Before my readers get the wrong impression regarding my blog post title, I would like to express that personally I'm against prisoners' having the right to vote for two main reasons:
The report, written by a former government adviser, Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, says the UK has become "subservient" to the Strasbourg court.
He says it also ignores the traditional British freedom of the press.
The report claims the 47 Strasbourg judges have "virtually no democratic legitimacy" and are poorly qualified compared to Britain's own senior judges.
Lord Hoffman, a former Law Lord, who wrote the foreword to the report, said Strasbourg has "taken upon itself an extraordinary power to micromanage the legal systems of the member states".
The report says the ECHR is a "virtually unaccountable supra-national bureaucracy".
- Firstly it is my view that the right to vote is a contract between our country's citizens and the Government. As responsible citizens we have an obligation to respect the rule of law. As part of that contract to abide by Government laws (even ones we don't agree with) it is only fair and justified that there is a process which gives us the opportunity to remove them from power and vote in a different Government who can change existing laws (no Parliament may bind its successor etc)
Therefore it follows that criminals who have broken the law have - by choice - refused to abide by their side of the contract, so it is only right that while they are incarcerated temporarily (however long temporarily is) that the Government removes their right to have a say on law making - for breaching the terms and conditions of being a responsible citizen. In short, if you want the right to vote don't break the law.
And this contract works both ways: if a Government removes the right to vote (effectively hands over power to foreign undemocratic and unelected bodies) then it has broken its side of the contract and so removes law abiding citizens from the obligation to abide by its laws. A la Egypt and us; it's a two-way process.
- More importantly and connected with the first point, my main objection is that this decision regarding prisoners' right to vote is not being made by democratic discussion in Parliament, with parties voted in by the will of the people. It is being made instead by an undemocratic, unaccountable foreign court. The dazzling irony is that prisoners are being given 'democratic rights' by an unelected, unaccountable court against the democratic wishes of the British people. That position is fundamentally wrong, as well as strangely surreal.
As I argued here the problem with fighting the EU is its Directives. Essentially the electorate at large do not care about the EU technicalities of food safety, the intricacies of foreign treaties or the differences between the EU and the Council of Europe. And this is exacerbated by the fact that laws - which get made in Brussels - aren't articulated clearly by our traitors in Parliament. Our so called government does its best to hide EU laws.
That's why the prisoners' voting saga matters, it does resonate, it can't be hidden and our political class cannot pretend otherwise. Instead of having to constantly recite EU Directives that lead to Post Office closures, higher fuel bills etc there is now a demonstrably direct link with a toxic issue and Europe. Even the BBC can't hide it - having it on the front page of their web site today.
Quite simply it's another example that the unaccountable European elite will implode because it will over reach itself - with power comes greed. The more power the EU / Europe gets the more it reveals itself. And this is its fundamental weakness - it will intrude more and more on issues that do cause electoral heartache: taxes, health, crime etc - something the EU acknowledges itself.
It was only ever a matter of time before politically toxic decisions were made that could no longer be hidden by UK politicians.
In effect John Hirst has unwittingly helped the UK move nearer the EU exit door, which in turn will repeal prisoner voting rights without interference from unelected foreign judges.