Spectator headline of the day

Prisoner voting rights are undemocratic

Oh dear lord.

Citzens having the vote is undemocratic?

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg was only able to pass judgement on this matter because of an individual case lodged by an ex-lifer who had pursued his claim relentlessly for years.  Rather than being determined by a free vote in Parliament, or by the judgement of our own courts, an individual litigant was able to appeal over the heads of the British public, the Government and the judiciary to an unaccountable foreign court.

That specific individual litigant may well be, as my opinion is, rather more than just a bit of a shit. But then so was Tom Paine by all accounts.

I\’ve long despised the American system (it\’s actually State by State) whereby convicted felons lose their democratic rights.

If you\’re a citizen you\’ve got the vote. You don\’t have the vote then you\’re not a full citizen then are you?

As for all the horror of having crooks voting for our rulers: shit, we\’re voting for which crooks will rule us so might as well have some experts to help sort through them.

65 thoughts on “Spectator headline of the day”

  1. Citzens having the vote is undemocratic?

    I think having Europe deciding how our country should be run rather than the politicians of the country is what’s being indicated as being undemocratic.

  2. I don’t quite get that being deprived of freedom of movement is not a human rights violation whereas being deprived of the vote is. But then, IANAHRL.

  3. If you commit a serious crime and are convicted under due process of law, you have broken your social contract as a citizen: you are, literally, an outlaw. So it is not unreasonable that temporary forfeiture of some of your democratic rights – specifically, voting rights – should be part of your punishment. Our legal system has apparently used this principle for many centuries – and certainly from 1867 – and I can’t see any need to change that now, apart from EU interference and judicial activism.

  4. You are a brave man Tim.

    Personally I would solve this and the funding of political parties in one swoop.

    Pay to vote, with the money going directly to the party you vote for, 20 quid should do it. cash on the day.

    The slags and chavs will spend the money on something else.

  5. In most states felons who complete their sentences can petition to have their voting rights restored; these petitions are routinely granted.

  6. sorry, screwed up the html there.

    commenter,

    I don’t quite get that being deprived of freedom of movement is not a human rights violation whereas being deprived of the vote is. But then, IANAHRL.

    Of course being put in prison is a deprivation of liberty. But, broadly speaking, depriving a convicted criminal of his liberty serves a legitimate aim (punishment, deterrent). His tariff, broadly speaking, will be proportionate; legislators have had lots of discussions about which crimes deserve which punishments (I think new sentencing guidelines are issued at least annually). The UK could justify imprisoning a convicted criminal. It has so far been unable to justify removing the right to vote.

  7. Super wheeze the paedophiles can support a lower age of consent and terrorists lobby for bomb construction to be part of the National Curriculum. I hope to see the day under PR when a new Party emerges pressing for prisoners not to be in prison any more . With any luck they will hold the balance of power and direct our Navy back into the Piracy

    Love you Tim but you are out of your mind on this one . Ninny na na ga ga goo style

  8. Summed up nicely by Newmania. Outlaws should not be part of the law making process.

    As for UK judges helped draft the convention who cares. UK judges sent the Birmingham 6 and others down. They are fallible.

    All we ask is that those who write our laws be accountable to us.

  9. You still maintain that voting is democracy?
    Have you looked at the way they chose the people you are allowed to vote for?

  10. Without wanting to sound like a troll, I don’t see what the fuss is over. Voting is not as important as some people like to make out. The vote of 1 person against a total population is hugely insignificant and their vote alone will never change anything.

    The idea that prisoners maintaining their vote would some how create a lawless society is beyond ridiculous, after all we still have our representative democracy they may want changes in law but these still have to be passed by MP’s.

  11. ukliberty,

    It’s a pity the the reporting of this can’t be as you have explained it. The matter clearly isn’t complicated and from what you have quoted the fault is with the Government and Parliament for not dealing with the issue in 5 years not human rights laws. I wonder how quick the Government would be to justify the taxing of income, for example. And it would be easy to justify denying prisoners the vote if Parliament had sat down for a few hours to discuss and vote on it.

    A decision by default that could easily have been avoided. What puzzles me is why Parliament allowed it to happen like this. Weren’t the opposition interested in discussing it either?

  12. “If you’re a citizen you’ve got the vote. You don’t have the vote then you’re not a full citizen then are you?”- Bingo. That’s the point. You commit a felony, you are no longer a full citizen. You have placed yourself outside of civil society. It is perfectly reasonable for a society to exclude its enemies from participating in its political process.

  13. There is no such thing as a felony or an outlaw in the UK. No bloody wonder people get confused about the constitution, when all they have in mind is a half-baked understanding of how things work in a different country 3000 miles away.

  14. Universal suffrage is the biggest mistake of the last century. It is the mother of all moral hazards and gives politicians a reason to pander to the mob. Would Labour have encouraged immigration if they hadn’t benefited from it electorally? I think not. Only taxpayers should vote.

  15. “Only taxpayers should vote.”

    Only property owners should vote. I’m tempted to say, married/civil partnered property owners

  16. when all they have in mind is a half-baked understanding of how things work in a different country 3000 miles away……

    OBJECTION !!!!!

  17. Would Labour have encouraged immigration if they hadn’t benefited from it electorally? I think not. Only taxpayers should vote

    People who can currently vote: not immigrants.
    People who’d be able to vote under your plan: most immigrants.

  18. john b, sorry, I’m not seeing your point. I have no objection to immigrants, but was referring to the suggestion that Labour was trying to import a new electorate.

    The government continuously ratchets up taxes. They would be less keen to do this if every single one of their constituents was a tax payer.

  19. JohnB: People who can currently vote: not immigrants
    People who’d be able to vote under your plan: most immigrants.

    What would be wrong with people who pay tax having a say in how it’s spent, irrespective of their race?
    Of course, this suggests there is something special about being a taxpayer.
    Most significant change we could make to voting rules: No representation without taxation (in the last, say, three years). You lose your job, you keep your vote. You make no effort to get a new one, you lose it.

  20. ukliberty seems to have taken the extreme step, eschewed by most commenters on this topic here and elsewhere and especially the Daily Mail and Telegraph, of actually reading the judgement of the court.

    Worse still, he understands the history.

    It’ll never do. 😉

  21. ukliberty
    May I suggest that if you can’t justify something you probably shouldn’t be doing it?

    Because something has not been justified does not mean it cannot be; and, in this case, the justification is straightforward and comprehensible to everyone other than bleeding heart social liberals.

  22. So, UKLiberty, exactly who are the “several UK judges”? There’s Nicholas Bratza and, well? Ann Power isn’t from the UK and Michael O’Boyle isn’t a judge (either a British one or an ECHR one).

  23. If you commit a serious crime and are convicted under due process of law, you have broken your social contract as a citizen: you are, literally, an outlaw.

    On the other hand, why do we have democracy? Out of some theory about social contract, or as a practical way to be able to peacefully kick out governments when they appear to be leading us down the route to madness (eg Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwae running hyperinflation couldn’t be kicked out, Robert Muldoon in New Zealand running massive deficits was kicked out peacefully because NZ has a functional democracy), and to increase the incentives for governments to pay attention to the voters’ interest (eg before women in Britain got the vote, there was an act that allowed the police to pick up any unaccompanied woman on the streets and inspect her for potential prostitution, an inspection for which no chaparone was required, and you can guess what sorts of men liked that sort of job, it didn’t affect upper-class women because they would take servants out with them). This interest in voting is also applicable to criminals, and ex-criminals.

    Basically I think of voting as a way of restraining government (an often inefficient way, given such things as public choice theory and the ignorance of voters and I’m in favour of other constraints as well). In that case, a wider suffrage is the better, voting is about improving the behaviour of government. And, I also think that we should have a very tough threshold for depriving people of votes.

  24. Not really a huge issue this one. I can kind of see the appeal of both sides and would myself lean towards the idea of giving all prisoners the vote as they are still citizens, no matter what they have done. Prison is about the loss of physical liberty, a huge punishment, not much else.

    However, if we denied prisoners the vote then it has to be, as people have said above, part of the punishment for going to jail. Which means prisoners are going to get the vote in the end. A prisoner on a life sentence will have a tariff, which constitutes his punishment for the crime committed. He will not get out jail automatically once the tariff period has passed. He will then serve an additional indeterminate period until the Parole Board decide he is no longer a threat to the public. Therefore, my idea is while serving their basic tariff, ie the punishment part of their sentence, prisoners should not have the vote. But once that period had finished, the vote should be returned.

