A clear message to Europe

Tonight MPs overwhelmingly voted to keep the ban on prisoners having the right to vote; the motion was won with a majority of 212 with only 22 MPs voting against it. Once again it has fallen on a Conservative Government to send a clear message to the EU; that Britain is no longer prepared to be pushed around and have our sovereignty questioned. The motion was led by senior back bencher and former leadership contender David Davis, however, it recently received the support of the Prime Minister who urged MPs to vote for the motion.

The Commons vote is not the end of this matter and Ministers stress that they are now potentially facing a constitutional crisis; with their ‘international obligations’ on one side and their duty to respect the sovereignty of our parliament on the other. Those in favour of giving criminals the vote argue that Britain cannot pick and choose which parts of the European Convention on Human Rights we obide by, which I suppose is true. However, for me this is just further evidence that a universal concept of human rights is unachievable; to any sensible Briton the idea of giving criminals the vote is repulsive. Voting is a civil liberty, the purpose of prisons is; of course to rehabilitate prisoners but it is also a punishment, your freedom is taken and with that, your right to vote as well. No argument, prisoners don’t deserve the right to vote; once they have served their debt to society yes, but until then no!

Which does the Government cherish more; our obligations as an EU member and signatory of the ECHR or the sovereignty of our parliament? In my opinion the latter should always be the priority of the government. This votes for prisoners issue is just the latest in a long line of problems to come from Europe; all of which prove that the EU doesn’t represent our values or our interests and therefore is definitely not for us.

Tim Hasker

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3 thoughts on “A clear message to Europe

  1. This is just a minor skirmish between Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights, so let’s not get too excited Tim.

    To get things straight, the ECHR has nothing at all to do with the EU, it is completely separate. So for once this unfortunate decision has nothing to do with the EU.

    It’s got nothing to do with Soverignty either. The decision of the ECHR is not binding on the UK, Parliament is left to change domestic law at its own discretion. It will be entirely down to MPs whether they accept of reject the recommendations of Strasbourg. So there’s no need to worry on this score either.

    And it has nothing to do with picking and choosing. Parliament, in my view, has a very reasonable argument: that denying convicted criminals the right to vote in no way inhibits ‘free and fair elections’, as stipulated in protocol one of the convention. The judges are engaged in judicial activism and they need to take a more literal interpretation of the protocol, and so on…

    It’ll be interesting to see what the ECHR comes back with.

  2. Bit of a misleading blog to be fair. The bill was a joint effort between David Davis and Jack Straw and it had cross bench support. No ministers voted for it and a few on the front bench want to ignore the results which aren’t binding.

  3. As a self-proclaimed Eurosceptic and supporter of prison as punishment this whole issue does get me slightly annoyed.

    Of course prisoners shouldn’t get the vote. I resent Britain having to take orders from Brussels at the best of times but on an issue such as this we really need to go our own way.

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