How the 2016 election unfolded on the front pages

newspapers, press, media, journalism, election, Alex Veeneman, Kettle Mag
Written by Alex Veeneman

People across the UK went to the polls Thursday to cast their votes in local elections, and the elections dominated the front pages both Friday and Saturday. There was a significant difference to how each of the papers covered each election result.

In Scotland, The National and the Scottish Daily Mail wrote of victory for Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party. The National, which supports an independent Scotland, declared that victory was at hand, while the headline in the Scottish Mail was simple: “Sturgeon gets five more years.”

Absence of coverage

Coverage of the elections on many of the front pages was absent, as results were still being counted and that reporting on elections had been barred until the close of polls at 10pm. Yet, there had been a mention in The Times. Under a photograph of a Benedictine monk voting in Scotland, the paper had conveyed that Labour had been on track to a dismal performance in England.

Other front pages Friday led with coverage of the junior doctors strike, work visas for EU citizens in the UK, and new passport rules, while the front page of tabloids differed on whether Radio 2 DJ and the presenter of the new edition of Top Gear, Chris Evans, was a bully, and if Victoria Beckham should teach her son to drive a Mercedes-Benz.

The papers began to chronicle the election later Friday and for their editions on Saturday, as results became more clear. At midday, The Independent, which moved to an online only status in March, ran an updated election edition with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the front. “He survived, for now,” the headline reads, as the party continues to battle perceptions of antisemitism amid remarks made through Twitter, and concerns about Corbyn’s future as leader.

The Saturday front pages

Then, the Saturday editions came into play, reflective of the highly contested London Mayoral election, with the win going to Labour’s Sadiq Khan. The Morning Star, which advocates for socialist policies, declared on its front page that Labour could prevail, and that the results were a boost for Corbyn.

As news of Khan’s win circulated, debates turned to Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative Party candidate.  

Two of the papers had led criticism and the implications for the party. In the Telegraph, Juliet Samuel wrote that the Party must now distance themselves from Goldsmith, as David Cameron faces allegations of racism in the campaign.

Additionally, Saturday’s edition of the Mail picked up the criticism laid against Goldsmith’s campaign by his sister, the journalist Jemima Goldsmith. 

The paper also called the campaign a disaster in its front page headline.

Meanwhile, in the elections in Scotland and Wales, as Nicola Sturgeon leads a minority SNP government in Edinburgh and Carwyn Jones’ Labour Party returns to the Assembly in Cardiff with lost votes, The Guardian’s leader suggests a changed culture of politics – a culture that suggests more volatility.

The Scottish edition of the Mail led with the success of the Scottish Conservatives in their ability to stop Sturgeon from getting an SNP majority. With a photo of the party’s leader, Ruth Davidson, on the front page, the paper wrote that she was defiant in rejecting a second referendum on independence.

The National put a photo of Sturgeon on their front page, with columns linking to why the SNP lost their majority, and the future of the party.

Sadiq Khan: Front and centre

The Times led on an issue that had been prominent during the campaign for council elections in England, where a ban on new homes as second houses had taken hold in Cornwall. Now, the paper reports, more of them are likely to ban the sale of new homes as second houses. There was also a photo of Sadiq Khan and his family, as the caption called him Labour’s most powerful politician.

Khan was also featured on the front page of the i, with the headline: “Yes we Khan!”, also displaying an article as part of their election coverage with critics of Jeremy Corbyn told to put up or shut up, and noted that Labour had been ‘struggling’ as the Conservatives become the largest opposing party in Scotland.

The Scottish edition also carries a piece calling Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale ‘heartbroken,’ though insisting she will remain leader.

The Independent’s headline, in its digital edition, called Khan’s election one that eased problems Labour had faced, using the headline: “Sadiq Khan storms London to numb Labour pains.”

The Financial Times also led with Khan, saying in its headline that it brushed off a campaign of fear to be elected.

The future of Labour debated

The Guardian’s front page also runs with Khan’s election, and that the result should give Corbyn a reason to be cheerful in spite of losses in other elections.

Yet, in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph, a front page article suggests that Corbyn had lost his credibility as Labour leader after the elections. It also carries a piece on how Ruth Davidson saw the Conservatives win back elected seats in Scotland, while its Saturday edition echoes what was written in the Scottish Mail on the referendum in light of results.

Separately, UKIP and its leader, Nigel Farage, were on the front page of the Express, albeit briefly, as the paper calls them the true winners of the election. It is done at the right hand corner of the page through this captioned headline: “Farage and UKIP the true election winners.”

The Express was the only paper to feature Farage and UKIP as part of front page coverage.

Neither the Mirror nor the Sun featured coverage of the election results on their Saturday front pages.

As the story of the election unfolded, it continued to signal the importance and relevance of the papers to British politics, with leaders and editorials potentially influencing future decisions. Additionally, the papers gave insight into the future of the world of British politics, something that will continue to be up for debate now, and in the days and weeks ahead.

What do you think of how the election unfolded in the papers? What does this suggest about future trends in politics, as well as the influence of newspaper coverage in politics? Have your say in the comments section below.