UK media outlets can’t find candidates worth endorsing

A handful of influential UK news outlets are showing their disgust with the state of politics by choosing not to endorse any political party ahead of a general election that could have profound implications for the country.

Both the Financial Times and the New Statesman have declined to name a preferred candidate ahead of the December 12 vote. The Economist has endorsed a smaller party that has virtually no chance of winning.

While tabloids and broadsheets that tend to be loyal to one party such as The Sun (Conservatives) and the Daily Mirror (Labour) are expected to deliver the usual endorsements, others are issuing blistering editorials assailing both major parties.

The decisions by newspapers to withhold endorsements reflects public weariness with both parties following three years of uncertainty over Brexit, and a growing divide between Labour and the Conservatives on a host of issues.

The Financial Times’ editorial board, which endorsed the Conservatives in the two previous general elections, said this contest offers “no good choices.”

It said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the leader of the Conservatives, has “played fast and loose with democratic norms.” It argued his plan for Brexit would damage the economy and weaken the cohesion of the United Kingdom.

The editorial board also found significant fault with Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn, saying he appears to believe “the wrong side won the cold war.” It also blasted Corbyn over his response to Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal.

“The FT has variously supported the Conservatives or a moderate Labour party. This time, the main parties have put ideological purity before the good of Great Britain. Neither can command our support,” the paper told readers.

The editorial board of the New Statesman, which in the past two elections endorsed the Labour Party, also ticked the box for none of the above.

Calling Johnson “a huckster and populist manipulator,” the magazine also decried Corbyn for his “reluctance to apologise for the anti-Semitism in Labour” and his failure to take a clear stance on Brexit.

“[W]e have resolved to endorse no party at this general election,” the magazine’s editorial board wrote. “We believe that voters deserve better.”

A third way?

The editorial board of The Economist described the election as a “nightmare before Christmas.” It chose to endorse a smaller party, the Liberal Democrats, as it did in 2017, saying the two main parties had drifted “to the extremes.”

“Mr Johnson runs the most unpopular new government on record; Mr Corbyn is the most unpopular leader of the opposition,” the board wrote. “That leaves a low bar for the Liberal Democrats and, for all their faults, they clear it.”

While very unlikely to win a majority in parliament, the Liberal Democrats could help another party form a government. The Economist said that voting for them “would be the best way to restrain whoever ends up in Downing Street.”