I personally find the idea of giving prisoners the vote highly offensive and contrary to the principles of a fair and just society. The reason for this is very simple: In society you have both Rights and Responsibilities of equal stature and if you do not adhere to these Responsibilities then you incur penalties on certain Rights you have. Therefore, if you do not respect the rules and decorum of society then you should have no say in how society is run. Simple.
Many would argue that voting is a Human Right and that Rights cannot be suspended or taken away. This is factually incorrect. Although there are many absolute Human Rights that cannot be breached under any circumstances such as "prohibition of torture", a lot Human Rights are in fact qualified rights where the state may legitimately deprive an individual of them if they have reason to believe it would be detrimental to society. So for example, if I exercised my Right to Freedom Expression and staged a protest demanding death to an ethnic group in society I would (quite rightly) be deprived of the right to express myself by the State.
Let us also not forget that prisons today are more comfortable than ever. Prisoners received Sky TV before I did in my house, they had access to a fully kitted out gym long before I did, get fed three thoroughly decent square meals a day and yet pay nothing. This sounds more like a Summer Camp than a prison! Prisoners today have better access to facilities and luxuries than a lot of law abiding families in society and therefore have some cheek to even THINK about asking for the vote.
Some have suggested that a blanket ban is unfair and that those who have committed minor crimes should still retain the Right to vote. I could get behind this idea, but only if the threshold was set very, very low. Even then, there are many practical issues to be considered. For instance, where do we draw the line between what crime constitutes a right to vote and what does not? What is intrinsically "right" about giving someone who hasn't paid their TV license the vote but not a Murderer? I would argue that there is nothing right about it and that it simply boils down to the same principle I mentioned earlier in this blog. It is a very slippery slope we find ourselves on, and how long before we give murderers, rapists and paedophiles the ability to determine how our country is run?
It is pure hypocrisy that Judges from Russia and the Eastern Block should tell the oldest Parliamentary Democracy in the world how democracy works. I am glad to see David Cameron give MP's the green light to defy the EU in this issue, as it is the first primitive signs of the UK growing a spine and standing up for what it believes in.
Long may this continue.