  25. All the judges have asked (told) us to do is pass a law making it clear under what circumstances prisoners lose their voting rights. But there’s the rub, it means that politicians are going to have to debate whether or not paedos get the vote and politicians aren’t very good when principle meets Daily Mail Tendency.

    Personally I would give prisoners the if only for the entertainment value of seeing a bunch of thieves canvassing for the votes of a bunch of thieves.

  26. Thanks for the kind comments.

    Gareth,

    What puzzles me is why Parliament allowed it to happen like this. Weren’t the opposition interested in discussing it either?

    It is mentioned in Parliament from time to time. I have the impression that it is thought to be a political minefield. I think this is the bit that Blair Gibbs, Head of Crime & Justice at Policy Exchange, writing in the Spectator, gets right.

    The Court said,

    There is, therefore, no question that a prisoner forfeits his Convention rights merely because of his status as a person detained following conviction [before anyone makes an obvious comment, there is discussion earlier about what is acceptable and unacceptable inteference, e.g. with post, access to lawyers, ill-treatment]. Nor is there any place under the Convention system, where tolerance and broadmindedness are the acknowledged hallmarks of democratic society, for automatic disenfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion.

    Of course this is where the problem lies; politicians must pay attention to public opinion, and, as we’ve seen, people do take offence to the idea of prisoners having votes regardless of (or perhaps because of) their lack of thinking about it. SimonF’s comment @ 33 is incisive.

  27. Surreptitious Evil, I sit corrected.

    paul ilc,

    Because something has not been justified does not mean it cannot be;

    To be clear, I didn’t say it couldn’t be justified, just that it hadn’t been justified. I have no opinion either way except that “because they just shouldn’t have the vote!” or, “well it’s obvious!” seems inadequate.

    and, in this case, the justification is straightforward and comprehensible to everyone other than bleeding heart social liberals.

    No True Scotsman, eh?

    Examining the state of practice in other jurisdictions, [Lord Justice Kennedy, in the Divisional Court] observed that in Europe only eight countries, including the United Kingdom, did not give convicted prisoners a vote, while 20 did not disenfranchise prisoners and eight imposed a more restricted disenfranchisement.

    20 countries full of bleeding heart social liberals… the horrors!

    Hugh @31, that’s the kind of thinking that the UK hasn’t done.

    In itself, there’s really no huge issue here. Again, SimonF @33 is on the money.

  28. ukliberty: “Surreptitious Evil, I sit corrected.”

    I don’t see why you should be so ‘umble. There’s a UK judge and he sits as do all the others as the single representative of each of the signatory states.

    SE’s attempt was to imply that the UK was being overwhelmed by wicked foreigners.

    As to the judgement, I don’t see where the difficulty is. Just codify by statute law those prisoners who lose the right to vote and those who don’t.

    It’s not that difficult to ‘think’ of an appropriate answer (but then thinking on these Daily Mail red rag to a bull issues is precisely what politicians seek to avoid doing) that would satisfy the Convention and Court.

    What is truly objectionable is the idea that we should abrogate our Treaty obligations simply to satisfy the atavistic tendencies of the unthinking.

  29. SE’s attempt was to imply that the UK was being overwhelmed by wicked foreigners.

    Oh, sorry. I bow to your superior knowledge of my motivations. Actually, it was an, admittedly snide (but not sufficiently snide to point out the essential Englishness of HonJ Bratza’s surname), attempt at a factual correction. There is 1 UK judge on the Court (plus a NI barrister as one of the Deputy Registrars) not several.

    There is a wider point that the two common law countries are being overwhelmed by the preponderance of judges from the civil code countries – but that has nothing to do with this particular example (most of the countries denying the incarcerated the vote being common law …) And your point that all we (okay, the UK Parliament) needed to do was heed the judgement and pass a law is fine but better made by Simon.

  30. UK Liberty – You want to grant a new right but actually only on the basis it makes no difference .Suppose there was a constituency with a block vote of 3000 crims ( and there may be ) . What about the “Tough on Crime ” candidate ? Should he have to take the views of prisoners into account. Are you seriously suggesting this is acceptable ? If not all you are doing is posturing which is , I suspect the truth .

