And just what the hell is Murdoch playing at?
Is he hedging his bets, or is he trying to bitch-slap Blair (as he has in the past) to adopt some of his favourite policies? I suspect the latter given this little ‘tell’: So, what is the alternative? We discount the Lib Dems from the start, because we believe they are unprincipled and unworthy of your vote. On taxes, at least, they are honest – they will put them up. But on every other issue, they are two-faced. This leaves us with the Tories. In many ways, the Conservatives speak our language, especially when it comes to Europe, illegal immigration and crime. We support their tough plans and believe they reflect the mood of our tolerant country. Enough is enough.
The entire editorial has been pasted ‘below the fold’ (as they say) for future reference. (You’ll love the bit about letting the readers decide.)
UPDATE – Emily Bell – Why the Sun’s wavering
The Sun – It’s make your mind up time: Tony Blair will call the most important election for almost 20 years tomorrow. On May 5, the nation will decide the path it will take for the next five years. Until then, as ever, The Sun will continue to remain independent of any political party. The only people who will be able to influence us are YOU, our readers.In 1979 and throughout the 1980s, we supported the Tories. Their economic, industrial and social reforms transformed this country before they assassinated Margaret Thatcher and lost their way. In 1997, we decided to support a re-energised Labour Party because they deserved a chance to prove that they had seen the errors of their past ways.The Sun cannot today say it unhesitatingly supports Labour in the coming election. Instead, we are going to listen very carefully to Labour and the Tories between now and May 5 to see which party deserves the backing of our readers.The past eight years have shown that Labour – especially Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – had changed. Much of the party had grudgingly opened its eyes to the realities of the marketplace and the need for individual choice. On Gordon Brown’s first day in office as Chancellor, a senior Treasury official told him that the Tories had left him a “solid gold economic legacy.” The fear then was Labour would waste it. But it did not. It nurtured it and the economy went from strength to strength.The great irony was that the golden legacy had been bequeathed thanks to the success of some of the Thatcher policies, which Old Labour had so vehemently opposed for so long – and still do. The voters should not forget that – as Labour cultivates the myth that the Tories are economic incompetents. But voters will have marked, too, the fact that family incomes have dropped for the first time in a decade thanks to Brown’s tax-raising 2002 Budget.Labour can justly claim as a massive achievement the way, since 1997, it has maintained our international reputation, unlike the cowardly French and the opportunistic Germans, who both abandoned our greatest ally, the United States, over Iraq. Tony Blair has shown the visionary boldness of a world leader. History will remember him for his determination to do what was right at a time when freedom and civilisation were under siege and other leaders wavered and appeased.The economy apart, has the Government delivered at home? Yes and No.It has poured billions more into public services but Chancellor Gordon Brown has massively driven up the tax burden to foot the bill. He has not kept his repeated promise that he would not spend one penny before reforms were in place. But Labour has made progress in education, especially at nursery and primary school level. It has also trained thousands more nurses and doctors, and there is now vastly improved fast and efficient treatment for cancer and heart disease.Overall crime figures are down and the extra money has put more bobbies in uniform. And the Government have been responsible for tougher laws on child abuse and domestic violence.While recognising these successes, Labour’s biggest crime of all was their lack of action during the first term. They did nothing but prepare to win a second election, and wasted years that might have been spent reforming public services. To sum it up, Labour’s record is a mixture of successes and awful blunders.So, what is the alternative? We discount the Lib Dems from the start, because we believe they are unprincipled and unworthy of your vote. On taxes, at least, they are honest – they will put them up. But on every other issue, they are two-faced. This leaves us with the Tories. In many ways, the Conservatives speak our language, especially when it comes to Europe, illegal immigration and crime. We support their tough plans and believe they reflect the mood of our tolerant country. Enough is enough.We have finally seen them galvanised into something resembling a fighting force. For the past few months, they have dictated the agenda with well-planned attacks on issues that resonate with the public. Michael Howard is doing his best to provide leadership. But his Shadow Cabinet still leave the voters cold. If the Tories are to be worthy of your vote, they must produce concrete evidence that they have not abandoned the principles of small government and low tax.The two parties have a difficult and uphill struggle over the next four weeks. Trust in politicians is at an all-time low. Apathy reigns. Blair and Howard must convince people it is worth voting at all. As we said, this is the most important election for a long time. The decision to be made on May 5 cannot be taken lightly. Like so many of you, our mind has still to be made up.