Conservative Diary

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How low can the tabloids go?

15451856 "David Cameron last night stood accused of exploiting the war dead for the sake of a set of Armistice Day publicity pictures. He took his personal snapper into the Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey yesterday to pose for carefully-choreographed photographs. The Tory leader slipped in by a side gate at 10.15am, 30 minutes before dignitaries including the Queen arrived for a First World War commemoration service. Mr Cameron had clearly been instructed on how to behave and moved briskly from pose to pose, often bending down to read the names on crosses as he was snapped." - Mirror

After The Sun's attacks on Brown (opposed by 65% of the public) you have to wonder if the six months to the General Election (Nick Robinson does not expect a March vote) are going to be very ugly.

The Sun and Mirror are likely to lead the charge... and go way beyond what their political friends would choose to do and, perhaps, would prefer to do. Once they have both finished taking lumps out of their targets you have to wonder what will remain of their own reputations as well as those of Cameron, Brown and our political leaders.

Tim Montgomerie

15451851 PS In today's Independent Andy McSmith examines the Tory-Sun relationship (as Bob Seely did yesterday on CentreRight). McSmith suggests that a deal may have been done by the Tory leadership to win the newspaper's support:

"Examples of the apparent tie-in between what News International's boss, James Murdoch, wants, and what David Cameron is ready to promise include the recent decision by the Conservatives to abandon the idea of "top slicing" the BBC licence fee. It had been proposed that part of the money paid to the BBC would be siphoned off to help regional television companies meet the threat from the internet. But this would also have helped them compete more effectively against Sky News, which is part of the Murdoch media empire.

When the policy was abandoned in September, Jeremy Hunt, the shadow Culture Secretary, said that it was because enacting it might make the commercial television companies "focus not on attracting viewers but on attracting subsidies". There was no gain for the BBC in the climbdown, because David Cameron had already said that the Tories will freeze the licence fee. What it will mean is that the BBC's income will be capped, without the regional television companies seeing any government help, which will strengthen the market position of Britain's only satellite television company, Sky. "This was done for News International," a Tory insider said yesterday. "Murdoch wants Sky to go head to head with the BBC. He doesn't want the independent companies strengthened."


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