02/11/2010

Prisoners' voting rights and wrongs

Labour's promise of rights to everyone has caused a bit of a stir now its been taken up by people we love to hate, prisoners. That Labour didn't have the balls to take pass the legislation heaped on them by the European Court of Human Rights (Note not EU) just adds to the list of cowardice they showed whilst in office.

I can't get worked up about the subject either way. I suppose I should because there has to be some sort of libertarian principle in there but in the great scheme of things it isn't glaringly obvious. The only one that comes to mind is that Parliament, not some foreign judges, should be supreme. But as we signed up to the convention we can't complain. Anyway, the judges have said we can legislate, we just have to be specific.

So what is there to worry about? Its not like that suddenly we will have all our MPs elected by a bunch of thieves* and murderers. The prison population is about 85k, lets ignore remand prisoners for now as I can't be bothered looking. We have 646 MPs so assuming that prisoners will vote in their home constituency, as opposed to where the prison is located, that's about 130 prisoners per constituency. Its hardly going to be a convincing majority for a prospective MP.

Even if we use that law beloved of consultants, the 80:20 law, and assume that 80% of prisoners come from 20% of constituencies, that's 730 prisoner in some constituencies. Analysing the results of the last election 33 MPs had a majority of less that 730 so that result could be influence I supposed. So applying our 80:20 rule only 6 results could be influenced by prisoners voting en bloc.

And lets face it, with so few prisoners they are unlikely to get defeated by an opponent promising to set all paedos and murderers free. Even if they do, its hardly enough for HM to call their leader to kiss hands and form a government.

And what of they argument for? They only one I've heard is that its part of their rehabilitation and will make them feel part of society. Now I'm all for rehabilitation and I don't think we do enough. In that sense I fall in to the Daily Mail do gooder category. But all I can say to that argument is don't be so fucking stupid. Voting is important but given that nearly half the population don't bother why should prisoners, by definition hardly the sort of people who value society, suddenly see being able to vote as something that will make them give up a life of crime? Because if it did then losing the vote would be enough of a disincentive not to commit the crime in the first place.

So all in all a waste of news time, but I supposed it kept those who like baiting the Daily Mail Tendency amused.

*The thought of a bunch of thieves going to prison to ask for the votes of a bunch of thieves does appeal to my sense of the absurd, so maybe we should give them the vote just for a laugh.

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