Thursday, February 10, 2011

The social contract

To my mind when you break the law you also break the social contract between yourself and the other people of this land, therefore if convicted you should also lose some of the rights of those who live in this land reverting back to a series of basics, merely to prevent abuse. Now I can also envisage a lot of laws which get broken that to my mind should not be offences as such, but were talking an ideal world here, so bear with me. One of the things that those convicted of an offence should be to lose the right to vote, those who break the law should have no influence on those who make the laws after all. Others are a lack of freedom provided by prisons. Lack of access to the legal system save only in recourse to appeals (or in defence against any legal moves against them). Common sense really, no doubt there are others you can think of, but being incarcerated at Her Majesties pleasure should mean that much of the pleasures of daily life should be denied you, a sort of tacit addendum to the time served in that you would come out not wanting ever to go back. Prison itself should be seen as a punishment by the public and the prisoner with some rehabilitation only towards the end of a sentence, unless of course we're going to deport them.
Most MP's seem to think the same way, particularly on giving prisoners the vote and it looks like the government might lose the debate on it, but not to worry, MP's are about to learn just how little power they actually have any more.

Convicted offenders will get the right to vote in prison despite a predicted mass revolt in the House of Commons today, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke insisted yesterday.
MPs are poised to oppose overwhelmingly the move to enfranchise thousands of inmates – on the orders of European judges – in a Parliamentary vote this evening.
But in a sign of confusion among ministers on the eve of the debate, Mr Clarke provoked fury by indicating that the Government will ignore the outcome of the Commons vote.
n a sign that the coalition will bow to the demands of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Clarke said: “We are grasping the nettle. We are going to comply with our obligations.”
His remarks provoked anger among Tory MPs yesterday and irritation among Downing Street officials.
Good old Ken, loyal to his Europhile roots to the end, despite the possibility that he might just create a massive constitutional crisis. Still the one good thing to come out of this will be if the government does lose the vote is just how the European Court will enforce the judgement and how the commons will react to it.
To add to the merryment the Archbeardy of Canterbury has stepped in, naturally on the side of those who think prisoners should have a vote.
“The notion that in some sense not the civic liberties but the civic status of a prisoner is in cold storage when custody takes over is one of the roots of a whole range of issues around the rights of prisoners.
“If we lose sight of the notion of the prisoner as citizen, any number of things follow from that, and indeed are following from that.”
Am I alone in thinking that prisoners are no longer citizens, at least for the duration of their sentences? Do the crime and face the time, we wont mistreat them, but we don't allow them the rights of citizens, that includes voting and other rights.
I'm watching this with interest, I can't see the commons giving way on this and I'm wondering what is going to happen next, governments might fall.
First blow to the rebels, an amendment put forward by former Home Secretary Jack Straw and senior Tory backbencher David Davis.
The motion, an expression of opinion by the Commons which is not binding on the Government, says the House “is of the opinion that legislative decisions of this nature should be a matter for democratically elected lawmakers and supports the current situation in which no prisoner is able to vote except those imprisoned for contempt, default or on remand.”

Ayes, 234
Nays, 22

Motion carried.
Over to the government now.

4 annotations:

The Filthy Engineer said...

"Am I alone in thinking that prisoners are no longer citizens, at least for the duration of their sentences?"

Nope. I agree with you entirely.

James Higham said...

We have no power in one sense but in reading up on the issue, I discovered that we very much have the right to tell the ECHR where to go. There is a strong legal case.

It only needs parliament to admit that.

Anonymous said...

Ken Clarke is a Bilderberg stooge!! The fact that despite his being a Tory the beeb hang on his every word tells us a lot about his real positioning in the political world!! The UK should just tell the European Court to Butt out. Dave should grow a backbone and it should be sunny every day from now until November. It will never HAPPEN. This country is run by subversive Hoons!!

Anonymous said...

The ECHR only has the power that we grant it; like pretty much all of Europe it is guaranteed to be completely useless at its stated aim (stopping a repeat of the Nazi regime's abuses of human rights) mostly because political power devolves from the people being governed. The current behaviour of the court, including a complete inability to look at a case and say "This is local stuff, not within our remit, take it back to your country, little man, and argue it there".

This inability therefore leads inexorably to the ECHR slowly trying to expand its powers and, as happened with King Henry VIII and the Catholic Church, eventually the situation gets to such a knife-edge that even the tiniest little thing will push it over the edge. In King Henry's time, the Catholic Church had a good racket going: bribe it with land and it'd pray for your soul and give you a get-to-heaven-quick pass (or so it said). Church land didn't pay taxes, so Royal power was being steadily eroded and Royal ire stoked until a final slight by a too-big-for-its-boots Church triggered a power-grab.

The same is happening with the ECHR and by association the European Union. This is empire by stealth and one of the few empires which actually started out decadent (500 euro notes are a bit of a giveaway here; why design a currency that is good for cash-in-hand transactions?) and got worse. As with many empires, a lot of things are coming to a head at once; the Euro is walking towards a cliff edge, the European economy is shaky, the ECHR is meddling stupidly. It'll all end with one tiny thing tipping it over the edge, you watch.