As The Sun today switched political support from Labour – Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted he can win without the paper.
The day after Brown made his last speech to the Labour conference before the general election, The Sun devoted five pages at the front of the paper today explaining why it does not want Labour to win another term.
And inside it published an eight-page poster-size pullout called ‘The GB Files’in which it used a series of colourful infographics to explain why it thinks Britain has got worse under Labour.
But Brown today insisted that voters and not newspapers decided the government and urged people to take a close look at his policies.
In a round of broadcast interviews, Brown said: “It’s the British people that decide the election, it’s the British people’s views that I am interested in.”
He told GMTV: “I think Sun readers actually, when they look at what I say, they will agree with what I said.”
Asked whether the tabloid’s support could decide the next General Election, as it was reputed to have done in 1992 by condemning Labour’s leader Neil Kinnock, Brown replied: “No.”
He added: “Obviously, you want newspapers to be for you. We would have liked everybody to be on our side, but the people decide.
“I’ve got an old-fashioned opinion that you look to newspapers for news not opinions.”
The Prime Minister refused to rule out joining a televised debate with fellow party leaders but said it was “a question which has got to be dealt with nearer the election”.
In a front page leader, turning to page two, The Sun said today: ‘Britain feels brokenâ€¦and the Government is out of excuses.
‘Blair took offices with bulging coffers, an invincible majority and weak opposition, and he and Gordon Brown could have worked miracles.”
But it claims that Labour has failed on crime, schools, health, immigration, children and defence.
The Sun has been courted by politicians since Margaret Thatcher regularly dropped in to the paper’s office to have drinks with then editor Larry Lamb in the late 1970s.
The paper gave strident support to the Conservatives up until the 1997 election when it switched allegiance to Tony Blair.
In 1995 Blair flew out to Australia to meet Sun proprietor Rupert Murdoch. Former Blair press chief Alastair Campbell makes clear in his diaries that securing the support of The Sun was a key plank of his strategy.
The Sun is the UK’s top-selling daily newspaper with a daily circulation of 3.1m and a print readership, according to the National Readership Survey, 7.8m.
Murdoch son James, chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, has made clear that curbs on the BBC to better allow newspapers to expand online are near the top of his political shopping list.