What’s the significance of today’s Observer editorial?

The Observer coming out today and urging a vote for the Liberal Democrats will have put a spring in the step of many deliverers, canvassers and poster teams around the country, especially when combined with the news of the Telegraph ICM poll putting the Liberal Democrats in second place.

In the past both the sister papers – Guardian and Observer – have toyed with urging Liberal Democrat votes, saying nice things about the party and urging tactical voting whilst falling short of the sort of clear support for Lib Dem votes that today’s Observer has. Indeed, it’s easy to joke that the terms of today’s editorial are more positive about the party than the views of some party members expressed on their own blogs or comments on this site.

Whilst this may give the party a boost for Thursday, there is also the question of the long-term significance of the move. There is no necessary link between the Guardian and Observer editorial lines, but they are sister papers and the mood music in one can have an impact on the other.

The Guardian’s Labour-supporting roots are very deep indeed. As recently as the 2001 general election, I heard well-sourced stories of many Guardian staff who were planning to vote Liberal Democrat but keeping it quiet because they didn’t think it would go done well with colleagues at work. (Given the number of people who expressed such views, I do wonder if they realised how many of them there were, but that’s a curio for history to mull over.) It’ll be interesting to see how the Guardian’s affections play out over the coming weeks and months.

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21 Comments

  • Simon Courtenage 31st May '09 - 6:22pm

    I had always understood (from the Private Eye magazine, I hastily and caveatly add) that the Observer and Guardian journalists loathe each other…

  • Thank goodness the Observer and Grauniad are mass circulation tabloids so that any vote Lib Dem message will get out to a large readership. O wait,…..

  • Libertarian 31st May '09 - 6:56pm

    We shouldn’t be getting endorsements from a lefty rag like this. Most people in this country want free-market policies and if we’re getting socialist support we must be winning over the wrong people.

  • Terry Gilbert 31st May '09 - 6:57pm

    Perhaps the Observer could also endorse Alan Beith for Speaker? I see he has fallen behind Frank Field in this site’s poll. (Hi there, Labour hacks!)

  • I guess that’s why Vince has his Daily Mail columns etc felix holt

  • Martin Land 31st May '09 - 7:20pm

    Mark, Observer – never heard of it. In our Market Towns – let me know when we get an endorsement from the Mail, Sun or Mirror. Otherwise, ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!’

  • More significant to my mind is Rawnsley’s piece saying only we are serious about Constitutional Reform. The Graun has been flirting with Cameroid, his piece last week passim, and one wonders how many of the metropolitan types will go straight from Red to Blue without stopping at Yellow. Rawnsley’s perceptive and true analysis will help.

  • rochdale cowboy 31st May '09 - 9:07pm

    Sorry not to join in the oh so clever comments but I for one will now be buying the Observer every week – never really approved of all that packaging with the Stimes – this is the 1st time I can remember a national endorsing the Lib Dems – could we at least show our thanks by urging colleagues and friends to make the switch?

  • I’ve been reading the Groan & the Independent for years. I find that they don’t live up to the stereotypes everyone has of them- though the latter is very middle-class in its attitude towards house prices, bemoaning any fall even though half the country actually wants houses to be more affordable.

    You can read some excellent news & opinion in both papers.

  • David Langshaw 31st May '09 - 9:48pm

    Sorry, but I don’t trust the newspapers to guide me as to what to watch on TV, or whether films and plays are any good….. why would a floating voter take any advice from the Observer, or any other paper, as to how to vote? Those days are long gone, I’m afraid.

  • David – I agree in one sense. But in another, the fact that newspapers come out and endorse us helps very much wuith the “credibility” aspect. Of course, it would be better if it was a paper with a broader reach.

  • Terry Gilbert 1st Jun '09 - 11:45am

    The Observer has a pretty broad reach among media and broadcasting types, who themselves have a much broader reach. This endorsement really will help the Lib Dems credibility in the medium-long run, though perhaps not in time for Thursday.

  • I was interested to see that the “Mail on Sunday” led with a negative story about Cameron this last weekend. The Rothermere Press, unlike the Murdoch, Barclay and Desmond titles, is authoritarian conservative, BUT NOT NEOCON.

    I think I am right in recalling that in February 1974 Hetherington called upon readers to vote Tory.

  • I wonder… Despite being both owned by Guardian Media Group, how much are the two newspapers dependent on the other’s views?

  • I’m not convinced that the Guardian will be able to bring itself to back us in the near future, especially given the puff piece they did for the Labour MP in whose constituency their office lies (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/19/emily-thornberry-islingto
    n-mps-expenses). You’ve got to remember that for most of the Guardian hacks this isn’t political so much as personal – many of them know Labour MPs and other party figures personally, and so to them they’d be betraying their friends rather than their principles.

    I’ll believe the Guardian is backing us when they eject the UK’s most self-deluding commentator, Polly Toynbee.

  • The Guardian and Observer are both socialist papers. If they are sometimes concealed about it it’s only because they know people will chuck away their papers otherwise.

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