The Sun (15 January) announces on its front page: THE SUN SPEAKS FOR EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN BRITAIN. This would normally be a joke, a fantastic flight of fancy to prove that editor Kelvin Mackenzie had at last gone mad. But when, the next morning, the Sun devotes its entire front page to the Union Jack with a good old British Tommy in its centre, and the rubric up above SUPPORT OUR BOYS AND PUT THIS FLAG IN YOUR WINDOW, thousands of people do so! The Sun has its best morning for years. The Star, the ailing tabloid from the Express group, has a good time too, starting with its headline (16 January): GO GET HIM BOYS over a picture of a Tornado jet skimming across the desert 'to blast the evil dictator Saddam Hussein out of his bunker'. 'War is seldom had for business,' says a leader in the Times Business and Finance Section, which goes on to hope that a war in the Gulf will 'pull Britain out of the recession'. Such optimism seems deranged. But as the circulation figures rise, and as the 'key targets' in Baghdad fall victim to allied air power, so caution is thrown to the winds and the papers stoke up the war fever they helped to create in the first place.
LRB 7 February 1991 | PDF Download