Anorak News | Voter Reform

Voter Reform

by | 7th, October 2005

‘SHOULD humans enjoy Human Rights? Well, better that than Dog Rights or Inhuman Rights.

But whenever the term Human Rights is mentioned, the temptation is to consider its wrongs. And so today we learn on the Telegraph’s front page of the European Court’s ruling that British law banning all prisoners from voting is a breach of their human rights.

But not all of the country’s 70,000 inmates will be allowed to vote. The Times says ministers plan to deal with the ruling by introducing a system under which lags will be able to vote by category.

While killers and rapists will not be allowed to vote, those convicted of less serious offences will be handed a voting form and invited to make their marks.

The Times hears Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, give his assurance that the ruling does not mean every prisoner will a have the right to vote.

This would be in keeping with the European Court’s ruling which says that a “blanket restriction” on all convicts went too far.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow attorney general, tells the Telegraph: “If convicted rapists and murderers are given the vote, it will bring the law into disrepute and many people will see it as making a mockery of justice.”

And justice must never be mocked – even if it is dressed up in a huge, curly toupee, silk stockings and a ridiculous red cape.

But still the Times says not everyone is happy, and Conservatives say that giving convicts the vote is “ludicrous”.

But, of course, it is not. It’s part of their human rights. Just like some of those other rights prisoners can expect, nay demand, in choky.

Such rules are now produced in the Times, to be studied by the incarcerated and those readers contemplating not paying their council tax and having a mini-break in jail.

Rules are: prisoners must be given separate bed and bedding; each prison must house a library; a prisoner’s hair shall not be cut without consent; prisoners are entitled to a period of fresh air every day; prisoners shall not be forced to profess a deep love for Tony Blair on promise of having their sentences reduced.

And therein lies a problem. Colin Moses, the general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, tells the Telegraph that the ruling turns prisons into “political pressure points”. Politicians’ minds will be focused in winning the prisoners’ votes.

“A lot of prisons are in marginal seats and 600 or 700 votes from prisoners could swing the result of an election one way or the other.”

As the Times says, on the Isle of Sheppey there are three prisons, with 2,224 inmates and Derek Wyatt, the Labour MP, has a majority of just 79.

So should we expect to see electioneering politicians wooing the prison vote with promises of less police on the beat, a ban on CCTV cameras and a vow that rather than being sent down the very best fraudsters and identity thieves should be given their own show on TV and hailed as the new Mike Yarwood?

If so, the political parties should start thinking about who should stand in areas with a large convict demographic.

This might well just be the comeback chance Jeffrey Archer has been waiting for…’

Posted: 7th, October 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink