Sunday 11 December 2016

Shane Hickey: The biased front pages of the British press illustrate this election will be the tightest in a generation

Shane Hickey

Published 06/05/2015 | 12:36

The front page of today's 'The Sun' one day before the UK's General Election
The front page of today's 'The Sun' one day before the UK's General Election
The front page of the 'Daily Mail' a day before the General Election
Polls have prime minister David Cameron’s Conservatives roughly level with the Labour Party led by Ed Miliband, suggesting a coalition government is the most likely outcome (Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)
Labour leader Ed Miliband is prepared to work with the SNP after the general election
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via Reuters
Justine Miliband

IF there was someone, somewhere in the UK with even a passing interest in politics who was in any doubt about where the majority of the British press stood ahead of tomorrow’s election, that was dismissed as the front pages emerged late last night.

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"For sanity’s sake, don’t let a class war zealot and the SNP destroy our economy - and our nation," screamed the front page comment from the Daily Mail.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he speaks at an election rally in St Ives. Photo: Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he speaks at an election rally in St Ives. Photo: Reuters
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron has credited his wife Samantha for 'keeping me sane'

"Nightmare on Downing Street," headlined the Daily Telegraph above a picture of Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party.

Unsurprisingly, the Sun held back the least, using the now-infamous picture of Ed Miliband grappling with a bacon butty to illustrate "This is the pig's ear Ed made of a helpless sarnie. In 48 hours, he could be doing the same to Britain. SAVE OUR BACON", bringing back memories of 1992 when the paper asked that if Neil Kinnock won, "will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights".

Read more here: British election may yet have disastrous consequences for us  

The British press wearing their party colours on their sleeves is nothing new of course. What today’s front pages do show however is just how tight the election is expected to be and how uncertain of what the eventual result and profile of the government will be.

Talk of an overall majority by any party was left behind a long time ago, conversation instead having turned to the various permutations which would bring a coalition.

Read more here: 'Russell Brand is a joke, Ed Miliband meeting Russell Brand is a joke' - British PM  

Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon and candidate Hannah Bardell (left) visiting a nursery while campaigning in the UK general election
Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon and candidate Hannah Bardell (left) visiting a nursery while campaigning in the UK general election
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon indicated the SNP could pledge a second referendum in principle in a future manifesto but said it would not necessarily trigger an immediate vote (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)
Miriam Clegg
Nick Clegg
Admiration: UKIP leader Nigel Farage comes across as a man of the people

The latest poll - this one for the Financial Times - put both Labour and the Conservatives at 33pc of the vote with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg saying a coalition is “very likely”.

That the election is so close does give some merit to claims that this will be a contest which is talked about by future generations with no lack of colourful sideline developments away from the big question, including the apparent rise in popularity of UKIP, the Democratic Unionists possibility of being wooed in a hung parliament and the use of celebrity endorsements by both sides - including Russell Brand by Labour - to try and gain an edge.

Read more here: Ukip leader Nigel Farage to appear on BBC poll show  

Crucial in Ireland - so much so that the government has set up a unit in the Department of the Taoiseach to deal with it - is the certainty that there will be an in/out referendum on Britain’s future in the EU if David Cameron is returned as prime minister, in either a majority or coalition government.  It goes without saying that a ‘Brexit’ would have enormous ripple effects in Ireland.

So beyond the exit polls expected at 10pm tomorrow, it is unlikely there will be any clearcut ‘winner’ with 323 seats (since Sinn Fein does not take up its seats, this figure is reduced from 326) and another starting gun will be fired on Friday morning - not on a new government but on the frantic negotiations to form one.

Read more here: Britain's Westminster WAGs...  

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