Stephen Glover: Cameron should be glad 'The Sun' shone on him

Media Studies: We don't yet know how much his closeness to Mr Murdoch will damage David Cameron's reputation

If, like me, you sometimes puzzle over why David Cameron was determined to get so close to Rupert Murdoch, you may find the answer in the newly published The British General Election of 2010 by Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley. A fascinating chapter on the press, written by Margaret Scammell and Charlie Beckett, contains a statistical table compiled by Ipsos Mori, which shows which political party readers of every national newspaper supported.

The table, which draws on a wide base of 10,211 electors across Great Britain and so may be judged representative, could keep me happy for hours. Did you know, for example, that although 59 per cent of Daily Mail readers supported the Tories, 16 per cent backed Labour and 16 per cent the Liberal Democrats?

The National Readership Survey for the second half of 2009 gives the Mail 4,934,000 readers. (Remember that "buyers" and "readers" are different, with the latter outnumbering the former by between two and a half and three times, the proportions varying between titles.) So nearly 790,000 Mail readers supported Labour, and the same number Lib Dem, though fewer will have actually voted. The proportion of Mail readers who did so was 73 per cent.

Another gripping fact is that at 44 per cent The Independent has the highest proportion of readers who supported the Lib Dems in the 2010 election. The Guardian had the second-highest proportion at 37 per cent. This figure is arresting because it represents a decline of 4 per cent from the 2005 election. In others words, although The Guardian recommended its readers vote Lib Dem in 2010, a smaller proportion appears to have done so than in 2005, when it had suggested they vote Labour.

But for me, the most fascinating information concerns the mass-circulation Sun. At the end of September 2009, during Labour's annual party conference, the paper made a great drama out of dropping New Labour and embracing David Cameron. People who seldom look at the paper are probably unaware of the vitriol and nastiness of the day-in-day-out attacks which it then launched on Gordon Brown, once its hero, and its absolute and relentless enthusiasm for Mr Cameron and the Tories. Such blind partisanship would annoy many people, but it seems not to have that effect on many readers of The Sun.

Between 2005 and 2010 there was a 13.5 per cent swing among Sun readers from Labour to the Tories, which is a significantly larger figure than for any other newspaper. Looking at it another way, in 2005 45 per cent of Sun readers supported Labour, and 33 per cent the Conservatives. In 2010 28 per cent backed Labour and 43 per cent the Tories. The readership of the Sun supposedly declined from 8,825,000 to 7,761,000 over the period, so the Tories got a much bigger proportion of a slightly smaller number – in round terms nearly 425,000 more Sun readers backed them in 2010 than in 2005.

Without knowing the geographical distribution of these readers, it is impossible to know whether they swung the election for the Tories in a number of marginal seats. What is clear is that The Sun delivered a Lab-Con swing more than twice the national one of 5 per cent, though it was 7 per cent among the C2DE socio-economic classes which make up nearly two-thirds of The Sun's readership. The paper must also have exerted an influence through its online edition.

We can't say "it was the Sun wot one it", because the Tories didn't win. However, we are probably justified in saying that the paper's remorseless anti-Labour and pro-Tory campaign did help to influence a sizeable number of readers. Interestingly, other right-wing papers, particularly the Mail, showed much smaller Lab-Con swings. In fact, the figure for the Mail was only 4 per cent. It is true, of course, that a much greater proportion of its readers already backed the Tories. Yet it is also the case that the paper ran a much less stridently anti-Labour and less passionately pro-Tory campaign than The Sun, though it took some notable swipes at Nick Clegg. How much better would Mr Cameron have done if he had captured The Mail as he did The Sun?

The question is whether David Cameron's pact with Rupert Murdoch, Faustian or otherwise, will pay off. It's too early to say. There has probably been a substantial reward, and The Sun has delivered on its side of whatever bargain was made. What we don't yet know is how much his closeness to Mr Murdoch and the News International will damage David Cameron in terms of reputation.







A high price for legal oversights



The Spectator has recently been on the receiving end of some ruinously expensive legal cases. In July 2008, its website published an article by Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, in which he described a London-based Islamist group called IslamExpo as a racist, fascist and genocidal organisation. A couple of months ago, the magazine published an apology, having incurred substantial costs.

A leading light of IslamExpo is Mohammed Sawalha, a Palestinian émigré living in London. I understand The Spectator has recently settled with him after publishing a blog on its website by my friend Melanie Phillips which he regarded as libellous, and has again incurred costs said to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The magazine's editor, Fraser Nelson, may feel aggrieved inasmuch as both blogs were published before he became editor, and evidently did not receive the same legal attention as articles in the magazine would have. Small and relatively impecunious publications are, of course, especially vulnerable to all sorts of litigants. Middle Eastern politics present a notorious legal quagmire, and must be negotiated with care. Let's hope there are no more nasty cases in the pipeline.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions