Ian Burrell: There are more serious elements in a shifting press for the Prime Minister to worry about

Media Watch

Gordon Brown had barely uttered the words "Today I want to talk about the economy" during a visit yesterday to a West Midlands factory, when The Economist magazine made its own contribution to that discussion, by formally endorsing the Conservatives.

On the day of a critical televised debate which had Brown's handling of Britain's finances as its central theme, this was not what the Prime Minister needed. The last time he had experienced such apparently spiteful timing was in September when, hours after he had delivered his speech to Labour's annual conference, The Sun very publicly announced that it was transferring its allegiance to the Tories.

The Sun's coverage of this election campaign is exemplified by a request sent out by one of the paper's journalists Jenna Sloan (and leaked to the Liberal Conspiracy website), seeking "case studies" from the nursing and teaching professions willing to tell their stories for £100 a pop. Jenna had one stipulation: "Both must be willing to say why they feel let down by the Labour government, and why they are thinking about voting Conservative." The paper hopes that Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy could be persuaded to talk about a similar voyage of transition.

Brown need not fear that The Economist will express its opposition with the same bullyboy tactics deployed by the Wapping red-top over the past months, but in other respects the snubbing of the former Chancellor by the 167-year-old weekly is more damaging.

It is not, as a leader in The Economist pointed out yesterday, merely a question of an organ of business lending its support to a natural ally on the right. At the last election the magazine supported Labour. "The Economist has no ancestral fealty to any party, but an enduring prejudice in favour of liberalism," it said.

For The Economist, the deciding issue is the willingness to confront the "liberty-destroying Leviathan" of public spending. In spite of acknowledging that Brown "saved the banks" and "did as much as any leader to help avert a global depression", the editor-in-chief John Micklethwait and his team have concluded that the Conservatives are best placed to cut the size of government.

As the Prime Minister seeks to persuade the electorate that a Tory government would jeopardise economic recovery, his claims could be further undermined next week if The Financial Times, which owns half of The Economist, also backs David Cameron. When the Tory leader was a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, the chairman of that elite dining society was Jonathan Ford, the new chief leader writer of the Pink'Un.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'