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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Votes for Everyone?

While I'm not particularly enamoured with the idea of prisoners getting to vote, I think that there's a better way to debate it than for Conservative politicians to go on TV and laugh in the face of those who want to have a genuine discussion about the following:

If Britain flouts the European Court of Human Rights' ruling on prisoner votes, on what grounds can we criticise other countries who also flout its rulings and the associated European Convention on Human Rights?

For instance, you could argue that if Ireland had acted more quickly on the European Court's ruling on its laws concerning abortion, then Savita Halappanavar might not be dead.

If the UK is free to pick and choose which rulings it follows, then why on earth will other countries not point to our example and do the same?

Mark my words, those other countries will not be picking issues to ignore that people find morally understandable, like prisoners voting. They'll be picking issues to ignore rulings on like abortion, institutional homophobia and racism, and worse.

The European Court was set up for good reasons, and its rulings should not be ignored by political parties simply because "the people" are repulsed by an idea, and you fear it will harm your ratings as the tabloid press seize on the issue and attack.

Ignoring the European Court of Human Rights is the first step backward into another era, and it should be resisted at all costs. Even if that cost is giving some of our prisoners the vote.

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