ANGER erupted yesterday as it emerged ministers are to give prisoners, including rapists and murderers, the right to vote in time for next year’s Scottish elections.Anger yes, understandably. So far so good:
In a move overturning a 140-year-old bar on inmates having a say on who runs the country, the UK Government signalled it will finally concede to a controversial European human rights rulings.Ministers have unsurprisingly capitulated, though it's taken a little longer than I thought. Still not sure what the EU has to do with it, anyway:
At a meeting of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers last week the UK said it was now deciding how to implement the move.Ok accurate enough but the Council of Europe is not the EU, we're now on paragraph 6 and still no mention of the EU - so why the headline?
A Council of Europe spokesman said: “The Committee insists that the UK Government take the necessary measures before the elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in May.” A spokesman for Victim Support Scotland said: “There will be victims of crime who will find the thought of prisoners getting the vote particularly galling.
The European Court of Human Rights declared in 2005 that a blanket ban breached the European Convention on Human Rights.Indeed, and then in the penultimate paragraph all is revealed:
Scottish Tory justice spokesman John Lamont said the initial European Court ruling was “unfortunate” but added: “Britain has to comply or face legal action by the EU.”Er...legal action by the EU? Perhaps John Lamont could elaborate as this is a judgment which has nothing to do with it, or is Mr Lamont getting his Councils mixed up. As he's a Tory I would guess the latter.
Actually I'm fairly relaxed about the mix up. No doubt it will annoy the perestroika elements of the Euro blogosphere but I have more sympathy with Richard North's view:
This is an issue that also gets the Europhiles squibbling, rushing to the defence of their precious construct as they realise that this is an issue that could turn public sentiment against their heroes.Quite. And there's nothing like the EU being blamed for prisoners' votes to boost the 'out' camp.
They point out that there are subtleties and complications to the way the legislation is implemented, which means that the EU is not entirely to blame (or at all in the minds of some of the little darlings).
But who cares. This is a propaganda game. There are many things which the EU does for which it completely escapes blame, so it is a kind of rough justice if it gets blamed for things for which it is not entirely responsible.