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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 12:47 GMT
Cameron 'must offer alternative'
Interviewer Jeff Randall and Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch very rarely grants interviews to journalists
Tory leader David Cameron should worry less about image and present a "real alternative" to win power, says media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

While describing Mr Cameron as "bright" the News Corporation chairman told BBC Radio 5 Live he needed to present more "facts and some real policies".

Mr Murdoch also criticised the Labour government for running a "nanny state".

News Corporation owns the Times and the Sun - which backed the Tories in 1992's election but has since backed Labour.

I would really like to know a little bit more about what his vision is for the future of this country and his people
Rupert Murdoch on David Cameron

It was a dramatic change of allegiance for the paper which, in 1992, had controversially claimed "It's the Sun Wot Won It" for John Major's Tory party.

Mr Murdoch refused to be drawn on Sunday as to whether his newspapers would be backing Mr Cameron's Conservatives.

His advice to the Conservatives was to "shrink government and shrink taxation for better rewards to people prepared to risk everything".

So far, Mr Murdoch said, he found little to choose between Mr Cameron's Tories and New Labour.

He said: "I've had a couple of very charming meetings with him, he's very bright. He's put together a more impressive front bench than was there before, but it seems to be all about image

"I would really like to know a little bit more about what his vision is for the future of this country and his people.

"You know, some facts and some real policies rather than just a lot of almost throwaway positions they take to change their image - so much so that if you believe everything he says, there's not going to be an alternative between him and a New Labour government certainly".

It's up to people to get on, and it's up to the government to get out of their way, tax them less, give them more incentives
Rupert Murdoch

Mr Murdoch said that while he thought Labour had been "a pretty good government in many ways", he believed the country was "over-taxed", which harmed business.

"They have... extended the nanny state, the welfare state, and destroyed, gone a long way to destroy, this idea of personal responsibility for people's lives.

"It's up to people to get on, and it's up to the government to get out of their way, tax them less, give them more incentives."

When asked about Chancellor Gordon Brown, expected to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister at some time in the future, he said: "I like Gordon very much and I share a lot of his values. The Calvinist background I guess... Scottish blood, you know he does seem to believe in the work ethic."

BBC political correspondent Mark Saunders said leading politicians still "craved the recognition" of Mr Murdoch, and would probably have listened intently to his interview.

Political allegiance

Lance Price, a former media adviser to Mr Blair, told the BBC that he believed Labour should not worry about whether Mr Murdoch was about to switch his support to the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, former Sun editor Sun David Yelland, asked if the paper was likely to switch political allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives, said: "I think the only thing that really matters if you are a Tory listening to Rupert Murdoch this evening is that he hasn't taken against David Cameron, as he took against Iain Duncan Smith and also William Hague."

During the wide-ranging interview, Mr Murdoch, whose company also owns the Sunday Times and News of the World, discussed newspaper sales.

He acknowledged that newspaper circulations were falling, but added that the development of new technology would halt the decline.

"I'm sure it will still be available on paper, it won't happen that fast but you'll be able to, for instance, have a tablet beside your bed, you subscribe to the paper and it'll come there wirelessly, and you've got to pick it up and read every page of the paper on an electronic or battery-driven tablet."

People could read the paper in that way or in the more "old fashioned" way, he said.

The world was on the verge of a "golden age" in terms of media and technological developments, he said, and the internet was "just beginning".

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