Since Sunday is the first day of the political week, we often open it by writing about the morning’s papers – especially about polls, especially at elections. One might expect them during the campaign itself to be full of front page material.
Instead, Prince Andrew’s interview with Newsnight about his private life, which will be broadcast this evening, begins today to eat into the newspaper front pages. Election news is therefore pushed back – not that there is much of it in any event – towards the inside pages. There is a mirroring effect online.
Of the Fleet Street papers, only the Sunday Telegraph splashes with a political story (“every Tory candidate signs Brexit deal pledge”). Tomorrow will bring coverage of the full interview, together with analysis and comment, which will be carried over into Tuesday.
Even if the story develops no further, it is likely to spill over into Wednesday. And, hey presto, that’s the first half of the political week gone. And it is that first half which so often prepares the way for the second. TV tends to project political news less prominently in any case. Social media will be consumed by the Prince rather than the poll.
We offer a small prize – ConservativeHome’s equivalent of the famous Guido Fawkes T-shirt – for the first media outlet to ponder at length the question: what effect will the Prince Andrew story have not just on this week, but on the whole general election? Let us answer it in advance by saying: none.
In other words, the relative downsizing of election news is likely to freeze the current campaign in aspic. That ought to help the party which leads in the polls – not that these, which are after all “a snapshot and not a prediction”, necessarily anticipate the outcome, which itself may not be affected by the campaign at all.
At any rate, since the Conservatives lead in the polls, any stasis in the campaign is therefore likely to be of net benefit to them. The alternative take is that any difficult news for the monarchy will be bad news for the Tories, because both are linked as emblems of the establishment.
We regard that take as fanciful – especially since there is no longer, as there was when Anthony Sampson first identified it, a single uniform establishment (rather than different networks of different establishments). For once, Boris Johnson, who usually likes making the news, is unlikely to worry about not doing so.