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Personality politics

These pages illustrate the ‘personality politics’ treatment pioneered by Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie. On polling day in 1992, the Sun published its 'Kinnock lightbulb’ front page – a striking page offering a welcome touch of humour. On the other hand, the Sun’s unashamedly partisan confection discarded any concept of keeping news and comment apart.

Image from The Sun, 9 April 1992   Image from The Sun, 6 October 1998
The Sun, 9 April 1992   The Sun, 6 October 1998
The British Library gratefully acknowledges the John Frost Newspaper Archive for permission to reproduce these front pages.

But did it influence the election result? The polls forecast that it would be a close-run thing between Labour and Conservative. The next day, the Sun proudly published, ‘It’s the Sun wot won it’, in celebration of John Major’s victory.

In October 1998 William Hague, then Conservative Party leader, was told he should wear a black tie and armband when he addressed the Conference that day. Hague’s leadership was constantly under attack and even the Sun, traditionally supporters of the Conservatives, pictured Hague as Monty Python’s parrot hanging upside down. It launched a bitter attack on the Tories, ‘taking no pleasure in writing the epitaph of the once-great party it supported for the best part of two decades.’

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