Has the world ever seen an election endorsement like it? Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch’s London Sun announced its support for the return of the Blair government with a stunt that takes political endorsements to a new base level.
“The eyes of the world turned to The Sun chimney last night as we revealed our Labour election endorsement,” wrote The Sun. “A day after the Vatican signalled the new Pope’s appointment with a plume of white smoke, we erected a giant chimney at our Wapping HQ to announce our own historic verdict to the world.”
First, wrote the paper, “our 15-foot Sun chimney began billowing black puffs just after 6.45pm to confirm that final discussions were under way. Then at 7pm the world held its breath as the smoke turned WHITE to indicate The Sun had reached its decision. Finally, a few minutes later, the smoke turned RED to reveal that The Sun is endorsing Labour’s bid for a historic third term.
“The gripping scene was transmitted live to our army of readers via webcam. Our verdict was also captured by TV news crews and photographers outside.
“Passer-by Charles Hesketh, 32, a driver from Romford, Essex, said: ‘Everybody wanted to know who The Sun would back — and this was a sensational way to let them know’.”
While The Sun says it has many problems with Tony Blair’s government (immigration is a “disgrace”, pensions are a “mess”, the EU constitution “disastrous”), it expresses support for the government on key issues like the economy, education, health and the world stage. It says Britain should vote for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for two reasons: “standing firm on Iraq and the lack of a real alternative”.