    Perhaps you are under the illusion you live in a country whose presiding philosophy is one of universal human rights .
    In fact we live in a communitarian country where the rough and ready justice is of a club. you pay in , you can join in. You simply break the rules you are kicked out.
    We do not believe in “Human rights” this is why the Human Rights Act is hated despite codifying for the most part legal protections we already enjoy
    These competing principles sit unhappily alongside each other generally because the universal idea is imposed from abroad . In this case it is plainly inappropriate which is why it has had to be inflicted on the country by a foreign elite .
    The question is about the nature of a Country and its community. Is it formed only of the humans who happen to be there , like a car park,or does it demand and give ,more than that ? Is it a living commonality , an imagined community entitled to expel and exclude those humans who have not earnt membership ? Or just a set of legal entitlements.

    What do you think?

    Generally we fudge along but to let those who have actually attacked the community to decide on its rules is a bizarre conclusion to the universal principle .

    Incidentally I find the presumably class based sneers at the daily Mail faintly repulsive . Its not obvious to me that the commenters in question are possessed of an unusually powerful intellect. Au contraire.

  31. SE.

    “Actually, it was an, admittedly snide (but not sufficiently snide to point out the essential Englishness of HonJ Bratza’s surname), ”

    Yes, ‘snide’ is about all you can contribute.

  32. What about the “Tough on Crime ” candidate ? Should he have to take the views of prisoners into account. Are you seriously suggesting this is acceptable ?

    I’m not UK Liberty, but what are you talking about? A candidate is free to form his or her views anyway whatsoever. Candidates are free to run on platforms based on “soak the rich” or “cut benefit payments to lazy welfare recipients” no matter how offensive the rich or the welfare recipients find said views. Whether the candidate gets in depends on the voters.

    In fact we live in a communitarian country where the rough and ready justice is of a club. you pay in , you can join in. You simply break the rules you are kicked out.

    Nope, that passed away in the UK when they stopped deporting people to Australia.

    Is it formed only of the humans who happen to be there , like a car park,or does it demand and give ,more than that ? Is it a living commonality , an imagined community entitled to expel and exclude those humans who have not earnt membership ? Or just a set of legal entitlements.

    A false dilemma. You can have a living commonality without the right to expel and exclude those people who have not earnt membership. Currently the UK does not have the right to expel those people who have not earnt membership (unless you think a native-born Brit whose ancestors were here before the Romans and who spends their teenhood years engaged in shoplifting, vandalism, bullying, muggings, etc, has earned membership.)

  33. I’m not UK Liberty, but what are you talking about?

    I am talking about a distinction between the competing interests of members of a community and those who attack it .Topically Churchill ran a suprisingly collegiate and inclusive war cabinet but the inclusiveness was never actually extended to the Luftwaffe by virtue of their inhabiting our air space , or indeed prisoners of war.
    Legally you might draw a distinction but according to the deeper justice of the people there is none in fact the murderer and rapist are worse.
    The rest of your comments show only that you have not understood the point Tracey.

    I forgive you

  34. Newmania,

    You want to grant a new right

    Where did I say or imply that? By the way, the right is about 60 years old; it’s ‘new’ to the UK because we’ve ignored it.

    Suppose there was a constituency with a block vote of 3000 crims ( and there may be ) . What about the “Tough on Crime ” candidate ? Should he have to take the views of prisoners into account. Are you seriously suggesting this is acceptable ?

    He ought to listen to them, as he should listen to all his constituents, but he needn’t abide by their wishes, just as he needn’t bow to the wishes of any constituents.

    Perhaps you are under the illusion you live in a country whose presiding philosophy is one of universal human rights .

    I’m under no such illusion. I think there are too many people in the UK who don’t support universal human rights. We wouldn’t even have habeas corpus if they got their way. Try telling me that isn’t English. (no, it’s Latin – hoho)

  35. Newmania,

    I am talking about a distinction between the competing interests of members of a community and those who attack it.

    But where is the dilemma? Just because we have rights it doesn’t mean criminals can ride roughshod over our civilisation. There is plenty of provision in the Convention – indeed some argue there is too much – for interference in its rights.

