It has come to light that as a result of a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights made five years ago the UK is being required to lift its blanket ban on prisoners being able to vote. To me this is yet another example of the Court being completely out of touch with what most ordinary right thinking members of the public believe.
For as far back as I can remember it has always been an accepted fact of life that part of the punishment for someone who committed an offence serious enough to warrant being sentenced to a term of imprisonment was the removal of that persons right to vote. The other argument is that do the rest of us want our elected Councillors and Members of Parliament chosen by convicted murderers, rapists, robbers and burglars.
It perhaps goes without saying but I am completely against such a move and whilst I appreciate that as with so many things this problem has been left behind the last Labour Government, I think it is time we as a Country stood up to the foreign Courts who dictate to us how we should run our elections. I have never seen any polling evidence on this issue probably because the pollsters have always considered it was such a straightforward issue there was no point in asking people what they thought! My view is that there would be overwhelming public support for the status quo.
9 thoughts on “Votes for convicted criminals”
I’m glad to see a few reasoned answers to the regressive view on this matter held by the Government. Have we not learned yet how alienating criminals from our society does not support their future re-integration?
Prisons are there to protect society from the criminal, not the other way around. Society has an opportunity to address the criminal through support in prisons to stop the cycle of incarceration from continuing. Giving them the vote, the most basic principal of citizenship, is a small gesture, the prison population being widely distributed is unlikely to swing the vote and even if they did, what is the Government’s concern? That they wouldn’t vote Tory? Total nonsense, this is one of those rare occasions I side with Europe.
Mr Nelson, I’m not sure what your idea of logic is, as your argument seems to ignore the concept entirely. Let’s try it one sentence at a time, shall we?
‘Prisons are there to protect society from the criminal, not the other way around.’
Okay, I’m with you so far (although it is worth bearing in mind that incarceration is also supposed to be a punishment).
‘Society has an opportunity to address the criminal through support in prisons to stop the cycle of incarceration from continuing.’
Fair enough up to a point, but as you’ve already said (to paraphrase) it’s for our benefit, not the criminal’s i.e. their concerns for future personal improvement are subsidiary to society’s as a whole*.
‘Giving them the vote, the most basic principal of citizenship, is a small gesture, the prison population being widely distributed is unlikely to swing the vote and even if they did, what is the Government’s concern? That they wouldn’t vote Tory?’
No, you’ve lost me there. I do understand your little attempt at.. well, whatever it was.. but, if I recall correctly, it was Kevan Jones (Labour) who appeared most concerned about the effect on his constituency:
‘Two Durham prisons contain 1,700 prisoners, including Ian Huntley, the Soham murderer. In the Minister’s deliberations, will he consider excluding individuals such as Huntley from getting the vote in Durham? Will he also consider the fact that 1,700 prisoners getting the vote in a marginal seat such as City of Durham could sway the outcome of an election?’
(Courtesy of the Hansard link provided by Mr Arthur)
As an aside, it’s also worth mentioning that whilst Dennis Skinner (Labour) thoughtfully added his comments (‘Is the Minister aware that the Murdoch scribblers and other tabloid writers are busy writing the headline, “Tories soft on crime, and soft on the perpetrators of crime”?’), it was most notably his own party’s members who were expressing the tabloid scare-mongering opinions.
As for ‘the most basic principal of citizenship’, I’d ask you to consider the basic principle of freedom, which is rather more fundamental. Even aside from prison hierarchies and the obvious potential for inmates influencing other inmates’ vote (albeit on a small scale in terms of numbers), I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people would rate freedom from incarceration over their right to vote. A bit of a no-brainer in my humble opinion.
And Mr E. Arthur – what exactly was your point? Seriously. I’m sure that you had something in mind when you sat down at your computer but I’m afraid that somehow it got lost somewhere between your brain and your fingertips. Would you be so kind as to explain to us mere mortals..?
*To clarify, I do not believe that legislation makes something either right or wrong, it merely makes an action legal or illegal, and nor should one’s personal sense of morality necessarily make it so. I disagree with a number of our laws, not to mention the/any government’s right to implement them, if only based on the grounds that we do not have a ‘true’ democracy. But that is something of a different debate and rather off-topic.
David, not going to get involved in the debate about prisoners voting about which you seem to be particularly vexed. What is troubling me is your deafening silence on the CSR which will have an enormous effect on thousands of your constituents. I sincerely hope you were not one of the cheering Tories as Osborne wielded the axe.
Moreover, it is quite clear that the judgement is that the blanket ban on prisoners having the vote is illegal and the government is looking at how to implement the ruling in such a manner so as not to give the vote to the scarey people you have raised in your argument.
When I went to Sunday School I recall one of the teachers telling us that some people do bad things – but they can be forgiven and find a place in the world where they can do good things.
Surely prison has a role to play – rehabilitation is pitifully low if re-offending rates are to be believed. One way of reminding prisoners that they may have some worth and move them to more socially acceptable behaviour could be to let them vote. A small way to remind them they still have a connection to society – and are not beyond redemption. For most prisoners anyway.
Far more of an outrage is that convicted criminals such as Lord Archer have a role in creating our laws.
Have you not got the memo yet David? The coalition aims to reduce the prison population and improve rehabilitation. Surely treating prisoners as fellow members of society, with a stake and a say in the future of that society is part of rehabilitation.
I thought cuddly Cameron conservatism had turned its back on Daily Mail frothing outrage such as your conflation of ” murderers, rapists” with “foreign Courts”
Did you post this before or after your fatuous contribution to the debate yesterday?
Leaving aside your view about my question (and incidentally I do know of course the difference between the European Union institutions and the European Court of Human Rights) the answer to your question is ‘After’.
So having heard the minister from your party explain repeatedly that they were looking at how to implement a change to comply with a law written largely by a Conservative MP and signed up to by Winston Churchill, with the obvious inference that they were looking to exclude the categories of prisoners that “most ordinary right thinking members of the public believe (© Al Murray the Pub Landlord)” would want excluded, you still scream that the evil foreigners want to turn us into a cleptocracy where murders and rapists become a vital demographic that will decide elections.
Straight talking common sense. I think not!
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