Seems as though we MPs are going to have an opportunity to discuss 'Votes for Prisoners' this coming Thursday. As writing this post, I don't know whether its a 'statement', where we don't actually vote or a debate where we could vote. Doesn't matter for the purpose of this post, because its the principle that I'm reflecting on.
Discussion seems to revolve around three options, one where votes are allowed for prisoners serving less than 4 yrs, one where sentences are less than 6 mths and one where no prisoners at all are allowed to vote (except those on remand). If there's a vote I will probably vote for the third option, but its by no means straight forward. There is a case for allowing prisoners the vote - even is almost no-one in the UK agrees with this and it would make the Prime Minister "physically sick".
The reason I do not support votes for prisoners at all is that I think the people I represent, and the people of the UK are overwhelmingly against it. Gov't should not ignore people's strongly held opinions. But there are two reason's for the alternative view. Firstly, I'm hugely enthusiastic about rehabilitation of prisoners into civilised society - because it greatly reduces the level of re-offending. Gerry Hendry, Governor at HMP Shrewsbury has done magnificent work on this. And secondly, a refusal to allow votes for any prisoners will be unacceptable to the European Court of Human Rights (which is nothing to do with the EU). The UK has been a leading champion of promoting human rights on the international plain and I certainly would not want to lose this British influence for decency and good in the world. The ECHR is not a "Micky Mouse" body. In fact I think its judgements are part of UK law. Personally, I well understand why some MPs will support 'Votes for Prisoners' but I just do not think this is an issue where the powerful opinion of British people can be ignored. So its still No.