Friday, 11 February 2011


Most days when I drop into Morrison’s, I glance at the headlines on the journals that I’d never bother with online... The Sun, Star, Record, Express, Dandy... and I think it’s fair to say I rarely come away without smiling, or tittering, but today I couldn’t help let out a real loud laugh.

Afterwards of course, I realized that it wasn’t funny, but somewhere between bad and wicked.

The headline was “Britain in the EU: this must be the end”. Funny, I thought. What’s that about?

Then with incredulity I read:

In a (sic) historic Commons decision, MPs overwhelmingly rejected proposals to give prisoners the vote.

They voted by a margin of more than 10 to one against bowing to a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. The moment of defiance, after decades of submitting to EU institutions, was being seen as a turning point in the battle for British independence from European edicts, judges and bureaucracy.

What? A couple of weeks ago I read on Calum Cashley’s Blog about Richard Baker not knowing the difference between the ECHR (47 signatories of Council of Europe) and the EU (27 member states). Now I can imagine that the distinction wide and wonderful though it may be, might have escaped the notice of Richard Baker, but the Daily Express? In a newspaper where presumably the stories are checked by senior staff and legal advisors and sighned-off by an editor, surely someone would have known that the two organisations are entirely different.

But no. The Daily Express doesn’t know the difference.

Now whether you like the EU or not, you really can’t blame it for everything that has Europe somewhere in its name. If MPs do indeed vote to come out of the EU on the basis of the decisions of the ECHR, aren’t they going to look a wee bit silly when the next ECHR decision comes along.

What made me angry was that the Express knows full well that the two organisations have nothing to do with each other, but in order to sell paper and stir up anti-European sentiment it tied the two together because of the supposedly emotive issue of prisoners’ rights to vote. And that is despicable.

On the subject of the rights to vote, frankly I have no idea what is bothering everyone, why Mr Cameron is made to feel positively queasy by the notion, after all:

We allow prisoners the right to a healthy diet and medical treatment;
We allow them to sleep on beds with sheets, mattresses, duvets, or blankets; We heat their cells;
We allow them visits, let them smoke;
We allow them to phone out of prison, and to enjoy recreational facilities;
We allow them home for the weekend. (Jeffry Archer even went to a party at a cabinet Minister’s house during one such weekend);
We allow them out to work.

Why would we deny them the right to vote?

MPs (and this is nothing to do with the ECHR) who commit crimes and go to prison for a year or less are not only allowed to vote, but keep their job and their salary. So how does that seem fair?

Judges give custodial sentences and noncustodial sentences for exactly the same crime, dependant on home circumstances, family, gender, etc. Why would the imprisoned person lose their vote and the non imprisoned not?

It’s a storm in a tea cup; a great load of Xenophobic rubbish. There’s nothing the Express likes better, and it’s shameful.


  1. It's now fair to say that the EU and the ECHR are linked through various treaties and you can't be a full member of the EU unless you adhere to the ECHR. So for a layman they are one and the same thing.

  2. As long as you don't mind your vote being cancelled out by a paedo or a murderer then no it doesn't make any difference if we give prisoners the right to vote.
    It's all pointless argument anyway. The ECHR has spoken and they will fine us until we get back into line.

  3. UKIP

    But the organisations are NOT the same.

    You may have to sign up to the ECHR to be in the EU, but you don't have to be in the EU to sign up to the ECHR, indeed 20 nations have not.

  4. But your vote could be cancelled out by a paedophile or a murderer, who has not been caught, or who has been released. There are criminals all around us. Indeed we all know some. they may bnt have been caught (yet), but they are all around us.

    You don't address yourself to the question of those who may get a custodial sentence for something that if, for example they were female, or known in society, they would only get a fine.

    Nor do you comment on the question of Good Old English Law that allows an MP to be in prison for a year while being paid to be an MP.

  5. tris

    Ok they're not the same but at least it gets folk moaning at the EU which can't be a bad thing.
    You must admit though that the whole thing is a smokescreen while cast iron signs us up even more to the EU.
    We can argue for months in Parliament but we'll still have to adhere to Von Rumpey and Ashston the democrats (sic)

  6. tris

    We just have to make do with the justice system we have. It would be impossible to make any laws if we had a 'what if' clause for every conceivable scenario.

