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?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: 3D CAD Designer - Exhibition Stands

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Rapid growth has seen a number ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor