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As the Sun shines for him, will it be Boris wot wins it?

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TODAY is a good time to recall one of the great newspaper headlines of recent times when the Sun led its front page on election day, April 11, 1992, with ‘If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’.

Opinion polls had been suggesting that a hung parliament or a narrow Labour majority was the most likely result, but John Major’s Conservatives took a 21-seat majority, though it was a large fall from the 102-seat majority achieved by Margaret Thatcher five years earlier. (During that campaign the Sun ran a mock-editorial entitled ‘Why I’m Backing Kinnock, by Stalin’.)

The Sun was so convinced its front page had swung the 1992 election for the Conservatives that two days later it declared ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It.’ The editor at the time was Kelvin MacKenzie and it’s a fair bet he wrote both this and the ‘lights out’ heading.

Kinnock believed that the Sun and other pro-Tory newspapers were a major factor in his failure to win, but in 1994 a study reported in the Independent claimed that the Sun had little effect on the election, saying it was more likely that people thought John Major was a stronger leader than Kinnock, who appeared over-confident of winning.

In 1997 the Sun switched its support to the Labour Party six weeks before Tony Blair won a large majority at the general election victory, and backed him again in the further two elections he won. 

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair in June 2007, the Sun became less supportive and after Brown’s speech at the 2009 Labour conference, under the banner ‘Labour’s Lost It’, the paper announced that it no longer supported the Labour Party.

It said: ‘TheSun believes – and prays – that the Conservative leadership can put the great back into Great Britain.’ The following year David Cameron’s Conservatives won, and the Sun has continued to support the Tories.

To sum up: Since that great headline in 1992, the Sun has backed the winning side in every general election. It is supporting the Conservatives today. Will it be right yet again?

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Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth is a retired national newspaper journalist. She runs the Subbing Clinic in a hopeless attempt to keep up standards, and co-runs A & M Records where she indulges her passion for 60s pop.

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