9 Jul. 2007

How Keating Helped Blair Seduce Murdoch

Fly-on-the-wall stuff from Blair's former chief media adviser, Alastair Campbell:
Keating rang Blair inviting him to stay at his official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, and offering advice about Murdoch.

"He said he had a few things to teach him about how to deal with Rupert," Campbell wrote in a diary entry dated July 8, 1995.

"He said Murdoch is a hard bastard and you need a strategy for dealing with him."

When Blair and Campbell met Keating eight days later, the prime minister passed on his tips.

"Keating was everything I expected - charming, tough, funny, totally at ease on the surface though probably a real furnace when he got going," Campbell wrote.

"On Murdoch, he told TB: 'He's a big bad bastard, and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too. You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength'."

At an evening barbecue, Campbell noted how Keating "chatted up Murdoch for a while" and later confided the media boss liked Blair and believed he could become prime minister.

"He told TB, RM was clearly warming to him, which was good up to a point. 'They overestimate the importance of their support for you, but if you can get it, have it. If you are Labour you need all the help you can get to win elections.'"
There's also a little insight into the political views of the Murdoch dynasty:
As prime minister, Blair hosted an intimate dinner party for Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, at his official 10 Downing Street residence in January 2002.

Campbell, who was also a guest, said while "Lachlan seemed a bit shy" James attacked his father's conservative views on the Middle East peace process and accused him of "talking f***ing nonsense".

"He (Rupert Murdoch) finally said to James that he didn't think he should talk like that in the prime minister's house and James got very apologetic with TB, who said not to worry, I hear far worse all the time."
Interestingly, James Murdoch is hot favourite to take over the Murdoch empire. I wonder what he thinks of the War in Iraq?