Sunday, November 07, 2010

Votes For Prisoners - And Many Others

The vote should be available to anyone over 16 who is settled in the United Kingdom, with the exception only of those who have such a serious mental disability that they are unable in any way to understand the process they would be involved in. This is because we are all human beings who are subject to the decisions made by those who are elected.

People should not be excluded from the vote on the grounds that they are in prison or are nationals of a foreign country (in this category at the moment only Commonwealth and Irish citizen can qualify).

Serious action should also be taken to ensure that the missing millions who are entitled to vote (but who are missing from registers) are discovered and added to the registers. Those missing from registers are a significant proportion of the poor, the young, the rootless, the homeless and ethnic minorities.

A major case for giving the vote to 16 year olds is that they could initially be registered via their schools when 15 as "attainers" and it would then be easier to trace them later to ensure they then maintained their voting rights.

I can not understand anyone who otherwise sees themselves as a democrat and a believer in human rights coming up with reasons to exclude any category of people. The vote is not something that one should earn. It is for politicians to seek to earn our votes.

As things stand with criminals, we have the odd position that we keep discovering prisoners who are innocent whilst we know that most criminals are never captured. If there was a justification for excluding prisoners from the vote, (which there isn't) we would need a superior justice system to the one we have - yet it is currently being subject to Government cuts.


The Plump said...

The vote isn't just a right of human beings, but a mark of citizenship. Should prisoners lose their citizenship together with their freedom in a democratic society? I think not. And the cheap populist outrage on parade betrays the lack of seriousness of this dismal government.

Harry Barnes said...

The Plump : Although it hasn't yet appeared, this item was initially submitted as a comment in response to a worrying item posted on Luke's Blog -

His worries about prisoners determining the result in certain Constituencies and Wards is partly answered by Bob Piper who points out that they could be given postal votes for their last place of residence. Except that two other points come to mind. What are votes for if not to effect results? And why (in any case) assume or worry that prisoners would all vote the same way?

jailhouselawyer said...

Thanks Harry.

ModernityBlog said...


Can you help me it understand something?

I am having difficulty trying to work out why the Shadow Cabinet have put up such a feeble attack on the Tories' workfare scheme?

Douglas Alexander has in his discussions on television and else where halfway conceded the Tories points, which is political stupidness of the highest order.

So why, in your view, are the remnants of new Labour so useless at tackling the Tories?

Harry Barnes said...

Modernity Blog : The situation with the leadership of the PLP is highly disturbing. The contest for leader did not produce any serious debate on why we lost the General Election, nor on what direction we need to move in. The Coalition's massive cuts agenda is not seriously tackled. It is as if the argument that the last Labour Government had been profligate is secretly conceded. Yet the recent flip in the Public Debt as a % of the GDP arose from action taken to handle the financial crisis of 2008and there are alteratives to the Coalition's Agenda such as progressive taxation, tackling tax evasion, seeking to boost the economy for purposes of social justice and for raising the tax-take, whilst cutting only what is unnecessary such as Trident. No one points out that this year's estimated debt as a % of the GDP has been higher in 231 of the last 300 years. The Coalition should not be making the Labour Leadership duck for cover.

Before Blair, there were still elements of the hard and soft left in the PLP. The great bulk of the latter sold out for pelf and place. Imperfect as it was and is, the Campaign Group became just about all that was left of the left and could be dimissed as "the usual suspects". Then dispite the odd exception, the new intake from 2001 has been dominated by what is called the "political class". Dispute his best efforts John MacDonald was unable to get a 100 MPs to turn up to force a closure motion so he could get a second reading for his bill on Trade Union Ballots.

Yet the current political situation should be a godsend for the Labour Leadership. The cuts agenda is a disgrace, there is a constitutional carve up taking place and the Big Society agenda should be taken over by Labour to mobilise society into democratic action by volunteers who work with the needy - not for workfare anti-social action.