Why I’m not voting at the next election


8:00 am - March 20th 2010

by Neil Robertson    


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This post is part of Hagley Road to Ladywood’s series on the election.

As a voter who’s long felt left behind by Labour, who’s unimpressed by the wet flannel liberalism of Nick Clegg and who remains underwhelmed by parties on the electoral fringe, this election has often felt like a choice between “the lesser of who cares?”.

For me, the prospect of voting this May – a task I might have once grasped with enthusiasm – seems like a tawdry chore, with each party appearing like a cheap imitation of my own values.

Still, after a good few months of dismayed dithering and yawning, I finally came to a decision about how I’m going to vote in this election:

I won’t.

Here’s the thing: 6 years ago a British prisoner called John Hirst went to the European Court of Human Rights demanding that our government give him and his fellow inmates the right to vote. The court ruled that our blanket ban violated the Human Rights Act, and ordered the government to make the necessary changes.

Naturally, the government has deliberately dragged its feet ever since; issuing objections and obfuscations at every turn, and getting no closer to changing the law than the establishment of some weak-willed ‘consulation exercises’.

This was fine for the first five years, but now the election has brought the matter into sharp relief. After ignoring repeated warnings that the General Election must not take place without the ban being lifted, in December the Council of Europe suggested that the election may breach the European convention on human rights. The council repeated that claim last week, along with the notice that, unless the law is changed, tens of thousands of prisoners would be within their rights to sue the British government.

As it stands, the coming election promises to be the first in modern history where tens of thousands of British citizens have illegaly barred from casting a ballot. Whatever crimes these men & women may have committed, however dubious their character, can we really claim to be tough on those who break the law when we are happy for the state to break its own laws in order to punish them?

For me, the answer is an unequivocal ‘no’. I cannot, in good conscience, exercise my legally-guaranteed right to participate in the democratic process when tens of thousands of Britons are illegally deprived of theirs. For that reason, I will be staying at home come election day. Not out of apathy, nor out of a lack of available alternatives, but as a small protest against a big injustice.

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About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime ,Equality ,Our democracy

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Reader comments


Can I endorse this?

Everybody who cares more about the rights of criminals than the major issues facing the country should simply refuse to vote.

A plan with no drawbacks.

I appreciate the sentiment. But not voting is not a protest, because if you don’t vote then you can’t be counted. Set up a ‘Votes for Prisoners’ party, stand in your constituency or ask a prisoner to stand, and use your vote to send a message. Staying at home sends no message other than you were too lazy either to go and vote or to make up your mind between the many parties on offer.

3. Eternal Walkabout

Wonderful case of post hoc rationalisation. If you’re doing something because you can’t be bothered say so; don’t search round for a worthwhile cause that excuses your idleness

Taking-up the gauntlet of the voting rights of prisoners, for me, is a total waste of time, but then I have that opinion about voting in representative democracies within capitalist systems.

Er, Neil, wouldn’t it be more defiant to go out and spoil the ballot paper with a slogan for your beliefs?

I agree with Varus: not voting is not a protest. Spoil your ballot paper.

I also agree with you Neil; all citizens should have the right to vote, even the ones maintained at the leisure of the state.

Wasn’t Mr Hirst inside for murdering his landlady with an axe ?

I’m not voting at the next election because my MP is older than Halley’s comet and seen in his constituency just about as often and with as much effect. Despite financial incompetence in his business and governmental career, a life of scrounging and idleness and very dubious tax affairs the possession of a safe seat means he’s staying put. Isn’t democracy wonderful

Aren’t prisoners meant to be being punished while incarcerated by being denied their civil rights, and the Convention allows for this. I don’t understand why the ECHR insists that this is wrong. Maybe you can explain the case for why prisoners should have the vote?

So long as we allow prisoners to vote once their punishment has been served and they are released I don’t see the problem.

“I’m not voting at the next election because my MP is older than Halley’s comet and seen in his constituency just about as often and with as much effect. Despite financial incompetence in his business and governmental career, a life of scrounging and idleness and very dubious tax affairs the possession of a safe seat means he’s staying put. Isn’t democracy wonderful”

Have you considered voting for somebody other than the incumbent MP?

I believe it’s allowed.

Not voting simply makes you a member of the utterly useless “silent majority”. To avoid being cited by the Daily Mail as a supporter of their latest reactionary whine I suggest you make some positive act of protest.

Shutting prisoners off from the democratic process is illogical only if the purpose of imprisonment is rehabilitation.

But prison isn’t about rehabilitation. Prison is about hurting. Proof of that pudding is in the eating.

Moreover, both Lab and Con consider ‘locking everyone up’ to be more worthwhile than improving education, reducing poverty, fixing drug policy etc. They’ve pursued this doctrine to the point where the prison population as a whole is sufficient to swing an election that otherwise could result in a hung parliament.

13. Mike Killingworth

[9] Well, maybe that should be the case, but a moment’s thought reveals that it isn’t. If, while I am in the middle of suing you for an unpaid debt, I am jailed for throwing a particularly venal MP off Beachy Head, you would not wish to be able to say that I could not pursue my case against you because I was jailed.*

More generally, Blanco at [2] is right. If you don’t want to do that, you have to vote for a Party which you believe would implement the EHCR decision – the Greens, perhaps?

*But I could if I were Steven Gerrard and the case were heard by a Liverpool jury.

What a daft post, get over yourself

Why not give your vote to Bangladesh, Ghana or Afghanistan?

Jeez, people died for your right to vote. Get involved in a campaign to give prisoners voting rights, but actually exercise the right itself.

When did you last refrain from having lunch because of the millions who go hungry each day?

If you’re on the left and you’re pissed off with Labour and the Lib Dems, vote Green ffs.

And to the guy in a safe seat: if you were really bothered about what your incumbent’s done, you would organise for the biggest opposition party to build towards overthrowing him in two elections time.

In protest against the continuing terrible conditions in many battery chicken farms, I have decided not to read this post. (I just thought I’d let you know.)

Many millions of women around the world do not have access to abortion. So if I get an unwanted pregnancy, I will not have an abortion, in protest against this gross unfairness.

18. Shatterface

‘Aren’t prisoners meant to be being punished while incarcerated by being denied their civil rights, and the Convention allows for this. I don’t understand why the ECHR insists that this is wrong. Maybe you can explain the case for why prisoners should have the vote?’

No, the incarceration *itself* is the punishment. There’s also some vague notion of rehabilitation, which should include reintergration into society: voting rights would be part of this.

That said, giving prisoners voting rights would probably mean the political parties would be even more obsessed with nonces.

I won’t be voting myself unless there is a party which represents my views. I’m not voting for the ‘least worse option’. The ‘least worse option’ has given this government a ‘mandate’ for endless wars and an unprecidented roll-back of civil rights that would have outraged previous generations of the Left. People didn’t die for the ‘right’ to choose between these fuckers.

I too feel this is short sighted. Why not vote when you could vote for a party that understands the rights of prisoners and wants to give them their votes as they’re entitled to? Not only are their voices not being heard but now you’re depriving them of a voice from outside the prison walls.

I don’t understand why the ECHR insists that this is wrong.

