4 Oct 2009

The Sun. Not the celestial near the earth, round which the earth and other planets revolve. I am talking about the UK’s bestselling newspaper. Its popularity is partly due to its normally informal journalistic style, with its “news in brief” on page 3 depicting semi-nude models being one of its main distinguishing features. It is also known for its strong nationalistic views, anti-European Union and anti-immigration stances. The Sun could as well be described as a right-leaning paper together with The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail.

On its front page last Wednesday, the newspaper declared that Gordon Brown, the incumbent British Prime Minister, and his Labour Party have already lost the next British election. In its editorial, the paper announced that it switches sides, and would support The Conservative Party in the election. However, its Scottish version, The Scottish Sun, while withdrawing its support for Labour, has distanced itself from its English by not endorsing any Scottish political party.

Apart from selling reportedly 1 million copies a day, The Sun is also famous for its supposed reputation of backing British election winners. It is argued that the paper was responsible for Neil Kinnock’s defeat and it was a driving force for Tony Blair to become the Prime Minister after successive Labour defeats.

But is The Sun really a paper that makes election winners? Some observers doubts that popular claim, especially in this age when the internet has emerged as the most powerful in almost every sphere of our lives. Remember how Obama won the last US Elections?

Some analysts argue that in its decision to switch sides The Sun has just followed what many of the recent polls indicate about the coming British elections that the Conservatives would defeat Labour. They also claim that the newspaper is just representing opinions of most of its readers who seem to be disgruntled by the Labour Party.

However, The Sun might get it wrong this time because despite Labour’s poor performance, the Conservatives have so far not actually proved how they would be a better alternative to Labour. I first came to the UK in 2002 when Labour was already in power, so I wouldn’t pretend to know how good or bad the Conservatives were. However, their CV doesn’t look impressive from what I have heard. It is even bad news to non-Whites as the Tory still looks a Whites party despite its recent efforts to become all-inclusive. Of course, it is not as evil as the racist British National Party but there is still a sense of uncertainty among such groups as the ethnic minorities.

I still think Labour deserves another term. British voters should be sympathetic to Gordon Brown & Co in the way they have handled the credit crunch, particularly by looking beyond the UK’s borders. They should also not forget what The Tories did to this country prior to Labour getting into power.

As for The Sun’s decision to back potential election winners...well,if its US “sisters”- Fox News and The Ney York Post-couldn’t make John McCain win or Barack Obama lose the election, then even The Sun could have got it wrong come the next British elections. And didn’t the same newspaper campaign against Alec Salmond and his Scottish National Party in the previous elections, and he still managed to win?

After all, it is the British voters, not The Sun, who would be the real winners or losers regardless of the paper’s position.


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