The news came after The Sun printed the headline ‘LABOUR’S LOST IT’ along with the subheading ‘After 12 long years in power, this government has lost its way. Now it’s lost the Sun’s support too.’ A bold statement I think you’ll agree…
With The Sun and Labour pitched as providers ‘for the people’, this came as quite a shock – especially as I’ve always known and been taught throughout history that red tops are left wing and the mid-market/broadsheets right. I always assumed that The Sun was Labour’s flagship media title whilst The Mail represented the Tories. Needless to say, I was a little confused by the statement; ‘Sun turns its back on Labour after 12 years of support’.
Being the keen media lover that I am, I decided to read up on the history of Britain’s greatest tabloid and contrary to the stereotypical beliefs of those who don’t know better, discovered shock of all horrors…that The Sun has indeed primarily been a supporter of the blues!
First published by IPC in 1964, The Sun was born a Labour-ite but this all changed five years later when the current owner, Mr Murdoch, took charge of the paper and subsequently took it right wing also.
Although the paper remained Labour orientated after the takeover this all changed during the Margaret Thatcher general election when on the 3 May 1979, The Sun ran the headline; ‘VOTE TORY THIS TIME’…very similar to today.
From then onwards, The Sun became an avid Thatcherite and launched frequent scathing attacks on what the paper called the “loony left”. It even supported Thatcher during some ‘of the people’s’ darkest days such as transforming Arthur Scargill into Hitler and who could forget the iconic, yet distasteful, ‘GOTCHA’ headline celebrating the torpedoing of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War.
Even with the political passing of ‘Maggie’, The Sun continued their allegiance to the Conservatives throwing themselves behind John Major. On the day of the general election, another classic headline was plastered over the tabloid’s front page – ‘If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’. Two days later The Sun was so convinced its front page had swung a close election for the Conservatives it declared, ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’.
On the 18 March 1997, the paper went into Labour again stating; ‘THE SUN BACKS BLAIR’. It is believed in exchange for Rupert Murdoch’s support, Blair agreed not to join the EURO and since then the paper has supported Labour in both the subsequent two elections, in 2001 and 2005, but has not backed all of the party’s policies through and through.
And now here we are on Wednesday 30 September 2009 – ‘LABOUR’S LOST IT’. Is it a case that The Sun has always been a ‘closet-Conservative’ or does the paper sway from side-to-side depending on public opinion, after all, money makes the world go round.
More importantly as The Sun’s history proves, is it simply luck that they’ve always been on the winning side? WithThe Sun, Mail, Express and Times all generally considered to be in Cameron’s corner, I fear that even this is a fight that not even John ‘one punch’ Prescott could get out of alive.
The might of the media – 30 September 2009, the day that killed New Labour.
By Graeme Anthony, Account Manager