The Sun backs Labour Party saying it’s ‘time for change’

By Becky Morton, Political reporter

Getty Images Labour Party leader Sir Keir StarmerGetty Images

The Sun newspaper has endorsed the Labour Party in the general election, declaring “it is time for a change”.

In an editorial the paper, which has backed the Conservatives at every general election since 2010, said Rishi Sunak’s party had become “a divided rabble” and needed “a period in opposition to unite”.

The tabloid said there were “still plenty of concerns about Labour”, including its immigration plans, but leader Sir Keir Starmer had “fought hard to change his party for the better”.

The Sun has only ever backed the party to get the most MPs at every election, going as far back as Margaret Thatcher’s first victory in 1979.

However, its influence has been diminished in recent years as newspaper circulations have fallen.

In 1997, when the paper backed Tony Blair’s Labour Party, the Sun sold four million copies a day.

Now its daily print readership is believed to be around 600,000, although it does not make these figures public.

Sir Keir said he was “delighted” to have the paper’s backing.

Taking questions from journalists on a campaign visit in Scotland, the Labour leader said: “I think that shows just how much this is a changed Labour Party, back in the service of working people.”

In its editorial, the paper said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “has many policies which we support”.

However, it added: “Taxes have ballooned to the highest level since World War Two. Plotting against the leadership has been endless. Sleaze scandals – most recently gambling on the timing of the election – have broken public trust.

“Put bluntly, the Tories are exhausted. They need a period in opposition to unite around a common set of principles which can finally bring to an end all the years of internal warfare.”

It said the ideas of Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party “struck a chord with millions” but said it was “a one-man band which at best can only win only a handful of MPs and can never implement its policies”.

“The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are a joke – with a leader who has spent this most depressing of campaigns pulling ridiculous stunts,” the paper said.

“Which means that it is time for Labour.”

The paper praised Sir Keir for his support for Ukraine and Israel, his efforts to tackle anti-Semitism within Labour and his focus on economic growth.

However, it also voiced concerns about the party, claiming it did not have “a clear plan for getting a grip on immigration” and would put up taxes.

“[Sir Keir] has a mountain to climb, with a disillusioned electorate and low approval ratings,” it said.

“But, by dragging his party back to the centre ground of British politics for the first time since Tony Blair was in No10, Sir Keir has won the right to take charge.”

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Sir Keir was England and Wales’s chief prosecutor in the run-up to the trial of senior staff accused of phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News International, the predecessor to News UK, which is the publisher of the Sun.

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie suggested this was one reason the paper had not given an early endorsement to Sir Keir’s party.

In previous elections, it has declared its backing to parties much earlier. This time it has left it until polling day, when the printed edition of the newspaper will hit the streets.

The paper’s front page endorsement for Labour does not mention the party’s name or its leader.

Instead, it alludes to criticism of England manager Gareth Southgate, declaring: “As Britain goes to the polls, it’s time for a new manager (and we don’t mean sack Southgate!)”

Over the weekend the Financial Times and the Sunday Times, which is also owned by News UK, joined the Daily Mirror, the Guardian and the Independent in backing Labour.

The Scottish Sun, which has previously endorsed Labour, the Scottish National Party and the Conservatives, has also come out in support of Labour.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Express have backed the Conservatives.

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