In politics there are a no of rules, perceived or otherwise, that politicians have to follow in order to get elected to government. One of the rules that is perceived is that to get elected to power a Party leader needs the endorsement of The Sun!
For years many of us have followed this supposed rule, and maybe for a time it carried weight. I am sure I am far from alone as a labour activist when I gritted my teeth and thought, "If that's what it takes to get elected!", when Tony Blair posed with The Sun in 1997! Deep down I wished Labour could win a general election minus the support of The Sun, and the Daily Mail turning a blind eye!
Well I think that day may not be far away!
This assumption of The Sun holding sway is based on it's circulation figures being larger than those of other papers, on the aggressive support it's paper under Kelvin Mackenzie gave Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s (where is he now?) and on the "It's The Sun Wot Won It!" Headline in 1992. Like the proverbial feral thug, it talks big, acts big, threatens big, and is not that big at all!
In all honesty, how many of it's readers bother to take in it's editorials, and just want to look at the Crossword, Bingo, TV listings, celeb gossip, and for the sad and sexist among them, Pg 3? Britain may like it's politics and thank God it does, but compared to some countries we are not heavily political!
Secondly, The Sun has a circulation of around two million. That means over well fifty million voters do not read The Sun, and given the way it behaves towards those who do not fit into it's worldview, that will not radically change! In fact, the Daily Mirror is in third place and that is hardly a Tory paper! Then tot up the figures of those who read the Mirror, The Telegraph, The Independent, and The Guardian, and I, plus the Evening Standard, all combined, their readership almost equalises that of The Sun, if not more, in which case I would suggest we care more about working on those readers than The Sun, Express, or Daily Mail, and that is valuable as, given their reputation, the chances are that if a newspaper reader does not buy those papers, then he or she detests them! And of course there is the growth of social media in obtaining news!
The Sun is a marmite paper, those who do not read it likely dislike it, and after Hillsborough, Leveson, and the spectacular campaign against Pg 3, it is not the paper it may once have been. We can win elections without them, just as Obama was able to win minus Murdoch's endorsement in the US, and in fact, especially given the way The Sun has hijacked Help for Heroes, it may well be to our advantage if we show the guts Cameron lacks and avoid courting a paper that has been arrogant for too long!