The Observer is today facing a social media backlash after running an op ed from Conservative leader Theresa May that appears to mark a notable change in their political persuasion.
Once revered as one of the few remaining mainstream newspaper outlets for Labour voters the rare editorial feature from May looks to cement a suspected shift the right.
Detailing why “Labour voters should look afresh at the Conservatives” the PM repackaged much of her party conference speech in what political editor Toby Helm and policy editor Michael Savage describe as a bid for the centre ground.
The feature took pride of place on the front page and highlighted how May has delivered “an extraordinary appeal to wavering Labour supporters to switch to the Conservatives”.
It appeared alongside an Opinium poll for the Observer that shows voters “strongly back ‘trustworthy’ May”, which was also authored by Helm.
But the shift to the right has been met with widespread condemnation on social media.
Matt Zarb-Cousin said: “Shout out to the Observer’s front page for accelerating the decline of print media by attempting to lose any last remaining readers the paper has”, and Tom London questioned why the Observer is offering support to May when “almost every other paper on Fleet St supports the Tories”.
Jon Stone, the Independent’s Europe Correspondent, said the content in the op ed is not “new at all” and was “basically a rewrite” of parts of Theresa May’s conference speech.
In his words, “Tory leader says Labour voters should vote Tory is fundamentally not an interesting news line, even if there is a consensus among journalists that it is a front page story”.
“If Corbyn had written a piece for the Mail or Telegraph: would they have uncritically magnified what he wrote?
“I’m not convinced they would have.”