Rupert Murdoch dabbles in Socialist Realism

Sinister media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has decided that England's Britain's next ruler should be David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, and he's turned his empire of "news" outlets to producing this outcome (for example, his YouGov survey of voter impressions of a leader's debate was timed to coincide with LibDem leader Nick Clegg's speech; unsurprisingly, those surveyed didn't have much of an opinion on Clegg's fitness). The latest is this Socialist Realist full-cover ToryPorn shot of David Cameron's Nostrils and Fist Vanquishing the Forces of Liberalness, in today's Sun. Apparently, the Tories have invented something called a "Battlebus," presumably some variant on the appropriately ancient and obsolete blunderbuss. (Thanks to commenters for pointing out that "Battlebus" is actually a time-honoured tradition and not a Tory invention)

Rupert Murdoch dabbles in Socialist Realism, David Cameron SUN cover shot, London, UK


  1. Battlebus isn’t strictly a tory invention, Prescott had one at some point.

  2. “England’s next ruler”? These are UK elections. England has no parliament, has no prime minister specifically for itself. Schoolboy error!

      1. Wouldn’t putting him as would-be ruler of a smaller entity than he is actually hoping to rule be understatement rather than hyperbole?

      2. He was not commenting the ‘ruler’ bit (hyperbole), but the ‘england’ bit (hypobole?).
        On other news: YouGov was open four minutes, till 21:33, Clegg ended his 1.5 minute speech at 21:30:47; The real scandal is not in the weirdness of the poll, but in any media using this – they could just as easily throw darts.

  3. Cory – you are very entertaining, except when you get dragged in UK gutter politics.

    I love ironies.

    I love the two faced way that political parties think its great when they get a newspaper endorsement, but an evil conspiracy when someone else does.

    I love the irony that the LibDems complain about YouGov invites being sent out 5 mins before the end of one the debates, but not the other two (YouGov were consistent in their approach).

    I love the irony of parties claiming they are above petty mud slinging, whilst chucking mud themselves.

    I love the irony that parties who claim to represent the people decry the biggest selling tabloid newspapers that most of the people read (and probably whose views they share).

    Finally, I particularly love the irony that “liberal minded” people are often the least tolerant of anyone who has a different opinion, and must be showered in insulting language.

    1. I don’t see how Cory is being “intolerant” of anyone’s opinion here. He’s just pointing out the glaring promotion of one party on the front cover of a newspaper. Yes, it is typical and usually expected that newspapers will endorse one candidate but this happens on the editorial page where opinions are expressed, not on the front page. I think Cory is just remarking on how things have slipped in that department and while we’re talking about “liberal minded” things, I don’t think you’d see such a glaring bit of propaganda for one political leader in other newspapers. It’s not a newspaper front cover, it’s an ad.

      And I love the irony that your attempts at a clever writing device utterly fails.

        1. I see your Obama and raise you this:

          and this:

          and this:

          and this:

          In other words, Time usually profiles the candidates and throws a bit of speculation into the mix. The Sun cover was a blatant ad.

          1. Not equal amongst the candidates, but at least equal amongst the most likely candidates. – I was not challenging freshacconi’s implicit notion of The Sun being a partisan medium, i just challenged that no reputable newspaper would ever present a poster-likeness of one political candidate. Was probably being too anal about it, though.

          2. Barack Obama got 25% of the time covers in 2008, compared to a handful for McCain. What was that about ‘equal’?

      1. “And I love the irony that your attempts at a clever writing device utterly fails.”

        I agree – I love this irony too.

        I am, however, pleased that the rest of the thread has started using more temperate and intelligent language, rather than “Toryporn” and “Vanquishing The Forces of Liberalness” which seem to be from the 1990s or earlier (not recognising that all three principal parties have changed quite a bit in the last 15-20 years).

        I agree the Sun are advertising for the Tories, just as enthusiastically as they have advertised for Labour in the past. But I doubt they are swaying much opinion. Their blatant, unjustified, ad hominem attacks on Brown & Clegg probably gain them sympathy.

