Thursday, 11 November 2010

Why 2010 wasn't a liberal moment for Guardian readers after all

Despite The Guardian's "the liberal moment has come" endorsement of the Liberal Democrats at the General Election, it was the only national newspaper whose readership swung towards Labour, as the LibDem share fell by 4 points.

Overall, Labour's slender two point (43-41%) lead over the LibDems among Guardian readers in 2005 extended to nine points (46-37%) in 2010, as Alex Barker of the FT blogs in reproducing the table on voting by newspaper readership from the Dennis Kavanagh and Phillip Cowley The British General Election of 2010 book. Alex Massie at the Coffee House has more.

The Guardian was the only UK-wide national paper whose readership shows a swing to Labour in 2005, though that was also true of the Daily Record in Scotland (reflecting the broader pro-Labour swing north of the border). This defiance of editorial advice may help to unravel the mystery of why The Guardian's endorsement of the LibDems did not even help the yellows overturn the slender 484 vote Labour majority in the Guardianista heartland seat of Islington South, where Emily Thornberry increased that to over 3500.

One reason is that Guardianista LibDem voting was particularly high in 2005 - probably reflecting Iraq and tuition fees, as well as the perception that the Tories couldn't win. The Tories' concerted Cameroon-Hilton outreach towards the paper was duly rewarded with a rise from 7% to 9% of the Guardian vote in 2010, though the brand decontamination exercise may have a little further to go yet.

No doubt Labour rallied strongly in this closer election because many Guardian readers remained so keen to keep the Tories out.

The LibDems did still poll 37% of Guardian readers in May (though their overall national poll share has since halved). The party now seems to have adopted a somewhat counter-intuitive "tough love" strategy to try to hold on to Guardian readers by making virulent attacks on their newspaper - including ministers publicly calling on party members to boycott The Guardian.

Nick Clegg has accepted the liberal newspaper's invitation to follow in David Cameron's footsteps by giving the 2010 Hugo Young lecture at the newspaper on November 23rd, though Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News has noted that Nick Clegg has taken to privately referring to the Guardian as "The Poison".

Perhaps the deputy PM has seen the election study, and has come to the conclusion that angling for a strong denunciation of his party next time out could prove more effective than another glowing endorsement.


There were large swings among Sun (13.5%) and Star (10%) readers to the Tories. It would be very interesting if anybody has worked out what happens if you compare readers of those papers to all (or non-newspaper reading) voters with a broadly similar social mix. Times readers swung to the Tories by 8%.

1 comment:

13eastie said...

From Guardian's published ABC's

September, 2005: 388,409
September, 2010: 278,129

Your stats are meaningless.