Sun shines on Ed Miliband – what can it mean?
The Mole: Purring tribute from the Sun for Labour’s leader puts cat among the pigeons
Labour leader Ed Miliband’s new spin doctor Tom Baldwin should be a happy man today. Not only did he get his boss into the Sun for the first time – Miliband put his name to a column in the Murdoch paper blasting David Cameron over crime - but the Sun’s editorial column (yes, there is one) then purred that "on tackling thugs, Mr Miliband has the Government on the back foot".
Baldwin, formerly a writer for the tabloid's Wapping stablemate, the Times, was brought in by Miliband to bring some heavyweight support to Labour’s hitherto flimsy press operations.
Alongside Bob Roberts, latterly the Daily Mirror's political editor, Baldwin has ensured that since their December appointments the Labour leader has scarcely put a foot wrong - giving the party a substantial hike in the polls, too.
When the pair were appointed, YouGov had the Tories marginally leading; they now trail Labour by eight points (44-36) and the coalition's approval rating is at minus 25.
But before the Mole gives Baldwin too much credit, the Sun's glowing editorial could actually be seen as high-level political manoeuvring at News International.
It's widely known that Rupert Murdoch wasn't as sold on David Cameron as were his top lieutenants in London: indeed, his son James and NI's chief executive Rebekkah Wade had to lobby him hard to throw the Sun's weight behind the Tories at the last election.
The Tories' inability to win a majority in May and their subsequent performance won't have improved Murdoch impression of Cameron. And since the ejection from No 10 of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, NI now has few ties to the coalition.
So the big question is this - could the politically astute Murdoch be readying for a switch in support at the next election, whenever it is?
The Sun has famously been reflective of the political preferences of its readers rather than determining them. Their shafting of Neil Kinnock in 1992 came from a realisation that the then Labour leader hadn't sealed the deal with the electorate.
With the coalition - whose Lib Dem half has never been flavour of the month at News International, even before Vince Cable's faux pas - increasingly unpopular, has Murdoch detected a substantial change in the political weather?
Even before today's Sun article, a recent move by Baldwin suggested a detente between Labour and Murdoch:he framed a memo last month telling Labour MPs to lay off Murdoch's papers in the ongoing phone tapping saga.
Whatever is going on, it’s got at least one Tory worried. Tim Montgomery demands on Conservative Home today that a "Sun/Labour alliance on crime must be nipped in the bud by Downing Street". ·
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