        In any case, that is purely my opinion, as I have yet to see any credible evidence demonstrating that newspapers change, rather than follow, public sentiment.

        1. …which is presumably why murdoch’s papers are so ignored by the political class?

          you’re right, though, that his power may well now be on the wane.

          1. “..which is presumably why murdoch’s papers are so ignored by the political class?”

            Who on earth are the political class? Can I join? I don’t suppose I can ask for you to propose my membership, can I?

            Tounge-in-cheek aside, I think this is exactly why the “political class” have ignored the concerns of the “great unwashed” – that is readers of the evil Sun, Express, Mail & Mirror…millions and millions of voters…and politicians ignore these people at their peril (as Brown, and latterly Cameron are finding out).

            I have never bought the argument (largely proposed by the media) that the media change public opinion – certainly not in the last twenty years. They just want to pick winners. Murdoch panicked when he thought he might have picked the wrong one, but it won’t (in my opinion) have any effect. Business leaders do the same.

          2. certainly not! we don’t want the likes o’ you joining etc, etc.

            which rather leads to the underlying forces behind what you refer to as the lack of concern for the great unwashed. people just aren’t joining, and memberships are at all time lows, especially for labour – so it’s a two way street.

            as for the papers not swinging elections – well perhaps not on the terms you describe. but i see a contradiction between the supposed lack of influence you claim, and the frankly undignified way with which theyre sometimes courted by the politico’s (don’t know what to call them now. do you have a name?). that’s a lot of effort for nothing…

          3. @avraamov

            Whilst I think that the media do not significantly change poll results, they can be useful tools for political parties. For example, the biggest change in this election has been the 10 point rise of the LibDems, largely taken 50:50 from Labour & Tory. This was nothing to do with newspapers, but simply raising Clegg’s profile. The Tories stay 5-7 points ahead of Labour as they were a couple of months ago.

            However, because the parties themselves believe that headlines are important, you can easily deflect, confuse and demoralise your opponents by getting the right headlines. It is this distraction that leads to people booking Elvis impersonators, for example.

            So, on reflection, I have to refine my view that headlines do not sway people’s voting intentions – they sway the Westminster Bubble, and that’s about it.

            It’s depressing, but I believe that UK election are won/lost on “sentiment” & “feeling”, not on policies. The media may have some role in promulgating these feelings, but over a long term, and by reporting actual events, not by the “vote for X” calls that happen in the last 6 months of a parliament.

    2. You’ve mistaken “tolerant” for “lacking conviction.” You’ve also mistaken “hyperbole” for “abusive language.” But do go on.

      I love the irony.

      1. Cory

        OK. One man’s abuse is another’s hyperbole.

        However, I don’t get your point about confusing “tolerant” with “lacking conviction”. This may be because I wasn’t clear.

        I was trying to make the point that the centre left “political class” (as a later commenter calls them) tend to deal with people who have different views by calling them names, rather than by engaging and exploring the differences. (cf Hegel: thesis + antithesis = synthesis)

        I don’t think tolerance is just giving in (ie have a lack of conviction), but in arguing the points in civilised and open-minded manner, supported by evidence (not just selectively picked).

        1. I was trying to make the point that the centre left “political class” (as a later commenter calls them) tend to deal with people who have different views by calling them names, rather than by engaging and exploring the differences. (cf Hegel: thesis + antithesis = synthesis)

          People are dicks. It isn’t a left or right thing.

    3. I think you’ve confused the words “liberal” and “hippie tree-hugging pansy.”

      Liberals believe that government regulations of industry can benefit the society as a whole (living wages create a middle-class, safety standards save money in the long-term). We believe that the wealthy are more able to carry a tax burden than the impoverished. We believe that some social programs that benefit the less fortunate can improve the economic potential of a country (eg. public schools educate everyone, an educated workforce is more productive and innovative and therefore a greater economic power). We believe that strong personal freedoms allow a stronger democracy as well as the ability to innovate.

      In essence, we believe that the government should be a rational actor that attempts to maximize societal good through legislative action.

