The Sun drops Labour, but there are wider issues at stake

Idiot comic The Sun has unsurprisingly switched its allegiance to the Conservatives, having declared that the Labour government has ‘lost its way’.

This supposed revelation is as unsurprising as its timing – immediately following Gordon Brown’s rallying cry to the Labour faithful at the Labour conference.

In a clear lie the Sun’s political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, stated that the announcement was not scheduled to cause maximum political damage. That’s absurd in itself, but also because no-one really believes a lowly tabloid political editor would be allowed to make a decision like this.

The clear originator is Rupert Murdoch, who can spot a trend when he sees one. Psephologists have long argued about the impact the media has one voting behaviour. To my mind it once did, but I don’t think that anything as explicit as people obeying newspapers on election days rings true any more. Class dealignment, party dealignment, paper dealignment.

Murdoch probably knows that, which is why he’s unwilling to lose face by backing Labour – a long shot at best – at the next election. That way the idea that the Sun is the prime mover in an election victory can be maintained.

In doing so Murdoch can also leverage his fearsome media arsenal against David Cameron if he so chooses. Murmurs from the Tories regarding the BBC will not have gone unnoticed, and Murdoch can probably rub his hands in glee at the prospect of another chunk of media real estate becoming available to News International.

This raises the prospect of a British Fox News, based on the American version that delights in spouting bigotry in every form. Such broadcast channels are currently outlawed in the UK, but Cameron has already indicated that he wouldn’t obstruct them as Prime Minister.

It’s here that I think the media still has a strong influence on thinking and behaviors, the insidious drip-drip that may not explicitly back politicians or parties, but steadily reinforces right-wing values by broadcasting ignorance, fear and intolerance.

Couple that to a neutered BBC and a media landscape that could also be missing the Indie and the Observer by next year and it’s a grim prospect for a healthy Fourth Estate.

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Edge of Darkness – Troy Kennedy Martin’s masterpiece

Although he never managed to make the Twitter Trending Topic of Doom, it appears that British scriptwriter Troy Kennedy Martin has merged with the infinite.

It seems possible that Kennedy Martin’s death may go rather unnoticed given the recent deaths of Patrick Swayze and Keith Floyd, so I wanted to commemorate his passing. To throw a few titles at those of you not familiar with the name: Kelly’s Heroes, The Italian Job and Edge of Darkness.

The latter is unquestionably one of my favourite TV serials of all time, and I urge any readers (there are readers, right?) who are interested in such things to check it out.

The late-80s serial mixes nuclear paranoia, militant environmentalism, cold war politics, coal, Irish provos, James Lovelock, grief, loss, Willie Nelson, an iconic theme and score from Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen and age-old feudal battle. In the original draft the script’s protagonist, Craven, turns into a tree at the climax.

Out of all of that Martin, along with director Martin Campbell and producer Michael Wearing, fashioned a cohesive, intelligent and hard-edged thriller, with the mystical and ethereal overtones still integral but muted.

A spectacular cast also helps, with the sadly-departed Bob Peck perfect as lonely, unglamourous and rather dour Yorkshire detective Ronnie Craven.

Ian McNiece and Charles Kay are also particularly good as mysterious government suits Harcourt and Pendleton, while there’s solid back-up from John Woodvine, Jack Watson, Joanne Whalley, Zoe Wanamaker, Tim McInnery and, pleasingly, Blake’s 7 stalwarts David Jackson and Brian Croucher.

Stealing the show, though, is Joe Don Baker as Darius Jedburgh, a fun-loving, vaguely unhinged CIA agent gone rogue – a great, if slightly hyper-real creation, made believable by Baker.

Pretty much everyone involved went on to bigger things, including Kennedy Martin, who spent time on various underwhelming action scripts for Hollywood.

Speaking of, a Hollywood movie of Edge is planned which, although directed by Campbell, threatens to be awful.

The touches that made Edge of Darkness so superb in the first place – Jedburgh’s love of Come Dancing, the grimy London settings, the coal board corruption, the black flowers and the duality between the real world and the mystical – are likely to be missing. Small but important details whose significance is likely to be lost on US producers.

Edge of Darkness was a product of its time, a rare example of every element combining to make something even greater than the sum of its parts. Troy Kennedy Martin’s masterpiece.

• In the clip below, Craven discovers his murdered daughter’s double life as an environmental activist.

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