The judgement, particularly paras 48-51 (also the outcome of referral to the Grand Chamber). They do not say banning a prisoner from voting is wrong in itself; what is wrong is that the ban is blanket, indiscriminate, and that there is no evidence we “weigh[ed] the competing interests or to assess the proportionality of the ban as it affects convicted prisoners”; that if someone “has completed that part of sentence relating to punishment and continues to be detained only on grounds of his continuing danger to society”, there is “no logical justification” for him to be subject to the ban.

Aren’t prisoners meant to be being punished while incarcerated by being denied their civil rights, and the Convention allows for this.

No. See paras 69-70 of this.

22. Sevillista

@ukliberty Thanks for the link. Good to understand the rationale behind the judgement.

It seems – from the 5 dissenting judges – it is arguable both ways from a legal perspective.

The 12 judges ruling in favour of Hirst had an issue with the “blanket ban” rather than preventing prisoners from voting per se. They didn’t accept the counter-argument that as only a sub-set of those committing offences were incarcerated (with less serious offences punishable by non-custodial sentences) and so there was no such “blanket ban”.

Also worth noting that the ECHR are not suggesting those convicted of the most serious offences should be given the vote.

Myself – I agree with the dissenting legal opinion

At the outset I declare an interest in the topic under discussion. Nevertheless, this does not devalue my input because what you get is informed comment rather than an ill-informed comment. And, there are quite a few of those. More like a primary school outing than sixth formers showing that they have learnt something.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Starting point: Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill. Preface by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair: “This White Paper explains the proposals contained in the Human Rights Bill which we are introducing into Parliament. The Bill marks a major step forward in the achievement of our programme of reform. It will give people in the United Kingdom opportunities to enforce their rights under the European Convention in British courts rather than having to incur the cost and delay of taking a case to the European Human Rights Commission and Court in Strasbourg. It will enhance the awareness of human rights in our society. And it stands alongside our decision to put the promotion of human rights at the forefront of our foreign policy.

I warmly commend these proposals to Parliament and to the people of this country”.

Big fanfare of trumpets.

Take time to read the Introduction and Summary “The United Kingdom is bound in international law to observe the Convention, which it ratified in 1951, and is answerable for any violation”. In Chapter 1 “the United Kingdom, like all other States who are parties to the Convention, has agreed to abide by the decisions of the Court…It follows that, in cases where a violation has been found, the State concerned must ensure that any deficiency in its internal laws is rectified so as to bring them into line with the Convention…Successive United Kingdom administrations have accepted these obligations in full”.

“For individuals, and for those advising them, the road to Strasbourg is long and hard. Even when they get there, the Convention enforcement machinery is subject to long delays. This might be convenient for a government which was half-hearted about the Convention and the right of individuals to apply under it, since it postpones the moment at which changes in domestic law or practice must be made. But it is not in keeping with the importance which this Government attaches to the observance of basic human rights”.

Well, that was the theory. And now for the practice.

What good is a right if it cannot be enforced? On 30 March 2004 the ECtHR gave its judgment in Hirst v UK(No2).

Tony Blair’s bold statement to the House of Commons, 9 Mar 2005, “The current position in law is that convicted prisoners are not able to vote, and that will remain the position under this Government”.

The government appealed against the Chamber judgment, to the Grand Chamber, which rejected the appeal on 6 October 2005.

Charles Falconer made the cardinal sin of going on The World At One, before even reading the judgment to see what it did say, and telling the world what the judgment did not say! Jonathan Aitken said “The Lord Chancellor on The World at One gave a dangerous hostage to fortune when he said yesterday, “Not every convicted prisoner is in the future going to get the right to vote … we need to look and see whether there are any categories that should be given the right.”

Fast forward 5 years to 17 March 2010, in response to a question by Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Lord Bach(side) stated “The Government remain committed to implementing the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v UK (No 2)”.

There is a need for conflict resolution…

“The current position in law is that convicted prisoners are not able to vote, and that will remain the position under this Government”.

“The Government remain committed to implementing the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v UK (No 2)”.

Did you spot the difference between these two positions boys and girls?

If you didn’t, then you only have yourselves to blame when you get lumbered with a bill for £70M if prisoners are denied the vote at the next general election. Then there is the penalty to pay in Europe, when the Council of Europe and the EU evict the UK for being a rogue state. If you think that Europe is bluffing, why do you think that Russia backed down and ratified Protocol 14 in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty? The UK now has no protection from Article 11. This will please UKIP, the Euro sceptics, and Lord Bloody Tebbit!

Why are Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems so silent on this issue?

When a country is not prepared to allow Democracy, the Rule of Law, and Human Rights to all its citizens, then it is not worth voting for.

For me, it’s the really big, strategic policy issues that matter most.

There are at least two convincing reasons for not voting Conservative at the next election:

– George Osborne, who shows every sign of being quite ignorant about economics
– on the way to the international financial crisis in 2007, the Conservatives were calling for more deregulation: compare that with what Turner of the FSA is calling for:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3e9bf13a-322d-11df-b4e2-00144feabdc0.html

There are umpteen reasons for not voting Labour, starting with GB’s claim to have abolished boom ‘n’ bust:

– the lies told to justify the invasion of Iraq, without which the public finances would be in a better shape and the Treasury could afford better equipment for our troops in Afghanistan
– the consumer debt mountain and allowing the house-price bubble to inflate
– the IPPR report on Britain’s teens: Freedom’s Orphans: Raising Youth in a Changing World (2006):
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/nov/02/drugsandalcohol.britishidentityandsociety
– the politicisation of the civil service with special advisers like Charlie Whelan, Alastair Campbell, Derek Draper, Damian McBride and Jo Moore
– falling productivity in the NHS coupled with the highest paid clinicians in Europe
– the largest per capita prison population in western Europe

Sevillista @ 22, broadly speaking, I think a contracting state will find it hard to persuade the European Court about allowing it margin of appreciation if the state’s legislature hasn’t had a debate on legislation related to the topic (perhaps we could have spent some time debating voting rights instead of so much time on the then Hunting Bill); likewise it will be hard to persuade the court of proportionality if a ban (or whatever) is indiscriminate / blanket.*

And this is where our government seems to keep coming unstuck in Europe. But it doesn’t mind, because it can ignore or procrastinate about unfavourable outcomes. Imagine if members of the public attempted to do the same.

(*And who knows, given a proper debate the Court might, if reluctantly, ‘allow’ a blanket ban?)

At the moment there are those in prison serving sentences that will span less than 5 years, both in actual sentence and in reality of appeal and parole. The idea that a blanket ban is in place undermines these people’s ability to vote for the politics that *will* affect them when they are otherwise free and no longer criminal members of society.

It is abhorrent that we continue to allow this to continue, we are depriving people that will be (if we are being honest about what we intend our prisons to do) functioning and fully rights holding members of society from the chance to vote simply because at the time when the election took place, regardless of an out come of any appeal (which is even worse from the rights perspective) they happened to be held by the state.