      1. @lasttide

        “liberal” is a very hard word to define politically, as it varies massively by context. It also tends to be used as an insult in the US.

        However, having read the manifestos of the three large parties in the UK, I think they would all sign up to those statements. In fact, I cannot think (in the UK at least) of anyone (other than the extreme) campaigning on the reverse of your statements.

        Of course, I make no assumptions about your context – what you describe may be a clear differentiator where you are.

        1. I actually editted out a statement like “liberal (really the term should be progressive)” from my post.

          Maybe I don’t have the complete facts here as my knowledge of the British elections is based on the small amount that makes it into the American media (online media, I don’t watch TV where I’m sure they air nothing on the subject at all) like Johann Hari’s articles on HuffPo. However, as I understand it the Tories run on vaguely similar lines as the American Republican party. They are anti-immigrant (does UK do race-baiting?), anti-social services (ie cutting programs for child day care), fiscally conservative (ie corporations and individuals ALWAYS spend more efficiently than the government therefore lowering taxes will increase GDP, hence tend to try to cut corporate and high-income taxes), and anti-regulation/free-market (government intervention in the economy is inefficient, market forces prevail yadda yadda. Eg. Thatcher/Reaganomics). Essentially the opposite of the points I enumerated in my previous post.

          I’d love to know where I’m wrong here if you’d care to correct me.

          1. @lasttide

            I suspect the coverage of UK elections does not quite give all the nuances (as they are not news).

            Johann Hari is a good writer, but (like many journalists) pushes his own political agenda. Exaggeration and (as Cory would put it) hyperbole are always to good techniques to fan the small flames of difference. For example, LibDems & Tories do want to cut child social payments, but only for incomes over £50,000 ($80,000). Hardly the poor!.

            However, generally the Labour party is generally socially authoritarian (central control, draconian laws) with LibDems being socially liberal. The Conservatives have moved (or are still moving) from atuhoritarian to liberal on social issues, and would now be seriously shunned by TeaParty Rebuplicans (supporting gay marriage, have more gay & minority ethnic candidates than the other parties etc, strong focus on moral responsibility to deal with poverty). On most readings all three parties are more socially liberal/tolerant than US parties (e.g. gays in military).

            Fiscally, the conservatives are economically liberal, prefering smaller spending & borrowing, with Labour & Libdems preferring more. However, this is a theoretical difference for the next five years. Unlike the US (where the dollar is the world’s reserve currency), all three parties agree they have to cut massive amounts of spending (about one pound in four is borrowed) if we are not to suffer the same kind of drying up of credit that Greece is suffering. So the parties are really all in the same place – the biggest difference seems to be £6bn in an economy of £1,500bn – and seem to be exaggerating differences for political effect. Generally, I would say that all three parties are more “progressive” than the US (e.g. UK public seems to be happy with tax as %age of GDP around 40%; in the US, I believe it is closer to 25%).

            I have always been surprised by the Tory=Republican formula, and certainly with the Tory improvement in social liberalism over the last few years, I don’t think they have much in common anymore. Personally I would vote Democrat & Tory and see no inconsistency.

            US Republicans would not believe that the Tories want to place a cap on pay so that bosses cannot earn more than 20 times the lowest paid (to be placed on the public sector first); or that they were the first ones to propose punitive taxation on bank profits.

  4. Given that the Tories are far more pro-civil liberties than Labour, the only other party with a realistic possibility of producing a Prime Minister from the this election, I’m a bit puzzled why you seem to think them winning would be such a bad thing?

  5. Socialist realist? How does a picture of David Cameron depict the proletariat’s struggle toward socialist progress?

    The Independent and The Guardian backed the Lib Dems by the way, papers do that kind of thing. Maybe BoingBoing should just back someone and be done with it?

    1. Socialist Realism is an art movement, which this photo/caption very much imitates.

      1. Socialist realism would show leaders looking/pointing into a bright future, or a working man smashing imperialist forces to pulp with his work-steeled fists, never a leader smashing anything. Smashing is done by the working man. His visionary look is on the level, the fist just shares the disproportional girth, but that it also does with most manga characters…
        Manga fist (SFW)

  6. Is this the same sinister Rupert Murdoch who spent 12 of the last 13 years backing the Labour government? The notoriously illiberal and intrusive Labour government?

