How easy it is to leave the EU

Britain should leave the Council of Europe if it refuses to give prisoners the vote, the continent’s most senior human rights official has warned.

You must be in the Council of Europe to be allowed to be in the European Union. Thus if we’re not in the CoE we cannot be in the EU.

So, deny prisoners the vote and we leave the EU.

Simples.

As it happens I think prisoners should have the vote. But willing to deny them that for the greater good of us all.

33 comments on “How easy it is to leave the EU

  1. That’s most unlike you Tim. Willing to compromise on a position of fundamental rights for economic gain?

    Tim adds: I don’t regard the vote for prisoners as a fundamental right. Their not having it is a long standing thing in English law. It’s also why the yanks don’t offer the vote to felons. Certain civil rights are withdrawn on conviction of a felony. Stems from Common Law.

    On balance I’m perfectly happy for prisoners to have the vote but I don’t, as I say, regard it as anything fundamental.

  2. Ah, fair enough. I was thinking along the lines of democratic representation being pretty fundamental but that’s a good point about the common law precedent.

  3. Back in our Nordic heritage, those who transgressed the laws of the community were required to leave and live outside the community in an ” ytre inge”, lit outside the settlement, from whence comes the modern, “Wittering”. Such people were denied the privileges of polite society until they had served their time, including the right to be heard in village councils. The denial of felons to vote until their sentence has been served is thus well grounded in English law and custom, and penal servitude has been so stripped of austerity that withholding the right to vote is one of the few sanctions left. Sending the 2 fingers of scorn to the Collectivist Bureaucracy of the Dark Empire over this matter is one of the few actions our social-democratic government has taken to resist the onrush of Rule by the Unelected. It is to be applauded.

  4. Aaah “the Greater Good”; you and Ritchie together eh Tim.

    But I do agree with you on prisoners’ votes. Why on Earth are we getting ourselves so worked up about giving them a vote? What on Earth do we think they’re going to do with it that’s so terrible and the rest of us don’t do? How on Earth is a prisoner’s vote such a bad thing when an ex-prisoner is free to vote. No; this is just a “look at me, I’m standing up for the decent folk” pose from politicians.

    On which subject: yesterday I was on the Liverpool – Euston train, 1st Class. A very genteel old couple got on at Stafford and began a conversation about the friends they were about to meet up with on their day out in London. Then the husband said “Remind me to pop into the House of Lords to register and pick up my 300 quid or whatever it is”.

    That’s right; posh twat on the HoL gravy train speaks like a navvy (330 quid or whatever) and is completely unabashed about fleecing the nation tp pay for his day out. In fact, I got the impression he wanted people to know where he was going.

  5. Denying them the right to vote after their sentence is finished, US style, seems rather unfair though.

  6. It seems like a slippery slope argument (fallacious as that may be). If you deny prisoners the right to vote, then it’s but a small step to denying e.g. the unemployed, women, non-believers, or other classes of people deemed not vote-worthy. The right to vote seems fairly fundamental to me. “First they came for the prisoners…”

  7. I think if we are to disenfranchise anyone the reason must be better than “because I said so” or “because they are baddies”, which is about the level of our justification for disenfranchising prisoners. And this whole furore would not have happened if, after Hirst v UK, Parliament had a substantive debate about which prisoners to disenfranchise. Other countries disenfranchise prisoners but they do not do it in an automatic, blanket indiscriminate way, and therefore they have no problem with the European court in that respect – this controversy is partly about refusing to do what we’re told by Johnny Foreigner, putting on a show for the home crowd. Pathetic really.

    And we should also abide by the agreements we signed up to or seek to renegotiate or leave them, not just ignore them for years.

  8. I don’t see why it’s arbritrary for prisoners not to get the vote. For any given offence, Parliament has decided whether or not it merits a period of imprisonement, with all the restrictions thet implies. As pointed out above, it has implied disenfranchishment since time immemorial.

  9. “Criminals” used to be referred to as outlaws. Once convicted, they ARE outlaws, thus not covered by normal convention. While serving time, they should remain outside the law, thus having forfeited their right to take part in the law by voting. Simples.

    Alan Douglas

  10. @Ironman

    ‘“Remind me to pop into the House of Lords to register and pick up my 300 quid or whatever it is”.’

    Why didn’t you challenge the leech? And take a snap with your phone?

