Human rights and prisoners' rights: the British press and the shaping of public debate

McNulty, D., Watson, N. and Philo, G. (2014) Human rights and prisoners' rights: the British press and the shaping of public debate. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 53(4), pp. 360-376. (doi:10.1111/hojo.12075)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hojo.12075

Abstract

This article examines how the British press covered the debate around a prisoner's right to vote. It shows how Conservative ministers were put under pressure in early 2011 by newspapers on the right of the political spectrum to abandon proposals to end the ‘blanket ban’ on a prisoner's right to vote. Modification of the ban could have brought the UK into compliance with treaty obligations linked to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and judgments of the European Court. The focus of the debate, both in parliament and in the newspapers, was on sovereignty and judicial interference. Our research shows that very little of the media debate on a prisoner's right to vote was about human rights. Instead, outrage on the issue of prisoners' rights was linked to opposition to pro-Europeans within the coalition government and demands for a radical shake-up in Britain's relationship with the European Union (EU). The reform of human rights legislation and breaking the link with the European Convention is likely to be a centrepiece of Conservative policy at the next general election. The article is based on qualitative research of newspaper coverage in the period between February and mid-April 2011 when the prisoners' rights' issue came to the fore, and audience reception studies involving focus groups.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McNulty, Mr Des and Philo, Professor Gregory and Watson, Professor Nicholas
Authors: McNulty, D., Watson, N., and Philo, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0265-5527
ISSN (Online):1468-2311

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