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12/100 The most important conservative journalist in Britain - Paul Dacre #TheRight100

ConservativeHome has launched a 40,000 word guide to the one hundred most influential people and groups on the Right. We are currently publishing some of the profiles contained in that guide. Already published are profiles of David Cameron, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Samantha Cameron, the Orange Bookers and the Class of 2010. Paul Dacre is the highest ranked journalist.


Paul Dacre is one of the most powerful editors of the modern era. Although it may not seem a word easily associated with him, his success is based on intuition. He knows what his readers are thinking. The Daily Mail is aimed at the rightward-inclined middle and lower middle classes. They are people to whom anger comes easily. They are ready to believe that the world is a dangerous place, that the country is going to the dogs, that all politicians are useless softies, that most government spending is wasted on scroungers and criminals: that much of life in modern Britain is a conspiracy against the hard-working and law-abiding. These messages are reinforced every day in almost every article. When he decides that a certain story should be the day's major issue, Paul Dacre throws everything at it: horse, foot and guns. He rules by driving: often by fear. But he drives himself as hard as anyone.

It is often said that the Daily Mail is pitched at female readers. It is true that Paul Dacre's features coverage and women's pages are the envy of his rivals, who often try to imitate them and never succeed. But there is plenty of masculine roughage in the news and poltical pages. On politics, Paul Dacre has an uneasy relationship with the Tory party. On the one hand, he advocates right-wing radicalism. On the other, he twice supported Ken Clarke for the Leadership, and was irritated when the party refused to take his advice. There is an explanation for the incoherence. Unlike many editors, Mr Dacre is not a politician manque. He would rather be driving his paper than dining with a Cabinet minister.

He had one another strange enthusiasm: Gordon Brown. Whether it was be the bleak Scottish puritanism, or the practice of intra-office terrorism, something about Mr Brown attracted Paul Dacre. If there were a criticism to be made of the Dacre Mail, it would be the relentless joylessness. The readers are rarely given any excuse for concluding that life can be fun. Here, Gordon Brown would be on Paul Dacre's side. So, to be fair, are his circulation figures.

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