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Times Newspapers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:18 pm on 27th January 1981.

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Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate and Banstead 5:18 pm, 27th January 1981

A good deal of the argument has concerned fears of trivialising the approach to news in The Times. Listening to the Leader of the Opposition last week, I also suspected a certain political motivation in the objection to the transfer of ownership. One felt he was objecting to Mr. Murdoch simply because he had fastened on to the truth that when put together tits and Toryism are marketable commodities.

There should be only one test of Rupert Murdoch's ownership: can he provide what The Times needs to make it a viable and successful newspaper? First, it needs resources; there is no doubt that he has resources. Above all, it needs an injection of publishing flair; he certainly has that. On three continents he has a track record of successful newspapers. We want to produce circumstances in which The Times can succeed. Rupert Murdoch as a rough and tough operator. I do not know him personally, but I know that he has the essential quality of drive that The Times needs.

One argument has been in favour of a number of consortia of business men, some backed by journalists, to run this great newspaper. To deliver The Times to such a consortium would be the kiss of slow death. It might save it for a short period, but I believe that it would not last beyond a year. Sir Richard Marsh of the NPA put it correctly when he was interviewed on radio. He said that it was a choice between elegant failure or rough success.