On Sunday, the News of the World claimed that Tony Blair has already decided to ratify the EU constitution – with or without the support of either the public or his party (let alone his heir, Gordon Brown).
Today, the News of the World’s weekday sister paper, The Sun – despite being owned by the same company, and despite usually adopting whatever political line big boss Rupert Murdoch wants – had precisely the opposite story:
TONY BLAIR and Gordon Brown have vowed not to let in the hated EU Constitution through the back door.
The Prime Minister and his expected successor plan to stop Euro fanatics resurrecting a bid to give Brussels more power…
Next month EU leaders will discuss a new â€œdeclarationâ€ to celebrate the union.
But its precise contents are unknown â€” causing worry among UK politicians who fear a further EU power grab.
And privately EU leaders will also talk about a new constitution at the summit.
Number 10 insists they will not agree to including elements of the old constitution
That pretty much refutes every single claim that the News of the World made on Sunday, from the contents of the declaration through to Blair’s enthusiasm for the existing text.
Which means, of course, that you can probably trust this report just as much as you could trust Sunday’s. They’re most likely both nonsense.
Were I the sort for conspiracy theories, I might suggest that the two utterly opposed stories were run in such quick succession because dear Mr Murdoch – notoriously anti-EU throughout his time as a newspaper magnate in the UK – wants to demonstrate through the reaction of his readers precisely which course of action should be taken. And in case you can’t tell which one that is:
The Sun Says…
The Sun instinctively mistrusts edicts from Brussels. They are almost never in our nationâ€™s interests. This will be no exception.
Tony Blair has pledged to fight tooth and nail to prevent the rejected constitution being sneaked in by the back door.
We will hold him to that â€” as we will any future Prime Minister.
By “we”, read Rupert Murdoch – the owner of the top-selling Sunday broadsheet the Sunday Times, top-selling Sunday tabloid the News of the World, top-selling daily broadsheet the Times, top-selling daily tabloid the Sun, plus dominant satellite/digital television broadcaster Sky.
This is Rupert Murdoch using his power to ensure that “Europe” is not an issue at the next general election, by blackmailing both Labour and the Tories into doing what he wants – rejecting the constitution completely and utterly.
It couldn’t be clearer – the News of the World article was a teaser trailer to get up a bit of reaction. Two days later, with the reaction in, the Sun comes up with the real story.
There may be no facts in the Sun’s story either – but what it does have is detailed instructions for Blair, Brown and the rest of the Labour party, letting them know precisely what their next course of action had better be if they don’t want the single most powerful media group in the country to smash them with all its might.
Update: Just realised this was actually yesterday’s Sun. Murdoch works faster than I thought…
Update 2: Murdoch is definitely up to something…