A few days ago, the Guardian asked its readers online for input as to who they should support in the election. The response was overwhelmingly for the Liberal Democrats. The response was to suggest a Lib/Lab anti-Tory line. Since then a few articles have been published, pushing the possibility of a Lib/Con pact, and the more cynical amongst the readers decided that the Guardian was still backing Labour deep down, me included (I am not a ‘Guardian reader’, but I read online, know your enemy!)
However today they have come out with an editorial headlined General election 2010: The liberal moment has come.
It is not a complete endorsement of a Lib Dem vote. The standfirst reads
If the Guardian had a vote it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats. But under our discredited electoral system some people may – hopefully for the last time – be forced to vote tactically
The tactical aspect is still a plug for Labour, but the headline is no doubt the message many will take. I have to say, while I disagree with many of their arguments, it is a fair assessment from a left-wing view of the situation in the country. It contains praise for David Cameron as well as condemnation. It recognises Labour achievements and lists their many mistakes. It doesn’t claim the Lib Dems are perfect, and bases much of its support on PR.
Many liberal Guardian readers will be pleased, many Labour tribalists will be angry. Mind you they were angry when the Guardian dared to suggest that Cameron won the third debate (poll of polls Cameron 38%, Clegg 32%, Brown 26%), even when the report said Brown had the substance but not the style!
The Guardian doesn’t have a huge circulation, though is probably read online a bit more. However it is thought of as a serious paper. The Mirror would support Labour if its main policy was stabbing every person in Britain in the eye with a fish fork. But they are the only Labour paper left. The Sun has switched to the Tories, the Economist came out for the Tories yesterday and now the Guardian is backing the Liberal Democrats. It is looking all over for Labour. (update: Letters from a Tory points out the Times has also come out for the Tories today.)