  11. And we should also abide by the agreements we signed up to or seek to renegotiate or leave them, not just ignore them for years.

    Why? This is precisely what most other European countries do, particularly France.

  12. @ Tim Newman 1004 hrs
    Don’t you think the justification, “Please Miss, they’re doing it too”, has outlived it’s usefulness outside the playground? :)

  13. @ Andrew M – If you’re going to take your argument to its logical conclusion then you’re going to end up saying that imprisonment itself is unjust. Freedom’s a fundamental right, too, no?

    The difference between prisoners and those other groups you mention is that prisoners are… well… prisoners. They have broken the law and we have punishments for those who break the law.

    Part of the punishment is that rights are withdrawn.

    If you’re in prison then it’s quite likely because you ignored the rights of others so you can hardly then insist that your own rights be respected.

    It is not a breach of anyone else’s rights to be unemployed, a woman or a non-believer so what reason would there be to remove their rights?

  14. “How on Earth is a prisoner’s vote such a bad thing when an ex-prisoner is free to vote.”

    The ex-prisoner’s served his debt. The prisoner hasn’t.


  15. Don’t you think the justification, “Please Miss, they’re doing it too”, has outlived it’s usefulness outside the playground?

    Yes, but I have seen the folly of trying to play by a set of rules which the other side are happy to ignore.

  16. Prisoner’s votes?
    Shows what a mess you get in when you believe in bollocks like “rights”, a legal term introduced to provide income for lawyers, & ignore obligations. The difference between the passive & the active & we are all active – being living people not books or lawyers(being for the purpose of this discussion, legally dead)
    Thus:
    Are we obliged to take note of the opinions of those who care so little of our laws we are obliged to lock them away to protect ourselves from them?
    Answer; No
    Next question.

  17. ukliberty said: “this controversy is partly about refusing to do what we’re told by Johnny Foreigner, putting on a show for the home crowd. Pathetic really.”

    With the end result that european institutions get painted at the baddies, our lot of shits get painted as the hard done by goodies and prisoners still get the vote.(Which I expect many of our MPs are okay with but view it as political suicide to say so openly.)

    It doesn’t help that ‘doing as we’re told’ doesn’t necessarily involve rolling over and letting all prisoners vote but that seems to be what our politicians and media want to present it as.

  18. “@ Tim Newman 1004 hrs
    Don’t you think the justification, “Please Miss, they’re doing it too”, has outlived it’s usefulness outside the playground? :)”

    Careful there Kevin. You’re casting doubt there on the whole basis of European politics since the inauguration of the Iron & Steel Community in ’47. Heady stuff.

  19. Interested

    I did; another passenger called me obnoxous.

    I didn’t need to take his picture though because he is quite recognisable from his work inanother field. and as it would only be his word against mine, I don’t think I would like to persue it any further, at least not publically.

  20. Gareth,

    It doesn’t help that ‘doing as we’re told’ doesn’t necessarily involve rolling over and letting all prisoners vote but that seems to be what our politicians and media want to present it as.

    Exactly. The European court didn’t say “you cannot disenfranchise any prisoners,” but that’s how it has been painted by some. A huge fuss for eight years now, for the sake of political expediency not a matter of principle.

  21. JuliaM

    “The ex-prisoner’s served his debt. The prisoner hasn’t.”

    Yes, fair enough point. However, why should the denial of the right to vote be a part of his debt in the first place? What is the reasoning? This may make me a bleeding heart liberal, but I think all rights for offenders should be explicitly thought through before being denied. The same with all requirements.

    So yes, denial of liberty is clearly justifiable – protection of the public, a form of payment of debt to the victims and society, even society’s retribution. The denial and reintroduction of certain priviledges whilst incarcerated – for the safe running of the institution, evidence of rehabilitation – makes sense. The requirement to work does too – why should an offender get to be kept free of charge?
    What though is the reasoning behind refusing an offender the right to vote as a part of his service of that debt? (There may be a very good reason, but what is it?) I’m sorry but references to non-analogous Dark Ages village life don’t cut it for me and political grand-standing cuts it even less.

  22. … the whole basis of European politics since the inauguration of the Iron & Steel Community in ’47

    Shouldn’t that be the Coal and Steel Community established under the Treaty of Paris in 1951?

