View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Publishers
  2. National Newspapers
June 18, 2024updated 04 Jul 2024 1:21pm

Has Rishi Sunak already lost support of The Sun? Press general election bias tracked

National front pages evenly split between and pro- and anti-Conservative sentiment.

By Clara Aberneithie and Dominic Ponsford

National press coverage of the British general election has so far been even-handed, according to Press Gazette analysis of front page bias.

Press Gazette looked at every national newspaper front page published since Rishi Sunak called a general election (23 May to 16 June inclusive).

The purpose of the research was to deduce political bias by making a judgement as to whether the choice and presentation of front-page stories was favourable or unfavourable to the Conservative party. Historically, UK national newspapers have leaned to the right overall.

At this halfway point of the campaign, any pro-Tory bias in the national press overall has failed to materialise. This contrasts with national press coverage in the run-up to the referendum on Britain leaving the EU in 2016 when press coverage was overwhelmingly pro-Brexit.

Of the 246 front pages we looked at 56 were judged to be positive for Rishi Sunak, 57 negative for him and 132 were neutral.

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Only the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express have been overwhelmingly positive for the Conservatives in their choice and portrayal of front-page stories.

Content from our partners
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue
Press Gazette publishes ultimate guide to reader conversion and monetisation
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them

The Sun, which has been Conservative-supporting since 2009, appears to have deserted Sunak's party.

The title has yet to reveal its general election endorsement, but front-page coverage has largely ignored the general election altogether. The two front pages that were about the election were split, with one positive and one negative for Sunak and his party.

This contrasts with the Daily Mirror which published general election stories 12 times on its front page during the period under review, all of which were positive for Labour/negative for the Conservatives.

The Times and FT tend to occupy the centre ground politically but both published considerably more negative front-page stories for the Conservatives than positive ones in the period under review. This may reflect the fact that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has simply faced more bad news.

Front-page Times headlines judged to be negative for Rishi Sunak have included: "Farage's return and new poll deal blow to Sunak", "Mordaunt hits out at 'completely wrong' PM" and "Gove quits politics as more Tories stand down".

Times front pages: Source: News UK licensing

In March Press Gazette published analysis showing the diminishing power of national newspapers to influence elections today compared with 1992, when The Sun claimed credit for John Major's surprising UK general election win for the Conservatives.

The three strongly pro-Conservative titles (Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail) have a combined print circulation of around one million copies per day, a figure which rises to at least 1.5 million on Saturdays. The remaining daily newspapers, which are either neutral or pro-Labour in their choice of front-page stories, have a combined circulation of around 1.9 million.

There have been four editions of Sunday newspapers since the general election was called. Only The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer have showed front-page bias one way or the other, with The Sunday Telegraph favouring the Conservatives and The Observer favouring Labour.

So far only two national newspapers have revealed UK general election endorsements for 2024: The Telegraph has backed the Conservatives and the Daily Mirror is backing Labour.

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network