  7. Hence why a system of laws is in itself a useless shibboleth of Feudalism masquerading as democracy, UKIPer. However, that's hardly the point. What's the matter here is not the right of prisoners to vote, but the fact that there are prisoners at all, and so long as draconian and outdated laws and systems remain in place, the jails will be full of perfectly competent people while criminals run the country kneeling at the armchairs of the rich.

  8. laz..

    I agree it's more of a lottery than justice as to whether you get locked up or not. But it's all we've got I suppose. We need somewhere to put folk who are dangerous and enjoy causing mayhem.

  9. We already have it. It's called parliament Ukiper.

    My points were that it's hardly a huge human right compared with other things that we give them without thinking. Cameron gets all het up and says he's almost vomitting over the mace at the thought... what crap. If he thinks that is so terrible take away their beds, don't heat the cells, give them porridge and vitamin pills to eat and water to drink.

    And it's not a 'what if'. An MP can be sent to prison and work in the bloody place that other prisoners don't have the right to vote in. Come on!!!

    I'd just say one thing. Human rights are hard fought for. I'd be bloody careful about letting either the Tories or the Labour Party in London take them away.

    I've been a few places where people had few human rights. It's not nice. That's why Egypt and Tunisia have just taken the steps they have.

    Give these things up easily and te epoliticians wil be rubbing their hands together with glee.

    If you want to sort out the ECHR problems, stop solicitors doing the American, no win no fee game and chasing cases.

    They are already in prisons signing up prisoners, who will then come out with a pile of money.

    That should give Call Me gastro enteritis for 3 months, followed by 3 months of severe colic. It might just be worth it!

  10. UKIPer, you misunderstand me. It is not at all a lottery of justice. The poor go to jail, the rich do not. There's no sense of the random to it.

  11. tris

    Cameron is a two faced slimy gobshite saying he supports the no vote but then not actually leading a full scale revolt against the EU Agreement.

    Which his lickspittle Dominic Grieve tells him and the other MPs ""we will honour those international obligations" does scummy Cameron slap him down and throw him out of the cabinet
    err! no

    strange?? why is that bit inconsistent saying one thing knowing the Government position is to
    uphold our international obligations.

    Cameron sees being both the Government and the opposition to the government as quite normal
    but then he did go to Eton....

    mind in the olden days yer English Lords used to say how sad it was to see those raggedy Scots being forced of their(The English Lords that is) land whilst quaffing down some fine wine.

    see same old upper class hypocrisy which has served the English ruling classes well for the last 1000 years.

  12. laz..
    Yes fair point.


    Our London / Scottish etc parliament is already subservient to the ECHR so London can't take our laws away. They've gone.

    I read wiki and here's there take on the EU / ECHR relationship.

    Main article: Relationship between the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) is not related to the European Court of Human Rights. However, since all EU states are members of the Council of Europe and have signed the Convention on Human Rights, there are concerns about consistency in case law between the two courts. Therefore, the ECJ refers to the case-law of the Court of Human Rights and treats the Convention on Human Rights as though it was part of the EU's legal system. Even though its members have joined, the European Union itself has not, as it did not have competence to do so under previous treaties. However, EU institutions are bound under article 6 of the EU treaty of Nice to respect human rights under the Convention. Furthermore, since the Treaty of Lisbon has taken effect on 1 December 2009, the EU is expected to sign the Convention. This would make the Court of Justice bound by the judicial precedents of the Court of Human Rights and thus be subject to its human rights law, resolving this way the issue of conflicting case law.

    When we released Megrahi it was Scotland that got pilloried not Scots Law despite MacAskill following the law to the letter. It's the same with the prisoner voting rights. It's the ECHR demanding it but the EU that's pilloried for it.

  13. see same old upper class hypocrisy

    Something you can't say about the British Labour party eh Niko but I can and will.

  14. Tris

    Not on topic relating to the EU, but to do with newspaper headlines. This is on the on line Herald this morning.

    "60,000 Scots cheats to lose sickness benefits"

    I find this a disgraceful headline. Yes we know there are cheats out there, you just have to count the "Money Sticks" on any high street.

    The reality is that there are many more genuine claimants than there are cheats, and as usual in these clampdowns it is the genuine claimants who will be forced into unsuitable work, assuming they can find any. The guys with the money sticks know their way round the system and they in the main will be all right.