    The ineligibility of prisoners (as well as peers and the insane) to vote goes back a lot further than that and if that’s the way the UK wants it, it’s nobody else’s business that we should alter our dispositions.

  23. Interested: “However, why should the denial of the right to vote be a part of his debt in the first place? “

    Because it’s a by-product of his loss of liberty. Similarly, he’s lost the ‘right’ to have sex, choose what he’ll eat or wear, drink alcohol or go for a stroll in the park.

  24. @The Meissen Bison
    “Shouldn’t that be the Coal and Steel Community established under the Treaty of Paris in 1951?”
    Very likely.
    Who knows?
    Who cares?
    Like those nightmares that wake you cold & sweating in the small hours, sooner it’s a hazy, almost forgotten dream the better.

  25. Like those nightmares that wake you cold & sweating in the small hours, sooner it’s a hazy, almost forgotten dream the better

    Well I can’t fault that and if all it takes for us to wake up is to continue denying prisoners a vote, let’s do it.

    We could even speed things along by denying prisoners underwear. Or drugs. Whatever it takes, really.

  26. Shouldn’t that be the Coal and Steel Community established under the Treaty of Paris in 1951?

    The ineligibility of prisoners (as well as peers and the insane) to vote goes back a lot further than that and if that’s the way the UK wants it, it’s nobody else’s business that we should alter our dispositions.

    Last time I looked, 1969 came after 1951 not “back a lot further”.

    And that was, as far as can be seen, a mistake, when the distinction between midemeanors and felonies was removed from English criminal law the intent was to allow all prisoners to be able to vote not just those imprisoned for misdemeanours, but the ROTPA that happened two years later messed it all up, and not intentionally as far as can be figured out.

    Oh, those pesky fact things, aren’t they annoying? ;-)

  27. Oh, those pesky fact things, aren’t they annoying?

    Are you saying that prisoners did have the vote prior to 1951?

  28. For some arcane reason, the faux pas over The Coal & Steel Community sent me through a Wikiwander of the CSI with it’s 6 stars & a large slice of N. Africa, The 4th Republic. Paratroops descending on Corsica, tanks ready to roll to Paris, 21 Prime Ministers in 10 years….
    And that’s only the French
    Doesn’t it give you such confidence to be a joint inheritor of all this?

  29. Kevin Lohse:

    penal servitude has been so stripped of austerity that withholding the right to vote is one of the few sanctions left.

    Does anybody really believe that being denied the right to vote is a meaningful penalty?

    Too much of the argument around this issue is based around whether or not prisoners should have a right to vote. To me, the real issue is whether or not politicians should have a right to disenfranchise people. As far as I’m concerned, as soon as you allow politicians to decide who gets to vote, you open the door to massive structural corruption. Anyone who ever voices a political opinion should want prisoners to have the vote, for their own protection.

  30. It’s got nothing to do with penalties or privileges. The vote is the only thing that legitimises the state’s authority over an individual. If groups of people with a say can lock up groups without a say, we’re in trouble.

  31. Meisson, yes, until 1967 Felons couldn’t vote, those jailed for Misdemeanours could. If we’d kept that system we’d be within the terms of the court ruling easily, the ruling isn’t “all prisoners must be able to vote” but that there must be a distinction allowing some prisoners to be able to for various reasons including non-custodial sentences for the same crime not blocking voting.

    In 1967 the distinction was removed, all prisoners were, deliberately, givent he right to vote. Then in 1969 this was, as far as can be told, accidentally changed the other way when they passed a ROTPA that updated all electoral law but forgot the ’67 changes.

  32. The denial of the vote to prisoners is probably because they vote labour (at least that is what I recall from this in Australia but I can’t find the research at the moment). But it seems unlikely that they are going to vote conservative with the whole “tough on crime” rhetoric.

    Denying prisoners the right to vote seems to make sense on some arguments but in Australia (when they tried it) the result was disenfranchise a very large number of indigenous Australian’s who are over-represented in the prison population for a variety of reasons.

    But back to Tim’s point, it is a pretty neat way to leave the EU on a point of principle that a big chunck of the electorate would probably agree with.

    Also I wonder why this wasn’t an issue during accession negotitations in the 1970s after all it was a long standing common law principle in the UK. If it was a fundamental issue then it should have prevented the UK joining in the first place.

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