My personal opinion goes further, and that anyone that isn’t serving a life sentence (more symbolic that I choose this than anything) will also reasonably be out of prison and back as a “rehabilitated” person, and shouldn’t have their chance of voting for politicians to bring in the type of Britain they want to see when they’re free put aside for the sake of spite on behalf of the nation.

ukliberty: When this case goes back to the Court, the only issue to be determined is whether the UK is in violation of the judgment. Clearly, the UK is in violation of the judgment, the fact is that the UK has chosen to play silly buggers for 5 years. The crime has been committed, it remains for the sentence to be imposed.

What is being missed here, is that the judgment needs to be read in the context of the objectives of the Council of Europe.

Also, the only reason that the Article 10 and Article 14 submissions were not ruled upon was because the case had already been won on the Article 3 of the First Protocol submission. As Article 14 deals with discrimination, if the government decided that those serving over 4 years should be denied the franchise this would violate their human rights. Because, the Court has already stated that severity of crime and/or sentence has nothing to do with the human right to vote. Only those convicted of offences such as ballot rigging can legitimately be denied the franchise because there is a link between crime and punishment.

Prisoners are entitled to freedom of expression, Article 10, and this extends to casting a vote. The government really has no option but to do as it is told. Ireland passed a law to allow all prisoners the postal vote in 2006, “to fully comply with the Hirst v UK(No2) decision”.

Voting is not a right, but a liberty.

Participation shows support the process – not just the side one agrees with.

Therefore non-voters don’t just oppose the parties involved but they also oppose the principles of both liberty and democracy.

Voluntary or enforced curtailments of liberty are only ever acceptable on immediate public safety reasons wherein evidence shows opportunity for safe rehabilitation is afforded.

Which means there are circumstances where the voting curtailments are acceptable.

Of which, if Neil Robertson’s commitment is principled then he will accept not to vote until the reform occurs, but if he demurs he is making excuses for violating his civic responsibilities and will happily accept his exclusion from any future electoral registration anyway.

With the utmost respect, I have been remarkably impressed by his demonstration of illogical, wooly-minded and self-defeating thinking. It is among the highest calibre twaddle I’ve read for a long time – and that’s going a long way, even for Liberal Conspiracy!

Post 2 sums it up:

“I appreciate the sentiment. But not voting is not a protest, because if you don’t vote then you can’t be counted. Set up a ‘Votes for Prisoners’ party, stand in your constituency or ask a prisoner to stand, and use your vote to send a message. Staying at home sends no message other than you were too lazy either to go and vote or to make up your mind between the many parties on offer.”

Opting out of the political process just means its a hell of a lot harder to change things. As well as the suggestions above, have a look at what progressive candidates are standing in your area, publicise the issue and put pressure on the parliamentary candidates to respond to you.

For me, however, although I agree with you that this is an outrage, it won’t be the defining feature of this election for me.

Why not give your vote to a prisoner? Contact a prison charity, ask them to put you in touch with a prisoner who would like to vote, ask them who they would vote for if they had the right, then vote. Make it into a nationwide campaign. Just don’t sit there and do nothing as if that will solve anything at all. We will have to wait four or five years until the next general election, so let’s make our votes count this time.

@LeeGriffin
surely voting would also be an incentive for prisoners to get rehabilitated, as they would come to understand that having an input into what kind of world they are to live in makes it more acceptable.

As to time limits, I think this is a grey area. Perhaps the vote could initially be given to those who expect to be released within the next electoral cycle and gradually extended as confidence grows.

@ 27

I notice how criminals and their apologists always clamber about their ‘rights’ without any thought or regard whatsoever to the rights of the victims of their crimes.

You for instance ‘jailhouse lawyer’, what rights does the victim of your crime have left? What rights can the woman you murdered exercise now? Did you care any for her rights when you took her life? Certainly nowhere near as much as you cared about your own ‘rights’ when you were rightly locked away for it.

Why should you and others that disregard the rights of the law abiding majority not have certain civil liberties taken from you? Not only as punishment but because you cannot be trusted with them?

@32 Kane:

1. ‘What about the victims?’ In this case, if you had bothered to read the judgment instead of simply gobbing off, the prisoners are the victims of state abuse.

2. The dead don’t have rights, which means they cannot be libelled.

3. If you had read the judgments it quite clearly states that I was convicted of manslaughter and not murder, and you have libelled me.

4. This is not about the so-called law-abiding majority. This is about a vulnerable group in society being victimised by that society and the state. Does your so-called law abiding majority include all those expenses fiddling MPs and members of the House of Lords who hypocritically point the finger? In this case, the prisoners are firmly on high moral ground.

“I notice how criminals and their apologists always clamber about their ‘rights’ without any thought or regard whatsoever to the rights of the victims of their crimes.”

Oh blah blah blah. Can we all be adult and realise that the rights of criminals and the rights of victims are not competitive entities? The victim’s rights have been dealt with by having justice been seen to be served and by carrying through with it. The prisoner’s rights are his human rights that largely cannot be diminished except for the purposes of maintaining the punishment that has been levied upon them.

The prisoner always has their rights eroded for the sake of the victim, we’re just asking that rights that have *nothing to do with the victim* don’t get eroded as well. Unless you want to live in a vile and petty society?

@ 32

1. You are the one ‘gobbing off’ and haven’t stopped since you were jailed killing an innocent woman by smacking a woman around the head with an axe and still say you have no remorse

2. That’s right; your dead victim doesn’t have any rights anymore because you took them all away but haven’t stopped crying about your ‘rights’ ever since

3. You smacked an innocent woman around the head with an axe with no provocation or sane motive, I couldn’t care less what legal niceties deemed it, to most normal people you are a murderer. Don’t like it? Sue me.

4. Your hate for society at large is still apparent with your ‘so-called law-abiding majority’ jibe; the fact is that the vast majority of people are law abiding and don’t feel the need to kill people for no reason and the other lesser crimes and that is why there is no dispute whatsoever that we should have our full civil liberties

5. Answer the question: Why should you and others that disregard the rights of the law abiding majority not have certain civil liberties taken from you? Not only as punishment but because you cannot be trusted with them?

“As to time limits, I think this is a grey area. Perhaps the vote could initially be given to those who expect to be released within the next electoral cycle and gradually extended as confidence grows.”

This certainly seems like the most sensible first step

35. Could you explain how the right to freedom of expression is something that someone can’t be trusted with?

The first commenter got it right. Glad you re staying home.

The fact that you choose the issue of prisoners not being allowed to vote as a reason to er… NOT VOTE shows either a sense of humour or a rather perverted sense of priorities.

This lot would seem rather more deserving…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1259368/Is-sinister-Labour-plot-stop-British-troops-voting-election.html

But its The Daily Mail so it cant be true…

Kane L, well said.
What a truly disgusting creature he is.

@35 Kane:

1. The difference between you and me as that I know what I am talking about and make sense, whereas you just make noise and make no sense.

2. Remorse is a personal thing. Personally, I do not believe everything I read in the papers. I rely upon 2 Court of Appeal decisions, which the State accepted, which show that I have shown remorse. Yawn!

3. And you are ‘normal’? Got any other good one liners like that? “I couldn’t care less what legal niceties deemed it”, so you are not one of the so-called law abiding, then?

