The Prime Minister, David Cameron has decided to “do the minimum necessary” to comply with the recent judgement of the European Court of Human Rights that the UK must allow some prisoners to vote. Mr Cameron is clearly terrified of the prospect of his back-benchers causing trouble over a matter which most members of the public regard as the least important thing in their lives.
In the view of TheOpinionSite.org, Mr Cameron is between a rock and a hard place.
If he complies fully with the ruling, he will get a whole load of grief from his own MPs and many of the Opposition. If he ignores the Court or tries to ‘fudge’ the issue, he will leave the UK open to further legal challenges.
Whilst most people are more interested in rising prices than in the rights of prisoners to cast their vote, this is an important matter of principle, not least because the present government – like it’s predecessor – is keen to emphasise the importance of staying within the Law whilst at the same time, not inviting criticism from the Daily Mail and other anti-European newspapers.
The fact that the European Court of Human Rights is nothing to do with “Europe” (in the political sense anyway) is both something that is conveniently ignored by anti-EU MPs and is also something of which most members of the public are completely unaware.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that many prisoners care one iota about their right to vote and are in reality much more interested in scoring points against the Establishment; not surprising when one considers that prisoners and penal policy in general ar enow no longer concerned with people and have instead become a political football to be kicked around whenever governments are in trouble.
The facts of the European judgement are basically that the UK has 6 months to do something about the current blanket ban on all prisoners being banned from voting, something that is undoubtedly illegal even under British Law if the circumstances of the individual are not taken into account.
TheOpinionSite.org must however make the point that most people in the UK don’t give a damn about the rights of prisoners, legal or not.
Whilst the Daily Mail and the Sun will no doubt make a huge song and dance about the whole affair, all the government will seek to do is to delay any decision for as long as possible, the very reason that the EctHR has invoked a 6 month time limit in the first place.
Out of the whole House of Commons, the latest debate showed that only 22 MPs are prepared to support the right of prisoners to vote. There are no doubt many more – but they are far too afraid of criticism to risk their reputations over something that, to most people at least, is completely irrelevant.
So what will the government do?
Many, including TheOpinionSite.org, believe that Cameron will fall back on the fact that prisoners on remand are still permitted to vote whilst those who have been convicted are not. Others believe that the distinction will be made between those prisoners serving 4 years or more and those who are serving less than 4 years.
Either way John Hirst, who originally brought the case 7 years ago, will be disappointed. If he or anyone else really believes that any government will defy the will of the tabloids and allow all prisoners to have the vote – or even allow the sentencing judge to make the decision – they should think again.
This is not a matter of Human Rights; it is pure politics.
Whilst Cameron and the Home Secretary, Theresa May are quite content to play cat and mouse with the courts over the extradition of terrorist suspects, they will not give in where prisoners are concerned.
One should also remember that most MPs, many of whom have one or more prisons in their constituency, believe that allowing the added votes of prisoners to possibly decide who represents a prison laden constituency would be a disaster.
In case you didn’t know, TheOpinionSite.org should point out that the British State issues an unwritten ‘Credo’ to everyone when they are born, even if individuals do not realise the same. The ‘Credo’ says, “We are giving you a very narrow path to tread throughout your life. If you step off the path, you will be written off as being worthless.”
Therefore, by definition, all prisoners are worthless, have no rights and have no place in ‘society’, whatever that is. Once you leave the herd and do anything that is unacceptable, there is usually no way back.
True, once released, an individual regains their right to vote but whilst behind bars, they do not exist. They have undergone what is described in Law as ‘Civic Death’ and although all modern governments try to assure us that this state of being no longer exists, nothing could be further from the truth.
Once someone is put into prison they are truly and honestly “out of sight, out of mind” for most people.
Forget too all the rubbish about ‘rehabilitation’ that is spouted by governments and charities. The reality is that anyone with a criminal record is very unlikely to be able to secure a job and without that, they join the underclass of hidden, disenfranchised people – and not only in the political sense.
Just as the government reviled over the ruling by the British Supreme Court that sex offenders should be able to apply to come off the Sex Offenders Register, so it reviles against any prospect of giving prisoners the vote.
We will wait to see what happens in 6 months although regrettably, in reality TheOpinionSite.org believes that by then UK citizens will have so many financial difficulties to worry about, the last thing that will exercise their minds will be whether prisoners can or cannot vote in order to choose their MP.