Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s notes | 12 April 2008

Charles Moore's reflections on the week

The opinions of the Sun newspaper are not noted for nuance, so it has been interesting to follow its unusually careful choice of words about the Olympic torch on its way to China. On Monday, under the headline ‘Freedom Wins’, the leading article called the fact that the torch managed, though with difficulty, to continue its relay through London ‘a triumph for democracy’. It claimed that the British government was speaking out for human rights in China and Tibet, and ran a line presumably planted by the government about how Mr Brown would meet the Dalai Lama next month. It declared that the torch stands for ‘peace, friendship and unity’. It did not comment on the weird, violent Chinese guardians of the flame — actually the People’s Armed Police — who surrounded it. The next day, after the torch had been put out three or four times (accounts differ) in Paris and was then hurried away in a bus, the Sun said that each country through which the flame passes ‘owes a duty to the Olympic legacy to keep it burning. The French should have guarded it properly or had nothing to do with it at all.’ On its website, the Sun has an Olympic torch flickering on its masthead. What will it say if another country does as it rhetorically suggests, and decides to opt out of the relay? I don’t think it will applaud. What will it say if the relay is forced to stop altogether? Will its own torch gutter? In the old days, the Times was always the establishment paper which put forward the view of the prevailing elites (pro-appeasement in the 1930s, for example). Rupert Murdoch, who has a Chinese wife and many interests in her country, owns both the Sun and the Times, but now prefers the former as the establishment voice.

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