4. My sanity is not in dispute, I have the papers to prove it. Have you got a clean bill of mental health?

5. I don’t hate society. However, I prefer animals. And, I like the country better (like the Yorkshire Dales) than the people who inhabit it.

6. Answer your stupid and irrelevant question? The only right that offenders lose is their right to liberty. If you don’t like it, that’s tough. Are you a member of BNP by any chance?

@37 Lee Griffin: Kane not able :-)

I agree that everyone should be able to vote – political equality is a cornerstone of democracy – but I don’t think disengagement is an effective protest. It might seem like there’s a neat symmetry there but it seems like a means to make yourself feel better rather than a means to change. At best it is a stunt which lends itself to misinterpretation. Can you name a mechanism by which not voting could lead to prisoners (or anyone else currently denied the vote) gaining the vote?

“Voting is not a right, but a liberty”

I think I missed some of the fine print somewhere.

While its good to hone one’s skills debating with people who have different opinions I do find it annoying when righty ravers hijack an interesting and sensible discussion. Suddenly progress is halted and everything is reduced to tabloid-style posturing and slagging. How does that benefit LC? Would more moderation be better?

@ 35

Voting is not ‘freedom of expression’ but the most serious civic duty a person has. It decides everything about the shape of society and the future of that society.

Those who choose to stand outside normal society by becoming criminals are no longer valid stakeholders in that decision making process nor are they intentions trustworthy or their opinion on the shape society should take relevant.

In a more practical vein, if the vote was allowed for prisoners (the US for instance is a prime example with its huge penal populace) opportunists could offer concessions to criminals that are detrimental to society and criminals could vote for them to become lawmakers.

I wasn’t going to vote but I had my mind made up for me yesterday when walking to the shops, an asian woman parked her car right across the pavement in front of me forcing me and another woman pushing a pram into the road and incoming traffic. She thought it funny and laughed. What could I say ? If I had done anything, or said what I thought, I would have been a rascist and I would be in trouble.
Another example of the declining standards and great dumbing down that comes with imigration,

Hello Nick.

#43
You make an excellent point…
I believe the moderators may be away today …also there are two e-mails they haven’t answered about this very post here…mega tut.

Voting is not ‘freedom of expression’ but the most serious civic duty a person has. It decides everything about the shape of society and the future of that society.

HaHaHaHa Ha!

What planet are you from?

Political activism makes changes, voting merely endorses them.

@ 47

What an ignoramus you are.

In a democratic society, the only dynamic for legal societal and policy change is election; voting is a political construct encompassing a civic duty and a civil liberty, not a human right. and as such it can and should be taken away from people that oppose and attack society through their criminality.

Voting is a human right, under Article 3 of the First Protocol, and the leading authority for this position is Hirst v UK(No2)

“56. Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 appears at first sight to differ from the
other rights guaranteed in the Convention and protocols as it is phrased in
terms of the obligation of the High Contracting Party to hold elections
which ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people rather than in
terms of a particular right or freedom.
57. However, having regard to the preparatory work to Article 3 of the
Protocol and the interpretation of the provision in the context of the
Convention as a whole, the Court has established that it guarantees
individual rights, including the right to vote and to stand for election (see
Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v. Belgium, judgment of 2 March 1987, Series
A no. 113, pp. 22-23, §§ 46-51). Indeed, it was considered that the unique
phrasing was intended to give greater solemnity to the Contracting States’
commitment and to emphasise that this was an area where they were
required to take positive measures as opposed to merely refraining from
interference (Mathieu-Mohin, § 50)…
…59. As pointed out by the applicant, the right to vote is not a privilege. In
the twenty-first century, the presumption in a democratic State must be in
favour of inclusion, as may be illustrated, for example, by the parliamentary
history of the United Kingdom and other countries where the franchise was
gradually extended over the centuries from select individuals, elite
groupings or sections of the population approved of by those in power.
Universal suffrage has become the basic principle (Mathieu-Mohin, § 51,
citing X. v. Germany, no. 2728/66, Commission decision of 6 October 1967,
Collection 25, pp. 38-41).

@ 49

And that is another political construct by an unelected bureaucracy of an organisation no one voted to join and has no mandate to decide.

Nobody lives forever, duh!

52. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

4. This is not about the so-called law-abiding majority. This is about a vulnerable group in society being victimised by that society and the state. Does your so-called law abiding majority include all those expenses fiddling MPs and members of the House of Lords who hypocritically point the finger?

As you allude to, there is no ‘law abiding majority’ in this country, six out of ten people have been involved in criminality at some level. As we’re seeing this fictional ingroup (along with it’s cohabiting life partner ‘the silent majority’) is usually used to justify extreme legislation or behaviour.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6235988.stm

“Those who choose to stand outside normal society by becoming criminals are no longer valid stakeholders in that decision making process nor are they intentions trustworthy or their opinion on the shape society should take relevant.”

So you agree that if someone is going to be outside of prison during the parliaments term then they ARE valid stakeholders in that decision making process. So why bar them just because they were in prison?

“In a more practical vein, if the vote was allowed for prisoners (the US for instance is a prime example with its huge penal populace) opportunists could offer concessions to criminals that are detrimental to society and criminals could vote for them to become lawmakers.”

The prison population, for a start, is only less than 100,000 people, and given that there is no political grouping or MP in the world that is going to give concessions to prisoners over the rest of those (like you) are extremely vocal about kicking criminals while they’re down. Remember that these people come from a variety of constituencies, all over the country, and only account for less than 1% of all eligible voters nationally.

In fact prisoners could form a constituency for themselves in practical terms due to the population number, there could be a “prisoners” MP, however the potential for abuse is higher in such a position, and the stigma on that individual person would no doubt make their lives hell…so keeping prisoners voting in their previous addressed constituency makes most sense on a practical level all around.

Second, even if it were the case that a single MP was voted for by giving concessions to prisoners, they would (to get those concessions in to law) have to make a bill that was supported by first their party and then second by at least 300 or so of their fellow MPs, most of which WON’T have been swayed by the minority populace in prisons. Again, I’d be surprised to see either a party or mass movement of MPs try to give prisoners more “luxury” a life just to win their votes and see their popularity remain at the levels with the “law-abiding” populace.

Third you assume that prisoners are, in their own right, a set of people set on subverting democracy. You need to demonise them, I can tell you have to make them in to un-people just to get by. But the reality is that the majority are just people that have made the wrong decisions or had those wrong decisions made for them. Most aren’t inherently violent, most certainly aren’t mentally ill. The idea that they would en masse vote for the destabilisation of a country just because is one rooted firmly in fantasy.

Finally, where do you stop with this mentality of censorship? Prisoners are evil so shouldn’t vote because they’d only vote for corruption…how about people that are on the sex offenders register? They’d *only* vote for child fiddling policies, right? Or how about those on benefits, they’d only vote for more money? The list goes on, you cannot stop people voting just because they may vote for some ideal that *you* don’t agree with.

“And that is another political construct by an unelected bureaucracy of an organisation no one voted to join and has no mandate to decide.”

You do realise the UK was one of the founding members of this organisation that put together the convention on human rights?

I’ve cleaned up a couple of comments here. There’s been enough abuse that simply isn’t constructive to this discussion. What you’ve wanted to say, Kane, has been said and you’ve made your views clear.

