What does Rupert Murdoch really think?


by Sunny
23rd July, 2006 at 5:45 pm    

What does Mr Murdoch think of David Cameron, our increasingly likely Prime Minister in 2009? Well, “not much” according to a recent interview in the United States (via Greenslade). The Financial Times states it would potentially reduce “chances that Mr Murdoch’s media empire would give him its backing in the next general election”.

Now this is a bit bizarre given only a month ago Murdoch told The Australian he could see himself backing Cameron for the next election and wanted an 18 month “poll dance”, as Graham called it.

So what’s he playing at? People pay attention because he controls the editorial slants of The Sun, News of the World, Times and Sunday Times. Either he’s playing a game by turning hot or cold towards Blair/Brown/Cameron to keep his options open (which is what I would do); or he is genuinely confused and keeps changing his mind on their recent performance. Maybe Cameron has not been slavish enough towards US foreign policy in recent weeks for Murdoch and that annoys him.

Unfortunately that means the politicians will keep bending over backwards to please Murdoch as he plays the promiscuous suitor waiting until the last minute, or until the tide has decisely moved in one direction, to make his choice. Clever bastard.


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  1. Vladimir — on 23rd July, 2006 at 6:06 pm  

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1827023,00.html I was reading this earlier on, got the impression that Murdoch had a dislike for Cameron. Though I look forward to seeing the BBC version of My-Space as much as Murdoch doesn’t!

  2. Sunny — on 23rd July, 2006 at 6:21 pm  

    Oh crap, I didn’t even see that. Well it elaborates on what I said above.

    By the way, the BBC is not doing a version of Myspace. I was invited to a dinner by the Beeb about three weeks ago alog with other “stakeholders” on its internet strategy. I have an inkling of what they’re planning but I think some technology illiterate journalists have made into a myspace story. Actually I need to finish that article this week too…

  3. Gaz — on 23rd July, 2006 at 6:22 pm  

    Personally, I feel Murdochs influence is overstated. I think he gives his eventual backing to whoever he thinks will win the election. After the event people assume his support swung the election. For the last two elections it has been bleedin obvious who would win. Murdoch has not had much choice but to support Blair. It will be interesting to see who he will support when Browne and Cameron contest and election, as it should be a much closer call than the last two elections.

    I find it disgusting that all these politicians swoon over him while his corporation does everything in its power to avoid paying its fair share of UK taxes (well documented in private eye). Whoever closes the tax avoidance loop holes and bans him from the country would get my vote.

  4. Vladimir — on 23rd July, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

    I don’t have much of an issue with who he as a person and ‘The Scum’ supports at the election. What is more important is the fact, as a lot of people seem to suggest that he is a discreet member of Tony Blair’s cabinet and the fact that the two hold secret meetings, where minutes of them are not taken is quite a serious issue.

    We all know why Murdoch became a citizen of America, so he could own media assets in America. During the creation of the 2003 Broadcasting Bill it was discussed whither there should be a bar to foreigners owning large proportions of British media assets, though we all know who tried his hardest for that not to happen and was successful. It would take a very brave Prime Minister to bar any foreigner from owning large chunks of the British media.

  5. Billy — on 23rd July, 2006 at 8:03 pm  

    “Unfortunately that means the politicians will keep bending over backwards to please Murdoch as he plays the promiscuous suitor waiting until the last minute, or until the tide has decisely moved in one direction, to make his choice.”

    Good article. That is exactly what I see happening. Whatever happens, the result of the next election is by no means as certain as the previous few.

  6. Katy Newton — on 23rd July, 2006 at 8:28 pm  

    I don’t see Cameron being Murdoch’s cup of tea, myself. I think he’s messing everyone about partly to keep Blair on his toes and partly just because he can.

    I still can’t access my sodding email. Is anyone else having a problem with Yahoo?

  7. Katy Newton — on 23rd July, 2006 at 8:31 pm  

    The Chairwoman, who is considerably better informed on current affairs than I, thinks that Murdoch hadn’t met Cameron when he spoke to the Australian, but now has, which may also be a factor.

  8. Chris Stiles — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:10 pm  


    Personally, I feel Murdochs influence is overstated. I think he gives his eventual backing to whoever he thinks will win the election.

    Yes .. there is a certain amount of backwards thinking about Murdoch’s influence and as you say the test will be the next election – if it is in fact closer.

    Logically, as both parties become more and more indistinguishable and the actual effective swing vote becomes smaller (wasn’t it a few 10,000s at the last election?) Murdoch’s influence will only grow. OTOH perhaps it is a British tendancy to play up every small difference – in the absence of revolution.

  9. Kulvinder — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:28 pm  

    our increasingly likely Prime Minister in 2009?

    Not a chance, Gordon Brown is a…is a…Scottish Labour politician so im not particularly looking forward to his premiership but hes still miles better than cameron.

  10. Rohin — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:37 pm  

    I really, REALLY hate Rupert Murdoch.

    I really, REALLY envy Rupert Murdoch.

    Then again…in my yearbook I was put down as “Doctor most likely to become Rupert Murdoch”. I’m not sure if that involves any painful surgery, but I’m hoping it’s prophetic.

    I’m unconvinced by Cameron…he seems to have gone a bit flakey as of late, after what most would agree was a strong start. But I dislike Brown (and no envy here).

  11. Garry — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:37 pm  

    I think this is all about keeping his options open for as long as possible to see which of them will be most prepared to dance to his tune. As long as he’s undecided, Dave and Gordon will vie for his affections like teenagers on heat. He’ll string it out for a while yet.

    I think he’ll decide at least a year before the expected date of the election though. At that point, the other guys going to get pasted by the Scum day after day after day…

    And he doesn’t always back the obvious winner. Remember 1992? All the polls said Kinnock would win but then there was that infamous front page. IIRC, that was just the final day of a long and relentless campaign against Kinnock.

