English Penal Policy Climates and Political Culture
This chapter first draws upon news coverage and parliamentary debates to examine some of the political responses to the Bulger case, including the ways in which the Labour Party in general, and Tony Blair in particular, were pressed to respond. It considers aspects of English political culture that help explain why the Bulger case became a vehicle for the expression of growing moral uncertainty in England more generally. These factors include the rise of the public voice, the power of the tabloid press and the salience of its discourse, the highly adversarial relationship between the political parties, and the emergence of New Labour as unapologetically ‘tough on crime’. All of these factors helped place the Bulger case in the centre of the political arena, and all exerted powerful pressures upon politicians and policymakers to act in the ways they did.
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