Conservative Diary

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The dead parrot Tories are resurrected in The Sun

It might be that the Tories would have preferred the switch to have happened one week later - more as a tribute to the renewed Conservatives than a rejection of the exhausted Labour Party - but they'll be delighted that The Sun will be "on side" for the seven months until the General Election.  A formal endorsement is welcome but having the news pages favourable (if not slavish*) is a much bigger prize.  The Sun's hostility to Labour has been evident for some time and boiled over in Brighton this week with the newspaper's Don't you know there's a bloody war on? campaign.  On Radio Five Live last night the Sun's political columnist Trevor Kavanagh made it clear that Murdoch himself had made the decision.  It was made "right at the top", he said.  The Times will decide its own endorsement but The Sun does not enjoy the same independence within NewsCorp.


The Tories are enjoying their Lazarus moment although the restoration to life has taken eleven years, not four days.  In 1998 The Sun declared the Tories "dead", "ceased to be", "an EX-party". It was a wounding blow to the then Tory leader, William Hague, who was portrayed as a dead parrot on The Sun's frontpage - again during the Party Conference season.

The direction of travel for The Sun has been evident for some time.  It backed Boris last year and Tory MEPs just three months ago.  It is a big victory for Andy Coulson, the Conservative Party's head of communications, who has made the Tories much more "tabloid friendly" since his appointment in 2007.  It is rumoured that The Sun had made it clear that it would not back the party as long as Dominic Grieve remained Shadow Home Secretary.  The previous Sun Editor, Rebekah Wade had made that clear after an unhappy dinner she had had with the man now moved to the Justice portfolio.

The Daily Mail is the next big target.  The Guardian reports that Cameron dined with senior executives of The Mail on Sunday evening.  It may well be, as we predicted earlier in the year, that all but The Mirror may desert Labour.

Tim Montgomerie

* The Sun won't be slavish to the Conservatives.  Expect the newspaper to push the party on Europe in particular.


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