Labour facing election with no paper's undivided support

The Financial Times today threw its support behind the Conservatives in a general election for first time since 1987 as a string of other nationals declared their interests.

The Times has also gone blue opting for the Consevatives on Saturday as The Guardian threw its support behind the Lib Dems.

Meanwhile the Daily Mirror today – while still declaring itself a Labour supporting paper – urged its readers to vote tactically to keep the Conservatives out. It is a move which echoes comments made by senior Labour figures Ed Balls and Peter Hain this week.

It means that Thursday’s general election looks set to be the first since the Second World War where Labour will have the unequivocal support of no national newspaper.

The FT has consistently backed Labour in general elections since 1992 but in a leader today it says: “The Financial Times has no fixed political allegiances.

“We stand for a liberal agenda: a small state, social justice and open international markets. But we do have a vision of the changes needed for economic and political renewal. It is on this basis that we judge the fitness of the contenders for power.

“The problems facing the UK are daunting – more so than at any times since the 1970s. Then, as now, there was much talk about national decline.

“But Britain’s problems are not unsurmountable. Strong leadership under Margaret Thatcher made the difference in 1979. Similar resolve is required today.”

Of the Conservatives it says: “They are not a perfect fit, but their instincts are sound…Britain needs a stable and legitimate government to navigate its fiscal crisis and punch its weight abroad. On balance, the Conservative party best fits the bill.”

Giving its backing to the Lib Dems, The Guardian suggested its readers should vote tactically for Labour in Labour/Conservative marginals.

The Guardian went Labour/Lib Dem in 2005, supported Labour in elections from 1987 to 2001, and supported the Liberal/SDP alliance in 1983.

In a leader column The Guardian said: “Citizens have votes. Newspapers do not. However, if the Guardian had a vote in the 2010 general election it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats.”

The Guardian says its backing of the Liberal Democrats reflects its century-long backing for electoral reform and proportional representation.

But it also urges those voters in Labour/Conservative marginals to vote Labour to keep out the Conservatives, who are against electoral reform.

In a leader article on Saturday outlining is backing for the Tories, The Times praised the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg for having ‘electrified’the campaign – but described the party’s manifesto ideas as ‘soft headed”.

It said that voting for Labour and Gordon Brown would put the economic recovery in danger saying: “The economy is broken and so is politics. It is time for a change, in both the philosophy and the style of government. It is time for us to believe in the power of the individual, the strength of society and the unique promise of this country. Labour is tired, defensive and ruinously reliant on higher government spending.

“David Cameron has shown the fortitude, judgment and character to lead this country back to a healthier, stronger future. It is time, once again, to vote Conservative.”

On Sunday The Observer gave its backing to the Liberal Democrats, without the tactical voting caveat of sister paper The Guardian. The Mail on Sunday gave its backing to David Cameron and the Conservatives, albeit in a less than wholehearted fashion.

It said: “Mr Cameron’s ideology is sometimes woolly, and his refusal to offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was a mistake.

“However, he clearly holds a strong attachment to British values. He is a family man whose sincere beliefs suffuse his policies, including his genuinely radical plans for a shake-up of schools.His idea of turning them into parent-driven independents could be the salvation of our rotten, unfair system.

“Crucially, Mr Cameron says that he will do something about the problem of immigration.”

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