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Democracy For All? Essay

1267 words - 6 pages

Murders and rapists being allowed to express their views through the democratic process of voting? The conservative opposition cries out in outrage against this so called “human right” while the liberal supporters cheer at the prospect of our country being a tiny bit more democratic. In 2005 the European Council of Human Rights deemed it illegal for a country in the European Union to have in place a complete blanket ban on the voting rights of its incarcerated citizens. The British government to this date remains fiercely opposed to offering prisoners the right to vote. This puts Britain in a position where they are technically breaching the human rights of their citizens as Britain as a ...view middle of the document...

Should these individuals who have shown such reckless disregard for the well being of their community have a say in how that community should be governed? If these people were given the vote it may also be seen as a betrayal of the victims, who have suffered and persisted in their pursuit of legal justice.
A minor yet significant enough argument in this debate is the overall effect it could have on election. Fortunately the extreme conservatives fears that the next MP sent up by these voting prisoners would be an axe-wielding maniac fresh from the ‘slammer’ are unfounded. In January 2013 the total number of prisoners in British prisons was 83837. For comparison the 2010 General Election had a turnout of 29.6 million. It becomes apparent that granting prisoners the vote will not greatly affect the outcome of any election yet the minuscule impact is far smaller. The British system for voting organises the country into different constituencies of roughly 50000 citizens. As prisons are spread around the country this further diminishes the effect voting prisoners can have on the outcome of an election.
Just as there are strong arguments from those opposed to granting the vote to prisoners, there are just as many persuasive arguments from those supporting the prisoners’ battle for a fundamental democratic liberty. They argue that Britain may well have to accept the EU ruling as an obligation as they are a member state of the EU. Conservative Minister Mark Harper argues that “the UK has a legal obligation to let some prisoners vote under the 2005 European ruling.” Though he and his party remain opposed to the ethics of granting them the vote, he acknowledges that the EU law will inevitably be put into effect in Britain .Britain’s opposition of EU legislation raises questions over the pious attitude of Britain and how they are willing to reap the benefits of being a member of the European Union yet refuse to submit to a particular legislation they have issues with. Britain’s opposition may also affect the standing of other member states in the EU on unrelated issues. If Britain can oppose the legislation against placing a ban on prisoners voting why can’t France refuse to agree to different European legislation if it deems their current stance on immigration is illegal?
Another point raised in support of prisoners voting is that it is a violation of their rights as citizens of Britain and therefore citizens of Europe. It is ironic that Britain would argue against granting them the vote as throughout its history Britain has been a strong advocate of human rights; from the role of British Abolitionists to end the slave trade to providing protection...

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