19 November, 2012

Prisoners' votes

Parliament is still, I read, tying itself in knots over the subject of prisoners voting. Prisoners have never, so far as I know, been allowed to vote in Britain, but a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights has said that they must be allowed to.

As so often, I find myself completely at odds with Mr. Cameron here. He declares himself to be outraged at the prospect of prisoners voting, but never seems to explain exactly why. It isn't a part of their sentence: the judge doesn't say '5 years in prison and no voting for you' nor is there some sort of custodial sentence with a vote '5 years but in view of there being no previous convictions you can vote.'

People are being arrested right now for saying things on Twitter the State doesn't like, on the grounds that it is likely to incite hatred. If we take away their vote they can't fight their persecution: upset the government and we'll prevent you from voting another one in. This smacks of the banana republic.

And one other thing. Aren't we supposed to be rehabilitating these people? A frightening percentage of crimes are committed by people who have just got out of prison. I should have thought an excellent way for them to get involved with society, to feel a part of it and not an outsider, would be to vote.

What does outrage me is that the decision on whether prisoners vote or not  should be made by unelected foreigners. At least we have been told that we could go against the ruling but we would be fined £100 million.

Mr Cameron doesn't seem in the least bit worried about this part. He appointed an Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, knowing him to be a great supporter of the human rights lobby, and he has no plans to withdraw from this.

If we could leave the whole thing and make our own laws it would be worth £100 million. But they would only find us 'guilty' of some other opinion they don't like and fine us for that.

We have to leave this nonsense behind and allow parliament and the judicial system to make our laws. Only when Cameron gets rid of Mr Grieve will you know that he is interested in the rights of ordinary people. And just think, when some immigrant commits terrorist acts in Britain we'd be able to send him home.

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