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July 5, 2024

Daily Mail gracious in defeat as Fleet Street reacts to Labour landslide

While Sun and Daily Mail congratulate Keir Starmer, Times and Telegraph are less upbeat.

By Dominic Ponsford

Two of Sir Keir Starmer’s fiercest Fleet Street critics offered him their congratulations today as he led the Labour Party to a huge parliamentary majority.

The Daily Mail campaigned fiercely against Labour throughout the campaign, as did the Telegraph and Express.

But today the Mail’s leader column was gracious in defeat, stating: “The Mail offers Sir Keir our sincerest congratulations. The people of this country have spoken…

“True many will be disappointed. But it is important to remember that our democracy can only function if the losers of a free and fair election graciously accept the result.”

The Sun was previously a strong critic of Starmer but swung its support behind Labour on election day.

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It said: “First let The Sun congratulate Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer on the landslide majority voters have given him.

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“It is an overwhelming rejection of a party which descended, after its own thumping win in 2019, into self-inflicted scandal, chaos and civil war.

“The Sun supported a change of Government yesterday and said Sir Keir deserved his chance.

“While we wish Labour luck, we will scrutinise every decision and hold their feet to the fire.

“This is a patriotic newspaper. We want Britain, and the Government of the day, to succeed.

“Stable, moderate Government is vital for our readers and the foreign investors crucial to our economy.”

Excerpts from the Daily Telegraph’s election-day comment piece by Allister Heath were read out last night at the New Statesman’s election night party at the Liberal Club in London by political editor Andrew Marr to roars of laughter.

Allister Heath election day comment
Allister Heath election day comment

Heath wrote: “I hope you enjoy horror films, dear readers, for British politics is about to be turned into an infernal, soul-destroying hellscape worthy of the sickest of Hollywood minds.”

Marr compared it with a Telegraph business news article, published on the same day, which said: “Traders are being urged to buy British stocks and bonds amid predictions of a crushing Labour election victory… Analysts at top banks and brokerages said the UK is currently one of the best bets for money managers.”

The Daily Telegraph today lamented in its leader column that Starmer will “form the most Left-wing government since the 1970s”.

The Times said Labour has inherited “a state in crisis” and warned: “However strong the desire for change, voters will quickly turn against a government that appears powerless to effect it in the face of turmoil.”

Comments on the online version of The Times leaders were switched off for the second day in a row after the title faced a backlash below the line over yesterday’s election-day comment piece which declined to endorse any party.

Readers continued to vent elsewhere on The Times website. Commenting on the letters page, D Hill said: “Yesterday, comments were turned off under the main leader. Today, they are turned off under all three including the leader on koalas. We have just had a free and democratic election. The people made their choice. And the Times turned its comments off.”

The Daily Mirror, Labour’s most vocal cheerleader on Fleet Street, said the election should usher in a decade-long “programme of national renewal”.

It said: “Britain can again be a country at ease with itself, proud of its diversity, history and tolerance.”

And the normally apolitical Daily Star followed its Labour endorsement yesterday with a call for “a period of political sanity under our new leadership”.

Lest the Star is taken too seriously it should be noted that their election leader split its endorsement between Starmer and comedy candidate Count Binface.

For The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee today is a moment for unrestrained joy introducing her comment piece “Hallelujah and hosanna”.

She said: “The wreckers, destroyers, bullies, incompetents, cronies and crass self-servers are gone. The Tory reign of error is over; they have no God-given right to rule after all. Torn down by the people’s revenge, they were felled by their own hubris. Since the days of tumbrils and defenestrations are over, the loss of seats and ministerial car are small punishment for the suffering they deliberately inflicted on millions.”

At the time of writing The Guardian has not yet published a “The Guardian View” column about the results.

Some of the national newspapers produced a special 4am print edition to get in as much of the overnight coverage as possible – for example The Sun and The Times:

Sun and Times 4am editions on 5 July 2024 to include more general election overnight results
Sun and Times 4am editions on 5 July 2024 to include more general election overnight results

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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