The paper claims it predicted a Tory majority. So why did it back UKIP?
The Daily Express is cheering on the new Conservative government, welcoming its plans to ‘take on Brussels’ in negotiations over British membership of the European Union. Today it even claims it was the only newspaper to correctly predict the results of the general election – that of a ‘clear Conservative win’.
However, the facts tell a different story.
The Express cites research that found a column by Express politics editor Macer Hall was ‘spot on’, as the story puts it, about the election results. It adds:
“we were alone in sticking our neck out and suggesting a Conservative victory.”
In fact, Macer Hall’s piece, published on April 25, reported an opinion poll which gave the Tories a slight lead. It didn’t predict a ‘clear Conservative win’, saying more than once that a hung parliament seemed most likely.
The paper’s newfound confidence in David Cameron might come as a shock to some readers after the paper’s open and public support of UKIP, including its leader Nigel Farage.
On April 17, the Daily Express ran a front page story hailing proprietor Richard Desmond’s decision to back UKIP with a £1million donation and his paper’s support. Here’s what he had to say about the Tories:
“I am fed up with the complacency and cronyism and I’m fed up with the floppy-haired Eton club.”
“Nigel Farage is not a PR man. […]
“Cameron talks a good talk but we need someone at the centre of politics who will not only talk about the right issues but will follow them through.”
On May 6, the paper’s front page bore the headline: “Why you must vote for UKIP.” The paper’s editorial column said:
“It is time to break the mould which has given us Labour or Tory for as long as we can remember. Vote UKIP and for the first time you will be able to make a real difference. […]
Not so long ago Labour and the Conservatives poured scorn on UKIP and its supporters because they saw the party as a political minnow. How that has changed now – and thank goodness for it! The minnow has become a shark and it’s going to sink its teeth into the complacent and arrogant flesh of Westminster.“
But what’s wrong with the Conservatives?
“The Tories too are vulnerable on this issue [immigration] because David Cameron promised to cut immigration to the tens of thousands but must have known his hands were tied by the EU’s free movement policy.
We also know that if he is still PM and the 2017 referendum takes place, Cameron will campaign to stay in Europe regardless of popular opinion.”
So the paper now lauds the Tory government it was describing as ‘complacent and arrogant’ only a few days ago!
Also, note that: ‘if he is still PM’.
Not only did the Express not predict a ‘clear Conservative win’, expecting a hung parliament like everyone else, they explicitly told readers to vote UKIP due to Cameron’s weakness on immigration and Europe. The paper is trying to rewrite it’s own history as having confidence in a Tory government.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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