Media Lifeline: Sun politics

The Sun has not always backed the winner in a General Election, but recent results have gone the red-top's way.

1970: Rupert Murdoch had acquired The Sun, which had claimed to be a politically neutral broadsheet (despite clearly supporting Labour), and relaunched it as a Mirror-style tabloid (albeit designed for those with a markedly lower reading age) in time for the 1970 General Election. True to heritage, it backs Harold Wilson, who, against the odds, loses.

1979: The Sun had wavered during the 1974 elections, but the paper hitches itself to Margaret Thatcher's rising star after the Winter of Discontent. For a decade, it - and, in particular, its editor, Kelvin MacKenzie - will be her loudest cheerleader.

1992: The Labour leader Neil Kinnock is so confident of toppling Thatcher's grey successor, John Major, that he holds a victory rally - a whole week before the General Election. The Sun has other ideas. On election day, its front-page headline reads: "If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights." When Major wins, the paper announces: "It was The Sun wot won it."

1997: With Major's administration subsiding into a mire of sleaze, the paper underlines its obsessive desire to be on the winning side when it switches loyalty to Tony Blair and New Labour. In the General Election of May 1997, the party romps to a landslide victory to the soundtrack of Things Can Only Get Better.

2009: So it comes as something as a shock to find The Sun deserting the proven winner and glamorously charismatic incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown - and vowing support in the next General Election (likely to take place in May 2010) to the Conservative Party. The party's untested leader, David Cameron, is barely ten percentage points ahead in the polls.

Fast forward ...

2014: With Cameron's first administration faltering towards a General Election, the News Corp boss, James Murdoch, keen to show he's his own man, plumps for the Liberal Democrats, led by the feisty, double-bass-playing blonde Ulsterwoman Naomi Smith.


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