Tuesday, 21 February 2012

News International’s hold over Cameron.

What we have been waiting for has finally happened, Rupert Murdoch as a policy director of main stream media, has broken ranks and tweeted support for Scots independence.

The media mogul is currently facing difficult legal inquisitions into his affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Under such circumstances a lessening of pressure from any area would be a welcome reprieve.

For a man like Rupert Murdoch it all comes down, historically, to applied or implied pressure. Applied pressure is what politicians fear from the media, it causes anything from mild consternation around Westminster’s water coolers through to resignations and even jail time.

Political leaders do not like applied pressure, from wherever source, that is why they so avidly court those with the ability to quickly spin a story into harmlessness or extend it to being a saber stroke through the heart.

Rupert Murdoch, his family and friends have been under extreme pressure from the UK government. He has lost a title, News of the World and its revenues. He has also lost a takeover, for now, and his media have been rabidly anti independence, until now.

The Sun carried the infamous noose picture on Election Day, 2007, and although supporting the SNP in 2011 it did so under the banner of it being the best option on the table while stating it firmly opposed independence.

What has changed is Westminster’s actions; it’s lifting the carpet on Fleet Street through the Leveson inquiry. There’s a feeling abroad that the investigation is still only grabbing one corner of the rug, and if it ever takes it outdoors into the sunshine for a good beating there’s no telling what might drop out.

The head of NI has now finally realised Westminster’s open goal that’s been staring him in the face for years, Scotland.

Rupert Murdoch knows that David Cameron will do anything short of sell his soul to keep the UK together, and even that hasn’t formally been taken from the table.

This media mogul knows that he personally holds the fate of the Union in his hands. He can ensure that Alex Salmond’s probable 2014 “YES” becomes a landslide of monumental proportions.

NI is well aware that all they need do is run a weekly set of stories that tell the true, unvarnished, un-spun facts and the un-decided will jump to the “Yes” camp, that many of the “No’s” will jump in large part to the un-decided. The rump-UK vote will be but a shadow.

Rupert Murdoch also knows that David Cameron is aware of this, and that once the Genie is out the bottle, there’s no putting it back.

The only question remaining from the UK PM’s viewpoint was would Murdoch’s enterprise actually use this most potent of weapons in its arsenal, this Scotland of ours.

That question was answered with a tweet from Murdoch himself, and reports in the Scotsman Newspaper and on the BBC, one praised First Minister Alex Salmond, and the other told Westminster to “Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win”.

There’s only one viable interpretation, it’s a message from Rupert Murdoch to David Cameron, “you’re attacking my family, you’re trying to destroy my family, and I care about my family. Stop, or watch the same being done to what you claim is yours, for I can, and I will see you go down in history as the last Prime Minister”.

These are tweets the media has ignored, even as they give voice to so many others that are comparatively irrelevant. None except NNS even thought it worthy of comment, this is almost unheard of. When someone as significant as Rupert Murdoch speaks out on any constitution it is often viewed as a “game changer”. Instead we get media silence, even from his own tabloids.

The stakes have been quietly raised, but the endgame has not yet started. These tweets can be viewed as a personal opinion; News International’s empire can still continue to support the UK juggernaut. Everything is now on the board and its Cameron’s move.

We will know the outcome of the game, even if the very existence of the game is denied. Leveson will be neutered, the NI empire will go on and no executive of significance to Rupert Murdoch will be impeached. None of significance in the NI world will get more than a knuckle rapping, quickly forgotten after much sensationalism to “show” the wheels of justice have turned.

Or we will see the NI media empire turn its focus fully on support for independence. This would have a secondary benefit for Murdoch’s organisation in that it should also see its sales increase. In this circumstance truth will win, Scotland will win.

The only question still needing answered before the game properly begins, will David Cameron blink, and will he capitulate before the action really starts.

Expect him to; in either scenario we will have our answer as events unfold.


  1. Makes sense with one little bug,Murdoch is under pressure,will people read his papers and take their word as truth? Or will they react against Murdoch,and he may cost us votes.I think this is a pickle.I' stick with the Herald,and hope.

    1. It's not what we believe,it'll all depend on what Murdoch believes....

  2. I have absolutely no doubt that support for Scottish independence from the Murdoch newspapers bring over voters. That a lot of people dispise them, doesn't keep others from taking it seriously.

    Interesting points, Hazel. If Murdoch had commented the other way, the MSM would have been all over it. As it is, the silence is deafening. I hadn't considered your reasoning on Murdoch's comment, but you may well be right.

  3. As usual you're away ahead of me - I'm still on the first draft. :) I don't care how flippant the MSM are about Murdoch, the Sun is still read very widely here and when the new Sun arrives on Sunday, then his influence will spread even wider.

    1. That's only because you have a life.... ;)

      When I nursed night shift in Glasgow, the last thing we did when tidying the ward before lights-out was collect the newspapers for binning. The Sun and NotW and the Record were always the most popular ones the patients bought. Can't imagine that much has changed!

  4. A guy I work with, whom I'm afraid to say is very dim, often gushes to me about the latest thing he read in the Sun. I take the mickey for him reading the rag, but the fact is he's very pro SNP and very pro independence, and part of the reason he reads it is the political coverage.

    He's not the only one like him. The SNP vote is not all smart intellectuals with a keen grasp of constitutional issues, much as we'd like to imagine it is. The Sun has quite a circulation. And my colleague's vote counts just as much as mine or yours does.

    Don't knock it.

    1. Yes, don't knock it..... but don't rely on it either. Murdoch's apparent support will depend entirely on what will suit Murdoch best - not what's best for Scotland.
      Beware of man bearing gifts... with elastic attached...

  5. Another excellent blog Hazel and quick off the mark....

    Nicola Sturgeon on QT way back in January was quite open about the SUN support of SNP in the 2011 election...I am not sure that AS will be inviting RM for drinky-poos to celebrate their common cause but I think there will be a quiet disdain..at least initially.......for like you say in your last comment " beware of man bearing gifts......with elastic attached...."