Sunday, 16 September 2012

Boris as PM is Murdoch's best chance to restore his waning influence in the UK

Much has been written in recent days about the miraculous way in which the incumbent Mayor of London has absorbed credit for an Olympics that he had little or no hand in winning.

Polls show he is now slightly more popular than Jesus, and - in probably one of the most jaw-dropping findings of recent years - that he is seen as the most in touch with the lives of ordinary Britons than other leading politicians. 

Yep - a man posh enough to make George Osborne look like John Prescott is now apparently man of the people. [Having said that, I've no doubt that a random multi-millionaire celebrity - Rihanna, say - included in the same poll would be voted as most 'in touch with the lives of ordinary Britons'... it's the nature of 'anti-politics' these days].

Now, this could be classic silly-season stuff. The kind of limited bounce that fades fast when times get tougher - think Cleggmania

Nevertheless, Boris as PM is increasingly looking more plausible. And, for those that laugh out loud at the notion of Borisconi winning the keys to Downing St, remember that even a year before his first Mayoral victory in 2008, commentators were very sceptical about his chances of winning that election. 

So, who would stand to gain from a Boris premiership, other than Boris himself? Well, for a start, the same beneficiaries currently gaining from the policies of Cameron and Osborne - and the same losers too. For, as another commentator has pointed out on many occasions, Boris' policy differences with his supposed rival are minute. 

One man who thinks he will be a winner is someone whose papers are lining up behind Johnson, just as they did in 2008 and 2012. A man who, even during his the height of the phone hacking scandal could rely on the support of the Mayor when others were - rightly - critical. A man who wined and dined him  and his executives immediately prior to a Met Police investigation into phone hacking scandal and during the Olympics.   

For Rupert Murdoch, backing Boris has two main advantages. First, Johnson is more likely - if the polls remain so positive - to keep the Tory Party in power, with all the benefits that holds for News Corporation. Second, the Mayor's instincts - on banking, on media regulation and other key issues - are far closer to those of the Tory Right, and Murdoch himself.    

Thus, a man that many are convinced has lost power and influence (despite little changing in terms of the scale of his media empire beyond reputational damage), could have an ally in Number 10. And, given a few years to allow those with short memories to forget Milly Dowler et al, he could presumably launch another bid to take full control of BSkyB sometime after 2015.  

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