Guardian floated the idea of supporting David Cameron and Tories to Coulson

Andy Coulson has told the Leveson inquiry this afternoon via his witness statement that The Guardian had told him that the idea of the paper supporting David Cameron and the Conservatives at the 2010 general election was not out of the question.

In the event The Guardian switched its support from Labour to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, which at the time seemed like a safe bet.

Prior to the election Clegg and his party enjoyed a bounce in support and was seen to do well in the TV election debates.

Here’s what Coulson had to say about the Guardian turning blue:

“There was a continual conversation with all media groups with the aim of persuading them to take a favourable view of the Party, it’s policies and its politicians. That engagement was a fundamental part of my job. During my time working in opposition I sought to secure the support of every newspaper, with the possible exception of the Daily and Sunday Mirror.

“There was even a time when The Guardian suggested to me that their support was possible. At a drinks reception in David Cameron’s office a Guardian executive told me not to ’write off’ the idea of a Guardian endorsement. I chose not to count on it,” Coulson wrote.

Would the Guardian opting to support the Tories been beyond the pale for some of its readers?

In the end it has since distanced itself from Clegg and the Lib Dems who have seen support shrink since the election. Having polled as high as 24% back in the spring of 2010 they are now polling just 9% and suffered heavy defeats in the recent local elections.

Coulson, who was the former Conservative Party director of comms, also told the inquiry that he warned Cameron that his News International links would not directly benefit the party.

Under questioning, Coulson, said: ‘I do remember explaining that my News International background – this was not suggested by Mr Osborne or Mr Cameron, but me – should not been seen as a guarantee of the support of those papers.’

Coulson was approached by George Osborne in 2007 after resigning as editor of the News of the World six months earlier.

He told the inquiry that upon being approached by Osborne, he was initially ‘reluctant’ but grew in enthusiasm about the idea, PR Week reports.

 

You can read Coulson’s full witness statement here.

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