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Friday, February 04, 2011

Steve Pound MP: Ludicrous Liberal lunacy

Steve Pound MP: Ludicrous Liberal lunacy

Steve Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, provides this week's Constituency Matters column.

The contours of the coalition are starting to become visible and it’s not an attractive sight.

Here at Westminster the loathing expressed in private between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives is matched in enthusiasm by the Cheshire cat grins and rictus smiles that both parties paste on in public.

Every day the fault lines grow wider and this is characterised perfectly by the absurd debate on the rights of prisoners to elect councillors and MPs.

Consider the reality of the proposition.

If everyone in Wormwood Scrubs was entitled to vote then their combined total numbers would certainly deliver the local Council seat if all voted for the same person or party. In a close general election the cell block vote could certainly swing things.

There may well be an intellectual case to be made for the Liberal Democrat position that prisoners should be integrated back into society and that their participation in the democratic process is the sort of thing that brings a warm glow to the “Guardian” readers. More understandable is the reaction of virtually every other MP in parliament and we find it sickening to even consider the prospect.

The fact that a slimy bunch of legal harlots are slithering around the penitentiaries touting for grubby but profitable business simply adds to the stench that arises from this whole business.

Labour was presented with the judgement back in 2007 but declined to implement it as we felt that further examination was needed and although this process may well take decades it is the function of a serious democracy to consider such matters thoroughly and in depth.

However the Liberal rump clinging to the Tory coat-tails is absolutely evangelical about enfranchising convicted criminals.

My experience, having visited a great many constituents detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, is that the right to cast a vote in Hammersmith or the Isle of Wight is the last thing on their minds.

I also suggest that votes for the Liberal Democrats are in short supply on the wings.

David Cameron has freely admitted that the finds the prospect repugnant but the Liberal tail is doing a bit of wagging the dog and when the awful history of the Coalition of Convenience is written the Liberals can look past the vast army of the newly unemployed, the rising numbers of homeless, the end of the National Health Service, the utter absence of any action on bankers’ bonuses, no fuel duty stabiliser and cuts in police numbers and console themselves with the great achievement of enfranchising the criminals.

However I expect to see Vince Cable and Nick Clegg showing the courage of their convictions and doing a spot of canvassing in the ‘ville or the Scrubs amongst those with a different sort of conviction.

Whatever next? The right to jury service? Ludicrous Liberal lunacy.

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