We still live in an age of print media, meaning we still live in an age of election endorsements as newspapers and magazines line up behind who they want to be in government.
But print titles are generally in decline, as is their influence. There is a question around whether or not an endorsement of a party or candidate actually affects voter behaviour, especially now print publications are past their peak.
In any case, they are still endorsing parties and here's how some of the national print media in Britain has come out ahead of the 2015 general election.
The Independent: A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
This traditionally centre-left newspaper threw its readership a curveball ahead of the election by backing another Tory-Lib Dem coalition instead of Labour. Angry readers piled into the comments on the online version of its editorial, declaring they were off to read the Guardian instead. Others on Twitter suggested it was the influence of its Russian oligarch owners, the Lebedevs, who are non-doms – a tax-beneficial status which Labour will abolish. From the editorial:
Any partnership between Labour and the SNP will harm Britain's fragile democracy. For all its faults, another Lib-Con Coalition would both prolong recovery and give our kingdom a better chance of continued existence.
This title casts no vote. But we prize strong, effective government, consider nationalism guilty until proven innocent, and say that if the present coalition is to get another chance, we hope it is much less conservative, and much more liberal.
The Sun (English edition): Conservatives
The Murdoch papers like to back a winner (more on that later...) and their editorial, coupled with a bizarre graphic on the front page, gave birth to another bundle of support for the Conservatives at this general election. From the editorial:
A week today, Britain could be plunged into the abyss.
A fragile left-wing Labour minority, led by Ed Miliband and his union paymasters and supported by the wreckers of the Scottish National Party, could take power.
If it survived, it is committed to a doomed experiment with the socialist lunacy we all thought had been buried alongside the carnage it caused in the 1970s. So much of what Britain has achieved through hard graft since 2010 could be destroyed.
You can stop this. But only by voting Tory.
The Sun (Scottish edition): SNP
We told you Murdoch likes to back a winner. And in Scotland, the SNP is likely to be the real winner of the 2015 election where it may just wipe Labour out north of the border. The SNP, with the prospect of over 50 MPs, could be the third largest party in Westminster and a force to be reckoned with. The Sun knows its readers and in Scotland its readers like the SNP – so it got the paper's backing. From the editorial:
This is a Scottish newspaper, produced in Scotland by a Scottish editorial team, fighting for the best interests of our readers.
If that means we take a position different to our colleagues down south, then so be it.
We care passionately about Scotland but there is nothing we care more about than our readers. We're The Scottish Sun. The clue is in the name.
The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday: Conservatives
No surprises here. The Daily Mail is the tabloid for the traditionalist, conservative middle classes. The daily edition did back Ukip in the seats where it could keep Labour out, though. From the Mail on Sunday editorial:
This is a defining week for Britain: one which will influence all our individual destinies. Rarely in the long democratic history of our islands has a general election result been so unpredictable – or so important.
A vote for a Labour-SNP pact would empower a cabal of nationalists and socialists who together want to break up the country and reverse five years of hard-fought economic renewal.
For those of us who care passionately about this country, the prospect of this calamity has created a crisis in slow motion – like watching a truck carrying precious cargo as it trundles towards a cliff.
The Guardian: Labour
Having backed the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 general election, amid Cleggmania, the Guardian has turned left again to the Labour party after five years of a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition. From the editorial:
In each area, Labour could go further and be bolder. But the contrast between them and the Conservatives is sharp. While Labour would repeal the bedroom tax, the Tories are set on those £12bn of cuts to social security, cuts that will have a concrete and painful impact on real lives.
Even if they don't affect you, they will affect your disabled neighbour, reliant on a vital service that suddenly gets slashed, or the woman down the street, already working an exhausting double shift and still not able to feed her children without the help of benefits that are about to be squeezed yet further. For those people, and for many others, a Labour government can make a very big difference.
Financial Times: Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
It's the paper read by the markets and business, so given the UK economy is growing, taxes are being cut and public finances are steadily getting back to full health, it is perhaps no surprise that the FT wants more of the same. From the editorial:
Voters must decide not just on the party but also on the combination which would have the best chance of forming a stable, reform-minded government. The country would benefit from the countervailing force of Lib Dem moderation at Westminster. In seats where the Lib Dems are the incumbent or the main challenger, we would vote tactically for them.
Ultimately, however, there is only one leader and one party that can head the government. There are risks in re-electing Mr Cameron's party, especially on Europe. But there are greater risks in not doing so. Its instincts on the economy, business and reform of public services are broadly right. Mr Miliband has not offered a credible economic prospectus and would apply a brake on enterprise. In the circumstances, the FT would like to see a Conservative-led administration.
Independent on Sunday: Not endorsing
While its daily sister paper opts for a continuation of the coalition, the Independent On Sunday has plumped for... no one. From the editorial:
While our rivals have reverted to their ideological bunkers, we have sought to stay true to our name. This does not mean that we are a bloodless, value-free news-sheet. We have always been committed to social justice, protection of the environment and international co-operation. But we recognise that you can make up your own mind about whether you agree with us or not and, if you do, about which parties would give those values best expression in government.
The Observer: Labour
The Observer has joined its sister title the Guarian in endorsing the Labour party. From the editorial:
The market economy is not morality-free. The balance of power between the competing interests in Britain needs to be tilted away from the powerful towards the less powerful. Austerity on the basis of a false requirement to balance accounts must not be the straitjacket that prevents the economy from growing.
Labour does not have all the answers. Far from it. But it is the only party which has correctly identified the task that faces our society. For that reason, it deserves to form the next government.
The Economist: Conservative-led coalition
A liberal intellectual magazine that is about free markets and free people, The Economist wants David Cameron to lead a new coalition. From the editorial:
Mr Miliband is fond of comparing his progressivism to that of Teddy Roosevelt, America's trustbusting president. But the comparison is false. Rather than using the state to boost competition, Mr Miliband wants a heavier state hand in markets – which betrays an ill-founded faith in the ingenuity and wisdom of government.
Even a brief, limited intervention can cast a lasting pall over investment and enterprise – witness the 75% income-tax rate of France's president, François Hollande. The danger is all the greater because a Labour government looks fated to depend on the SNP, which leans strongly to the left.
On May 7th voters must weigh the certainty of economic damage under Labour against the possibility of a costly EU exit under the Tories. With Labour, the likely partnership with the SNP increases the risk. For the Tories, a coalition with the Lib Dems would reduce it. On that calculus, the best hope for Britain is with a continuation of a Conservative-led coalition. That's why our vote is for Mr Cameron.
The Daily Telegraph: Conservatives
A paper read by retired generals and the aristocracy, so the stereotype goes. There's only one party for an Edwardian ruling elite: the Conservative party. From the editorial:
There is still time for one side to show the boldness and energy that the electorate clearly feels is lacking in its leaders, and bring about the late swing that will deliver a Commons majority and the stable government Britain needs.
The last time British voters faced such a stark choice between a pro-enterprise Conservative Party and a wealth-hating Labour Party was in 1992, when Sir John Major's 11th-hour heroics delivered such a late swing, and the right result for Britain. We must all hope that David Cameron can still summon up the blood and follow that fine example. The deadlock must be broken.
Evening Standard: Conservatives
London's biggest newspaper, the Evening Standard, is known for its pro-Conservative leanings having got behind Cameron and the capital's Tory mayor, Boris Johnson, before. From the editorial:
This paper's concern in this election is the future of London: the well-being of its people and the vigour of the economy.
It is not a narrowly partisan view; it is our conviction that what benefits the capital benefits the rest of the country. Londoners should, we believe, consider the needs of the capital when they vote – this is London's election.
This is a diverse city with many shades of political opinion. We respect that multiplicity of views. This paper's view, however, is that a Conservative government under David Cameron would be in the best interests of the capital.
The Express: Ukip
The Express is further to the right than the Daily Mail. It is more traditionalist, more conservative. So the logical conclusion is: vote Ukip. From the Sunday Express editorial:
Vote Ukip to strike at the Labour heartlands. Nowhere else are people's votes being taken for granted, with so little given in return. Labour support has been handed down unthinkingly from one generation to the next and the party still believes that your vote is its birthright.
It is not. It is time to smash the Labour strongholds.
It is time to say no to Labour's dangerous brand of socialism dreamt up by a cosseted idealist in his multimillion-pound mansion and his gang of discredited left-wing cronies. Their legacy to the UK was a note boasting "there is no money".