Suffrage? This is a right prisoners don't deserve

6 Jan 2013

Rapists, murderers and paedophiles. Are these the sort of people we want deciding who will run the country? No. The current ‘demands’ by the European Court of Human Rights that prisoners must have the right to vote is just ludicrous, do the public want them to vote? Do Parliament want them to vote?  Do they themselves want the vote? No. No. No.

Britain is under pressure from the ECHR to allow prisoners the right to vote- most European countries allow them to vote and I’m sure the powers that be in Europe are sick of Britain refusing to comply with European policy but this is one issue we should not be budging on.

 

Citizenship. The unwritten contract (because we like it that way in the UK) between citizens and the Government of the United Kingdom. It is a compromise between citizens abiding by the laws the Executive set out in return for protection against threats, both external and internal: if you break that why should you enjoy the same rights as you or I, law abiding citizens? I am a member of the UK Youth Parliament, and on 23rd November 2012, 307 Members of Youth Parliament from all around the UK spoke at the House of Commons- one member was only 12 years old but was still interested in making his local community a better place for everyone: I would hate to think a convicted murderer would enjoy the same, or indeed more, rights as exemplary members of the community such as the 307 members of the UK Youth Parliament and especially that 12 year old who gives up his free time to make life better for others.

How hard is prison life? After speaking to a former prison guard I would personally say not very. Smokers get cigarettes, non-smokers get sweets and everyone has access to TV. This occurs in the context of families who are struggling to put food on the table. Is this fair? And on top of all of these ‘rights’ do prisoners also deserve the right to vote?

Talking of rights, human rights champions say they are “against prisoners’ rights to deny them the vote”, is this right? What about murderers who have denied someone the right to have a family? What about the burglars who have denied someone the right to live without fear, and what about the human traffickers who have denied someone the right to have the freedom from slavery? The government has to balance the rights of the minority who break the law against the majority who need protecting from this minority.

There are three options open to the UK government: allow all prisoners the vote, allow criminals in prison for minor offences the vote, or keep a blanket over all offenders and deny everyone the vote. If prisoners can vote then surely the government could make ‘pro-prisoner’ laws to win over their votes and shift attention away from the respectable members of society: if they want to enfranchise a currently neglected section of society, what about the young people who are suffering as a result of the so called ‘Broken Britain’? 

While there is no rush to join the European single currency or even a possibility of downgrading our European status I call on Cameron, Clegg and Co. to ignore pressure from European powers and deny the same people who denied others the right to live without fear the right to vote. 

By David Hall

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