Six weeks ago, The Sun newspaper torpedoed Gordon Brown's hopes of a party conference uplift by announcing on the evening of his keynote speech that it would be backing the Tories at the next general election.
At the time, I was among those who sought to downplay the significance of this, arguing on these pages that it was no more than a right-wing newspaper returning to its natural ideological home.
But if I’m honest, I was swimming against the tide on this. Most of the media seem to take The Sun’s own estimation of itself as the paper ‘wot won’ every election since the 1960s completely at face value.
Hence the paper’s switch after 12 years of loyal support for New Labour was reported as a political event of huge symbolic importance which drove yet another nail in the government’s coffin.
Perhaps, though, they were right. We have seen over the past week just what a dangerous opponent The Sun can be when it has it in mind to ‘go for’ a particular politician.
It used an error-strewn handwritten letter he wrote to grieving mum Jacqui Janes expressing his condolences at the loss of her son in Afghanistan to mount a highly personal attack on the Prime Minister.
It’s all becoming very reminiscent of the latter days of John Major – another well-intentioned PM who seemingly could do nothing right and who incurred the wrath of a certain red-top tabloid as a consequence.
Who could forget the Sun editor on Black Wednesday who promised to take two large buckets of something unmentionable and empty them all over poor old Mr Major’s head?
But if that at least had the merit of humour, on this occasion the paper appears to have over-reached itself.
As the sheer ferocity of its attack became clear, the public’s sympathy seems for once to have swung towards Mr Brown.
Ironically, had the paper not previously announced its intention to support the Conservatives, its reporting of the whole episode might have had a greater political impact.
But as Alastair Campbell rightly pointed out: “Precisely because they made such a splash with the switch to the Tories, the wider public now know more than ever that their coverage is politically driven and totally biased against Brown.”
The Sun also has something of a credibility gap with some sections of the public on issues such as these – as David Higgerson, a former Journal political correspondent now plying his trade on Merseyside, was not slow to point out.
“Nobody in Liverpool needs reminding about the sick irony involved when The Sun decides to have a pop at somebody for being insensitive,” he wrote on his blog.
As it is, a difficult week for Mr Brown has ended on a triumphant note with Labour’s unexpectedly comfortable victory in the Glasgow North-East by-election caused by the defenestration of Mr Speaker Martin over his handling of the expenses affair.
It did not take long for the Prime Minister’s loyal ally, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, to claim the party’s thumping 8,111 majority over the SNP as “an endorsement of Gordon Brown and what he is trying to do.”
But is it? Earlier this week, South Shields MP David Miliband’s decision to turn down the chance to become EU Foreign Minister led to more speculation that he could yet take as Labour leader before the next election.
A defeat for Labour in Glasgow North-East on Thursday might have raised that speculation to fever pitch.
As it is, the consensus among political commentators last night was that the result will make Mr Brown “safe” from any further attempts to unseat him – but I’m not at all sure they’re right.
The Prime Minister may have garnered some public sympathy this week. But regaining the public’s sympathy is a long way from regaining its trust.