THE Dirty Digger is close to apoplexy about Labour’s threat to force him to sell off titles. Last week an unnamed Murdoch executive told the Independent that on a recent visit to the Sun the proprietor berated hacks for not doing more to stop a Labour victory: “He basically said the future of the company was at stake and they need to get their act together.”
Since its bollocking the Sun has obediently pumped out warnings that a minority Miliband government backed by the SNP will be a disaster. Under the screaming headline “Tartan Peril”, it claimed the SNP’s “far-left” agenda would “wreck the economy”. To reinforce the point, it showed Nicola Sturgeon dressed in a tartan bikini with her legs wrapped round a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball.
Sturgeon seemed duly appalled. She told ITV breakfast television that these “sexist” attacks on her would deter young women from entering politics. But oddly her anger does not extend to tackling Murdoch’s power: there is not a line about media ownership in the SNP manifesto and not one SNP candidate has promised to take Murdoch on.
Scotland goes ‘Stur Crazy’
A grateful Digger returns the favour; for the attacks on Sturgeon are for English readers only, the Scottish Sun, by contrast, being full of praise. After her success in the televised leaders’ debates, for example, it gurgled that Scotland had gone “Stur Crazy” and adoring crowds in Edinburgh had declared her “top of the box”.
The paper’s Janus-like attitude was even more apparent last Saturday, when English editions carried a two-page hatchet job on “The Scotweiler”. As a child, it reported, “Nicola Sturgeon is said to have devilishly hacked the hair from her sister’s beloved doll.” This was an early sign of “the ruthlessness which has propelled her to the top” and proved “she will stop at nothing”.
North of the border, however, readers were instead given a spread (which English readers were spared) about David Cameron “trying to stoke up a war between Scotland and England… rivals claimed his tactics showed he was starting to panic about losing next month’s election”.
The Sun’s schizophrenic approach reached its logical conclusion on Thursday, when the splash in the Sun’s English edition gave readers three reasons they should vote Tory, the second being to, er, “Stop SNP running the country.” The Scottish Sun’s front page, meanwhile, had a rather different message: “May the 7th Be With You: Why It’s Time to Vote SNP.”
The “Auld Alliance” between Murdoch and the SNP goes back a long way. The Leveson inquiry revealed that Alex Salmond had held more than two dozen meetings with Murdoch, his son James and their senior henchmen. Salmond had shown a “striking” readiness to lobby UK ministers on behalf of Murdoch’s News Corporation, Leveson said. He was seeking political support from the Scottish Sun at the same time as he was offering to help the Murdoch family drive through its takeover of BSkyB.
Even though the inquiry concluded that there was no evidence of a specific deal, a few brave members of the SNP objected to the party’s tawdry influence-peddling. But not Sturgeon. When BBC Scotland asked her about the scandal, she claimed the SNP’s enemies had invented a problem where none existed. “Labour are clutching at straws. I really don’t think the BBC should start doing likewise,” she chided.
So while Murdoch’s English Sun uses the SNP as a reason to stop its readers voting for Miliband and his anti-monopoly laws, his Scottish Sun encourages its readers to switch from Labour to the SNP – and so stop Miliband’s anti-monopoly laws. If we are indeed subjected to the (English) Sun’s nightmare of a “tartan terror” forcing a minority Labour government leftwards, the Digger can at least console himself with the thought that Nicola Sturgeon will stop Labour going so far left it threatens his business.