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A good talking to

In July, David Cameron pleased Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV by threatening to abolish Ofcom, which would save the organization billions of pounds. In September, Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper declared that it thought the nice young leader of the Conservative Party should run the country. This probably wasn't quid pro quo - chances are the Sun would have backed whichever party looked likeliest to win, as it has done for the last 30 years - but it can have done the budding relationship no harm.

Arguably, the newspaper's latest switch of alligiance will make little difference to its readers. We interviewed its political editor, Trevor Kavanagh, shortly before the last general election. Research indicated, he said, that the political alignment of a newspaper made no more than a couple of percentage points difference to the voting habits of its readership. When the Sun backed Margaret Thatcher in 1979, more than half of its readers voted Labour.

But whether or not they significantly affect election results, newspapers can certainly set the tone of political debate. Neil Kinnock may never have made a good prime minister, but he was not the caricature buffoon that was represented in the tabloids. Whatever the allegiance, such mockery becomes a race to the bottom, only exacerbated by the knowlege that the press line may come down from an owner who does not even have citizenship of the country over which he (always a he) seeks influence.

What then of the old adage that a Christian should operate with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other? Is it possible to be objectively informed when our news media is so ... mediated?

This magazine has not been shy of carrying its own subjective opinions. But in the last few months we have talked to representatives from each of the main parties and, as usual, published their answers with no editorial comment. Interviews with key figures from smaller parties, such as the Greens and the BNP, are available on our website. With less than a year to go until the general election, as other outlets add cynicism to scorn, we hope to prove a yet more valuable resource.