Lookup NU author(s): Colin Murray
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From being subject to almost no political or legal debate in the UK for decades prisoner voting has, since the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in Hirst v United Kingdom, become an issue which defines the UK’s relationship with the Council of Europe and which symbolises the prevailing state of public discourse on criminal justice, democracy and human rights. This contribution evaluates the media’s role in pushing prisoner voting into this spotlight. As many commentators have identified, prisoner voting engages newspaper campaigns in support of tougher sanctions within the criminal justice system and against the Human Rights Act and the UK’s commitments, more generally, under the European Convention on Human Rights. This contribution, however, cautions against attributing special significance to these campaigns in isolation. Only when the stance of particular newspapers is considered in the context of the activities of non-governmental organisations, the manoeuvring of political parties, the voice of activist groups on digital media and the position adopted by broadcasters, can their role in shaping public discourse over prisoner voting rights be appreciated. Analysed as a whole, the interactions between UK media, politicians and think-tanks on this issue explain how the rather innocuous Strasbourg judgment in Hirst came to be transformed into a monstrous example of judicial overreach. In a media environment in which such accounts go unchallenged the space for reasoned policy making on human rights issues all but disappears.
Author(s): Murray C
Editor(s): Farrell, M; Drywood, E; Hughes, E
Publication type: Book Chapter
Publication status: Published
Book Title: Human Rights in the Media: Fear and Fetish
Print publication date: 23/01/2019
Online publication date: 03/01/2019
Acceptance date: 23/10/2018
Place Published: Abingdon
Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item