Thursday, 18 March 2010

Voting rights

It's been a busy time recently, so profuse apologies for the lack of posting since last week. Profuse, but insincere. I mean, it's not like you're paying to read this, now are you? (I can hear a small chorus saying 'Just as bloody well, we'd want our money back.')

But let's move on.

Back in 2004, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK's blanket ban on prisoners voting in elections was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Now, since the current Guvmint was the one to bring in the Human Rights Act 1988 to give further effect in UK law to the rights contained in the Convention, we would naturally assume it would hastily remedy this breach.

Er... or maybe not. Still, it hasn't been inactive on the point - it has launched not one, but two consultations. Good work, chaps. But despite a sharp reminder from Europe, with an election looming, none of the UK's prisoners may vote.

Some of you may think 'serve them right', and take the view that they've forfeited their mandate by offending against society. I say to you: 'you're so far up your own arse we'd need a search party to find you, and there will be few volunteers'.

See, this is where the UK is in breach. If we said, say, those convicted of treason won't get a vote, that would be OK under the Convention - and, for what it's worth, OK by me too. It's the lack of discrimination that's the problem. But those of us with nasty suspicious minds will be thinking that the Guvmint really doesn't want the prison population voting, since a good number are probably Conservative voters. All those inside for crimes of dishonesty, for example, are just working at the extreme end of the bellcurve of those who believe in the free market. Violent offenders fit more neatly into our mental picture of right-wing thugs than lettuce-nibbling Guardian readers. Sexual offenders are generally good candidates for safe Tory seats anyway. So obviously the UK's refusal to abide by the 2004 ruling is a dastardly Guvmint plot!

Oh, and don't get me started on the difficulties the armed forces are having in getting their votes. Given the tensions between Guvmint and the military that have been aired all over the media of late, it's tempting to point at yet another dastardly Guvmint plot!

However, a plot requires a plan, and I'm not convinced that the Guvmint has one at the moment.

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