Murdoch backs coalition's cuts

Rupert Murdoch's papers backed the Tories before the election
Rupert Murdoch's papers backed the Tories before the election

By staff

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has given the coalition government's spending cuts plans his firm support, warning them they must "stay the political course" to remain popular.

His comments came as the Liberal Democrats suffered their lowest popularity rating of just ten per cent in the YouGov/Sun poll.

Giving the inaugural Baroness Thatcher lecture last night at the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank, Mr Murdoch gave a ringing endorsement for David Cameron's vigorous approach to lowering public spending.

"Self-serving states are making themselves ever larger, sucking the air of opportunity out of the room," he said.

"We all have a role in fashioning a society that is driven by aspiration and not crippled by calcification."

He later added: "Strong medicine is bitter and difficult to swallow. But unless you stay the political course, you will neither be robust nor popular."

Mr Murdoch owns the Sun and Times newspapers, which backed the Conservatives before the general election.

He is seeking permission from business secretary Vince Cable to go ahead with a News Corps takeover of BSkyB, buying its remaining 61% of shares.

"When the upstart is too successful, somehow the old interests surface, and restrictions on growth are proposed or imposed," Mr Murdoch added. "That's an issue for my company."

Much attention has been focused on recent months on the News of the World tabloid, another of Mr Murdoch's papers.

Its alleged wiretapping activities have political implications as the prime minister hired the red-top's former editor Andy Coulson as his head of strategy in Downing Street.

"Often I have cause to celebrate editorial endeavour," Mr Murdoch said.

"Occasionally, I have had cause for regret. Let me be clear. We will vigorously pursue the truth - and we will not tolerate wrongdoing."

He drew a clear distinction between journalists and bloggers, before calling on the government to be more tolerant of Britain's free press.

"Now, it would certainly serve the interests of the powerful if professional journalists were muted - or replaced as navigators in our society by bloggers and bloviators," he said.

"Bloggers can have a social role - but that role is very different to that of the professional seeking to uncover facts, however uncomfortable. A free society also requires a government with backbone."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.