The 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.”