    I think you’re on dangerous territory when you try to sound authoritative about someone else’s political system without even taking the time to correctly identify whose general election it is, i.e. British rather than English.

    Probably stronger on Canadian politics Cory. I’d limit yourself to that if I were you.

    1. Gosh, you really do seem to specialise in patronizing, pedantic rubbish, judging from your comment history. I suppose it’s a harmless enough habit, in line with picking your nose and eating it or similar odious traits.

      But I just don’t know why you’re so keen to advertise it.

      I guess that’s the difference between nose-pickers and pedants, the former have the good sense to attempt to hide their vices.

      1. Well that was childish.

        It wasn’t me who posted an ignorant, error-strewn blog on a subject about which I only have, at best, the most tenuous grasp of the facts.

        For someone who’s supposed to be into that crazy free speech thing, you seem to be remarkably intolerant of criticism.

        1. Awww, diddums the widdle concern troll’s feewings get huwt?

          If you think “Probably stronger on Canadian politics Cory. I’d limit yourself to that if I were you” is criticism, you’re probably stronger on nose-picking. I’d limit yourself to that if I were you.

          1. Cory, you really shouldn’t confuse opinion with fact. You got some details wrong. Be a big boy and admit it.

            As for me being a troll, is that what we’re calling people who disagree with us these days? I’m not sure that’s helpful.

          2. “Unhelpful?” I don’t need “helpfulness” lessons from someone whose idea of civil discourse is:

            “Probably stronger on Canadian politics Cory. I’d limit yourself to that if I were you.”

            If you look up “Concern Troll” in the dictionary, you’ll find that phrase, gilt-edged, illuminated, and surrounded by cherubs.

            Pedantic nit-picking is not a rebuttal.

          3. Wow, you really found that reference to Canadian politics offensive didn’t you? Were you beaten by Pierre Trudeau as a child?

      2. Ye-ha! Here goes the ad hominem Cory persona again. Ignoring the blogs moderation policy as ever. But hey, your medium, your rules, right?

  7. cabalo’a:

    murdoch backs winners, so that he can maintain his power base. in this regard, the tawdry old fucker is no stranger to jumping around where it suits. what outrages me (and i suspect mr doctorow)is this blatant leveraging of the situation using his media tools to try and influence outcomes. (i use the word ‘tools’in the american pejorative sense here as well). a previous editor of the sun (david yelland) has mentioned that failure to get cameron installed in number 10 will lock murdoch out of top-level politics for the first time in decades. THIS is why james murdoch and rebecca wade went into the independent’s offices with their jack boots on and bawled out the editor, when he had the temerity to say in the ‘indie’ that ‘mr murdoch will not decide the outcome of this election – you will’.

    i didn’t vote for murdoch, but he influences my life, and millions others. i DEEPLY resent that. hes a tax-dodging plutocrat bastard.

    i think cory’s calling this right.

    1. I couldn’t agree more about what an odious little shit Murdoch is and that his self-invented role as kingmaker is deeply, deeply unpleasant. I wish him nothing but ill.

      I was picking Cory up on trying to sound authoritative when he clearly isn’t. Is it pedantic to think it’s important people understand this is a British, not English, election? His information about the (admittedly v poor) YouGov poll was wrong. His use of Toryporn-type terminology, right out of the Dave Spart phrasebook, was unhelpful (unless of course he’s officially campaigning now?!?). And the term ‘battlebus’ dropped into the common lexicon as a result of the David Owen/David Steel Liberal rivalry in the Eighties, and isn’t a Tory invention after all.

      Apart from that, I think he really nailed it ;)

  8. Oh dear, um, @cabalo’a, Cory’s not wrong about the main bit: Rupert Murdoch *has* turned his empire of “news” outlets to producing a Tory gov’t & they are far more unscrupulous & cynical about it than the Gruaniad or the Indie (bless them). I mean that’s just bloody obvious and uncontestable. Vote Cory! Although I must say that fist looks inviting xx

  9. It’s bleak and rainy outside, and Cory is lowering his discourse to petty name calling. From afar I hear baby Jesus crying.

