The Guardian is today running with an op-ed piece under the heading “Rupert Murdoch may be the man who saved Europe.” This is the gist of writer Martin Kettle’s thinking:
Most of the time I don’t buy into conspiracy theories. I no longer
believe, for instance, that anyone shot JFK from the grassy knoll. Deep
down I don’t really think that Harold Wilson was the victim of an MI5
coup either. And I certainly don’t believe the only reason why Gerry
Adams isn’t part of a power-sharing government in Belfast today is
because the Special Branch will stop at nothing to prevent it.
general, I hold more to the view of the historian AJP Taylor that,
especially in times of great crisis, politicians stumble forward like
generals in the proverbial fog of war. Where they emerge when the fog
clears is often a complete surprise to them, though they will quickly
claim the credit if things have gone well. Taylor made his remark about
Disraeli’s handling of the 1866-7 parliamentary reform crisis, but it
applies just as readily to Tony Blair’s handling of Europe, a policy
that is now every bit as improvisatory as Disraeli’s was on the
franchise, and with scarcely more foreseeable consequences.
is, though, one modern conspiracy theory that cannot be so readily
dismissed. This is the suspicion that, in spring 2004, Rupert Murdoch
made it clear to Blair that unless there was a British referendum on
the European Union constitution, the Sun would switch support to the
Conservatives in the 2005 general election – and that Blair, at one of
the lowest points of his premiership, agreed to pay Murdoch’s price to
retain his paper’s prized support.
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