The latest Tory efficiency drive will see its central press office subsumed into the vast media empire of staunch supporter, Rupert Murdoch.
The deal is seen as a further strengthening of the firm bond between the Tory Party and the Australian mogul, which first emerged in the run-up to the General Election when it became apparent that Labour was extremely unlikely to win.
Back in April, seeking to maintain his run of publicly backing every General Election winner since the shock victory of Viscount Palmerston in 1857, Mr Murdoch reaffirmed his lifelong allegiance to the Conservatives and its leader, David Cameron, and explained that his thirteen-year support for the Labour Party had been nothing more than an act of ‘tough love’ to make the Tories ‘buck their ideas up’.
With a Coalition Government now in place, media expert, Professor Geoff Walton, believes the merger makes sense: ‘All of the best tie-ins occur when there is a genuine synergy between the two organisations. The Conservative Party and News International both wanted to be the ones “wot won” the General Election, and neither succeeded, yet both are incredibly powerful forces in the UK today. It is only natural that they should formalise their collaboration.’
The deal will see News International granted the rights to all news relating to Government, the Conservative Party and the UK, for exclusive use on its various websites. The company will also ‘get first dibs’ on any pictures of Samantha Cameron and baby Florence, in a move designed to annoy the Daily Telegraph.
The merger is believed to appeal to the Conservatives as a way of cutting costs as the Comprehensive Spending Review approaches its conclusion. Senior Party figures have secretly admitted that the opportunity to bury bad news behind the paywall, where no-one will ever see it, is highly attractive.
In return for their support, News International will be seeking to increase their influence in Government. Unconfirmed reports suggest that James Murdoch is being lined up for a peerage and a senior post in the next Cabinet reshuffle. Murdoch Senior is believed to have told the Prime Minister to push aside ‘one of the less important ones’. Nick Clegg is believed to be favourite for the chop.
An insider said, ‘Everyone believes that James Murdoch is a real number two. With him as Deputy Prime Minister, we can move on from the pampered, privileged politics of the past and build a better Britain.’
The person who stands to lose most from the merger is the Tories’ beleaguered Communications Director, Andy Coulson, who is said to be furious that all of this has been happening without his knowledge even though, according to one former News of the World hack, ‘even the Downing Street cat knew’.
Mr Coulson is believed to have found out about the deal by phone, but it is currently unclear whether the phone was actually his.