Daily Mail surprisingly relaxed about Michael Gove’s scheme to release prisoners early

What would the 'law and order' paper say if this was a Labour proposal?


News that justice secretary Michael Gove will release people from prison early, if they attend English and Maths lessons, has been taken remarkably well by the Daily Mail. 

The ‘Hang ’em, Flog ’em’ newspaper, not known for its humanitarian attitude to criminals, is intensely relaxed about Gove’s proposal.

Indeed, its headline is almost supportive:

Study hard … and get out of jail early

Gove’s reward for prisoners who attend lessons

Mail Gove 17 7 15

It goes on in this rather neutral way, before appearing to find its nerve:

“The justice secretary risks infuriating the Right of the Tory party with proposals that could be dismissed as soft…”

That’s more like it!

“…but he says jails in England and Wales are ‘not working’ when rehabilitating offenders.

[…] He dismissed fears that the proposals would be ‘soft justice’, saying the system would not ‘shy away from the punishment necessary to protect the weak’.

Oh. Alright then.

After presenting Gove’s position as the tough and no-nonsense option, the story closes with a quote of support from the Prison Reform Trust.

MediaWatch invites readers to imagine how the paper would report Gove’s policy if it were proposed by the Labour party. 

Where are the angry quotes from the ‘infuriated Right of the Tory party’? Where is the Taxpayers’ Alliance saying convicted criminals should not receive free education at public expense? All very peculiar.

Meanwhile, the Sun takes a different approach from this novel neutrality: if in doubt, spin, spin, and spin some more.


Gove forces lags to learn maths or stay inside

Sun Gove 17 7 15

And so on.

We note in passing that Gove was formerly a Murdoch employee at the Times, and his wife, Sarah Vine, is a columnist for the Mail. 

How nice to have friends in low places!

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

Daily Mail condemns unions for ‘Nazi’ jibe, then says reforms are ‘a battle for Britain’

Daily Mail swallows Osborne’s myth about women ‘winning’ in his budget

Sign up for our weekly email by clicking here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.