Site Meter

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Predictions

New Year's Predictions

My first prediction is that the...

Government approach to prisoners voting rights. all wrong and that in spite of all the huffing and puffing to the contrary, all convicted prisoners in the future will be allowed the vote.

"The Government has confirmed proposals for prisoner voting rights which will prevent the most serious offenders from voting.

The move follows a court ruling which the Government is obliged to implement".

These two statements are contradictory. Whilst the Government is free to make proposals, in Hirst v UK (No2) the ECtHR states: "It is, however, for the Court to determine in the last resort whether the requirements of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 have been complied with". In my view, the Government proposals do not go far enough to meet the requirements of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 and in February the Committee of Ministers will no doubt disabuse the UK of it's mistaken belief.

As the Government states its move follows my ruling and is under an obligation to implement. And yet, the proposal not to enfranchise those convicted prisoners serving over 4 years does not, in my view, seek to implement my ruling but instead is a rather pathetic attempt to limit the scope of the ruling.

The Court stated: "As pointed out by the applicant, the right to vote is not a privilege. In the twenty-first century, the presumption in a democratic State must be in favour of inclusion". That is, all get the vote unless the Government can disenfranchise, in very limited circumstances, in ways which are both legitimate and proportionate. The Government has got the wrong end of the stick. That is, disenfranchise all but a few. The Court stated: "The blanket ban was also disproportionate, arbitrary and impaired the essence of the right" under Article 3 of Protocol No 1. In my view, the proposed 4 year cut off point is also arbitrary and lacks the necessary legitimacy and proportionality to comply with the Convention and my decision. As the Chamber ruled in Frodl v Austria: "Under the Hirst test, besides ruling out automatic and blanket restrictions it is an essential element that the decision on disenfranchisement should be taken by a judge, taking into account the particular circumstances, and that there must be a link between the offence committed and issues relating to elections and democratic institutions". The automatic disenfranchisement of all those serving over 4 years is a non-starter. Besides, it is not for the Executive nor Parliament to disenfranchise large sections of society but instead it is for a judge to remove the vote in individual cases and only then in the very limited circumstances, for example, for electoral fraud and abuse of a public office.

The coalition is heading for big trouble in Europe if it does not fully comply with my judgment, and if the media reports are true are heading for big trouble in the UK from the extreme right wing media and extreme right wing 1922 Committee if they do comply. Damned if they do and damned if they don't.

My second prediction is that the BNP blogger Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes will finally get his comeuppance in 2011.

A Happy New Year to all my readers.


Sophie J said...

They sound good to me. All the best for 2011 JHL, keep up the good work x

Barnacle Bill said...

Happy New Year John.
Let's hope it's another successful year for you.