Branson’s moves to back Al Gore’s Campaign to save the planet from Global Warming by offering a $25 million prize to anyone finding a breakthrough technology in carbon capture has proved to be a shrewder political move than maybe even he realised.
Never mind the evidence that world is moving towards an ice age in fifty years time, and that the last ten years have been noticeably cooler than the previous ten, the environment has big PR and political pay-offs, which Branson needs to further his business interests.
By playing to please Al Gore, he has thereby also pleased the EU which is calling the environment and the need to operate internationally against the threat of global warming, the primary justification for extending their growing powers. By winning favour in the right places, Branson is finding that the kind of deals which always eluded him under Tony Blair who was committed to a long-term arrangement with Murdoch, are now falling into his lap by the barrow-load.
He should net the Northern Rock at a bargain price winning the largest subsidy to a private business ever granted in British history, and as Huntsman reports HERE, he has also won the case (which he is not even a party to) whereby the Murdochs are being forced to sell off their shares in ITV which blocked Virgin Media from getting into cable TV and offering a whole raft of new media services. It seems eminently likely that Branson will get a double win by his being willing to sign up to the Climate Change PR game, and his desire to the erode Murdoch’s empire.
Huntsman thinks that Murdoch will want to take his political revenge on Brown, and start openly backing Cameron but I’m not so sure Murdoch’s that foolhardy.
The EU Competition Commissioner has far more unpleasant things h can do to Murdoch other than losing him his shareholding in ITV. He can call into question Murdoch’s domination of Sporting TV rights in the UK, or any other of Murdoch’s monopolistic media privileges. After one bloody loss on ITV shares, I can’t imagine the Murdochs are hungry to take another caning in a hurry. The writers on Conservative Home blog have seen a definite swinging away from supporting David Cameron as much as he was pre-the ITV negotiations. This trend of offering Brown more favourable coverage, which has coincided with a Conservative decline in the polls, will surely continue.
Branson too, seeing the amazing results he has achieved so quickly by being EU-favourable will surely see the signs as to how he could cut more lucrative deals by offering Gordon Brown soft exposure, and being seen alongside him and bolstering his flagging image as a PM with economic savvy.
It will, though be a sad sight to see two of the country’s most successful business operators competing to please the government and the EU, like two courtiers kissing the feet of an over-powerful monarch. Gordon Brown will be squirming with pleasure that he has at last found how to manipulate the levers of power so successfully, and enforce more favourable media coverage.
I wonder if the idea of ditching Murdoch was contained in that letter of advice from Tony Blair offering Gordon a few tips. I wouldn’t be surprised. It will certainly be making David Cameron’s task of winning power a whole lot harder than it would have been otherwise.
Branson should be careful, however. His bitter comments against Murdoch in 2007 claiming he has far too much influence on British politics, might soon well be applied to himself. By being the pivot on which Brown is able to lever Murdoch into position and put undue pressure on David Cameron, Branson is damaging Britain’s long term interests. He might end up paying a price for that himself in time.