    Again, all the Court is asking for is some reasoned justification for disenfranchising prisoners. They aren’t saying we can’t disenfranchise prisoners. Why on earth does anyone have a problem with this? We freely signed up to an agreement that we helped draft that says, “when you interfere with these rights, you ought to have a justification”, and you are saying that this is a terrible thing? Um…

  36. Newmania, I was responding to a comment you directed at UK Liberty.

    The distinction you make doesn’t make sense. Take your Churchill cabinet example, the Swiss weren’t attacking the UK in WWII, but Churchill didn’t have Swiss representatives in his cabinet either. The distinction there was not between those who are members of a community and those who attack it, but between those who are members of a community and those who aren’t.

    Legally you might draw a distinction but according to the deeper justice of the people there is none in fact the murderer and rapist are worse.

    Um, I’m rather lost. Who do you think I, or you, or anyone, should be putting on the other side of the distinction?

    The rest of your comments show only that you have not understood the point Tracey.

    I am not a mind reader. I can only try to understand what you wrote, and that’s what I responded to. If there is some point I misread, then please let me know where it was. If there’s some point that you now wish you had presented more clearly, please restate it. As it is, based on what you wrote, I think that as a factual matter you are wrong about the nature of UK citizenship.

  37. Tim,

    Have to agree with Newmania on this; you are out of your gourd on this point.

    In truth the answer is quite simple to me; we should clarify one thing first; namely, I didn’t sign any “social contract” so that idea is moot and if I did it was most certainly under false pretenses and would never stand up in court.

    That said here is my explanation about why your wrong and prisoners should not be allowed to vote: from a libertarian, minarchist perspective the only real legitimate job of the state is to arbitrate over infringements to our core freedoms: life, liberty and property and how best to remediate retribution.

    That said the state shouldn’t be able to take anything it cannot duly compensate in case incomplete information or misdirection cause an injustice; this is why I don’t think capital punishment is moral, but life meaning life is.

    So the question is what can we take away which we can give back? Liberty and property are really the only thing we can take away/give back to someone.

    Democracy, having a say over those arbiters of our actions against others is one such expression of a fundamental liberty, and thus should be denied.

    This issue has only come about as a result of our nations rapid departure from sovereignty and the principles of freedom which enabled us to grow into the nation we are (or were).

  38. ought to listen to them, as he should listen to all his constituents, but he needn’t abide by their wishes, just as he needn’t bow to the wishes of any constituents.

    So UK Liberty you feel the opinions of terrorists on , lets say, security , should be taken into account . Not unduly you say , well that’s nice of you , but weighed with others in the representative system , you think that’s reasonable do you. You see to most people that sounds barking mad and insultingly stupid , but you know best , or at least you obviously think you do.

    Prisoners are not disenfranchised .The second it became an issue the Forfeiture act enshrined what was so obvious it had not been questioned . The rights of rapists to have a say in evidence required to convict rapists, is an invention of the hated Convention which to be in the EU you have to be signed up to . It is a product of the wider homogenising pan European movement which explicitly denies that validity of Nations insisting that its rights are Universal.
    Its legitimacy is nil . We were never asked
    I do not care what the European court says. If its starting assumption is that all people have the right to a vote it is going to be hard to argue prisoners are not people which is what you seem to require. This has nothing to do with reason it is to do with imposing a certain philosophically childlike conception of human relations by stealth and on people who would otherwise reject it out of hand .

    Yes yes Tracy I appreciate the Swiss cannot vote in the Uk ands I appreciate that as well as being part of a Nation there is a formal legal set of entitlements to which many argue the UK is reduced. No-one really thinks a country consists only of those and yet that all you are talking about .This is why I feel you are missing the point .
    Presumably you also feel that traitors should have had their say provided they were “ Citizens “ I don’t have the impression that phrases like “Imagined community” or “ Communitarian” are actually you are familiar with although they are essential in discussing the legitimacy of foreign interference in our democracy tradition and shared values . Perhaps I am wrong .
    PS
    The last time I voted , I voted for a Party that promised to do something about this judicial invasion the irony is that just as we worry about who should have the vote it becomes increasingly obvious it’s a fucking waste of time exercising that right s anyway . No doubt this is all to the huge satisfaction of the Liberal Party.

  39. Newmania, try not to put words in my mouth and we can have a reasonable discussion about what I actually said rather than what you imagined I said.