    Anyone who voted for the three unionist parties last May should hold their heads in shame. They voted for Westminster policies, and now they are coming back to bite. Scotland better than this, penalizing the sick, though Labour in Scotland will continue penalizing the sick if they get in power in May, by reversing the prescription charges, or the immoral sick tax.

    Vote London Labour in May for more misery for sick people.

  15. Dubbie..

    Plus Labour can't wait to put up the council tax. Their core vote don't care about taxes. They don't pay them anyway.
    Our society is now either all in or all out.
    ie : If you work hard and save they will hammer you into the ground with taxes all your life and you will die skint. If you never work and never save they will cover all your bills ( including cremating you at the end ) and you too will die skint.
    Socialism in action. We all end up skint in the end.

  16. Niko: You may have missed one of the main points of this discussion here. It is not an EU decision. It is the work of the European Court of Human Rights.

    But with the rest of what you say, I see some merit.

    If it makes Mr Cameron vomit then why does he not do something about it. If he does nothing, then come August prisoners, some of whom will have never voted in their lives, will sue his butt off because he has denied them the right to do so.

    Will he have yet more bilious attacks as he signs more and more cheques for compensation? Will he compensate the Scottish government for whom, here, he must be making decisions, elections being the reserve of London?

    Will all this vomiting make him so weak he will have to resign, and will Nick Clegg finally have his dream of becoming prime minister? Will Morrison's have any apple donuts by the time I get there tonight?

    Oh no, sorry, strike the last one.

  17. Good point Laz. So the rich will go on voting while the poor stop....

    I can see a plan there. No wonder the alternative makes Mr C wretch nastily to the concern of all around him.

  18. kipper

    Yes, I read the connection and I accept the concerns. The fact is however, the EU did not order teh UK to change their law. It would have happened had the offenders been Swiss or Norwegian, etc...

    I'd draw your attention to this fact, again drawn from Wiki:

    The Convention is drafted in broad terms, in a similar (albeit more modern) manner to the ENGLISH BILL of RIGHTS, the American Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the first part of the German Basic law.

  19. Yep CH, as I've sung before on these boards (to the tune of The Red Flag)

    The working class can kiss my arse;
    I've got the foreman's job at last.

  20. Dubs:

    This is truly dreadful stuff. But once again it panders to what some people want to read, and thus sells papers.

    So firstly, I agree, there are some people out there bending the system to suit them. The claim sick benefits of some sort or another, and they work. There are people doing it with the dole too. We know it, but the money for actual Fraud Detection in tiny. Instead members of the public are invited to phone in if they suspect fraud. Of course this results in a pile of malicious calls from spurned girlfriends, nosey neighbours and people who just want to cause bother for no real reason. They waste what little money there is. If the DWP had a proper Fraud Detection section, they could eliminate a great deal of this.

    The rules for getting Incapacity benefit have changed, so many of the people who have been taken off it were quite legitimately on it before. The government changed the goal posts, and now they fall out with the criteria.

    Now they measure what you can do, not what you can’t. And of course they are on targets with doubtless heavy pressure to get the numbers down and prove the government right.

    So now what is happening is that pretty much no matter what you have there is SOMETHING you can do for at least SOMETIME during the week. So a joiner who for whatever reason can no longer “join”, may be deemed able for a job 2 hours a day in a call centre. The fact that he is physically capable of it doesn’t mean that he could do it. After all, I’m physically capable of brain surgery, but you might not want me operating on your head.

    It’s a nice way to get people on lower benefits.

    These figures may well be before the expensive business of appeal to the Ministry of Justice (as opposed to appeals to the DWP which are nearly always overturned).

    Unlike the DWP, the MoJ is not working to targets and overturns were running at around 50% or more, I read quite recently.

  21. Bob:

    You point out the outcome of socialism. I wonder what the outcome of conservatism is?

    The last lengthy Tory government left the economy is reasonable shape, at least by certain standards, but the country's infrastructure was devistated, and society had been encouraged that greed was good and the devil take the hindmost.

    Or was Mrs Thatcher just a nasty old woman who didn't really represent true blueness?

  22. CH:

    It’s admirable what these guys have done and full marks to the prison for encouraging this kind of activity.

    Participation in community projects is an effective rehabilitation tool.

    I think it shows too that Cameron’s knee jerk statement about feeling physically sick about these people having the vote is a populist at best, or worse totally unthought-out statement.

