In Kinnock's ideal world there'd be no Mail, Sun or Telegraph, just a government-regulated National Information Newspaper
By Tim Montgomerie
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It was one of the most famous front pages in British newspaper history. In the very close election of 1992 The Sun warned: If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.
Who knows if it really was The Sun Wot Won It but Kinnock has never forgiven Murdoch and nineteen years later he has used an interview with Radio 4's today programme to seek revenge. He called for a “balanced press” and said that he'd “very happy if we could ensure that there wasn’t a political pre-determination”.
What on earth does he mean? When we go into a newsagent will we have to buy a copy of The Guardian as well as The Telegraph? Or will a new Office of Press Regulation put Polly Toynbee and Fraser Nelson in joint charge of a newly merged National Information Newspaper?
Michael Fallon, Deputy Conservative Party Chairman, has attacked Lord Kinnock's idea as "sinister":
“For a politician to call for political control of the press is pretty sinister. Having spent the last decade and a half cosying up to the Murdoch press, Labour are now trying to turn this into a political vendetta which threatens to damage our democracy. Ed Miliband needs to distance himself from his mentor immediately.”
It's often said Britain has the best and worst press in the world. The worst has been on public display in the last fortnight and hopefully the Leveson inquiry will produce a thorough clean up. The best of the British press, in contrast, is world beating. Every opinion is available every morning with The Guardian, Independent and Mirror cheering from the Left. Then there's The Sun, Mail, Express and Telegraph from the Right. We need these alternative voices when the BBC is so dominant in TV, radio and the internet.
Kinnock was wrong for Britain in 1992 and is still wrong now.