Why prisoners should be allowed to vote

By Dark Politricks

The Daily Mail‘s front page headline was this story today:

“Payback time for grasping prisoners: Inmates to pay £76 costs each as judge throws out vote-ban compensation claim”

Almost 600 criminals trying to make money out of the voting ban on prisoners were slapped down by a High Court judge yesterday.

They had sought £5,000 each compensation for being unable to vote at the last election. Instead, Mr Justice Langstaff ordered them to PAY £76 each towards the costs of their action.

In a decision hailed as a rare legal victory for common sense, he ruled that European judgments should never be allowed to trump laws passed at Westminster.

It was a decisive blow for the authority of Parliament over the European Court of Human Rights – and the legal vultures demanding millions of pounds in compensation for prisoners.

Read the rest here.

Whilst many people might agree with this sentiment and whilst it is probably the case that those prisoners who brought the case were looking for financial gain rather than the return of the right to vote it is also clear that the current attack on the Human Rights Act is not in any one’s interest when proper thought is given to the subject matter.

Unlike a lot of western countries we Brits do not have a written constitution and our own Bill of Rights is nothing more than a limit on Royal powers rather than a list of rights that we as “subjects of the crown” can enjoy. David Cameron is talking about bringing in such a bill but I doubt the reason behind it would be to enshrine in stone some of our liberties but rather to allow the UK to ignore or “opt out” from the current Human Rights Act.

It is clear from the recent feeble attempt at restoring some of the liberties stolen from us during Labour’s time in power that any such Bill would never be on par to the original US Bill of Rights. It would probably protect nothing of real value apart from ensuring that the right of our own parliament to reduce the common man’s ability to live free from oppression and undue assault by governmental power is elevated above that of the EU.

When we hear stories about how crazy the Human Rights Act is from papers like the Daily Mail and the Express we need to remind ourselves that something protecting our basic rights is better than nothing.

It was clear from the previous government that those who rule us have little concern over our liberty and basic freedoms so we should be glad that there is at least some form of legal recourse when our government goes too far.

Whilst the Daily Mail and other “political correctness gone mad” proponents decry the few examples of people trying to take advantage of the Act by bringing spurious cases they fail to mention that the majority of the time the bill is there to protect us from abuses enacted by our own government.

The right wing media in this country also seem to forget that the Human Rights Act is based around the European Convention on Human Rights that was drawn up in 1950 by British Lawyers after the horrors of the second world war.

This is not some alien concept that is being forced on us by those funny speaking foreigners as the Daily Mail would like us to believe. Instead it is a rather lofty ideal that we helped form which was aimed at spreading the concept of freedom and liberty through parts of Europe that had been subjugated by the rule of dictators and despots.

On the subject of the right to vote by prisoners which is the current tool being used to bash the Human Rights Act over the head I would agree that for prisoners serviving whole life terms there is little point in giving them the right to vote as they are never going to be free again.

However for those people who are to be released into society whatever their term of imprisonment I would grant them the right to vote primarily for the following reason.

Many people are in jail for crimes that have been committed that many people do not agree with and that a change in the ruling party would mean the difference between imprisonment and freedom. I am not talking about murder or child abuse but crimes such as drug offences and maybe in the future computer crimes such as “illegal downloads”.

In countries across the channel you can be locked up for disputing that exactly 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust and only the other day a UK judge denied an appeal by Muslim protesters at a military march saying that there were limits on free speech.

Whilst the number of people who are currently in jail for “thought crime” or computer crimes are small or even zero our jails are full to the brim of people who have been locked up because they like to smoke, snort or inject a drug of their choice.

The Liberal Democrats used to be a party that regularly debated legalising drugs at their conferences and who many people foolishly believed were actually “liberal” in nature. However it is clear from their watered down Freedom Bill that many liberties we were promised back have been deemed to dangerous.

Liberties such as the right to protest, the right not to be sent off in an orange jumpsuit to the US on a foreign countries say so and the right to consume or inhale whatever intoxicating products one wishes to do so. These rights continue to be unacceptable in the current day and age.

One can only imagine that a popular political party might one day exist that was truly liberal in nature.

A party that believed that as long as we were not going round hurting others the state should not be allowed to hurt us by locking us away in 19th century Victorian prisons.

There are many small parties that do have such beliefs but they have yet to make their mark on the political scene. A good example of a modern party that was created to defend certain liberties is the Pirate Party, which is dedicated to protecting the computer users rights during the digital age.

With the rise in legislation against various computer crimes such as illegal downloads, hacking and civil disobedience as exhibited by the DDOS attacks carried out by Anonymous recently we can only assume that it is very likely in the coming years that our already overcrowded jails will start to be filled up by even more people who many in society believe should never have been arrested in the first place.

Therefore you can see how one persons incarceration could be inextricably linked to the policies of the party in government and that by allowing those people currently jailed for said policies to vote could have a major effect on the nature of our parliament.

I can well understand peoples aversion to allowing nonces and murderers the right to vote however it is almost 100% unlikely that we would ever be faced with a situation where a political party campaigned for the legalisation of those activities.

However it is already the practise of our government to decide on whim and for spurious reasons that our hard won liberties are not worth keeping any more and any step in the opposite direction however unpalatable it might be to Daily Mail readers is worth doing.

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