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Friday, February 24, 2006
Has George Pascoe-Watson Got it in for Cameron?
It's interesting to see the tug of war that appears to be developing at The Sun between new political editor George Pascoe-Watson and his immediate predecessor Trevor Kavanagh. Kavanagh is a Thatcherite Tory and would like nothing better than to get The Sun supporting the Tories again, yet GPW appears to be doing all he can to trash Cameron and boost Gordon Brown. It was also noticeable that Kavanagh did the piece 'outing' Simon Hughes, which you would have thought would have been done by the political editor. Today's write-up of the MORI poll is a good example where GPW has gone slightly OTT - and this on top of the hard time he gave the Tories over the Dunfermline by-election leaflet and the next day's PMQs. This contrasted with a very positive piece for Brown about the public finances with a boost in revenue from taxes filling his "22 million black hole". Tory sources are openly speculating that GPW has been 'got at' by the Brownies and isn't giving their man a fair crack. It has to be said that the Cameroonian style was never going to be immediately attractive to The Sun, as they revel in confrontation and he doesn't. But the Tory spin doctors shouldn't be panicked by this. Their task is to play the long game with The Sun, ignore any barbed comments and mount a two year long charm offensive. The Sun was never going to cut and run from New Labour very quickly. Until it sees the substance behind the smile it won't move. But let's not kid ourselves, The Sun's support will be a crucial part of performing well at the next election. But it only backs the winner. If it sees Cameron as the winner, it will back him. If it doesn't, it won't. That's why the Cameroons need to play a long game.
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It's not a tug of war between GPW and Kavanagh, it's merely a continuation of what the Sun, and to be fair, most other newspapers, have always done, namely attempted to stay in with both camps.
Even during the Kavanagh political editorship, GPW was always closer to New Labour than Kavanagh himself was. You will be aware of the rumour, for instance, that the Hutton leak was really GPW's story.
I think the Sun is simply seeking to ensure it has the best of both worlds, while simultaneously keeping its options open on the question of endorsement.
Maybe Murdoch is holding Cameron to ransom, "Toe the line sonny or we'll have more polls like this and we'll back Brown."
Or maybe the Tories just aren't doing very well in the polls. Maybe the country has seen through the sheen.
Nah, couldn't be that, could it?
"Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats snatched back a council seat they lost to the Tories just six months ago in the latest by-elections.
In North Wiltshire District's knife-edge Lyneham ward, candidate John Webb triumphed with a majority of 52"
As goes Lyneham, so goes the country!
Meanwhile, a Labour councillor in Islington ( Home of NL Blair and Hodge, etc.) has defected to the Tories. ( London Evening Standard 24/2 )
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