  12. Zak — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:39 pm  

    Kul whats wrong with a Scottish PM?

  13. Chris Stiles — on 23rd July, 2006 at 9:40 pm  


    And he doesn’t always back the obvious winner. Remember 1992? All the polls said Kinnock would win but then there was that infamous front page. IIRC, that was just the final day of a long and relentless campaign against Kinnock

    Though a lot of commentators would trace Kinnock’s 1992 defeat back to his Howard Dean moment.

  14. Garry — on 23rd July, 2006 at 10:07 pm  

    True enough, Chris. That really was a toe curling moment.

    But then, I’d also say that the Scum had been backing Major long before Kinnock did that so they weren’t backing the obvious winner. How much influence they had on the election is debatable but (this is going to sound horribly patronsisng but its true all the same) I do know people who absord the Scum’s propadanda uncritically. Sad but true.

    I liken it to advertising. No-one thinks they’re influenced by it unduly but companies don’t spend all that money on flashy commercials for the fun of it.

  15. El Cocinero — on 23rd July, 2006 at 10:23 pm  

    Kinnock 1992. A real low point. Canvassing for the Labour Party in M&M. What a mare. I haven’t canavassed since.

  16. Kulvinder — on 23rd July, 2006 at 10:52 pm  

    Kul whats wrong with a Scottish PM?

    Nothing we have one now, i was only making fun. Gordon Brown won’t be happy until we’re working hours comparable to the US with holidays reduced to a fortnight a year.

  17. Leon — on 23rd July, 2006 at 11:17 pm  

    I think he’s trying to put the shits on both Cameron and Brown to start a bidding war (policy wise) for his backing…typical stuff really.

    The disgusting thing in all this is that guy is responsible for alot of xenophobia in this country and he’s a bloody foreigner too! You wont read that in the Sun.

    What right does a corporate overlord have to tell British citizens (or any citizen for that matter)what to think and feel about each other and non Brits?

  18. Chris Stiles — on 24th July, 2006 at 1:04 am  


    Nothing we have one now, i was only making fun

    Except that in the new order the PM will be the MP of a Scottish Constituency. Not that I suppose it’ll make much difference.

  19. sonia — on 24th July, 2006 at 11:18 am  

    “Personally, I feel Murdochs influence is overstated. I think he gives his eventual backing to whoever he thinks will win the election.”

    yep the man is a shrewd business man after all – it isn’t so much as who he likes but who he thinks will be more useful to him.

  20. Leon — on 24th July, 2006 at 11:45 am  

    Personally, I feel Murdochs influence is overstated. I think he gives his eventual backing to whoever he thinks will win the election.

    I’m not convinced by that view. His newspapers are sold in the millions and help create a worldview in their readership (based on editorial lines, selective reporting and the usual). This is a massive sway over what people think in this country. Of course it isn’t diktat and they do get caught on the hop occasionally but for the most part they determine the contours of public ‘debate’.

    If they didn’t have such a hold things like social media and blogging (and before them Indymedia and things like Undercurrents) wouldn’t be as important as they are…

  21. sonia — on 24th July, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    obviously media has a hold. clearly murdoch knows how to manipulate that – but again, i think he is similarly influenced by others around him think.

  22. Leon — on 24th July, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Not convinced, trying to be, but just not convinced! Given the masses amount of money, media outlets world wide I can’t see how he’d be interested in anyones opinion but his own.

  23. Rakhee — on 24th July, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

    It isn’t rocket science really.

    He isn’t naive to the power he holds but the dirty world of politics dictates that there are no guarantees. He’ll quietly watch, give slight indications of who he wants to win (which will whip people up in to a frenzy) but in the end, will ALWAYS back the winner.

    Those of you who’ve read Piers Morgan’s diaries will know what I mean…

  24. soru — on 24th July, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

    Cameron popping up today in Afghanistan is, no doubt, completely unrelated to this discussion.

  25. Gaz — on 24th July, 2006 at 2:51 pm  

    It would be interesting to understand what percentage of Sun readers actually vote. The Sun these days seems like nothing more than a daily copy of heat magazine. I have always felt the mail/express carried more political weight as their readers were perhaps more likely to actually vote. When Piers Moron tried to makeover the mirror to cover more serious stories the readership declined.

    I feel the advent of blogs like PP will start the decline of the influence of newspaper editorials.

  26. Leon — on 24th July, 2006 at 3:00 pm  

    Cameron popping up today in Afghanistan is, no doubt, completely unrelated to this discussion.

    One theory I’ve been toying with is it’s a test the waters photo op; they want to see how it looks him going out there compared to Blair visits. All part of the training for his eventual (and hoped as far as their concerned) Premiership…

  27. Billy — on 24th July, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    “The Sun these days seems like nothing more than a daily copy of heat magazine. I have always felt the mail/express carried more political weight as their readers were perhaps more likely to actually vote.”

    This is a very good point. And I believe the Mail’s circulation is going up and up, although it has a very long way to go before it gets anywhere near the Sun. Mail/Express scares me though. At least the Sun has a sense of humour.

  28. Sunny — on 25th July, 2006 at 2:41 am  

    True, but the Mail is getting squeezed by the Times and Telegraph going downmarket slightly with human-interest stories. So they’re not constantly rising.

  29. Chris Stiles — on 26th July, 2006 at 12:41 am  

    I’m not convinced that the Mail is being squeezed, in the manner you describe. The Telegraph particularly has the greyest of readerships – both in reality and in perception – so i’d be suprised if there was any migration there. The Times is ideologically closer – but that doesn’t always translate to being able to compete for readers.

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