AddThis SmartLayers

Regional daily denies backing Tories despite pro-May editorial

May ESThe nation’s biggest selling regional daily has denied it is supporting the Conservative Party in the General Election – despite claiming in an editorial Theresa May will make a “far superior” Prime Minister to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Express & Star, Wolverhampton, says it wants readers to “make up their own minds” ahead of the 8 June vote, although it described Mr Corbyn as an “old school commie” and questioned whether he is a “credible candidate” in the comment piece.

In the editorial, the newspaper said it had a history of being politically independent but added that the scenario of a Labour-led coalition government “doesn’t bear thinking about”.

However, editor Keith Harrison told HTFP that its message to readers would be simply to “get out and vote”.

A section of the editorial reads: “Theresa May will make a far superior Prime Minister than Jeremy Corbyn. Her gracious, statesmanlike manner befits the office of Prime Minister in a way that Mr Corbyn’s ‘old school commie’ persona can never do.

“In a similar way to that other suspect avuncular far-left mouthpiece Ken Livingstone, Mr Corbyn in recent days has presented himself as a peace-loving, genial and harmless individual. But like Mr Livingstone, he is nothing of the sort.

“Given his previous relationships with terrorist organisations, his anti-monarchist views and his economic policies of the madhouse, he is far from harmless. Add to that his top team of John McDonnell and Diane Abbott who are even more deluded and extreme in their left-wing views than he is.

“How can he be considered as a credible candidate to be Prime Minister when the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party wouldn’t even support him as their leader?”

At the 2015 election, most regional papers remained politically neutral, although exceptions included the Northern Echo offering its “reluctant” backing for Labour and the Yorkshire Post calling for a continuation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The E&S editorial concludes: “This newspaper has a proud and long history of being politically independent but even tens of thousands of decent Labour voters in the Black Country can see that scenario really doesn’t bear thinking about.

“Make no mistake, this is the most important General Election since 1979. And the most important thing to do is to make sure you vote.”

Keith told HTFP: “We are not officially backing the Conservatives. Our message to readers on 8 June will be to make your own minds up and get out and vote.”


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • June 2, 2017 at 8:48 am

    At least have the courage of your convictions.

    This reads like they want to back the Conservatives but want deniability if Labour wins (or wins in Wolverhampton).


    Report this comment

    Like this comment(17)
  • June 2, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I am absolutely staggered by this and feel it is simply unforgivable.

    While I genuinely feel for editors who have no choice about having wraps or party political ads foisted upon them they can at least still claim that editorially they are passionately neutral. However, for an editor to write or sanction a column like this complete with Daily Express style one-sided nonsense blows any claim of neutrality this paper has out of the (clear blue) water.

    I was an editor for 15 or so years and I always argued that national papers could be as political as they like because people had alternatives and could buy titles with differing opinions if they didn’t like the paper’s stance but a local newspaper had to be straight down the line because most readers have nowhere else to go so and so therefore had an equal right to fair, balanced reporting regardless of their political views.

    Like every editor I know I was often accused of being a Labour supporter, a Tory backer or a Lib Dem fan (often in the same week) and my papers were nearly always regarded as being for the ‘other side’ by whichever party I was speaking to and I was immensely proud of that. As everyone who has ever worked with me knew, I had very strong political views but as far as the readers were concerned they wouldn’t have a clue – and that is exactly how it should be.

    The saddest thing for me about all this is that local papers are struggling every day to maintain their circulation and many readers don’t need much of an excuse to leave us forever so why score spectacular own goals like this to make it such an easy decision for them? I suspect this one-sided piece of folly may be the final straw for many ordinary (i.e ‘non-Commie’) Labour supporters in Dudley, Wolverhampton et al…

    A crazy move indeed from a great newspaper.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(54)
  • June 2, 2017 at 9:39 am

    “This newspaper has a proud and long history of being politically independent.”

    This former E&S leader writer wonders in which parallel universe that history took place.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(23)
  • June 2, 2017 at 11:14 am

    The idea of the E&S having a proud history of being editorially independent is laughable.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(16)
  • June 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

    If this latest diatribe isn’t 100% support for the cons then what is?
    Could it be any clearer that the E&S is 100% behind the Tories than that?
    Not only does it fawn over Mrs May it goes on to insult and make call other party leaders
    At least the good people of wolves will now know which party this paper supports and will no doubt make their future newspaper purchasing choices based on that fact
    It will indeed be interesting to see how it reacts should any (non Conservative) party take the seat.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(17)
  • June 2, 2017 at 11:16 am

    No idea who SubSumed is but there cannot be more than half-a-dozen of us “former E&S leader writers” alive and it certainly isn’t me.
    To be fair, the Express & Star may have spent the past decades broadly supporting the Tory line but its letters page is regularly stuffed full of readers urging us all to vote Labour.
    As for politics in the regional press, the E&S was one of many regional newspapers founded by Andrew Carnegie with the original aim of abolishing the monarchy, creating Home Rule for Ireland, scrapping the House of Lords and proclaiming the British Republic.
    The E&S was born out of radical, revolutionary politics. Why shouldn’t it speak its mind now?

    Peter Rhodes

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(12)
  • June 2, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    If it wasn’t an endorsement of the Tories, then what was that day’s story with a Photoshopped picture of Theresa May standing in front of a Black Country flag in a Kitchener pose all about?

    She didn’t even say “your Black Country needs you”. She said something about the automotive industry being important. If turning that into a “rallying cry”, as the paper called it, isn’t actively helping the Conservatives I don’t know what is.

    For the editor to now claim independence is laughable. He’s clearly got “morning after the night before” regret after seeing how much he’s misread the mood of his readership.

    The Tories paid other papers to run adverts for them. The Express & Star gave it away for free.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(8)