Whatever you think of Rupert Murdoch, you’ve got to admit that he’s a canny player. All the words and images from the weekend’s Rudd ‘n’ Rupert encounter burnish his image as a powerbroker.

Kevin Rudd was right to say, “I think Mr Murdoch’s just being polite”. Probably more right than he’d care to admit. The Australian federal election is one of the more minor contests looming in the Sun King’s domains.

Within weeks, Britain will probably have a new prime minister. In eighteen months, Americans will be choosing a new president. These changes of power involve decisions of infinitely more consequence to Murdoch — and the West — than any electoral contest here.

Who does Murdoch back in these competitions? Does he give Gordon Brown 12 months or swing behind David Cameron? Does David Milliband or any other Labour contender get a look in?

What happens in America? News Corporation is based in New York. Two locals –Hillary Clinton and Rudi Giuliani — are among the key contenders for the Democratic and Republican crowns.

Should Murdoch back either? Who can resolve the war in Iraq, let alone the war between Western liberal democracy and militant Islam?

Sure, he can make a gesture with Kevin Rudd, but these are the real questions Murdoch has to consider.

It’s hard to see the selling point of a page-three girl in a burqua.