The issue here is the general right of prisoners to vote, either as a whole or in part. No more meaningless abuse against another commenter please.

@52 DisgustedofTunbridgeWells: Funny you should mention the silent majority. I am presently fisking

“This insult to OUR human rights

Commentary by Melanie Phillips – Daily Mail, October 7, 2005″

which I found on The Silent Majority website.

@ 55

Not true.

It was a perfectly valid question, not abuse, that you censored and one which recieved the astounding and disgusting reply of:

“Nobody lives forever, duh!”

My question:

“So, contrary to your previous statements, are you now remorseful for beating an innocent woman to death with an axe and denying her human rights and right to live not just for a period of time, but forever?”

Why would you censor the question but allow that sickening reply?

58. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

“And that is another political construct by an unelected bureaucracy of an organisation no one voted to join and has no mandate to decide.”

You do realise the UK was one of the founding members of this organisation that put together the convention on human rights?

The claim isn’t even true, the country did vote for it.

#45

So you decided that the reason for someone acting in a rude manner was because of their ethnicity? And you’re worried about being called a racist?

@ 52

“Their poll of 1,807 people in England and Wales found 61% had committed one of a series of offences.”

mmmm. Its a poll actually, not a factual reality.

@ 58

Wrong again, They voted for the EEC not the EU superstate.

Unlike others, we were not even allowed a vote on the Lisbon treaty.

Now why do you think that might be?

62. Vicarious Phil

I followed the link to the BBC interview with John Hirst who says “When you’re a prisoner, the only thing you can do if you want to complain and no-one listens, is riot and lift the roof off – which isn’t the best way of going about things.

“Because we didn’t have a vote, there was no will in parliament to change anything,”

this would be an interesting argument had he not put it to a journalist questioning him about his successful hearing by the European Court of Human Rights.

I have voted many times, I’ve never kiled anyone or been in prison. I’ve never had my opinions broadcast by the beeb. If I were of the Daily Mail persuasion I might suggest John Hirst should get his voting rights back at same time as his deceased victim…

do you think he appreciates the irony in this?

A history lesson…

“The United Kingdom referendum of 1975 was a post-legislative referendum held on 5 June 1975 in the United Kingdom to gauge support for the country’s continued membership of the European Economic Community (EEC), often known as the Common Market at the time…”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Communities_membership_referendum,_1975

I’ve sorted out the discrepancy, Kane. And I repeat, keep it on subject and not personal. If you want to do the petty personal attacks go do it on some other blog.

Kane: Who cares if we the people voted for it or not? The ECHR is a fundamentally good thing, one that is essentially common sense in what we should all expect as human beings. You can pick and choose (right to life being on there) when it suits your argument, but don’t pretend that what you’re doing is essentially discriminating against people because of a personal emotion.

@ 62

Like I said, it was not abuse but a pefectly valid question about remorse that drew a disusting reply.

And I am done here anyway now. I know why you censored the question (and now the answer) and it makes this whole thread biased to the edge of pointlessness.

Cya.

Lee Griffin: “The ECHR is a fundamentally good thing, one that is essentially common sense in what we should all expect as human beings”.

I agree that it is fundamentally a good thing.

When I started looking for prisoners rights, I read the ECHR. It was frustrating reading English court judgments which dismissed the Convention because it had not been incorporated into English law. For me, that was a big mistake when we signed up to it and did not also incorporate for 50 years. It meant that we are 50 years behind our European neighbours who did incorporate it. Whereas Europe has had 50 years to learn about human rights, in the UK we only got 2 years and which is but a crash course in a difficult subject. It requires attitude change. There are still too many who do not wish to move forward. And, then there is me who takes a giant leap forward, and there is the screaming and shouting because I saw the opportunity to advance.

70. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

When I started looking for prisoners rights, I read the ECHR. It was frustrating reading English court judgments which dismissed the Convention because it had not been incorporated into English law. For me, that was a big mistake when we signed up to it and did not also incorporate for 50 years. It meant that we are 50 years behind our European neighbours who did incorporate it. Whereas Europe has had 50 years to learn about human rights, in the UK we only got 2 years and which is but a crash course in a difficult subject. It requires attitude change. There are still too many who do not wish to move forward. And, then there is me who takes a giant leap forward, and there is the screaming and shouting because I saw the opportunity to advance.

You have to wonder if it had been incorporated at the time would there have been the same amount of lies told about it (ie – “we had to give the prisoner porn, it’s his human rights” or “we had to give the fugitive on the roof kfc, it’s in the ECHR”) which have squarely poisoned perception.

I’m probably just being wistful, tabloids were just as worthless then as they are now

@ 58

Wrong again, They voted for the EEC not the EU superstate.

Incorrect, they voted not to leave the EEC because it was super fun time, which was replaced by the EU (alongside the incorporation of pre-existing entities) after the cold war.

As the ‘EU superstate’ is little but another one of your fictional sociopolitical constructs, in that, you know, it’s not a state (if it were of course, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, it could simply enforce it’s own law) the rational can safely deduce that I am correct.

For future reference you could certainly argue (correctly) that the EU is supranational in some respects.

Out of interest, where was I supposedly incorrect the first time, actually, don’t bother, I wasn’t.

71. Hugh Oxburgh

I stumbled on this by accident, but I thought I’d put in my two pennyworth. I want to make three comments on voting, two of which are related. Firstly, the right to vote is a civil right, perhaps even a privilege. That is something that one should forfeit when one is imprisoned. Secondly, it is a pity if the Human Rights Act (and our unfortunate membership of the EU) forces the government to give prisoners the right to vote. One should vote LibDem because they were less tarnished by the expenses scandal than the 2 other main parties & my MP was absolutely fine on that score. Spoiling ballot papers is so negative & childish. It’s better to vote for a fringe candidate than for noone at all.

@ 68 “You have to wonder if it had been incorporated at the time would there have been the same amount of lies told about it (ie – “we had to give the prisoner porn, it’s his human rights” or “we had to give the fugitive on the roof kfc, it’s in the ECHR”) which have squarely poisoned perception.

I’m probably just being wistful, tabloids were just as worthless then as they are now”.

In a sense, I am disappointed that Hitler did not invade the mainland of Britain. Downes has argued that because of Hitler’s invasion of the Netherlands, and subjecting hundreds of thousands of civilians to imprisonment, they knew what it was like to live under the jackboot and they said never again would authoritarianism rule their lives. Oh for their freedom! By comparison we are still in chains. They not only keep a check on the authorities, but also on the media. These checks are absent over here. The status quo wanted to keep their hold on not only on our minds but also our bodies. I think if we had fully embraced Europe back then, it would be different now. Better. The media lies are certainly a big problem. As for porn, it was more liberal back in the 1970s before all this PC nonsense took root. I recall many rooftop protests where protesting prisoners were supplied with both food and drink. Sweet FA to do with the HRA.

Er, Kane L, why are you bringing up the EEC/EU? The Council of Europe is a completely different entity. I know these terms are confusing, but if you don’t want to come across a self-important ignoramus, it would make sense to understand them.

And that is another political construct by an unelected bureaucracy of an organisation no one voted to join and has no mandate to decide.

