair fight”. There may be less partisan behaviour than usual.

The Outers may have thought the Sun would be on their side from the off. Maybe not.

[UPDATE 1 March 1615 hours: what did I tell you? The Guardian has today revealed that Sun editor Tony Gallagher "doesn't yet know whether [the paper] will campaign for Brexit". He hadn't made up his mind? "I don't know. I haven't decided yet".

And then there was this killer observation: "He did not directly address a question about whether he had the 'freedom' to decide the Sun’s line on the referendum – likely to be a reference to the Eurosceptic views of the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch – but Gallagher told the Newsworks conference in London on Tuesday that the Sun’s stance on the EU was tailored to its readers".

Gallagher knows all about the "freedom" he enjoys as a Murdoch editor. He will most likely have been reminded of that by Paul Dacre before he left the Mail: Dacre turned down a job offer from Murdoch because he feared he would not be able to "edit with freedom".

This fence-sitting by the Sun points to the Murdochs needing Cameron in place to help them with that 61% of Sky they do not yet own. If they are coming back with another bid, they will hold off having the Sun campaign for Brexit. Tony Gallagher will not have a say in the matter]


David Aust said...

What on earth are they up to? The Sun has beaten the anti-EU drum for years - maybe it's the prospect of losing someone else to blame the failings of Dave's government on?

Audacity said...

The Sun always likes to be on the winning team but it's quite possible that the paper has other concerns. If, as is likely, the remain teams win, Cameron may easily think to himself ' Do you know what? I don't really need the press that normally supports me. I can treat them with the contempt that they have heaped on me'. He could therefore spend his final years as PM doing what the fuck he likes and that might include proper regulation of the press. I'd also wager a bet that many journalists, including some at the Sun and The Mail, secretly disapprove of the blatant way that Boris has stabbed Cameron in the back. Most sane people already know that Boris is not someone you'd trust with a crayon, far less the job of Prime Minister. It's one thing to suspect or know that. It's another for Boris to prove it with the media spotlights fully sparkling on him.

Anonymous said...

Who will defend Murdoch in the EU when the UK is gone. It 's as simple as that

Crispin Fisher said...

Murdoch would still like to get full control of Sky and he won't achieve that if he gets on the wrong side of Dave and George.

Anonymous said...

Murdoch always runs with flavour of the month.

He wined and dined Farage and with a bit of luck UKIP will keep him at arms length.

There is too much media and politicians cosying.

It needs to stop.

Rivo said...

My guess is that his instincts (which whatever else can be said about the man, are usually pretty good) are telling him that for all the hot air from the various leave camps, remain will probably win - and Murdoch does so love to be seen to back the winner.

There may even be other concerns - I don't know how much access press hacks are granted to the workings of the EU parliament at the moment, but that would surely lessen if Britain is no longer a member state. Another possible concern is sport - football generates a lot of copy and a lot of money for Murdoch - should Britain leave the EU the Premier League might find it a little harder to woo all those European managers and players to our dismal shores...

Audacity said...

I read yesterday that over 60% of Times readers are in the Remain camp. Many of the paper's best writers(Finkelstein, Rifkind, Collins and Parris) have either already come out for Remain or are close friends with Cameron and Osborne. I therefore think it quite likely that the paper will run with Cameron rather than Boris and think that Murdoch will allow it.

Andy McDonald said...

The Sun's politics have always run a tricky course between "Nobody speaks up for the little guy" and "Leave it to our betters who know what they're doing". Regardless of which party it's supporting, that's meant that it can flip from anti-politics populism and slavish devotion to the master at the drop of a hat.

SteveB said...

Anon 16:27 got it right it the first sentence. The Sun has always sided with the ones they think will win (hence support for Blair against Major ater years of attacking Labour), then they can say they helped the win and are influential rather than being a shitty little rag read only by failures. Their problem at the moment is that nobody is really sure which way it will go so for now fence sitting is the way forward.