Financial Times backs another Tory-Lib Dem coalition ahead of general election - Press Gazette

Financial Times backs another Tory-Lib Dem coalition ahead of general election

The Financial Times has become the latest publication to nail its general election preference to the masthead – backing a continuation of the power-sharing between the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

In an endorsement of Nick Clegg's pitch as an anchor against extremes, the newspaper urged readers to vote tactically to help the party in seats it is defending or is the main challenger.

But unlike the Deputy Prime Minister – who has sought to show no preference on which major party the Lib Dems would prefer to govern – the FT endorsed the Conservatives over Labour.

Earlier The Spectator and The Economist magazines joined The Sun newspaper in backing David Cameron to remain in Number 10 – though The Scottish Sun swung in behind the SNP.

Labour secured the backing of the New Statesman yesterday, albeit in an editorial savaging Miliband's leadership of the party.

In its assessment of the best course for the country on 7 May, the FT said the 2010 coalition had shown European-style cohabitation "can work" and had left the country "in far better shape".

It criticised Cameron for preferring a "campaign of fear" over celebrating the successes of the administration and conceded "risks" – notably over an EU referendum – to returning him to power.

But it complained Labour was "preoccupied with inequality", Miliband had "rarely met a market he did not consider to be broken" and pointed to the "not negligible" risks associated with the party only being able to govern with the support of a large bloc of Scottish nationalist MPs.

Likening the Labour's leader's campaign to that of French president Francois Hollande, it said: "True, Mr Hollande secured victory but at the price of a weak economy and an exodus of talent".

Only Clegg had fought on the centre ground, it said, and had "argued persuasively that the Lib Dems contributed to sensible fiscal consolidation and tempered the wilder Tory impulses, particularly on Europe."

"At this delicate moment, the best outcome would be a continuation of the 2010 coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Dems," it concluded.

"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."

The Economist's Britain editor said they believed the return of David Cameron to Downing Street would be the "best outcome" on 7 May.

It is the second successive election in which The Economist has endorsed the Tories, having previously supported Labour under Tony Blair.

"We think again that a government at least led by David Cameron – if not necessarily a Conservative majority – is the best outcome," Joel Budd told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

"It is fantastically hard to cut state spending in the way that this coalition government has done without either driving the economy into a ditch or wrecking the functioning of the state.

"They have managed to do that and that is a really extraordinary accomplishment."

In contrast, he said that they believed Labour under Ed Miliband had become "worryingly interventionist" and "extremely statist".

The Spectator magazine is also backing the Tories – despite some misgivings about Cameron – although its editor Fraser Nelson said its Scottish edition would be urging readers to vote Liberal Democrat.

In a leader column posted online, the traditionally Conservative-supporting magazine said that the people who would lose out under a Labour government would be those who could least afford it.

"It has been easy to despair of David Cameron over the years; the extent of our problems call for more radicalism, purpose and direction than he has felt able to apply," it said.

"But as Churchill said of America, he does tend to do the right thing in the end – after exhausting all other options. You do not need to be a fan of Cameron to consider him far preferable to Miliband."

Miliband, who won plaudits for taking on Sun owner Rupert Murdoch over phone hacking, and regularly cites him as the sort of "vested interest" he would stand up to if he finds himself in Number 10 after May 7, branded its endorsement of the Conservatives and nationalists an "unholy alliance".

"I've worked really hard over the last four and a half years to get Rupert Murdoch's endorsement, you may not have noticed that. And, clearly, it is a deep disappointment that The Sun has endorsed the Conservative party," he quipped.

The Sun backed the Tories in 2010 – after supporting Tony Blair in the previous three general elections – and while The Scottish Sun did not back either side in the referendum debate last year, it supported the SNP at the 2011 Scottish parliament election.



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