Murdoch tabloid gives nod to Labour Party in UK election

The Sun, Rupert Murdoch's top U.K. tabloid, has made a show of picking the Prime Minister since the 1970s and boasting afterwards of its overwhelming influence on British politics. Grimly, at the last possible moment, and without showing his face, The Sun today endorsed Keir Starmer and the Labour Party in the UK's imminent general election.

In an editorial outlining its position, it says the Tories are "exhausted" and "need a period in opposition".

It goes on: "[Starmer] has a mountain to climb, with a disillusioned electorate and low approval ratings.

"But, by dragging his party back to the centre ground of British politics for the first time since Tony Blair was in No 10, Sir Keir has won the right to take charge."

At this point, with Labour about 20 points ahead in the polls, Murdoch and company don't want to be seen to have failed to influence an outcome. The Sun, as with most other newspapers, doesn't have the circulation or respect it once commanded. Unlike the fawning Tony Blair, Starmer reportedly gave no special consideration to Murdoch beyond affirming that there are no plans for media regulation.

The journalist and former Labour adviser Tom Baldwin has spoken at length to Sir Keir for his biography of the Labour leader, Keir Starmer: The Biography. He suggests that his main priority has been to avoid the kind of "campaign of vilification" that the Sun unleashed on his predecessors Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

"Although the Sun doesn't matter as much as it did – and sometimes thinks it still does – no-one really wants to be caught in its crosshairs," says Mr Baldwin, who was a senior adviser when Mr Miliband took on Rupert Murdoch over phone hacking.

"If Starmer can get an endorsement that would be a bonus. But, unlike Tony Blair 30 years ago, he hasn't flown halfway across the world to bend his knee to Rupert for an endorsement."