It's great to have you back, Kelvin

He was once a legendary editor of 'The Sun'. Now he returns as star columnist. By Chris Horrie
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The Independent Online

Sun readers can expect plenty of the same from MacKenzie by way of opinion. His genius is to grasp that popular opinion is usually much more brutal, cruel, vengeful, self-interested, greedy and mean-spirited than most are normally prepared to admit.

For those wondering which political paths MacKenzie might follow in his column, there is, for once, no need for guesswork. The Sun man is one of the few British journalists to have formed his own political party and issued a manifesto.

It all happened about 10 years ago when MacKenzie found himself briefly in charge of a bizarre "tabloid TV" news channel called Live TV. MacKenzie's channel, which was an utter disaster, was watched by nobody but is fondly remembered by hacks because the news was read by a journalist while a figure in a life-size bunny rabbit costume also appeared, gesturing accordingly.

As a further publicity stunt, MacKenzie then formed the News Bunny Party and prevailed upon a hapless Mirror group journalist to change his name by deed poll to Mr News Bunny and stand in the Tamworth by-election. MacKenzie's NBP - very much a one-man band and not to be confused with the similarly initialled BNP - issued a manifesto which was remarkably po-faced and relatively free of obvious jokes. It provided a fascinating insight into an apparently sincere political philosophy.

"All political parties have failed the little people of Britain," the party claimed. As a result (and this was the mid-1990s) the UK had become "a weak, third-rate flop". Detailed policies were resolutely populist. On education Kelvin's NBP promised to abolish all the polytechnics and "new universities" because they were "a front for students to spend three or four years drinking lager and taking soft drugs".

A NBP government under President MacKenzie would make moral issues, such as hanging, the subject of referendums and (perhaps) Sun-style "You Are the Jury" phone-in opinion polls which had been such a hit during his editorship. Such polls used to routinely produce landslide victories for proposals along the lines of chopping off the hands of graffiti artists. MacKenzie's is not a very encouraging view of the Mass Psychology of the Great British Public. But it may be a realistic one.

Chris Horrie is co-author of 'Stick it Up Your Punter - The Uncut Story of The Sun', a third edition of which will be published by Simon and Schuster in the spring of 2006

'He's a dream signing. He'll be the voice of the people'

By Stuart Higgins

He's a great acquisition. It's very difficult to find a replacement for someone like Littlejohn who can really articulate what people are thinking, but Kelvin's the man. He will be a voice for people disillusioned with the Government and other institutions, such as the BBC. And I think he might well want to wreak revenge on people who have crossed him in business. The paper's very different from the one he edited 20 years ago, but then Kelvin's changed too. He's mellowed as a character, but the strength of his views is just the same. And the experience he's now had outside The Sun will have given him a broader sense of things, and he'll be able to cover a wider range of topics. I know that he and Rebekah Wade have a lot of mutual respect. They get on well, talk a lot, and meet socially. He's a dream signing for her.

Stuart Higgins was deputy editor to Kelvin MacKenzie at 'The Sun' from 1990 to 1994. He edited the paper from 1994 to 1998

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