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The Left should calm down. Reports of the death of Murdochshire Central are greatly exaggerated.

By Tim Montgomerie
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On Radio 4's PM programme Vince Cable has just compared the travails of Rupert Murdoch to the fall of a dictatorship.

In today's FT (£) Matthew Engel speaks for many on the Left who can barely contain their glee at Rupert Murdoch's fall from grace:

"In bygone days, the prime minister – of whichever party – would lean on Rupert Murdoch or his representative and try to find out what would please the electors of Murdochshire Central. But those days have now gone, seemingly for ever."

Now, if by "Murdochshire Central" Mr Engel means a narrow idea of Rupert Murdoch's power then he's right*. Mr Murdoch is a much diminished figure today and deservedly so. Despite an enormous contribution to British life in the 1980s (with the move to Wapping) and the 1990s (with the launch of satellite broadcasting) his empire has been very badly run in recent times and his unapologetic indulgence of Rebekah Brooks, in particular, has allowed elements within his newspapers to commit horrible crimes.

But is Mr Engel somehow thinking politicians won't be interested in courting the readers of Murdoch's paper? Because Murdochshire Central, defined in terms of the attitudes and views that The Sun has long championed, isn't so much alive as getting stronger by the day...

  • Euroscepticism is growing. See Tuesday's Angus Reid and yesterday's YouGov polling.
  • Concern about immigration is the number two issue for voters.
  • The Coalition's crackdown on welfare spending is its most popular policy.
  • Every Labour leaflet in recent high profile campaigns has promised a tougher line on crime. Andrew Cooper - Cameron's new strategic pollster - presented overwhelming evidence of public support for a tougher approach to sentencing and that produced the Ken Clarke U-turn on prisons. Lord Ashcroft, of course, got there first.
  • Most British voters think they are taxed too much and taxes on petrol, inheritances and expenditure are particularly unpopular.

And the Left shouldn't believe that The Sun and Times are likely to disappear anytime soon. The Sun is profitable and The Times is far too big a brand for some billionaire to resist. Both the titles of Murdochshire Central and, much more importantly, its political values are here to stay for some time to come. The Left should get used to that.

* News International is not the most powerful media organisation in Britain. As I documented on Monday that's the BBC and by some distance.


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