Thursday, April 09, 2009

Why should outlaws have the right to vote, but not Church of England bishops?

Surely anyone who places himself outside of the law divests himself of the right to elect those who make the law?

For a thousand years it has been the English and British tradition to deprive outlaws of some of their rights and liberties, including the right to vote. But a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights has now put a stop to this appalling breach of their human rights. HM Government has been found to have transgressed Article 3 of the Convention. Henceforth, those who are ignorant of the meaning of citizenship and sufficiently devoid of responsibility to commit a crime shall have their right to vote restored. Certainly, there is some tinkering at the edges for national parliaments to indulge in (deciding, for example, whether this shall apply to those handed down custodial sentences of between one and four years), but sovereign parliaments ought to have the sovereign right to be able to do more than pick a number.

Let us be clear about this. If the franchise be restored to those who have been incarcerated for up to four years, it will place an additional 29,000 people on the electoral role and these will include thieves, murderers, rapists and paedophiles.

But Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said he cannot do anything about it, and that the development was ‘inevitable’ after the Court ruling.

This is interesting, because prospective MPs will now only have to knock on one door in order to reach thousands of potential voters. Presumably, since prisoners are to have the right to vote, they cannot be denied access to the information they need in order to educate them in the exercising of that vote. And by promising thieves, murderers, rapists and paedophiles better living conditions – more leisure time, nicer food, unlimited access to the internet, DVD players, Wii and X-Box – politicians will be able to gerrymander some of the most marginal constituencies.

This most unwelcome intrusion into our national affairs comes just a week after Lord Hoffmann, a senior Law Lord, attacked the European Court of Human Rights. Hoffmann, declaring in a lecture to the Judicial Studies Board that the court ‘has been unable to resist the temptation to aggrandise its jurisdiction and to impose uniform rules on Member States. It considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe’.

The Noble Lord observes that the Court is illegitimate and incompatible with our understanding of the Common Law:

As the case law shows, there is virtually no aspect of our legal system, from land law to social security to torts to consumer contracts, which is not arguably touched at some point by human rights. But we have not surrendered our sovereignty over all these matters. We remain an independent nation with its own legal system, evolved over centuries of constitutional struggle and pragmatic change. I do not suggest belief that the United Kingdom’s legal system is perfect but I do argue that detailed decisions about how it could be improved should be made in London, either by our democratic institutions or by judicial bodies which, like the Supreme Court of the United States, are integral with our own society and respected as such.

But the Conservative Party is compromised in its response. They talk of replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 (which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law) with a British ‘Bill of Rights’, without explaining why this Bill would not itself be subject to the ECHR, it protocols and emerging case law.

And they do not not appear to have noticed that the Treaty of Lisbon incorporates the ECHR into EU law. Such that the only solution of excising the UK from its provisions and shielding the nation from its interfering tentacles would be to head down the road of withdrawal from the European Union. The Conservatives' Bill of Rights could not otherwise prevent cases going to Strasbourg.

But Cranmer has a complaint:

If prisoners are henceforth to be granted the right to vote, by what authority does Parliament disenfranchise members of the House of Lords and the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England? Why should learned clerics be ranked with the mentally insane?

Cranmer is fully conversant with the history and religio-political reasoning behind the prohibition. But surely, if the seditious criminal is now to be entrusted with full participation in the democratic process, then a fortiori ought the spirit-filled bishops of the Church of England to have their ‘human rights’ restored.


Blogger Timothy Belmont said...

It's all part of the Labour agenda since they grabbed power a dozen years ago.

They've got rid of our hereditary peers; they'd probably like to exclude bishops from the Lords, too.

HM Lord-Lieutenants all used to be substantial landowners, acquaintances of the Royal Family, usually nobility or gentry. Now the egalitarian, socialist, populist Labour Party has got rid of this unwritten rule, too.
Plus ca change...

9 April 2009 at 16:53  
Blogger Dr.D said...

This is insane, as is everything connected with the EU!

9 April 2009 at 17:16  
Anonymous Stop Common Purpose said...

Being incarcerated is probably a breach of their human rights as well.

9 April 2009 at 17:20  
Anonymous Victor Emmanuel III said...

Only some dimwit or an Old Testament firebrand preacher sitting in the House of Lords would say that prisoners should not be allowed to vote. People are sent to prison for many different kinds of offences, some offences could be deemed as political in another society. For example, if you strongly believe that all drugs should be legalised, which I do not, and you are then sent to prison for taking drugs illegally then that could be seen as a political crime. Prisoners are not slaves and should be allowed to vote.

The House of Lords should be abolished with an elected upper chamber. The idea that an unelected chamber in the parliament protects democracy is insane. Fascism started in Italy when an unelected King, Victor Emmanuel III, appointed Mussolini his prime minister and where was the Pope and his bishops when all this happened? Of course, the archbishops should be allowed vote but he should also have to win a democratic election to earn a seat in the parliament.

9 April 2009 at 17:50  
Blogger Catholic Observer said...

Nobody is proposing that the CoE bishops be disenfrancized. Even under the most ambitious parliamentary reforms these ecclesiastics will, as private and unelected citizens, still be allowed to cast ballots for their local representatives. The Lords Spiritual don't vote on 'temporal' bills so it's not going to make much difference. The CoE in all likelyhood will go the way of the Irish and Welsh churches. The sooner the better.

And no, prisoners should not be allowed to vote.

9 April 2009 at 18:35  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Voting is a strange thing really. Its a bit like handing the controls of a bus over to the passengers and letting them get on with it seeing how they are the one's paying.

I mean, we are in the current mess because the masses have voted in a party which they thought would have their best interests at heart: aimless working class attitudes of immediate gratification and uneducated pursuit of squandering wealth. This is where the dilemma is. How can any sensible party with any real sense of progressive policies appeal to such a mass population of ignoramuses? This is all perpetuated by a media which has also to cater for this sludge of voting homogeny. So it just goes round and round, all the time diminishing in quality and outlook.

Then add to this the sudden input of third world immigrant attitudes, hankering for an establishment of medieval civilisation communities. The numbers of which now constitute a more than significant voting population which no serious party can afford to ignore. It just simply is not fertile ground for any real progress. In fact, we are on a bus being driven around aimlessly by complete morons.

9 April 2009 at 18:51  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

There's a far stronger case for permitting mentally ill people who are being held under section to vote than prisoners, many of whom belong at the end of a rope.

9 April 2009 at 18:56  
Anonymous mckenzie said...


I am working class by the way. And trust me, no snob. I would welcome an educated government who has the Nation's interests at heart, and who draw up and publish policies of structure and outlook which resemble some kind of progress for me, my family and the nation as a whole.

I don't want any more broken records and dodgy jingles which make the masses giggle and skip to their tune like silly little girls. We need policies that say what they stand for and stand for what they say. Policies that point in a certain direction instead of all directions at once.

If the masses are going to drive the bus, then give them a map!

9 April 2009 at 19:05  
Blogger ZZMike said...

My country has the similar rules (derived, I believe, from your ancient laws) - felons are disenfranchised. I think it has something to do with the idea of, if you want to live and participate in our society, abide by its laws.

However, we don't have a prohibition against clerics of any degree voting. Such a prohibition would be objectionable.

There's an old American saying, something like, if you lay down with the EU, you'll rise up with fleas.

The fundamental thing is, is England to be governed by English law, or by some other law?

If some other, what's the point of Parliament? Might just as well have the EU send over new Bills, tack them up on the doors of Parliament and be done with it.

9 April 2009 at 19:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After world war 11, visionary politicians created a structure with new codes of behavior for the entire continent in a series of highly improvised steps and arrangements. Because the arrangement was so radical,it could only take place by stealth, for the initial part of the E U`s existence, its ulterior motives could never be openly stated.

9 April 2009 at 20:16  
Blogger Epona said...

Prisoners have lost the right to vote for valid reasons; punishment for their crimes. They are being rewarded for being criminals and the victims get nothing, everything is reversed. Wrong is right and right is wrong. I despair at times.

9 April 2009 at 21:00  
Anonymous WWII said...


World War eleven is being a tad optimistic. If we get past three then we are doing well.

9 April 2009 at 21:43  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Did the British Government fight this case at the ECHR ? Usually the British Government loses cases it chooses not to defend....that is why Labour's 1997 Manifesto pledged not to defend any case on gays in the military at the ECHR

9 April 2009 at 21:50  
Blogger King Athelstan said...

Of course the Supreme court of the USA would never deign to interfere with its member states laws om such matter.

9 April 2009 at 23:11  
Blogger King Athelstan said...

on such matters. (watching golf,sorry)

9 April 2009 at 23:13  
Anonymous Dave J. said...

"It considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe."

That's understating things, at least in this context. The ECHR routinely intrudes into matters of domestic law to an extent that US Supreme Court does not even begin to approach. SCOTUS does not "do" state law, and most states deprive convicted felons of the vote, in some cases for a term of years, in many cases for life (barring a pardon by the Governor). As I've pointed out repeatedly, the ECJ and ECHR are not committed to European "federalism" (that's already an accomplished fact) but to European unitarism.

10 April 2009 at 02:40  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

By similar token, will the Government have any proper basis to prevent BNP literature being flooded into the Prisons? Hard to see a Human Rights compliant argument to prevent it.Some libertarians will say "Why Not?" but I doubt the Government would take that line. But then, why should I expect coherent "joined up" thinking?

10 April 2009 at 07:34  
Blogger Microcosm said...

Let prisoners have the right to chose which puppet government is next, A freeman on the land does not need a vote, nor does he need to be incarcerated due to unlawful acts passed by a corporatocray.

Let the clergy have the right to vote also, Christians sold out long ago, when they began treating mans laws as greater than Gods.

Yes Clergy and Criminals deserve the same rulers until they come to their senses and stand up to mans rule, in the name of God.

10 April 2009 at 09:17  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

All this meddling has a purpose, the unification of All laws throughout the EU.

10 April 2009 at 11:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The c of e bishops are out of touch with reality, look at their church and attendances, whitewashed sepulchures full of dead mens bones, ichabod !
The house churches thrive whilst the c of e dies. You hold to the traditions of men and will soon be in the arms of the church of rome again,,,what would tyndale,latimer, ridley etc say?

10 April 2009 at 21:40  
Blogger Tarquin said...

Simple, get the 'Lords spiritual' out with the hereditary peers

11 April 2009 at 13:49  
Blogger William Cobbett said...

The communists presently empowered by God to chastise the English people wants it that way. If we repent our wickedness, return to God, return the Test Act, thus removing the Romanists, Atheists and Moslems Jews from our Parliament, return to the Sabbath, we will be, once again safe in the protection of God. Leviticus 26.

12 April 2009 at 03:34  
Blogger Andrew said...

Prisoners are not 'outlaws'; they are still under the protection of the law, just as society is being protected from them.

If they were allowed a vote towards the count in the constituency in which they were last resident, the impact would be negligible.

13 April 2009 at 19:45  

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