top of page

Print Wars - Papers Pick Their Prime Minister

1 July 2024
| by Field Team

With just three days to go, most newspapers have made their political endorsements, signalling who they believe should occupy Downing Street after this week’s General Election...

In a significant blow to Rishi Sunak over the weekend, three influential titles that had previously backed the Conservatives called for change.

Kicking things off, The Economist has made headlines by endorsing Labour for the first time since 2005. The magazine praised Keir Starmer for his focus on resolving Britain's stagnant productivity and his departure from Jeremy Corbyn's policies, although it criticised his cautious campaign approach.

The traditionally Tory Sunday Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News UK, also broke its long-standing tradition of supporting the Conservative Party this weekend, again, backing the red team for the first time since 2005. Murdoch's paper criticised the political chaos held since 2016, arguing that it has distracted politicians from critical issues like healthcare, schools, and the economy.

The Financial Times joined this shift in support, emphasising its belief in liberal democracy, free trade, and private enterprise. In a leader column headlined “Britain needs a fresh start,” yesterday the paper endorsed Labour, suggesting that Starmer's party is better positioned to provide the necessary leadership for the country.

As expected, The Guardian has endorsed Labour for the fourth consecutive time, maintaining its stance despite previous reservations about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in 2019 – it is surprisingly unequivocal, given the paper’s previous criticism of Starmer for his cautious, centrist policies and control of his party. Also, in the ‘as expected’ column is the Daily and Sunday Mirror also declared their support for Labour, with strong statements advocating for a change after 14 years of Conservative rule.

Despite these changing political shifts, some publications have continued to back Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives. The Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph both reiterated their support this weekend, warning of economic dangers under a Labour government. Their endorsements reflect ongoing support for Sunak's leadership and fiscal policies.

However, the most-read newspaper in the Murdoch group, The Sun, has yet to announce its endorsement. Historically it back the successful party (remember ‘It’s the Sun wot won it’ claiming credit for John Major’s unexpected triumph in 1992?), making its impending decision perhaps the most anticipated.

And yet - in 1992, nearly ten million people read the Sun – making their claim a reasonable one. Now that figure stands at around two million for the paper, and six when you add in digital presence. With Thursday looming, these declarations still hold an undue significance for both parties and commentators, given the decline in readership.

(Photo via The Evening Standard)

bottom of page