Site Meter

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Prisoners’ votes could have changed Election result

Prisoners’ votes could have changed Election result

By Eric McGraw, from insidetime issue June 2010

The General Election of 6 May took place without the benefit of some 70,000 votes of sentenced UK nationals in prison. With 160 prisons located in parliamentary constituencies, prisoners’ votes might well have made a big difference to the result. Some 40 constituencies had a majority of less than one thousand.

For the UK to hold a General Election whilst defying the European Court ruling that prisoners have a right to vote has been described as a disgrace. It is also a matter of deep regret for a society that prides itself on the rule of law and democratic accountability.

We know that there were five constituencies, four held by Conservatives and one by Labour, with a majority roughly the same or even less than the population of the local prison. Lancaster and Fleetwood, for example, had a Conservative majority of just 332 while the two prisons in the constituency, Lancaster Farms and Lancaster Castle, could have wiped out the majority, or indeed increased it, if the 750 or so prisoners had voted. A similar story could be told at Newton Abbot in Devon where a Conservative MP scraped through with a parliamentary majority of 523. If the 700 or more prisoners at HMP Channings Wood had voted, they may well have returned a totally different Member of Parliament.

Compensation Claims

In March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe warned the UK Government that its failure to adopt the Court’s judgement could lead to thousands of compensation claims from prisoners who could take the simple step of filing a claim for damages with the European Court in Strasbourg.

The House of Lords Crossbencher David Pannick QC says he expects the European Court to award each prisoner in the region of £750 and possibly more, considering the long delay in implementing the 2005 ruling. It is difficult to assess how many prisoners would claim compensation but it is fairly certain that if every eligible prisoner claimed, the taxpayers’ bill would be more than £50 million.

Prisoners vote for a hung parliament

It would appear that those in nick agree with Nick Nick...

1 comment:

James Higham said...

They would have voted Labour?