The Times has not endorsed the Conservative Party at a general election for 18 years. For far too much of that time, the Conservative Party turned inward and vacated the ground on which British electoral victory is won — a commitment to the prosperity and liberty fostered in a free-market economy and a sense of justice in an open and tolerant society. Tony Blair’s Labour Party took up the promise of modernity, through its commitment to enterprise and the courage to stand tall in the world. Sadly, over the past 13 years that promise has faded. We all know that Britain can do better: it is surely time to regain our optimism. (1)ignore all the guff about promise of commitments, promises and the blah blah blah. The truth is simple and practical. The Times did not endorse the Conservatives in the last 18 years because the Conservatives were expected to lose. The Times, and Rupert Murdoch, does not like to be seen to back losers, and there is no point in backing losers, because losers have no influence.
(And, of course, if you dump an obvious loser, and they then lose, they will crawl on their bellies to win back your support.)
The Times has always been a Tory paper, but in has refused to endorse the party because it would hurt the paper's air of authority if it was backing a loser. But their refusal to endorse the Tories previously was just to avoid losing face, and influence.
Now there is a snivel of a chance of victory - of some sort - and the Times has probably been instructed to do its bit. It is a bit dicey, to be honest, and it smacks of desperation - they know that Cameron is their last best chance, and if he fails, what is left?
A Labour-Liberal dominated parliament will finally put through the electoral reforms that will ensure the Tories are incapable of wielding the sort of power that the archaic First Past the Post electoral system grants them. They'll never have the popular mandate to put through the sort of reforms that Conservative backers - as distinct from Conservative voters - want.
To be honest, I'm surprised that the Murdoch papers aren't playing this more cannily. I remember when the Scottish edition of The Sun decided to flip to the SNP, in an effort to bleed support from Labour in Scotland.
A pragmatic option would be for the Sun to endorse the Lib Dems, to try to drag a few more percentage points out of Labour and drive them into second place in terms of seats. If Labour lose enough, the Tories might end up with a majority, or sufficiently close to get support from other sources - which weakens the Lib Dem hand in any negotiations, come Friday the 7th.
I guess they must think the election is still there to be won outright, if they can exhort enough people to vote Tory. But I still suspect that The People aren't listening in sufficient numbers.
But I could be wrong.
1 - "Vote of Confidence," editorial published in The Times, 1st of may, 2010. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article7113404.ece)