Fraser Nelson

Explaining the NotW endorsement

Explaining the NotW endorsement
Text settings
Comments

The News of the World's endorsement of the Conservatives today is worth reading. It has taken some time and much soul-searching for the paper to make this decision. Papers, even under the same proprietor, have different readerships with different outlooks on life. The Sun came out for the Tories on the last day of the Labour conference last September, but its stablemate has taken far longer. It has been firm in its denunciation of Brown's failings but – like many voters – it has looked long and hard at just how a Tory government would correct them.

The reason for its endorsement now is laid out in the leading article. It started with the reasons for why it backed New Labour in 1997 – what would it change?  Its priorities are pretty much the same was they were in 1997, but Labour has failed in these objectives. In each key area, it finds Labour put in the cash (our cash) but failed to deliver the results. The first, which angers the NotW the most, is failings in education. The budget has trebled but there are still - appallingly - 225,000 pupils who left primary school last year unable to read, write and add up properly. What chance do they have in secondary education? Then the NHS budget has almost trebled, yet the number of managers grew twice as fast as nurses. In each policy area, the story is the same: masses of money put in, results dismal. On immigration, Brown has been trying to spin a line about how it's going down. In fact, of Brown's "2.5 million new jobs" that he boasted about yesterday, almost all of them are accounted for by immigration.

A significant factor in the NotW abandoning Labour is its concern at the Labour-union links (embodied by Charlie Whelan and Unite). The BA strikes serve to focus the mind of voters: it's not a case of re-electing New Labour - it would be a "headlong return into Old Labour". This "unholy alliance" is not good for Labour, let alone the country. And this "renewed threat from old ways" focuses the mind – it shows that New Labour is no longer on the menu and that "the modernised Tories" are a far surer bet.

In the last analysis, Brown has given Britain it's highest peacetime deficit. His economic mismanagement has been calamitous. The Budget coverage was bad for Labour because it zoomed out of the Budget itself, and looked at the broader picture. The News of the World does the same: looks at 13 years of Labour rule, and concludes that its readers have been badly let down. It's time to sack the manager. The case for change is overwhelming.

And what of Cameron? I say in my News of the World column today that his main enemy now is the overwhelming feeling that all politicians are corrupt, and none worth voting for. This feeling of contempt for Westminster is stronger than any Tory strategist feared, and poses a grave threat. If enough of Gordon Brown's critics stay at home, he could sneak through. A Sun/YouGov poll just last week pointed to Brown as PM. This is not a test. The polls tend not to change much during campaigns, so we are in major danger of another five more years of Brown. As I say, that would give an economic boost – to Ryanair's one-way fares – and solve the immigration probem as natives and immigants scarper. To paraphrase The Sun in 1992: could the last person to leave Britain please repay the debt? Our voting system may be complex, but its result is not: Cameron or Brown will walk into No.10 on 7 May.

The NotW both endorses the Tories – and puts them on notice. It says what it expects of them: "To restore dignity to our Parliament, safety to our Forces, comfort to the sick, hope to our children, peace to our streets, confidence to our businesses and pride to our nation." The NotW has decided that these objectives are best met by a Conservative government – but it will be holding Cameron to these conditions. Significantly, it says "It is the job of every Tory MP, new and old, to repay our trust". Cameron will be expected to deliver in No10. But he now has the backing of the world's largest Sunday newspaper in his bid to get there.