UK

David Cameron Put In Rupert Murdoch's Pocket In High Profile Campaign Against Mail And Sun

05/05/2015 19:16 BST | Updated 05/05/2015 19:59 BST

It was the billboard image that began the Conservative Party's campaign of fear - Ed Miliband sitting quite happily in Alex Salmond's breast pocket.

The ad, released in March, implied a labour government under Miliband would be at the mercy of the Scots. That the bogeyman beneath the bed - the SNP - could be set loose in Westminster. Downing Street, and the UK in general, was in danger.

And in the final days of the May 7 general election campaign it is a theme David Cameron is sticking with, appealing to Ukip and Liberal Democrat voters to "stop and think", and to vote tactically to block a "calamitous" tie-up between Miliband and the SNP.

rupert murdoch

A picture of David Cameron in the pocket of News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch is the poster-image behind a campaign to encourage people to vote for politicians they believe in, and is a replica of one Cameron used to suggest Ed Miliband was at the mercy of SNP

Today in a fitting second-act, global campaign organisation Avaaz ramps up its campaign urging voters to ignore the "fear and smear" agenda and to vote simply for what they believe in. The poster image for the campaign is a picture of Cameron sitting in the breast pocket of newspaper boss Rupert Murdoch, owner of the The Times and The Sun.

The image, a replica of the one used to scare Brits over Scotland, has already been shared 400,000 times on Facebook, but will also be circulated amongst Avaaz 1.6 million members. The organisation, which is working with HackedOff, is also taking out advertisements in newspapers and websites.

As part of their campaign, Avaaz and OpenDemocracy has analysed how the Daily Mail, Telegraph, The Sun and The Times reported the lead-up to the elections by looking at coverage themes and trends. Avaaz claims the papers have "like synchronised swimmers - followed almost as one in covering the election".

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Avaaz says attacks on Miliband shrunk from five insults a day to one daily, while attacks on the SNP increased from around one a day to over six a day. The group puts this down to a change in tactics, from discrediting Miliband, to creating fear over SNP.

Since April 6, Avaaz contends that the Health and Social Care Act has only gained eight mentions across the four papers despite the NHS being a top issue with voters. As a comparison, during the same period, it claims praise for the Conservatives on the NHS appeared 21 times.

In regards to a constitutional coup, Avaaz says the newspapers' implication that the party that wins the most seats should be allowed to form the government rose from two occurrences in week one, to four in the second week, rising to 11 in week three.

guardian

The Murdoch owned newspapers are not the only media outlets to openly back a party this election

The drop in GDP to 0.3% was barely covered by the stable of newspapers, Avaaz claims, and the most common word used was “chaos versus recovery”.

Avaaz advertisements will feature messages from Steve Coogan, Irvine Welsh and John Cleese, who talks about the "fear and loathing" press coverage from Murdoch papers being "hard to stomach".

Coogan writes: "Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Mail have had British politicians in their top-pocket for decades. The smear and fear agenda they have peddled over the past few weeks has been pretty shameful."

But Murdoch's papers haven't been alone in trying to back a winner. The Guardian has thrown its support behind Labour. The Independent surprised nearly everyone - including some of its own staff - by backing victory for a Tory/Lib Med coalition if Thursday's General Election produces a hung parliament.

The Financial Times has called for tactical voting to produce another Lib-Tory coalition and The Express has helped bankroll Ukip, with owner Richard Desmond donating £1m, although his stable is officially yet to declare.

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