You know what another organization no-one voted to join? The UK government. It did, after all, already exist when you and I were born. When were any of us given the opportunity to form a government? Why should the government have any right to wield power over me?

The answer is: I have the right to vote, the right to free expression, and so on. It’s not much, but it is enough to justify a government when the alternative is the state of nature. If I didn’t have those rights, I would find myself living in a personal tyranny, unable to even theoretically control those who hold political power.

And this is the state that criminals find themselves in. Unable to change their circumstances. They live in their own tyranny. If a person finds himself unable to change their circumstances, then the state has almost absolute power over them.

And what of those who are locked up for crimes which they don’t think should be crimes? This is not some academic argument: ask those locked away for smoking spliffs.

And what of those locked away for crimes they didn’t commit? The state is not infallible – this is, in fact, also one of the arguments against the death penalty.

You also have to ask yourself, what possible purpose denying prisoners the vote serves. A punishment? I am against punishment. We are, after all, biological entities inexorably following the laws of physics: there is no free will. What sense does punishment of somebody serve, if they had no choice in doing it? No, the response to crime should be justified by pointing to rehabilitation, deterrence, and public safety.

And denying prisoners the vote creates problem for the existence of a pluralistic democracy itself. Not only are prisoners prevented from voting on their views, but, if you get the right sort of government, it can easily find excuses to lock away those it considers to be political enemies.

Many rights are known as “human rights” for a reason – you have them by virtue of being human, not by being virtuous. They are a minimum standard, which no government should contravene. I reckon you yourself, Kane L, understand this, else why aren’t you advocating that prisoners be defecated on by their guards? Aren’t you insulting their victims, if you grant prisoners their human right not to be shat on?

Well, Kane L seems to be another one of those pleasant people that flock to Lib Con comments threads. I’m confident John Hirst doesn’t need has a fairly think skin, but I’m sorry you get this sort of abuse.

Anyway, a whole lot of idiocy in response to Neil’s post.

In my opinion Neil, voting is optional, and I can understand you not wanting to legitimate it given how strongly you feel about penal reform. But, I’d still say it was worth spoiling your ballot paper. I think gestures matter, if only for as a rhetorical tool in arguments, or to help motivate yourself, so I’d urge you to do that rather than not vote at all.

“Their poll of 1,807 people in England and Wales found 61% had committed one of a series of offences.”

mmmm. Its a poll actually, not a factual reality.

If we assume everyone is being honest I’d say that the margin for error is one over the square root of the number of people polled; which in this case is 2.3%. Considering the likelihood that anyone lying would be doing so to make themselves appear less criminal, I think we can trust this.

Voting is not ‘freedom of expression’ but the most serious civic duty a person has. It decides everything about the shape of society and the future of that society.

Voting is not the most important thing at all, and it is nonsense to say it is even a remotely important thing. If you lead a campaign and it is implemented than who cares if a few years ago the people implementing it are Blur or Red or Polka dot, its what they do that matters, and campaigning and petitioning and protesting get things changed.

Likewise, being politically active often involves charity work, or volunteering, or social enterprises actively helping people. I think helping to raise money for the homeless or working in a soup kitchen is a more important politically than voting for the least worst option every 4 or 5 years.

Fuck, can an admin alter the html in my second blockquote adding a / where necessary?

If not, then can every read the last 4 paragraphs as deblockquoted.

Anyway, for anyone who is complaining about the European Convention on human Rights (ECHR) I advise them to not mention the EU if they don’t want to look like silly, it has nothing to do with the EU and a lot to do with the second world war and stuff.

Hugh. “That is something that one should forfeit when one is imprisoned”

Why? Why should a human being that is affected by politics when they are a rehabilitated and innocent again member of society, not be able to have their say in that development just because they are in prison? We rightly limit their liberty to protect society and the prisoner, to force (in some form) the prisoner to accept rehabilitation (assuming that the system works), why should prisoners lose anything else during that time? We don’t force them to not learn, or not work…why not? Because we expect prisoners to come out of the system with knowledge and skills to not re-offend.

So in this kind of thinking, what exactly is the benefit of trying to sever the ties of a prisoner from the authority and democracy of their country? Do you think that’s going to enamour them to engage with society, or push them away?

77. Sevillista

@alex

Freedom Is the most important human right their is.

Your argument appears to be one that suggests no human right should ever be take away – one for abolishing prison completely?

Some human rights can be constrained. The ECHR admits this is the case for voting rights – they are saying it is acceptable to deny prisoners the vote. The concern is around a blanket ban on the voting rights of all prisoners – they think minor offences should not trigger an automatic denial of rights. They do not – as far as I can tell from the judgement – say rapists and murderers should be given the vote (and accept it was acceptable for the complainant to be denied his vote given his heinous crime). But they want the process to be altered.

To comply with this judgement, the UK Government will have to introduce new legislation issuing guidance on those offences where disenfranchisement is mandatory, or guidance for judges to decide on a case-by-case basis. This could – it seems – all offences that lead to custodial sentences

@ 69 “I want to make three comments on voting, two of which are related. Firstly, the right to vote is a civil right, perhaps even a privilege. That is something that one should forfeit when one is imprisoned. Secondly, it is a pity if the Human Rights Act (and our unfortunate membership of the EU) forces the government to give prisoners the right to vote”.

It is a civil right, and also a human right under the Convention; voting is certainly not a privilege, which the government argued in the Court and lost to my argument. It is certainly not a right that one should forfeit upon imprisonment, save for where I agree with the Court’s reasoning in relation to electoral fraud. Europe is swings and roundabouts. I think it is a pity that you think it is a pity that human beings should be deprived of their basic human rights. It is me who is forcing the change to European standards, trying to drag this country out of its primitive state. The HRA has certainly helped the Prisoners Rights Movement.

As for voting Lib Dems, they may not be as bad as the Tories and Labour, however, bear in mind they got rid of Charles Kennedy not because of a drink problem which they already knew about, but because he said he supported Ian Huntley getting the vote. The tabloids crucified him, and the Lib Dems drove in the nails.

Can we now move this debate forward instead of keep going backwards?

Yawn, Sevillista. If you actually take time to read my comment, you will see that I delineated between human rights, and other rights.

And I don’t follow your point about the ECHR not saying that all criminals should get the vote (e.g. presumably they would be okay with “rapists and murderers” being denied the vote). Was that an attempt at an argument from authority?

Erm, I might have gotten the wrong end of the proverbial here, but did Kane L repeatedly call someone a murderer in order to invalidate their views?

I’m used to seeing passionate (i.e. crap & ignorant) debate on here but I’ve never seen anything of that magnitude in my many years online. I’m a bit shaken up by it, to be truthful, and doubly impressed by the restraint of the moderation.

If anyone reads the judgment properly, there is no link between seriousness of crime and/or length of sentence and the franchise. To allow this would be saying people are less morally worthy so don’t get the franchise. The franchise has never had a moral criteria. If this was the case, MPs would be right up shit creek!

82. Rabid Raccoon

a prisoner is not a citizen, they are a burden on the state and as such should be deprived of all rights and liberties – not least the right to vote. Screw the EU’s incessent moralising, prisoners (especially murderers such as this hirst chap) should be glad that they are still alive and not executed as they probably would be in many other countries.

