Media moguls with power to play politics: The Italian elections could contain a lesson for Britain. David Lister reports

A MEDIA mogul sets up his own political party, promotes it and himself endlessly on television and shocks the world by becoming prime minister. It could only happen in fiction or in something stranger than fiction, such as Italy.

But could it happen here, where media concentration is much commented upon but has not, as yet, been used to such devastating effect as in Italy this week?

With much of our press controlled from abroad and most of our airwaves state- regulated, the possibilities are not as great as on the Continent, but they do exist. A future election could, for example, see:

The Virgin Alliance: Aiming to be Britain's first male prime minister not to wear a tie, Richard Branson would have strong appeal among the demographically large electorate of ageing ex-hippies turned prosperous executives, as well as with lovers of early Seventies soft rock.

He could offer fiscal incentives of discounted air travel, but would lose votes in constituencies where his radio station has a rotten reception.

The SST (Sky Sun Times): Increasingly claiming affinity with the born-again Christian democrats its leader, Rupert Murdoch, would have use of four national papers and satellite television to put across his message.

Mr Murdoch would have to overcome the constitutionally hazy question of a foreign citizen becoming prime minister, but there is likely to be a limited media campaign to clarify that issue.

The Commonwealth Hemline Party: The foreign premiership issue may arise too in the case of Conrad Black, Canadian owner of the Daily Telegraph. Campaigning for a return to traditional values and shorter skirts, he is likely to win votes in home counties areas that Mr Branson's radio cannot reach.

The Association: Lord Rothermere would have to renounce his title to become prime minister as Lord Home had to back in 1963.

Sources say he would be loath to do this, reckoning with some justification to influence government policy as owner of the Daily Mail far more effectively than he could as prime minister.

Chris Evans: An outsider to watch. Does not actually own a TV station but is rarely off them, gaining visibility and familiarity with the electorate through what pollsters refer to as the Slattery factor. Most of his audience is below voting age but could prove influential in urging their parents how to vote.

Leading article, page 17

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk