The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I don't think there was any surprise about the Sun supporting -- I'm surprised the Sun have always been so embarrassed about it. I suppose it may be something they feel they ought to be embarrassed about in retrospect, but I don't think that it was very surprising that they decided to support Labour. After all, after all they had written about the Conservative Party between 1992 and 1997, how could they, in all credibility, have then said, "Despite all we have written over the past five years, we actually invite you to vote for these people we've been telling you are useless for five years"? I think that would have been quite a difficult editorial position to take.

So I wasn't surprised that they decided that they would support Labour. Neither do I think they needed to go through this silly charade of an article by Mr Blair on Europe, which they could then seize on the next day and overnight decide they were going to support the Labour Party. It was a ludicrous charade from start to finish. There was a perfectly credible reason for the newspaper to decide not to support us. We had no lien over them. We had no particular reason to expect they would automatically support us.

They could have said, "The Conservatives have been there 18 years. It's too long. Democratically, we want somebody else to be in government." They could also have said, quite legitimately: "The Labour Party has changed." New Labour did change. Mr Blair moved the New Labour position from where it had been much more towards the centre. In many ways, he was to the right of me. It was perfectly credible for them to decide that.

I remember joking once that I had gone swimming in the Thames and left my clothes on the riverbank and when I came back, Mr Blair was wearing them. So there was a whole series of good reasons why the Sun could perfectly credibly have said, "This Tory government are tired, exhausted. They've been there 18 years. Democratically, we need a change."

So I wasn't surprised when they changed. Did they change over European policy? I don't think so, despite my conversation with Mr Murdoch. How could they have done? I had kept Britain out of the euro, with the Maastricht agreement. I had introduced legislation to ensure that any government, before going into the euro, had to have a referendum, which Labour had followed, and the Labour Party's position -- Mr Blair's, Mr Mandelson's, many senior members of the Labour Party -- in 1999 was still that they should go into the euro, and that was stopped because of disagreements within the Labour Party, notably because of disagreements with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

So they could hardly have switched on European policy if Mr Murdoch and News International were cool about Europe, which I think is a fair description. It was not a sensible jump to move from a prime minister that was opposed to the euro to a prime minister that was going to be in favour of the euro.

So I don't think their change had a great deal to do with European policy. I think it may have had a great deal to do with their embarrassment of supporting us after what they had said about us and it may have been something to do with the position we had taken on Calcutt, which I think we will come to later, or the Broadcasting Act, which we may come to later, but I don't think in retrospect that it can possible -- not logically, anyway -- have been because of our European policies per se.

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