    The rights of rapists to have a say in evidence required to convict rapists, is an invention of the hated Convention which to be in the EU you have to be signed up to

    What on earth are you talking about now?

    If its starting assumption is that all people have the right to a vote it is going to be hard to argue prisoners are not people which is what you seem to require.

    Again, no. I cannot put it more simply than I have already. It is your prerogative to disagree but, going by what you have written, you don’t seem to understand my comments or the situation, and you are writing about things that haven’t happened.*

    * this might be madness or hyperbole; either way, it makes it difficult to have a conversation with you

  40. Not hyperbole exactly. If you believe Criminals have a right to decide laws then you ought to believe that the types of prisoner I mention have a right to decide on the types of law I mention.
    The British Act of Forfeiture ( just after the 1867 Reform Act) has an obvious relevance, as does the reason we are embroiled in the European Convention and European Court Of Human Rights . This court ruled, in 2004, that denying this “right”, soi disant , was discriminatory. That’s why we are where we are
    The founding principles of these unaccountable bodies are self evidently germane to the sort of ‘reasons’ they might accept . That is the subject at hand

    At least you are hiding behind your simpletons cloak of bewilderment . Nick Clegg is just hiding

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/news/2010/11/03/nick-clegg-flees-storm-over-prison-vote-115875-22686948/

  41. Newmania,

    If you believe Criminals have a right to decide laws then you ought to believe that the types of prisoner I mention have a right to decide on the types of law I mention.

    But I don’t believe “criminals have a right to decide laws”. I said I had no opinion on prisoners being able (or not) to vote. I said the ‘reasons’ given for disenfranchisement seem inadequate. I said MPs ought to listen to their constituents but that doesn’t entail abiding by their constituents’ wishes. You appear to have leapt from here to “ukliberty believes criminals have a right to decide laws”.

    This court ruled, in 2004, that denying this “right”, soi disant , was discriminatory.

    On the contrary, one of the reasons the Court found against the UK was the indiscriminatory nature of the disenfranchisement.

    I suggest spending less time imagining what people said and more time on what they actually said. Maybe you’d be less disappointed?

  42. Where have all these people come from? Usually its the same old people saying the same old things on this blog.
    (BTW can I say we need Land Value Tax,Resale Price Maintenance and bank nationalisation?)
    Have they been out there all the time? Watching and sneering.Unnerving.
    Why has this subject got them going?Tim W was right to start with,anyway.

  43. Roue #24 – probably far too late in the thread, but what I’m saying is that it’s unlikely that a liberal immigration policy is aimed at vote-buying, because immigrants can’t vote until they become citizens (which usually takes years – and, for EU immigrants, generally never happens). Meanwhile, allowing immigration pisses off the unskilled indigenous working class, who can vote.

  44. UK Liberty – Whatever ….

    John B- Yes and no .Our open door/ please come in , immigration policy had a political end as we know from Anthony Neather ( and as was in any case screamingly obvious from the constituency supporting it ). Its Economic basis was always flowed and the HOL have authoritatively closed that subject( again obvious anyway)
    Virtually all Immigrants vote Labour , true, but more importantly the ability of the Labour elite to ignore its own voters on this matter is epic ( even now when they have been told again and again and been kicked out of office )
    I think you could plausibly suggest that immigration to the South was part of a long term strategy to make that region of the UK resemble New Labour ,just as the expansion of dependency and Public Sector Professionals assists New Labour.
    That is just what any party does .As a concrete short term electoral strategy the very idea that the Reich style divided shambolic PR driven shit sticks could pursue any coordinated objective let alone a nuanced one ( as you rightly say) makes me chortle .

    I look around now and wonder if we had a government at all .

  45. john b, this misunderstanding is entirely my fault as I plucked a poor example out of the air, immigration. I can’t fault your logic, although I suppose it’s possible that importing non voting immigrants may sway voting family members already here.

    My actual point, somewhat off topic, is that only net contributors to the exchequer should vote in any case, so the question of prisoners voting would be moot, as they aren’t taxpayers.

    The underlying argument is that the form of the franchise determines the form of the government. Universal suffrage IS socialism.

  46. Thom: That said here is my explanation about why your wrong and prisoners should not be allowed to vote: from a libertarian, minarchist perspective the only real legitimate job of the state is to arbitrate over infringements to our core freedoms: life, liberty and property and how best to remediate retribution.

    It’s one thing to define that as the only real legitimate job of the state, it’s another thing to get the state to agree with it. How do we restrain the state to that role? Democracy strikes me as one solution.

    Democracy, having a say over those arbiters of our actions against others is one such expression of a fundamental liberty, and thus should be denied.

    But is voting a privilege of citizens, or a way of restraining the state? If it’s a way, an often ineffective way, but a way (and I don’t know of any other way that single-handedly is more effective), of restraining the state, then taking the vote away from people makes it more difficult to achieve that goal.

    Newmania: So UK Liberty you feel the opinions of terrorists on , lets say, security , should be taken into account . … You see to most people that sounds barking mad and insultingly stupid , but you know best , or at least you obviously think you do.

    What do you mean when you say that the opinions of terrorists on security should be taken into account? I personally hope that the security services are actively seeking out and listening to the opinions of terrorists on security, with the intent of thwarting them. Know thy enemy and all that. Sounds entirely logical and sane to me.

    As for politicians, more generally, I do think that they should not be able to pick and chose who gets to talk and who gets to vote.

    I appreciate that as well as being part of a Nation there is a formal legal set of entitlements to which many argue the UK is reduced. No-one really thinks a country consists only of those and yet that all you are talking about .

    That’s because I’ve been responding to your arguments rather than providing a complete survey of all my thoughts about the nature of politics. I agree with you that a country consists of more than just the formal legal set of entitlements. What I am saying is that it’s possible to have a living commonality without the right to expel and exclude those who have not earnt membership.

    resumably you also feel that traitors should have had their say provided they were “ Citizens “

    Ah yes, and in related news I believe that we should look both ways before crossing a busy street, and small children should not be given live grenades as toys. If society starts agreeing that traiters should not have their say, then the obvious option for any dictatorily-inclined politician is to start defining everyone who disagrees with them as traitors. I think any policy other than “traiters should have had their say” would be a terribly scary one.

    I don’t have the impression that phrases like “Imagined community” or “ Communitarian” are actually you are familiar with

    Let me correct that impression for you, I am familiar with those phrases, I don’t think that they are always synonmyous with the nation state. Communities can exist as suborders within a national state (eg Cornish separatists, “the old boys network”, or across nation states, eg Amnesty International, or the socialist brotherhood of workers).

    hey are essential in discussing the legitimacy of foreign interference in our democracy tradition and shared values .

    I think this is part of our problem. My own starting point for most political debates is fear of the power of government.

  47. What do you mean when you say that the opinions of terrorists on security should be taken into account?

    This was Newmania’s line of attack on my idea that MPs should listen to their constituents. Should MPs do what rapists tell them to do about rape law and punishment, he asked?

    Clumsy, lacks nuance, dishonest, stupid; take your pick.

  48. And yet you are cravenly sucking up to a super national elite’s puppet pseudo court driving a coach and horses though the democratically expressed wishes of this country its government and , the settled will of the vast majority. Not only that but you denigrate the country, the cradle of freedom, citing Cornish separatists, which you may not know are extensively funded by the wider Pan European ant Nation movement.
    You think Freedom is the absence of rules but it is something far subtler than that as is democracy which off the page is a cultural construct not a sixth form essay .They have lovely rules throughout Africa. The absence of states and rules consisted of slavery for almost everyone, people begged for strong Kings to impose order. The King`s Peace.
    Order requires boundaries and consequences
    Part of that is the exclusion of those who attack the very framework that nurtures freedom prosperity security, protects children and creates very meaningfulness of living ,whether or not they are “Human”.

    As to your inclusive community without rules .
    Its nice that young people still say such things I suppose . Sweet .

  49. UK Lib- No your idea was that MP`s should listen to convicted criminals they already have to listen to their constituents . I enjoyed the village idiot defence more , this is a bit sad

  50. “And yet you are cravenly sucking up to a super national elite’s puppet pseudo court driving a coach and horses though the democratically expressed wishes of this country its government and”

    The the tin foil is showing. I suggest you adjust your hat before posting again.

  51. Not only that but you denigrate the country, the cradle of freedom, citing Cornish separatists, which …are extensively funded by the wider Pan European ant Nation movement.

    Do you really think that mentioning Cornish separatists denigrates the UK? Um, like, how?

    You think Freedom is the absence of rules…but it is something far subtler than that

    Actually I think that you don’t know what I think.

    as is democracy which off the page is a cultural construct not a sixth form essay .

    Brilliant Sherlock. I await in high hopes for your next comment, where you might observe that a duck is a type of bird and not the Bulgarian navy in operations in the South Pacific.

    Part of that is the exclusion of those who attack the very framework that nurtures freedom prosperity security, protects children and creates very meaningfulness of living ,whether or not they are “Human”.

    What scares me about the idea that we can just exclude those who attack the very framework etc is who gets to define those who are attacking the very framework.

    As to your inclusive community without rules .Its nice that young people still say such things I suppose .

    In other words, you don’t like my argument but can’t think of anything actually wrong with it. I’ll take that as a compliment.

  52. Tracey – Its about competing identities . Your atomised ‘ooman born with “Rights” , the National identity and the sinister European super state of which , like many dippy Liberals you are a useful idiot
    The latter uses your sweetly jejune Enlightenment Liberalism,at times, to attack the nation state (In this case judicially ) .It also uses the disbursal of funds to regionalist movements .Eg Cornwall , Wales and so on.
    As you are support the judicial attack .I assumed you were also mentioning the regional attack .Old ground , keep up or shut up.
    You have written supporting the individual rapist murderer on the basis of individual “freedom” from the Nation. This is why I suggest that freedom and democracy are not theoretical things but culturally and communally based phenomena of which laws are only a partial expression. You are attacking a real thing , the integrity of the national laws and its underpinning or moral rights , with a piece of theoretical Liberal posturing about criminals .
    If its as obvious as the fact a Duck is not “ The Bulgarian Navy in operations somewhere “ as you hilariously remark , then we agree .
    You say “What scares me about the idea that we can just exclude those who attack the very framework etc is who gets to define those who are attacking the very framework.”
    We have evolved over the last thousand years a complex and constantly modified solution to the problem . It is called the Law and your concerns would apply equally if not more to incarcerating someone in the first place .

  53. One thing that bedevils discussions like this is the fiction or myth of “human rights”. Rights are claims or entitlements, and as such can only exist within a legal system. There are no pre-existing, metaphysical rights waiting to be expressed in laws: they aren’t on the inventory of the universe. The use of the term ‘right(s)’ outside of a legal context is metaphorical or analogical, and is a ‘hurrah’ word to trump opponents in moral and political discussions.

  54. Tracey – Its about competing identities. … The latter uses your sweetly jejune Enlightenment Liberalism,at times, to attack the nation state (In this case judicially ) .It also uses the disbursal of funds to regionalist movements .Eg Cornwall , Wales and so on.

    I assume that this was meant in explanation of why you think that mentioning Cornish separatists denigrates the UK. I find your explanation unconvincing. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the “European sugar state”, noting the truthful existance of something does not in any way denigrate another thing. Telling the truth is not denigrating unless the thing you are telling the truth about deserves to be denigrated, which is not the case with the UK.

    You have written supporting the individual rapist murderer on the basis of individual “freedom” from the Nation.

    Newmania, why are you lying like this? Everything I have written is in this thread, any one who cares can see that I did not write anything like this. What’s got you so upset about this that you’re willing to be utterly dishonest about what someone who disagrees with you is saying?

    You are attacking a real thing , the integrity of the national laws and its underpinning or moral rights , with a piece of theoretical Liberal posturing about criminals.

    This sort of thing is why your ideas that we should be able to exclude those who attack the framework from society scare me.
    Because I disagree with you, you have started making up lies about what I am arguing, and now are falsely asserting that I am attacking the framework. And of course you’ve already said that people who attack the framework can be excluded and expelled from the community. Luckily you don’t have the power to enforce your dieas. But any dishonest politician could do what you’re doing – make up lies about another person, define a difference of opinion as “attacking”, and then on the basis of those lies and that redefinition, say those people should be excluded.

    It is called the Law and your concerns would apply equally if not more to incarcerating someone in the first place .

    Uh no, someone who is incarcerated can keep arguing their case, deprived though they are of other freedoms.

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