  10. I dunno, after all the error and fiction filled “Microsoft Tax Dodge” blog posts that Cory has linked to recently, this is a refreshing change.

    This is a prime example of Rupert Murdoch doing what he ADMITS to doing. Using his news service to promote his own political beliefs. Here in the US that has always meant backing the Conservative. I don’t know about his backing liberal candidates in the past over there, but this is certainly his standard pattern as we’ve seen in the US, FOX News in newspaper form.

  11. Also, to be fair, I’m sure that in *MY* case, Cory knows more about British AND Canadian elections than I do.

  12. Regardless of your political convictions, Cory, lay the fuck off nose-pickers. Seriously.

  13. I think it’s time commenters addressed the elephant in the room: why has The Sun chosen to splash across its front page what is clearly a photoshopped image of a man vigorously masturbating?

  14. Perfect pose for drawing a big old cock in his power hungry fist. Cocks: the great political leveler…

    1. A scrote? I thought Brits referred to masturbators as ‘wanks?’ (And if you’re American, you’d be a “Yank wank . .”)

  15. Hi Cory, I wonder how your support for the Lib Dems squares with their policy to build a national road pricing system? Their plans would see a Government system monitoring and recording every journey on the country’s major roads? Of course, they promise the data won’t be abused…

    It’s also worth noting that the front page of today’s Mirror is equally partisan against the Conservatives…

  16. Reading this just reminds me of a “Beyond The Fringe” sketch that I remember seeing, and which a little Googling provides a partial transcript:

    Jonathan Miller: The Americans have inherited our two-party system.

    Dudley Moore: How does that work?

    Jonathan: Well, they have the Republican Party, which is the equivalent of our Conservative Party, and then they have the Democratic Party… which is the equivalent of our Conservative Party.

    Peter Cook: Then there is the Liberal element…

    Dudley: Are the Liberals ‘Democrats’ or ‘Republicans’?

    Alan Bennett: Yes… as is convenient for them.

    …which even (especially?) today, I find too apt, especially since all the parties on both sides of the Atlantic are way more centrist than I remember from the 80s, let alone 60s.

    Note that “Liberals” in the above, refer to the UK Liberal Party, now LibDems; I’ve amended the punctuation to clarify this.

    I feel whomever got snarky with Cory for the bugs in his posting has done us all a disservice, unfortunately; I’m sure Cory knows there is no English Parliament and that Cameron is pitching for a whole-UK prime-minister slot (by dint of getting a majority of Conservative MPs elected) – but perhaps phrasing it as hyperbole which would:

    a) not be well received by those who dislike the presidential air of this (current) election

    b) not be well received in Wales or Scotland where they might feel an English prime-minister is being foisted upon them (ignoring the fact that Brown and Blair were/are both Scots, as were many of the cabinet)

    c) not be well received in Wales or Scotland where they might feel Cory’s ignoring their pain

    …etc etc; was unwise. Okay so the analogy/joke was against “Queen of England” (another hot issue, google “James the VI and I”) – but it doesn’t work well.

    I believe that Cory’s backing LibDem and that that comes over in his writings and his tweetstream, and that’s fine, he can choose who he wants to back; however to engage in this level of political commentary (below ideology, above spin) one really requires a bundle of backplot and nuance:

    “””Apparently, the Tories have invented something called a “Battlebus,” presumably some variant on the appropriately ancient and obsolete blunderbuss.”””

    No; that’s not nuance, and it shows a lack of familiarity with British electioneering that will just spark off a lot of brit-nerd-commentary (like this) :-)

    I don’t want to comment on the relative merits of any political party because it’ll just set people ranting; I merely appeal for any future political commentary on BoingBoing to get bounced off a few Brits before posting, if only to place the opinions being presented upon a more solid foundation.


    HT: for the transcript.

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