The UK Coalition government last night collapsed on the issue of prisoners’ voting rights as Tory right-wingers threatened a major rebellion.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron had intended to grant voting rights to inmates serving less than four years but this has now been reduced to those serving less than twelve months.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that this move is both wrong in principal and is damaging to the ule of Law under which we all supposedly live.
It won’t do much for Cameron’s authority either – or the credibility of the Coalition and the Liberal Democrat contribution to government.
Cameron has said that the thought of prisoners being able to vote makes him “physically ill” and that when someone goes to prison “they should lose their rights”. Both comments show an utter contempt for justice, democracy and the notion that a government is accountable to the people.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the disenfranchisement of prisoners was made law in 1870 under the Forfeiture Act. It is time that Cameron and his vindictive right wing relics were dragged into the 21st century rather than languishing in their comfort zone that was the 18th century.
Apart from the fact that the Government will now be seen as hopelessly weak, it will also be seen as hopelessly stupid, given the admission by ministers that restricting votes is almost certain to ensure further successful legal action by prisoners. The Government have already admitted that by not fully implementing the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights passed down over five years ago, they will likely make themselves liable for as much as £100 million in compensation.
It goes without saying that the more prisoners that are prevented from voting, the more they will have to pay out.
This pathetic diversion from common sense by Cameron makes him look stupid and weak but also makes him look frightened. How can anyone trust a Prime Minister who constantly shoots his mouth off, only to regret it when his statements are quoted back at him, whilst at the same time demonstrates that he will back down on a policy, defy the ruling of a just court and then hide away so he cannot be held accountable.
Cameron is trying so hard to be like Tony Blair but manages to fail every time. He is not as clever or deceitful as Blair and is not prepared to blackmail his ministers in the way that Blair did either. Nor is he able to stand up to is backbenchers.
This whole mess was brought about by Labour’s Jack Straw and the Conservative David Davis getting together to force a vote on prisoners’ voting rights in order to encourage the Commons to defy the European Court of Human Rights.
These men know full well that the ECtHR has nothing to do with the EU or ‘Europe’ and is completely independent.
Nevertheless, Straw and Davis are prepared to play on the ignorance of most MPs – who should know better but can’t be bothered to learn the facts – whilst at the same time capitalising on the even greater ignorance of the tabloid reading public who have given up using their brain and prefer instead to believe the garbage pushed out by the Sun newspaper.
It appears that the thought of robbers, sex offenders and other serious offenders being able to vote is of such national importance that it is worth sacrificing good government on the altar of populist opinion. All this at a time when nearly 3,000,000 people don’t have a job, people cannot afford to run their cars or get to work and some cannot even afford to eat.
Of course, none of those unfortunate people are MPs so presumably they don’t matter.
Ministers seem content to prevent prisoners from voting and to do so for purely political reasons whilst simultaneously breaking the law themselves.
To make matters worse, Cameron may now find himself in even greater difficulties as it is clear that he cannot even control his own MPs, let alone carry through the policies of a so called ‘coalition’ administration. If the right wing are allowed to win on this issue, they will expect to do so on all progressive policies.
As for Clegg, he’s just keeping quiet like a good boy should.