The Government has announced today that only prisoners serving less than 4 years will be able to vote. Today’s rather pathetic decision means that most prisoners will still be unable to vote and that the Cameron/Clegg administration will still be in breach of the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Government’s decision does not appear to meet the requirements of European Court judgements which state that the vast majority of prisoners should be able to vote.
Whilst the wailing from conservative right wingers will be heard across the land at what they see as an example of giving in to Europe, the real point should not be lost. The point being that if people have no say in how a society is governed, they will not feel inclined to be part of that society and will therefore seek to exploit it.
The limitation of this decision is short sighted and although TheOpinionSite.org agrees with the Prison Reform Trust that it is a ‘step in the right direction’ it is the very least that the Government could have done to placate the Court.
It is another indication that Cameron is more concerned with the reactions of the tacky and cheap tabloid newspapers in the UK than with the greater concerns of the society in which we are forced to exist. We hope that the weak decision Cameron has made will cause him all kinds of problems and we also hope that lawyers will immediately start action to force the Government to go further.
Mark Harper, minister for political and constitutional reform, said the changes were “not a choice, it is a legal obligation” and that speaks volumes.
He said: “We are ensuring the most serious offenders will continue to be barred from voting.
“If the government failed to implement this judgement, we would not only be in breach of our international obligations but could be risking taxpayers’ money in paying out compensation claims.”
The sentencing judge will be able to remove the right to vote from some prisoners sentenced to fewer than four years, he added.
The fact is that with nearly 100,000 prisoners in the UK (the official figures do not include those serving less than 6 months and certain other prisoners) allowing 29.000 to vote still does not fulfil the requirements of the court judgement.
Coming on top of the Tory right wing attack on Ken Clarke’s Green Paper on sentencing and prisons (http://theopinionsite.org/?p=544) it is another demonstration of how timid and cowardly David Cameron really is.
A similar example of the ignorance and timidity of ministers was the recent address by Iain Duncan Smith to the prisoners newspaper ‘Inside Time’ when he claimed to be ‘taking very seriously’ the matter of unemployed ex-offenders. However, he said nothing about the 40,000 sex offenders who are forced to live off of state benefits and who will never be offered a job because the Government is too frightened to say or do anything to help them.
The same applies to today’s decision. Very few sex offenders or serious violent offenders get less than 4 years and will therefore be excluded from voting; yet these are the very people who need the most support to rejoin society and need to be helped to re-engage.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that while Cameron is prepared to back down at the first sniff of trouble from the Sun or the Daily Mail he will never succeed in changing Britain for the better.
Figures out today show that Britain is regarded as one of the worst places to live at present. With such primitive and asinine attitudes as those displayed by this latest decision, is it any wonder?