By Jean Morgan
Rebekah Wade’s appointment as editor of The Sun this week will mark a change in political allegiance as she jettisons the paper’s Labour support for independence.
The paper’s first leader under her editorship confirmed its new stance when it took New Labour to task for for “six years of promises that have turned out to be empty”.
Close colleagues say: “Labour is not her natural home. She is at odds with the Government on five key issues – immigration, family policy, crime, drug culture and poverty. She thinks they are failing miserably on those issues and on their spending and reform in health and education.”
The Sun’s about-turn will leave the Government with few allies in the press – Express Newspapers is left as its only real cheerleader.
Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan’s approach to attacking the Government will not be Wade’s, though. “Too wishy-washy liberal” is the verdict of those around her. “She is pretty much in sync with Trevor [Kavanagh].”
Kavanagh, The Sun’s political editor, has always ploughed a straight furrow on politics, whichever party the newspaper is supporting at the time. His view is to stress that the paper is independent and reserves the right and the responsibility to its readers to look after their interests. If they are not getting a decent deal from the Government, that comes above party politics.
The Sun is still supporting Tony Blair’s hard line on Iraq, however.
Wade galvanised her first morning news conference on Tuesday, firing questions and challenging the responses of her executives. She intends to be highly visible in the newsroom, sitting on the back bench and stimulating debate.
She also wants humour back at The Sun. “We’ve got to enjoy ourselves,” she told staff. “If we aren’t enjoying ourselves, the readers won’t be either.”
Her first edict was “no more punch-ups” with other newspapers and she said Rupert Murdoch expected her to ring him only twice – “once when we hit four million and then when we hit five million”.