By Ray Fleming
HOW piquant that Rupert Murdoch should have spoken about the need for David Cameron's Conservatives to “shrink taxation” at the very moment that Mr Cameron was u-turning again to say that cutting taxes would not come before stabilising the econony in his order of priorities. He is right, of course, but he cannot altogether ignore the fact that the owner of The Times, The Sun and The News of the World sees things differently and would presumably argue that cutting taxes is one of the best ways of stabilising the economy. In fact, on balace the rare interview that Mr Murdoch gave to the BBC offered more comfort to Old Labour than to New Conservatism. His comments on Gordon Brown were particularly interesting: “I like Gordon very much and I share a lot of his values. The Calvinist background, I guess...Scottish blood, you know he does seem to believe in the work ethic.” Although Mr Murdoch had some predictable brickbats for the Labour government (over-taxation, nanny state) he pronounced it to be “a pretty good government in many ways” which is probably just about as positive a judgement as Mr Blair could expect it to get in his third term. By contrast, the best thing Mr Murdoch had to say about Mr Cameron was that “at two very charming meetings with him” he had found him to be “very bright”. He was surprisingly critical of the Conservative leader's failure to produce “facts and some real policies”, saying “I would really like to know a little bit more about what his vision is for the future of this country and its people.” That comment and another that “it seems to be all about image” will not please Mr Cameron or his advisers because it reflects a widespread opinion that the new leader lacks substance and displays a chameleon-like attitude to policy formulation. However, David Yelland, the former editor of The Sun, commented: “I think the only thing that really matters if you are a Tory listening to Rupert Murdoch is that he hasn't taken against David Cameron, as he took against Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague.”
Cold comfort!

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