Friday, January 21, 2011
Most prisoners would vote Conservative
Most prisoners would vote Conservative
By Daniel Hannan, Politics, Last updated: January 21st, 2011
Anyone but David Cameron, he makes us all physically ill!
So says David Aaronovitch, observing that they tend to be “if not entrepreneurs then certainly preneurs”. He may well be right. A prison visitor friend tells me that, in her experience, very few offenders are interested in politics, but that those who are are generally Tories.
Is this an argument either for or against enfranchising convicts? Of course not. To be honest, suffrage for felons is not an issue about which I get especially exercised. On the one hand, there is overwhelming popular opposition to the measure, and there is no dishonour, in a democracy, in politicians following public opinion. On the other hand, the purest democracy in Europe – Switzerland – would not countenance the disfranchisement of jailed offenders. For the Swiss, the right to cast a ballot is almost sacred. And, as I never tire of pointing out, we could learn a great deal from the Switzers.
No, the really objectionable thing here is not the idea of ballots in Belmarsh, but the fact that elected legislators are being told what to do by unelected jurists. Let MPs debate the issue, let them decide what is proper, and then let them insist that their decision prevail.
After all, what is the point of prisoners – or anyone else – voting if the Parliament they elect is no longer sovereign?
omment: I have served 35 years, not as a mere prison visitor, and in my experience prisoners tend to be conservative with a small c. In my experience, prisoners also tend to be interested in politics. Prison politics, in particular. If you think that in the outside world there is the bear pit of politics, you ought to try some prison politics. Because convicted prisoners were denied their human right to vote in the last general election, Inside Time organised an election special where the candidates and their policies were published. The prisoners also voted, and it also ended in a coalition result. That is, between the LibDems and the BNP! There are those like Mark Pritchard, for example, who appear to be more BNP in outlook than Tory.
Given that Daniel Hannan is a MEP, and that the 3 objectives of the Council of Europe are Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, it beggars belief that he has not turned his attention to the enfranchisement of convicted prisoners in the UK! Especially, given Article 3 of the First Protocol of the Convention, and the ECtHR decision in Hirst v UK (No2) wherein the Court applied the principle of universal suffrage. The Court also dismissed public opinion as a ground for disenfranchisement in a democratic country. Therefore, dishonour does attach to the national disgrace of not fully complying with the Court's judgment in my case. It is also dishonourable not to abide by the UK's obligations under the Convention.
It beggars belief that a MEP is spouting that the judges to the Court are unelected, when it is clear from the Convention that they are indeed elected judges! The UK had the opportunity to debate this issue but chose instead to abdicate responsibility. I caught them out, the UK was found guilty and must now pay the full price. The time for debate is past. All the UK can do now, under international law, is fully comply with the Court judgment. Daniel Hannan should be aware of the fact that the Court decision is final. What part of the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary, the 3 arms of the State being taken hostage by prisoners and adjudged to be guilty by the highest court in Europe does Daniel Hannan not understand?
Daniel Hannan displays such ignorance of the reality of the situation it is almost unbelievable. I suspect it is actually intellectual dishonesty at work. The point of prisoners voting is that as part of the Big Society every vote should count. Parliament is only sovereign within the UK. When the UK signed up in Europe, it loses those parts of sovereignity relating to Europe. The UK is but 1/47th of the Council of Europe, and but 1/27th of the European Union and as such any claim to sovereignity by the UK within Europe is laughably arrogant. When in Europe do as the Europeans do. Simples!