    There are far worse people than these prisoners outside, many of them sitting in the House of Commons and even more sitting in the House of Lords, thinking only of themselves. Does Mr Cameron want to barf at the notion of people who are raising money like this having a vote.

    What about the votes going to drug sellers who have never been caught (as the majority aren’t), what about lads who go around impregnating every girl who is up for it, then moving on before she has their name and address, leaving you and me to pick up the tab? Do they make him want to throw up? I could go on.

    Populist crap. Stupid low-level, ill- thought-out rubbish, designed to do exactly the same sort of thing as the Daily Express headline.

  23. BTW: For those keen to give up our human rights, I suggest you listen to Rupert Winfield-Hayes account of how he was arrested in Egypt, for doing nothing at all, and his experiences in the state police headquarters.

    No wonder the Egyptians are fighting for their human rights.

    From Our Own Correspondant. BBC iplayer, Radio 4.

  24. tris
    Socialism is Comprehensive education. Everyone goes to University irrespective of ability. There are no winners or losers and we are all equal. Anything that goes wrong is someone elses fault and if a girl wants 6 children to 6 different men that's her right and workers should pay for it through higher taxes.
    Conservatism is people get to University on ability. Parents can sacrifice their wealth giving their kids a good education if they want to. It is their money after all. If a girl wants 6 children by 6 diffeeren men then she should pay for it and everything isn't the fault of someone else. You have to be accountable to yourself and use the state only when you need help and not because you think the state should wipe your arse from cradle to crematorium.
    The outcome of Conservatism is that at the end of your life the things that you personally worked hard to get all your life are still yours to do with as you wish.
    Socialism hates this concept. Any endeavour is for the state so the state should take what little you have left after a life time of plundering your pockets to help pay for the folk who couldn't care less about endeavour.

  25. tris..

    " BTW: For those keen to give up our human rights"

    Anyone voting other than UKIP are fully committed to the ECHR and so are keen to give up our human rights. The ECHR overrides any laws made in the UK.

  26. What human rights?

    Can one on the spur of the moment start a march or down tools and call a strike?
    No not without following your rulers rules in giving them advance notice and filling out various forms.
    Stop kidding yourself you'll be telling us we've a first class open democracy next.

  27. The laws set by the ECHR are more inclined to give rights than anything that the UK parliament comes up with, given that there are two, three, or four(depending on your counting methods), right of centre parties in Westminster... whose main interest is in protecting the rich and powerful, and all of which have little interest in or knowledge of "ordinary" people.

  28. tris..

    I don't agree with most of the rulings from the ECHR. Can you tell me how I can replace the panel please ? Is it not a basic human right to be able to decide who has power over you and who can imprison you and remove your freedom ?
    I don't want to be controlled by such beacons of freedom as Russia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria etc.

  29. cynical..

    Our democracy isn't perfect but at least we can change them for another lot every 5 years. The coagulation have removed some of Labour's big brother rules but not enough yet. But at least we have a little bit of control over our laws and regulations. With the ECHR we have no control at all.

  30. UK No1!

    UKIP sorry your living in fiction as things have got worse in my lifetime and will never change as the system doesn't allow room for change.

    Politicians will not relinquish any powers that the previous Government enacted in full and after every election it progressively gets worse and worse all for our safety as we need constant nursing.

  31. cynical..

    That's not true. The coagulation relinquished the Labour legislation to force us all to carry an ID card like in the old East German Democratic Republic. This would have allowed the police to stop and ask for our papers. A paper that would have cost you £48 or you would go to prison for 12 months if you didn't buy one. They also scrapped the CRB checks for up to 9 million people.
    The SNP government relinquised the power to tax us for crossing road bridges and for paying for a medicine to get us well. They also relinquished the power to give billions to private developers to build schools etc and charge 10 times what they should have cost (PFI). They also relinquished the power ( to ECHR) to force prisoners to slop out and to stop suspects getting access to a lawyer.
    I could go on if you like ?.....

  32. Kips:

    We don't have a democracy and we can't change most of them.

    We have no say in the head of state: This doesn't matter too much if he/she is reasonably good at their job of opening things. On the other hand, were we to be lumbered with a nosey, overbearing, interfering head of state, who had passions and wouldn't let ministers get on with their jobs for poking his royal beak in, that would be a disaster. Supposing he had a wife who was not legally married to him in the eyes of the church that he was head of, and that church continued to deny to its red blooded members that which it had been forced to give to its blue blooded members.