A prisoner is somebody who has not only demonstrated an inability to be an effective member of society but has further demonstrated that their presence in society is detrimental to the common good – why should they have a say in how the country is Governed?

@78 In a nutshell. It was also libellous. I have seen and heard a lot worse since I started this campaign. There are those that are forgetting that the protest is about the lawbreaker here being the government.

@ Rabid Raccoon

Should people caught speeding be beaten with iron bars?

It follows logically (and perhaps hyperbolically) from what you have said.

They’ve committed a crime and have all their rights removed, including the one which prevents you from being assaulted with ferrous materials.

Do you want to modify your position slightly?

Re: 79

Or they could be unhappy that they are unable to vote, as they would be in many other countries.

If you love execution-happy Iranistan so much why don’t you go live there etc etc

It’s a bit like John Lennon’s bed for peace, only with less commitment. I have to agree with some of the comments above – a truly ridiculous piece.

Iranistan: our next military target.

Re: 83

I agree it’s a bit silly, but it’s also food for thought: if we have a right to vote for whoever we want, what happens when we don’t want anyone on offer? Should we have a right to vote to re-open nominations? It’s worth asking these questions, sometimes.

“A prisoner is somebody who has not only demonstrated an inability to be an effective member of society but has further demonstrated that their presence in society is detrimental to the common good – why should they have a say in how the country is Governed?”

I repeat my earlier statement, though generally assume you’re one of the parachuted ignorants that seems to believe anyone who’s gone through the prison system is the spawn of the devil and has been since birth….

…A prisoner, when finished with their time, is an innocent ex-convict. They have done their punishment for their crimes and are therefore a “blank slate” in terms of participation in society. Unfortunately those like you would rather that these ex-convicts then found it harder to get jobs, harder to adapt to new skills, and (it seems here) harder to visualise themselves as part of the society that incarcerated them rather than an outsider.

By all means, if you’re actually *for* the burden prison’s put on our society, financially and otherwise, then continue to believe what you do….it is the surefire way of ensuring reoffending rates remain at their current levels or higher and to put our society and our economy under strain.

If however you understand the link between engagement with individuals, their health, the support they get for any past abuses or problems, and their prospects and aspirations and their likelihood to reoffend, then you might want to rethink your position.

I suggest people use names to show who they’re replying to, that way no numbers confuse anyone as abusive comments disappear.

Re: 85

Actually wtf, I think it was because simplistic twats don’t understand the difference between a diminished-responsibility manslaughter committed 30 years ago by a now-reformed citizen, and a murder committed yesterday by a dangerous sociopath. Furthermore, said twats don’t think their ignorance of the criminal justice system should be a barrier to them speaking their brains about it at every opportunity.

It’s only warped if you accept the tabloid version of events at face value, and if you do then I’ve got no idea how you can cut it in the real world.

Re: Lee Griffin @ 00:33

Yeah, good call.

I’m not here to defend John Hirst, he’s big enough to make his own arguments (which I believe he has, repeatedly, not to mention in court).

But I find the moral condemnation on show pretty pathetic. Its the internet that brings it out in people partly, but I suppose its the irrational confidence that you’ll never be a law breaker, that you’ll never err that irks me.

Likewise, there seems little logic in the shouts against clemency from those who want prisoners to lose all their rights. (I refer you to the ferrous/speeding analogy above). I want a penal system that results in as little crime, how does depriving criminals of voting rights achieve this.

Perhaps I’ve not made it clear. Luckily, Chris posted on something relevant today.

Both fail to see what the law does. The law does not ban things – at least not directly – but rather changes incentives. And these changes might not have wholly desirable effects.

On average people commit crimes because they think the outcomes of committing the crime are preferably to not committing the crime.

One of the things that contributes to how expensive a crime is would be the likelihood of getting caught and the severity of the punishment if this happened. Losing the vote is not going to have anything other than a very very marginal effect on this because voting is going to be a very small part of their life.

One of the purposes of prison is to rehabilitate because 1) that’s cheaper than releasing someone only to lock them up again in a few years, and 2) its better for everyone involved because it will result in less crime. In the boring, mundane and repetitive life of a prisoner voting offers a connection to the outside world and an opportunity to engage constructively which I think will help rehabilitation.

I think the question of spoilt versus RON is an interesting one. I’m a little in the dark here, but my understanding is that spoilt ballots aren’t noted as being anything other than spoilt? The message given isn’t noted or recorded, so it is not registered as a vote of any kind, just a void one.

At least with RON there is a number than can be attributed to apathy as opposed to incapability to fill out a form. Or, perhaps more realistically, a difference between those that honestly think that a better politician should be available, and those that don’t believe in the system and want to note that opinion

Gwyn: Glad you agree ;)

I have been asked on Hagley Road to Ladywood Blog, where this topic was originally posted,

“Please answer this question for me: do you really think that by not voting the country would suddenly gain conscience of the prisoners’ vote issue?

Or is it just gonna be more headlines about rising apathy?”.

It is a very interesting question. I have heard politicians going on about low voter turn out, and yet here they are preventing those who want to vote from voting! Neil has beautifully hit the nail on the head. This is not about voter apathy, nor the lack of choice between parties, nor about what prisoners have done to get locked up. It is about Jack Straw breaking the law. It is about Jack Straw, who as the so-called responsible Minister for Justice, has a duty to ensure Democracy, Rule of Law, and Human Rights to citizens. For this to be ignored on the scale that it has means too many people with their heads in the sand.

Because of all the implications and ramifications this is the story of the election but the MSM hasn’t cottoned on yet. The tabloid media and government have been caught out lying on a grand scale on this issue. It is either naked or suit of green. The Court said every citizen counts. Neil is making his vote count. There is about 3 weeks left to make the prisoners votes count. If this stunt or call it what you like works, I will personally put a blue plaque on Neil’s house.

Pathetic.

If you don’t go and vote or spoil your ballot paper with rude words, drawings, verses from the Koran, add and tick a “none of the above” box or whatever, the two main parties WILL assume you are too content to bother.

As someone who has a reasonably efficient LibDem MP and where there are Green councillors in surrounding boroughs, I know for a fact it is not a waste of time voting for non LabCon parties in many consituencies/wards.

I want to see the two party state completely smashed/undermined so that we stand some chance of more intelligent and engaged politicians in future – again pointing to a need to vote for non LabCon candidates.

Last but not least, a low turnout allows undesirables to be elected with very few votes – as we saw in the election of two BNP members to the EU Parliament. :<

People should either vote or – if they really have bothered to look at all the candidates in their constituency/ward and have decided they disagree with all of them (INCREDIBLY unlikely, I would have thought) – they should go to the polling station and spoil their ballot papers in whatever way seems appropriate.

(The candidates are obliged to look at all the spoiled ballot papers so this is not quite as pointless as it might seem.)

You are either lazy and pathetic, seriously depressed – or you are just a LabCon member/staffer desperately trying any ruse to stop people voting non-LabCon.

Absolutely pathetic. :<

Europe is asking: ‘Will the Government, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, run the risk of contesting an unlawful general election, or change the law in the nick of time to allow prisoners to vote?’.

