Murdoch May Have Bet Wrong on British Elections

Has Rupert Murdoch called Britain's May 6 elections wrong? The News Corp. tycoon is used to picking winners. After his purchase of The Times in 1981, he backed Conservatives Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and he had no qualms changing ideological horses in 1997 shortly before Tony Blair's Labour Party retook Parliament. Last year Murdoch's tabloid The Sun threw its weight behind David Cameron's -Tories. At the time, they enjoyed a double-digit lead over Labour, headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the third-party Liberal Democrats were no more than a blip on the horizon.

But now a surge in popularity has given the Lib Dems a boost, making a Tory victory less certain. Murdoch's detractors are overjoyed. "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will," crowed Britain's Independent newspaper in an ad campaign last week. Infuriated, his son James stormed into the Independent's newsroom. "What are you f--king playing at?" James Murdoch yelled at the Indy's editor in chief, according to press accounts. Though both sides declined to comment, "politics" is presumably the correct answer.