03 May 2010

UK election: Newspapers make their point

One of the best aspects of UK politics is how the papers are overtly political and unashamed about taking a thoughtful position based on an overarching philosophy. Whether you agree or disagree, at least it is refreshing to see journalism that involves some thinking.

So what are they saying?

The serious papers are comprised of the Telegraph, Times, Independent, Guardian and the FT.

The Daily Telegraph yesterday and Sunday Telegraph today are supporting the Conservatives. Hardly surprising, but it is worth looking at the editorials which make some similar points:

"If you examine the Government's record, there is no doubt that the top-down, target-driven, statist approach has reached a dead end." Quite, although I don't trust the Conservatives to do anything other than stop the growth of it. The Telegraph always supports the Conservatives, so no surprises here.

The Times and the Sunday Times have been more fluid. In 2005 both supporting Labour, although with some reluctance. Now it is clear:

"A Chancellor who had proclaimed an end to boom and bust embarked on a spending spree of remarkable improvidence. Public sector staff now earn £2,000 a year more on average than their private sector counterparts. Spending rose, over the Labour years, by an extraordinary 54 per cent. Productivity lagged behind. Gordon Brown savaged the private pensions industry and sold off the bulk of Britain’s gold reserves much too cheaply. In short, Labour squandered the boom."

It continues: "Mr Brown’s pitch at this election is that voters should not risk the recovery by backing the Conservatives. He does not seem to realise that the greatest threat is more of the same. Yes, the economy is in peril. Mr Brown is the danger.

The Sunday Times echoes this "As the Institute for Fiscal Studies points out, Britain had the biggest rise in public spending among 28 OECD countries in 1997-2010, moving from 22nd highest-spending nation to sixth. When most western countries saw their tax burdens fall, Britain’s went up substantially; only those of South Korea, Hungary and Portugal rose more steeply."

So both support the Conservatives given "Amid the sound and fury, a fundamental philosophical difference has emerged: the Conservatives want to reduce excessive public expenditure, the Labour Party wants to keep on ratcheting up benefits, tax credits and other forms of state spending."

The Guardian is traditionally a supporter of Labour, but this time is more measured. It even complements David Cameron for reforming the Conservatives but concludes "A Cameron government might not be as destructive to Britain as the worst Tory regimes of the past. But it is not the right course for Britain." So funnily enough, the Guardian supports the Liberal Democrats? Why? Because the LibDems are more socially liberal, and more fundamentally leftwing than Labour "The Liberal Democrats were green before the other parties and remain so. Their commitment to education is bred in the bone. So is their comfort with a European project which, for all its flaws, remains central to this country's destiny. They are willing to contemplate a British defence policy without Trident renewal. They were right about Iraq".

Demonstrating how the Liberal Democrats are the new inheritors of the left in the UK.

The Observer naturally agrees.

The Independent on Sunday agrees saying "the best outcome of this election would be a Lib-Lab coalition." so is calling for a vote for the Liberal Democrats where that party could win, but Labour when it could not, as it supports electoral reform.

The Mail on Sunday, which rails against immigrants and criminals, and says the war in Iraq was a mistake, supports the Conservatives, cautiously, although Christian columnist, Peter Hitchens, says no - because he fears the Conservatives are TOO liberal.

The Sunday Express also supports the Conservatives, it cites a long record of failure of Gordon Brown such as "remember how in May 1999 the then relatively new Chancellor Gordon Brown decided to sell more than half of our national gold reserves; a total of 395 tonnes. At a time when the price of gold had slumped, our precious metal sold at an average price of $275 per ounce. This weekend gold was being traded at $1,162.20, more than four times as much. It’s quite a record and it speaks for itself. " It supports the Tories to reform immigration and welfare, but I suspect it expects too much.

The Sun, usually fascinated with tits, is supporting the Conservatives, having supported Labour last time "the real story of the Labour years is one of under-achievement, rank failure and a vast expansion of wasteful government interference in everyone's lives… At the 2005 election, we and our readers believed Labour had many failings but gave them one last chance over a lacklustre Tory party. They have had that chance and failed. That is a fact Gordon Brown cannot escape, for all his rhetoric yesterday - his rewriting of history, his absurd caricature of the "heartless" Tories, his tired promises to solve problems he has had 12 years to solve."

The Mirror by contrast is lock, stock and barrel Marxist. "On one side we have a man of enormous experience hailed throughout the world as the leader of the fightback against a recession which could have plunged into depression. On the other there is David Cameron and his vacuous sidekick George Osborne. Could there be a more terrifying thought than that these two may be entrusted with the nation's finances?

Now vacuous sidekick is very true indeed, but Brown is now leader of the “fightback”, a “fightback” that means needing to address a massive deficit. Overspending didn’t save Greece, and it isn’t saving Japan, but the Mirror isn’t exactly the repositary of the highly educated. The Mirror is still engaging in class war, thinking the Conservatives “They always think of the demands of City fatcats and business leaders first rather than the needs of ordinary workers”.

So it remains the ONLY major national paper still supporting Labour.

So overall, it looks bleak for Labour. The Mirror is all that is left, the other leftwing papers are supporting the Liberal Democrats, and the rest are all with the Conservatives, along with the Economist.

As for me? Certainly a Labour or a Liberal Democrat influenced government would be a leap backwards, but the Conservatives? I think it would be a case of slowing down the rot, and not much more. I don't want to vote for tax increases. What do I want?

1 comment:

bubbsie said...

You got it pretty right. I follow the Uk politics quite closely thru the papers, bloggers and other. Interesting how the Guardian came out last week firmly in favour of the Lib Dems after years of solid labour support. Rats and sinking ships comes to mind!