The Thick of It


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Will Miliband pay for his attacks on Murdoch?

He is playing a dangerous game, one that put paid to Neil Kinnock's chances of being PM almost 20 years ago. If Murdoch is fundamentally weakened then Miliband will get away with it. If his power remains he could find himself up against an insurmountable barrier of opposition from Murdoch.

Even before hackgate really kicked off in the last few weeks, is the Murdoch media empire as powerful as it once was? Politicians clearly think so. Given that Murdoch will continue to control a significant level of British media, across the newspaper titles, Sky News and BSkyB. He still matters whether we like it or not. Many of the British public might not like the hacking of murder victims' phones or the Queen's private details but I don't expect them to stop buying Murdoch products.

Miliband has grown during this crisis. He has been saying the right things and doing so with more gravitas. The media has also been keen to give him prominence. It is going to be interesting to see whether this translates into improved personal poll ratings for him as this impact has been lacking so far.

Miliband's future success depends largely on how strongly the government come down on media owners. Their presumption is to step away, which is being challenged by recent events. If the Tories revert to type as the brouhaha dies down it will strengthen their own position by strengthening Murdoch and knocking Miliband.

These are interesting times in British politics. The goalposts are shifting every time I look at the news. Will they shift enough to force the Tories to limit the size of a media market owned by one person? I'm not sure they will, which puts Miliband in a vulnerable position.

None of this will be worked out for some time. There are clearly more revelations to come, especially about how much David Cameron knew about Andy Coulson's involvement, about severe corruption in the police and about more people who were compromised by News International. Enquiries and police investigations will all take time too. Projecting forward I would not be surprised if this was still rumbling on in two years time or more . Just as we head towards another general election.

Will anybody care then who The Sun backs? Cameron will, Miliband has already shown he doesn't.


Colm said...

The influence of newspapers is in terminal decline. If he has timed it right, Ed could be in the win win situation of being seen to take the moral high ground by ditching them just as they cease to be relevant in any major way. They still may have enough residual power to harm him though.

Tim McLoughlin said...

This is it. The decline of newspapers makes the timing of this interesting. Less people read them now but they still have the power to force politicians to kow tow to them it seems. They also still have the power to destroy people's careers.