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Great agonies at The Guardian over which way to jump

Michael Crick | 10:15 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

Great agonies at The Guardian newspaper, I understand, where they still have not announced which party they are urging readers to support.

Their verdict may well appear in the paper tonight, Guardian sources have told me over the last few days, probably for the Liberal Democrats.

The Guardian traditionally holds a big meeting of its editorial staff to debate its choice before every election. That took place a week ago, on Friday 23 April. The feeling there was that the paper should still support Labour, with the arguments for Labour very led much by Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley.

But the editor Alan Rusbridger is thought to favour the Liberal Democrats. And the trouble with the paper supporting Labour is that such a position looks ridiculous when not long ago the Guardian - and Toynbee in particular - were urging Gordon Brown to quit, or Labour MPs to depose him.

On a historical note, people may think of the Guardian as a left-wing paper, and in recent years it has almost always backed Labour. But its long-term record is more complicated.

In two elections, most recently in 1955, the paper actually urged readers to vote Conservatiive.

And in 1983 The Guardian went for the Liberal-SDP Alliance.

Even if we do get The Guardian's verdict tonight, it is all a bit late. Around 10% of voters must have cast their votes by post by now.

Many more will have made up their minds already. I'm not sure an endorsement from the paper, for either Clegg or Labour (or a fudge of the two) will now make much difference.

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