The Daily Mail is the second biggest selling British tabloid newspaper. It supports the Conservative Party. It is right-wing in its editorial stances, but supports euthanasia, and is noted for its stance on gun control and the NHS. It has a Sunday edition called The Mail on Sunday. Its two million plus circulation is one of the largest of any daily newspaper in English.
The Daily Mail was founded as a broadsheet newspaper in 1896, but changed to a tabloid format 75 years later. Its closest rival in terms of being less liberal is the Daily Express, which sells far fewer copies.
When it was launched by Alfred and Harold Harmsworth (who later became respectively Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothermere) it made an unashamed bid for the mass market. It was published at half the price of other newspapers, and kept its coverage both more concise and more populist. This approach led to it being highly successful.
The Daily Mail also set out to be entertaining, using in particular competitions as a means of promotion, and focusing on human-interest stories as a way of attracting readers to whom in-depth political analysis did not appeal. Among other promotions, they began the Ideal Home Exhibition, which continues to be held in London every year.
The paper lost circulation during World War I, when it spoke out in favor of conscription after the outbreak of war, and particularly when it attacked Lord Kitchener, who was at that time a national hero. It was accused by the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, of disloyalty to the country.
After the resignation of Asquith, David Lloyd George asked Lord Northcliffe to join his cabinet, but Northcliffe refused.
After Northcliffe died in 1922, his brother Lord Rothermere took control. It was under his regime that the Daily Mail published the "Zinoviev Letter", a forgery that seemed to indicate that the Communist Party of Great Britain was planning a violent revolution. The letter was leaked by the Foreign Ministry. Four days later the Labour Party was defeated in the 1924 general election, and since then some Labour party members have been known to refer to the Daily Mail as “The Forgers’ Gazette”. Historians agree the letter was a forgery but their consensus is that it made little difference in the election. What is more important, after the election Labour leaders used it as an excuse for their failure; it became a roadblock to needed internal reforms in the Labour party.
In the 1930s, the Daily Mail was politically sympathetic to fascism, and Lord Rothermere wrote articles praising the British Union of Fascists and their leader Oswald Mosley in particular for showing “sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine”. One headline notoriously read "Hurrah for the Blackshirts". However, he toned down his support after the Fascist party was involved in street violence. The Mail’s political stance was also influenced by Rothermere’s personal friendship with both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party – the only newspaper to support them both consistently. Rothermere sent Hitler a telegram of congratulations after Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. The paper also published The Protocols of The Elders of Zion in serial form, and ran inflammatory articles about Jewish immigrants.
Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy was supported by the Daily Mail until after the Munich Agreement, but the newspaper changed its stance after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. This change of attitude may have been influenced by Chamberlain’s threat to close them down.
Support for euthanasia
The Daily Mail recently published an article in support of euthanasia. The article and author of the piece stated that:
- "When I wake up in the watches of the night, I still wish that I had killed my mother. In her late eighties, this spirited, independent, active (almost hyperactive) old lady began to slither downhill."
- "For a few months, I felt almost grateful that she did not know what was happening to her."
- "She was never happy for a single minute in those last years, until the last day when a kind of peace descended…If only she had died before she reached this state! If only her hitherto dignified life had ended as nature so plainly meant it to end."
- "As I began by saying, I wish I had possessed the courage to smother her with a pillow, rather than leaving her in that living hell for over two years. Had the roles been reversed, I would have begged her to kill me."
- "I do not know whether my poor mother would have wanted an assisted suicide or not. All I know, since watching her agonisingly slow death, is that I would most definitely want to take my own life, or for someone to take it for me, before I reached this stage."
- "I see no virtue whatsoever in these terminal circumstances, in pretending that there is some mystical thing called 'life' which God or Morality have forbidden us to terminate…The half-life of paralysis, and pain, and misery for all around you is no life at all. In my view it is far better to end it all in circumstances which are, if possible, in your control."
- "So yes, I would welcome the legalisation of assisted suicide in this country and would support any moves to bring it on to the statute books…The trouble is that Keir Starmer's guidelines are no help at all - in fact, they mean we are in the ludicrous position of the law saying one thing and doing another."
- "Increasing numbers of people in this country believe, like me, there is an overwhelming case for changing the law. The two objections to changing the law do not stand up…One is that the system is open to abuse. It is claimed that unscrupulous carers or family will force sick or elderly patients to 'opt' for suicide because they do not want to be a burden…But the sorry reality is that unscrupulous and unpleasant people will always abuse the weak and the elderly, whatever the law. Their malign activities will go on whether the assisted suicide is legalised or not…The second objection to legalising assisted suicide is that there is often something noble about people suffering an illness for as long as nature or God decree…There are those who cite the example of Jade Goody - a girl who lived in many ways a terrible and immoral life but who bravely used her terminal cancer to give her children a decent future…Yet most cancer patients are not represented by Max Clifford and will not make a million from their prolonged deaths…On the contrary, for many families the continuation of a terminally sick patient's lingering condition in expensive care can be ruinously expensive, especially if the relatives have to give up their jobs to become carers."
- "It is true that unscrupulous children might make parents feel that they are a burden. But the illness and decrepitude of some patients is often placing a burden - an intolerable burden - on families, making it impossible for them to live their lives and calling for reserves of goodness or sheer energy which they simply do not possess."
- "It is not immoral for carers and younger family members to feel entitled to a bit of a life apart from the agonising bedside, and I fail to see why the preservation of life in such circumstances is always to be seen as virtuous."
- "But beyond this, in a free society, it seems intolerable that grown-up sentient beings can not decide when to bring life to an end, without the added horror that those they love best will be criminalised."
The fortunes of the Daily Mail were revived after a decline in the 1950s by its then-editor Sir David English, and its current editor Paul Dacre continues that trend. He has widened the paper’s market by launching an Irish edition and a summarized edition for UK expatriates.
The newspaper's website "MailOnline" has been criticised by the newspaper's readers for pandering to people with left-wing views.
Political and editorial stances
The Daily Mail claims to represent Middle England and Conservative values, opposing the liberal establishment. It generally opposes the European Union and the increasing trend to see Britain as part of Europe. It is usually against immigration, although it has supported the wish of white asylum-seekers from Zimbabwe to remain in Britain. It is generally against abortion, same-sex "marriage" and in favour of the monarchy, tax cuts and harsher penalties for criminals. It is generally supportive of Israel, although it has recently been attacked for its lack of support for the war in Iraq.
It generally takes a strong stand against criminality. It is often referred to by the left wing press as "The Hate Mail" or "The Daily Hate", because of a quotation from Lord Northcliffe that said the formula for success was to give readers a "daily hate".
It perceives many public media such as the BBC as biased to the left politically. Its columnists tend to be politically right-wing. It endorses the Conservative Party in most elections, and publicly repudiates groups like the British National Party, who are associated with far-right politics.
The Mail is often accused of fear mongering with numerous health scare articles (recent examples include "How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer" and "Mouthwash 'causes oral cancer' and should be pulled from supermarkets, say experts").
- Taylor, S. J. The Great Outsiders: Northcliffe, Rothermere and the Daily Mail.
- Griffiths, Richard. Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany, 1933-39.