The paper runs big stories on all the parties that might help the Tories form a government
The Times has provided eight pages of election coverage today in it’s ‘Road to No10’ news section, with reports on the parties’ last minute campaigning, results projections and outlines of the chances of various post-vote deals.
However, in the paper’s efforts to cover all the bases and keep us informed, it appears to have forgotten an important factor in today’s election – the Labour party.
While there are stories on the Liberal Democrats’ ‘red lines’ for possible coalitions, David Cameron’s last bid for a Tory win, and UKIP’s £2.5million windfall if it returns just one MP, there are no stories in these eight pages about Labour.
Sorry, that’s not quite true. There are two nibs (news in brief): both about allegations of local Labour parties smearing their rivals. How’s that for balance?
So what did they find space for on the election pages?
There are stories on fringe SNP supporters’ concerns about vote rigging, the Democratic Unionist party’s hopes for more money for Northern Ireland, and even coverage of how independent candidates are likely to receive few votes today. Plus stories on previous election nights, tactical voting in marginal seats, political sketches and a review of stage play ‘The Vote’ starring Dame Judi Dench, which will be shown on television tonight. But no full-sized stories about Labour.
The paper’s front page story, about how the Queen might be ‘thrust centre stage’ to break a post-election deadlock, mentions Labour twice in passing.
There are however two small stories on page two of the paper about the Labour party: one about Ed Miliband’s attempt to woo Scottish voters away from the SNP with talk of Labour founder Keir Hardie, and another, half the size, about how the country could be thrown into ‘French-style economic crisis’ if Labour form a government, attributing the claim to Tory chancellor George Osborne.
So that’s the Conservatives’ two main election attacks on Labour – economics and the SNP.
The bigger of these two stories on Labour is less than half the size of the more prominent piece on the Irish DUP, who are expected to pick up around 10 MPs, versus Labour’s 250-300. The UKIP story’s headline runs across the top of two pages, even though the party may return no MPs at all.
This strange relegation and treatment of the biggest opposition party in the country, and one which could form a government in the coming days, in favour of these smaller parties (though not the Green party, who are completely missing), obviously has nothing to do with the paper’s editorial column, which today urges readers to vote tactically to defeat the Labour party.
By coincidence, this column is called ‘Vote Smart’ – the same headline as was used by the paper’s Murdoch-owned stablemate the Sun for its own editorial column on Tuesday.
Ironically, the eight-page spread does have a story about BBC host and former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil taking the newspapers to task for their partisan coverage. But here’s what he actually said, referring to yesterday’s front pages:
Tomorrow’s front pages show British press at partisan worst. All pretence of separation between news and opinion gone, even in “qualities”.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) May 5, 2015
Editors/owners determine the sort of partisan front pages you will see tomorrow yet not one will appear on @daily_politics to defend actions
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) May 5, 2015
I wonder which ‘qualities’ he had in mind? Here’s the Times’s front page from yesterday:
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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