What’s the significance of today’s Observer editorial?

The Observer coming out today and urging a vote for the Liberal Democrats will have put a spring in the step of many deliverers, canvassers and poster teams around the country, especially when combined with the news of the Daily Telegraph ICM poll putting the Liberal Democrats in second place.

In the past both the sister papers – Guardian and Observer – have toyed with urging Liberal Democrat votes, saying nice things about the party and urging tactical voting whilst falling short of the sort of clear support for Lib Dem votes that today’s Observer has. Indeed, it’s easy to joke that the terms of today’s editorial are more positive about the party than the views of some party members expressed on their own blogs or comments on Lib Dem Voice.

Whilst this may give the party a boost for Thursday, there is also the question of the long-term significance of the move. There is no necessary link between The Guardian and Observer editorial lines, but they are sister papers and the mood music in one can have an impact on the other.

The Guardian’s Labour-supporting roots are very deep indeed. As recently as the 2001 general election, I heard well-sourced stories of many Guardian staff who were planning to vote Liberal Democrat but keeping it quiet because they didn’t think it would go done well with colleagues at work. (Given the number of people who expressed such views, I do wonder if they realised how many of them there were, but that’s a curio for history to mull over.)

It’ll be interesting to see how The Guardian’s affections play out over the coming weeks and months.

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