Sunday, November 18, 2012
Votes For Prisoners - Remove The No-Go Sign
The following is from a BBC Report, see here.
"Ministers will give Parliament another vote on whether to give prisoners the vote this week, the BBC understands. Political correspondent Carole Walker said she understood MPs would consider options, on Thursday, including votes for those serving six months or less and those serving four years or less. A third option on the draft bill would be no votes at all, she added."
I wonder if any MP will do the honourable thing and put down an amendment to the Government's list of options, in order to allow all prisoners to have the vote. If there are worries about prison loads of voters distorting the outcome in specific constituencies, they could be given votes via their last known places of residence prior to their imprisonment.
The main reason that prisoners should be able to have the vote is that they are human beings. But even if they are thought to be not very nice human beings, that is no reason for disenfranchising them. For quite correctly we don't otherwise try to separate the wheat from the chaff when we decide who is entitled to the vote - not since we came (basically) to adopt the correct overriding principle of adult male suffrage. Separating the wheat from the chaff is an elitist response, contrary to democratic values.
There is also the fact that masses of people who commit serious crimes, never get caught. There is no mechanism we can adopt to remove the franchise rights of those who have murdered, raped and pillaged, but have got away with their crimes.
Everyone resident in the UK over a certain age (which I feel should be 16) should have the vote as they are subject to the laws which parliament determines. This is obviously the case with prisoners, as the law has caught up with them. The only exception to the right to vote should be for those who can't vote, due their having the most serious of learning difficulties. And even then we should err on the side of caution.
I just hope there are some MPs who see things in the above light. After all they are supposed to be at the cutting edge of democracy.
I have never heard a principled argument against what I say above. There are only appeals to our prejudices, as shown by the interviewer in the video attached to the link in my opening sentence.