The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke has been trying – without much success – to try and get some common sense into the heads of simple minded MPs who object to the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has decided that prisoners should have the right to vote.
Unfortunately, the majority of MPs seem to be too stupid to realise that there is no choice in the matter.
Instead, led by two fading members, Jack Straw and David Davis, MPs have decided to have a huge scrap next week as a protest against European interference in British affairs. They are so ignorant of the way in which Europe actually works that hey do not realise that even if the UK were not part of the EU, we would still be subject to the court’s ruling.
The European Court is part of the Council of Europe which has nothing to do with the EU. Maybe, if they were not so very small minded and they were also able to rid themselves of their destructive, xenophobic and very British ‘island mentality’, MPs might realise that they have been subject to the judgements of the European Court since 1953. Furthermore, it was the British themselves who were responsible for writing most of the rules.
Of course, as TheOpinionSite.org has pointed out before, it was always the intention of Britain that everyone else should obey the rules whilst the British themselves would be able to join in only when it suited them. At the time, the UK still had some influence in the world so it was easy for them; not so now, however.
British prisoners were denied the vote in 1870 by the Forfeiture Act. The theory was – again, very British – that if someone committed a crime serious enough to warrant a prison sentence, they should then undergo a ‘civic death‘ until they were released. Or, to put it another way, “Out of sight, out of mind“; an attitude that has changed little since that time.
However, the plan was flawed from the start as, at that time, if someone stole so much as a loaf of bread, they were likely to be taken off to prison; unless they were a child of course. They were only flogged until they passed out with the pain.
Next week’s debate will do nothing but make MPs look even more stupid than they do already. They do not seem able to grasp the simple fact that everyone in the UK lives under the Rule of Law, including them. Therefore, as a legitimate court has ordered that prisoners must have the right to vote, they will have it. No amount of posturing or meaningless anti-Europe rhetoric is going to change that.
It gets worse for the government as well. On Tuesday, lawyers warned ministers that the proposed limitation of allowing a few prisoners to vote in Westminster and European elections would not satisfy the court’s ruling. All prisoners would probably have to be allowed to vote in all elections, including local elections.
Furthermore, if the government do not allow prisoners to vote, the tax payer is likely to have to pay out £160 million in compensation; not to mention the legal fees. The government would then be taken back to court and they would lose again.
Actually, it is all very simple really. If the government enact laws that the public have to obey, then the government itself must also obey the law, whether it likes it or not. TheOpinionSite.org sees that as nothing other than common sense and justice.
There really is nothing complicated about it you see – unless that is, you happen to be a politician who not only regards themself as being above the Law but is also too thick and stupid to understand it.