If a miracle happened, would Neil then exercise his vote?

98. Sevillista

@alex

My post was referring to where you said:

“Many rights are known as “human rights” for a reason – you have them by virtue of being human, not by being virtuous. They are a minimum standard, which no government should contravene… else why aren’t you advocating that prisoners be defecated on by their guards? Aren’t you insulting their victims, if you grant prisoners their human right not to be shat on?”

That sounds like an argument that no human rights should ever be denied to be.

But that’s by the by – you seem to accept that some human rights should be denied to prisoners. The question is about which ones.

Re the other point – read the judgement. The judges clearly believe that denying some prisoners the vote as part of their punishment is consistent with the ECHR. It is the “blanket ban” where the issue lies

Sevillista, you are an idiot who is incapable of reading comprehension. When I said:

I delineated between human rights, and other rights

I knew full well you had been referring to this part of what I said:

Many rights are known as “human rights” for a reason – you have them by virtue of being human, not by being virtuous. They are a minimum standard, which no government should contravene… else why aren’t you advocating that prisoners be defecated on by their guards? Aren’t you insulting their victims, if you grant prisoners their human right not to be shat on?

But look carefully at the start of that:

Many rights are known as “human rights”

i.e. not all rights are “human rights”. In other words, “I delineated between human rights, and other rights”.

Please learn to fucking read.

Re the other point – read the judgement. The judges clearly believe that denying some prisoners the vote as part of their punishment is consistent with the ECHR. It is the “blanket ban” where the issue lies

Again. Reading comprehension. Work on it. I’m well aware that denying some criminals the vote would okay from the ECHR point of view, but I was pointing out that using such a point as an argument against giving all prisoners the vote would be an argument from authority. Which is a logical fallacy.

100. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

@60

@ 52

“Their poll of 1,807 people in England and Wales found 61% had committed one of a series of offences.”

mmmm. Its a poll actually, not a factual reality.

Who do you suppose they were polling, Ken Barlow? Bill and Ben? Lara Croft?

One study, by criminologists at Keele University, found that nearly two-thirds of Britons admitted to acts of dishonesty

Key term there, obviously.

The entire article can be found here – http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:t8CYbUcvg0wJ:www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/opus45/Law_abiding_Majority_FINAL_VERSION.pdf+%22british+journal+of+criminology%22+%22law+abiding+majority%22&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjzFgKSg_4ZnQrdeFp8R-jL0QOvW1ISflqt4ozxgPb1RwmPtBoRxGSnQlDHjeVsFqoWQOBd3-XG4I78uVKa4SfM6mqvylL8LkW4Y8bnuGu_aUZlT7krfnY537Jwgb3MREBc_XML&sig=AHIEtbTiq7IM7y2SV6zCckArUXV2PDK-NQ

@jailhouselawyer
your argument overly depends on legalisms and case law. Practical, yes, but open to alternate interpretations and therefore politically unreliable. I understand Stephen Byers used this argument only this weekend to justify his lobbying practices.

Liberties, civic rights and human rights are easily confused, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated alike in all cases.

Voting is not a human right because the existence of human society does not depend upon it.

Nor is voting a civic right, because many communities do not organise votes for the participation of all their members.

The progression of human society does however depend on voting, because it is the only means of accounting for every participant.

So if we wish to account for the crimes committed by people behind bars we must also listen to their voices and extend votes to them (under certain conditions), but it is completely perverse to think that by silencing ourselves we will further this end.

The means are not justified by the ends, the means determine the ends.

“Voting is not a human right because the existence of human society does not depend upon it.”

That statement makes no sense. If human rights were only those things necessary for the existence of human society, then what are the human rights? Because, as history has shown, you can install a totalitarian government, and inflict mass genocide, and they’ll still be a human society for those left over.

@alex
Incorrect.

When genocide occurs it is caused by the breakdown of normalised (ie non-violent) relationships and decision-making processes within human society.

Where wholesale violations of basic standards of non-violence continue the society crumbles to the point of collapse or is overturned whereby normalcy is reestablished.

Voting is a more reliable form of decision-making, but it is not the only one, nor does it necessarily result in decisions which reduce violence.

The right to vote is therefore included in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Even within the European Convention on Human Rights the right to regular, free and fair elections is included among the protocols, meaning it is not a human right in and of itself, but a subordinate right agreed as the most effective way of securing human rights.

Put it this way, the right to vote is not conferred immediately you are born. Anywhere.

on the day of election (May 6, 2010) I will attend the local voting station and I will present the following to the clerk of records, I will have posters & hand outs as well. Who knows, I may well influence others too?

STATEMENT OF WITHDRAWAL OF CONSENT TO BE GOVERNED

ISSUED TO THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND AGENTS OF: THE UNITED KINGDOM of GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND

PLEASE NOTE THAT ON THIS DATE: MAY 06, 2010
I; My Name (or yours) RESIDING AT My House, (or yours).

DID PRESENT MYSELF TO THE VOTE POLLING STATION IN THE VILLAGE OF (where I live).
I STATED THE FOLLOWING TO CLERK OF RECORDS:
” I WILL NOT VOTE.
I HEREBY RESCIND ANY AND ALL CONTRACTS BETWEEN MYSELF AND ANY GOVERNMENT THAT WILL RESULT FROM THIS VOTE.
I WITHDRAW MY CONSENT TO BE GOVERNED BY OTHERS.
I RECLAIM MY COMMON LAW RIGHT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS A SOVEREIGN BRITON.
I WILL NOT ABIDE BY ANY FALSE STATUTE, RULE, OR LAW OTHER THAN COMMON LAW.
I WILL NOT DISTURB THE PEACE,
I WILL NOT CAUSE HARM TO OTHERS,
I WILL NOT ENTER INTO FALSE CONTRACT WITH OTHERS.
THIS STATEMENT IS HEREBY ISSUED TO ANY AND ALL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND AGENTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM of GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND.”
WITNESSED THIS DAY: _________________
NAMES OF WITNESS: ____________________ , ____________________
SIGNATURE OF WITNESS: ____________________ , __________________


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why I'm not voting at the next election http://bit.ly/9wo7Jp

  2. Rob Waller

    @libcon what planet are you people living on? http://bit.ly/9wo7Jp

  3. Alan Thomas

    RT @libcon: Why I'm not voting at the next election http://bit.ly/9wo7Jp – Sounds like self serving justification for apathy to me.

  4. Joshua G B Hardy

    http://bit.ly/aBKsWs what a ridiculous statement, 'prisoners should have the vote and not voting is a protest', *facepalm*

  5. Tony Kennick

    Some of the most fat-headed face-spiting-nose-cutting I have ever read http://bit.ly/9U4Dyi

  6. Paul Evans

    Too self-righteous to vote http://bit.ly/c3Oy0R

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Why I’m not voting at the next election http://bit.ly/9wo7Jp

  8. Why prisoners should be voting « Left Outside

    [...] prisoners should be voting Neil has written for Hagley Road to Ladywood and Liberal Conspiracy. He won’t be voting in this year’s elections and here’s why. 6 years ago a [...]





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