The Guardian turns yellow, the Times blue

Those editorials -- abridged.

Of the four national newspapers that backed Tony Blair in 2005, only one will back Gordon Brown this time. The Sun abandoned Labour last autumn and today the Guardian and the Times do the same, putting their support behind the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, respectively.

In this unpredictable election campaign, one thing is certain -- the Daily Mirror will stick with Brown.

There's a certain formula to editorials of the sort the Guardian and the Times have written today. Both feature a laundry-list of achievements and failures across by all three parties. If you haven't got time to read the two in full (coming in at a combined 3,600 words), here they are, in abridged form:

 

Times

 

Likes Labour for:

  • delivering urban renewal and prosperity
  • introducing civil partnerships
  • military intervention for "noble principle" in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq
  • handling of the banking crisis

Dislikes Labour for:

  • improvident public spending
  • savaging the private pensions industry
  • selling off Britain's gold reserves "much too cheaply"
  • destroying trust in politics

Likes the Conservatives for:

  • promising to reduce the burden on enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • prioritising education, social policy and the environment
  • David Cameron's "energy, intelligence and integrity"
  • "measured and intelligent" approach to immigration
  • its "bold vision" of the Big Society

Dislikes the Conservatives for:

  • a "worrying streak of pessimism" in its foreign policy
  • its decision to abandon mainstream centre-right parties in the EU
  • its promise to match Labour's NHS spending
  • its desire to maintain the aid budget

Likes the Lib Dems for:

  • electrifying the election campaign

Dislikes the Lib Dems for:

  • its muddled policy on the euro
  • anti-business populism
  • promising to abandon Trident
  • promising to break up the banks

 

Guardian

 

Likes Labour for:

  • its "absolutely vital calls" during the financial crisis
  • the "salvation" of the health service
  • its "unmatched" record on poverty
  • major renovation of schools
  • the minimum wage
  • civil partnerships and the extension of protection for minority groups

Dislikes Labour for:

  • nurturing of the deregulatory system which contributed to the financial crisis
  • choosing to stick with Gordon Brown as leader
  • Brown's inability to "articulate a vision, a plan, or an argument for the future"
  • its inaction over pensions, public debt and housing
  • its pursuit of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • its uncritical support of the United States and "mealy-mouthed" approach to Europe
  • encroachment on civil liberties
  • increased centralisation while promising constitutional change

Likes the Conservatives for:

  • David Cameron's efforts to move the party to the centre ground
  • its modern thinking on civil liberty, the environment and aspects of social policy

Dislikes the Conservatives for its:

  • inability to translate this conversion into detailed policy
  • promise to rip up the Human Rights Act
  • hostility to electoral reform
  • alliances with some of Europe's "wackier xenophobes"
  • climate change scepticism on the backbenches
  • muddled approach to the financial crisis
  • inheritance tax cuts for the very wealthy

Likes the Lib Dems for its:

  • commitment to electoral reform, political and constitutional reform
  • approach to civil liberties and criminal justice
  • long term commitment to the green agenda
  • commitment to education
  • "comfort" with Europe
  • willingness to contemplate a future without Trident
  • foreign policy calls, notably over the Iraq War
  • support for press freedoms

Dislikes the Lib Dems for its:

  • hawkishness over the deficit
  • planned tax cuts and implied "slashing" of public services
  • failure to promote women and ethnic minority candidates

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.