The political predispositions of each national newspapers are no secret, but this year several have managed to raise eyebrows with their endorsements. The most notable of these was The Independent, which threw its weight behind the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, while The Sun backed the SNP in its Scottish edition but the Tories in England and Wales.
The Observer, circulation 225,474 – Labour
The Observer says that Britain has reached a fork in the road where it has to decide whether to continue the policy of austerity introduced by the Tories to help Britain recover from the global financial crisis or switch direction towards "a more functional capitalism, a fairer society, and a happier country".
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Austerity has made the country's economic situation worse not better, the paper says, so it is time to change direction. "Ed Miliband, of the two main leaders with an opportunity to form a government, has a far more sophisticated vision of economic and social justice."
The Daily Telegraph, circulation 479,290 – Conservative
The Telegraph took its support for the Conservatives one step further than its rivals by offering its backing not only via traditional editorial routes, but also with an email to readers who signed up to its receive its marketing newsletters.
The message urged readers to vote Conservative rather than Ukip beneath the headline quoting David Cameron: "Don't do something you'll regret".
The paper argued that the Labour party offered "an old-style, 'government-knows-best' culture championed by the most leftwing Labour leader for a generation" whereas the Conservatives represented "the open, enterprise-led economic approach that has underpinned our prosperity for nearly 40 years."
The Independent, circulation 61,338 – Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition
Spooked by the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition, which would "unleash justified fury" across England at the undue influence of a crop of MPs who "do not wish the Union to exist", The Independent concludes that "for all its faults, another Lib-Con Coalition would both prolong recovery and give our kingdom a better chance of continued existence". But the paper hopes that if it does return to power, the coalition will be "much less conservative, and much more liberal."
The Sun, circulation 1,978,702 – Conservatives / SNP
This year, The Sun endorsed the Conservatives in England but its Scottish edition came out in support of the Scottish National party.
In an apparent reference to the second royal baby, the main edition of the paper features a picture of a baby with Cameron's face, with a headline that reads: "It's a Tory." The Scottish edition, meanwhile, depicts Sturgeon as Princess Leia in Star Wars, beneath the headline: "Stur Wars: May the 7th be with you: why it's time to vote SNP."
The Scottish edition pursued its Star Wars theme by claiming that Nicola Sturgeon has been the "star" of the campaign and offered a "new hope" for Scotland, while the main edition said that after a "long and painful delivery" the paper had decided to back Cameron because he offered the "best bet for millions of ordinary people".
The Times, circulation 396,621 - Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition
The Times urges "tactical voting" to keep the current coalition in power. This means voting Conservative where the party has a reasonable chance of winning a seat, and Liberal Democrat anywhere else. As the paper says "Too much rides on the outcome of today’s election for Conservative and Lib Dem supporters to waste their votes".
The Sunday Times, circulation 817,642 – Conservative
For the Sunday Times, "a vote for the Conservatives this week offers the best chance of meeting our three priorities: political stability, continuity and a pro-business, pro-enterprise government that will provide more for working people than crass intervention and crude redistribution".
The Guardian, circulation 174,941 - Labour
In his final election before stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger has thrown his paper's support behind the Labour party. That support, however, is relatively muted. "This newspaper has never been a cheerleader for the Labour party. We are not now," the paper's says. "But our view is clear. Labour provides the best hope for starting to tackle the turbulent issues facing us. On 7 May, as this country makes a profound decision about its future, we hope Britain turns to Labour."
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