UK newspapers don’t even pretend to be nonpartisan about elections

UK newspaper fight
Voters had a newspaper sword fight in Parliament Square last election in 2010 in London.
Credit: Oli Scarff

LONDON — In the United States, newspapers are supposed to maintain at least the pretense of impartiality during an election. Sure, many allow themselves an editorial page endorsement as polling day draws near, but as far as overt stumping goes, that’s it (or at least, it should be). 

Not so across the Atlantic. British newspapers are much more explicit about the parties they support.

Subscribers to the Daily Telegraph, a 114-year-old London newspaper, had an email in their inbox Tuesday morning signed by Editor Chris Evans, urging readers to vote for Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party.

“Do we continue under the Conservatives with the open, enterprise-led economic approach that has underpinned our prosperity for nearly 40 years?” Evans wrote.

“Or do we revert to an old-style, ‘government-knows-best’ culture championed by the most Left-wing Labour leader for a generation?”

He kind of made that sound like one of those options was better than the other. 

Ok. So that’s maybe a little aggressive for a newspaper editorial, but it’s not like the papers are actively campaigning against other candidates, right?


Oh. Our mistake.

The above “Red Ed” headline is from Wednesday’s online edition of the Daily Mail, the right-wing tabloid that has clashed repeatedly with Labour leader Ed Miliband. UK tabloids love nicknames; the Mail’s moniker for Miliband refers to his leftist politics. 

That type of talk contrasts with Britain's ban on exit poll reporting while voters are going to the polls. 

And the favoritism isn’t limited to right-of-center publications. The Labour-backing, left-leaning Mirror tabloid has made headlines of just about every statement out there slightly critical of the Tories (the Conservatives’ other name).

Former Prime Minister John Major’s mild remark on poverty is a “hammer blow”! Singer Charlotte Church’s dismissal of Cameron’s record is a “slam”!

Who do these guys think they are — Fox News?

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