    After all he could be on the throne for a long time, and she could hang around after he died, no relation to anyone at all in the royal family, but being kept in several council houses, with guards and security.


    Our upper house of parliament is not elected. It is a mash mash of people from the aforementioned church (which is clearly as weak as dish water and as intellectually flawed as the Daily Express), Dukes and Viscounts, Earls and Barons and Marquises, and a pile of arse lickers, not to mention a pile of doddering old failed politicians.

    Finally we have a lower house which is filled with far too many “elected” representatives. But as they are elected by FPTP 60+% of them NEVER change hands because of the demographics of the constituencies. Some are even passed from father to son, I’ve heard, like a banana republic. Once in, they are there for life and dedicate themselves to feathering their own nest and drinking heavily at the subsidies bars.

    The myth that we can change our government every 5 years is just that. Most of us have no say whatsoever in which party forms the government.

  33. CH: Interesting stats, particularly teh last one.

    20 per cent of all the world's CCTV cameras are in the UK

    300 number of times a day the average Londoner is caught on CCTV

    1 UK's position in the global league table for ratio of CCTV cameras to people

    12 number of people per CCTV camera in Britain

    0 percentage improvement in police detection rates of violent offences with CCTV

  34. Scary tris meanwhile UKIP tinkers with the fringe problems ignoring the fundamental problem i.e. Westminster's autocratic rule. Next 'terrorist' problem and IDs will be rushed through pronto as we need it to put food on our plates.

  35. tris...

    So let me get this straight. Because we don't have a functioning democracy in the UK ( no argument from me there) there's no point trying to get out of the EU. Sort of in for a penny in for a pound ? strange take on things. But I respect your views. I just think we can't sort out the problems in the UK until we get the EU autocratic monkey off our backs.


    as above plus ID cards have been scrapped. Haven't you noticed ? Labour wasted billions trying to introduce them and 25,000 sad bastards actually applied for them but the coalition scrapped them.

  36. Well, actually I'm trying to get Scotland out of all of this.

    I may have misunderstood you, but I've had the impression that you feard foreigners making decisions on our behalf because we had to power to elect or enelect them.

    I was simply pointing out that we don't here either.

    The leaders of the parties make up their minds which way they will vote; the sheep vote how they are told (as a general rule), we've been through the rest so I won't bore you agains with it.

    I've really no more say over David Cameron's policies and what happens in Westminster than I do over the president of San Marino's policies.

  37. tris..

    " Well, actually I'm trying to get Scotland out of all of this."

    Sadly by being an SNP supporter you are stuck with the EU. The SNP are like Labour etc on steroids. More EU, windmills, immigration etc than Labour would ever go for.

  38. UKIP catch up please I haven't denied your point over ID cards I am pointing out that they will be steam rolled through at the next 'terrorist' attack. You can attack the fringe policies all you want but until you change the mindset at Westminster your energies are wasted in smoothing the edges, in fact it plays into their hands as it deflects from the real problem which is dictatorship disguised as democracy.

    If we lived in a grown up democracy then the things that concern yourself and others would be far easier to sort as it is you seem content to p*ss into the wind for your political ideology. Mubarak was willing to lose a limb to hang onto power but Egyptians understood that decapitation of rule was the only way that things would change for the better of the general populous. Lived too long under Westminster's rule to believe anything they say is for the benefit of all rather than the select few. End of.

  39. cynical said..

    " until you change the mindset at Westminster your energies are wasted "

    You will have to catch up and fast.
    Westminster is irrelevant. Why can't you see this ?
    The power is now in Europe and your SNP love the EU. Anything we want in Scotland is dependant on what the EU wants.
    You must know the SNP's slogan of 'Independence in Europe'
    This is what is known as an oxymoron. Google the word.

  40. UKIP

    I don't love the EU and voted NO back in the year dot and nothing has changed my mind. The stumbling block is Westminster which you are tied too as they are still stuck in the dark ages over we know best. If Scotland gets its independence then that brings in the membership of the EU in a UK way into question and will make yours and mine of getting out of that undemocratic powerhouse all the more likely.
    Choice is yours UK in EU or England plus its remaining countries and an independent Scotland in a better position in exiting/remaining in the EU if that is the peoples will.

    So if you really want to get out of the EU then a break up of the UK constituent countries is what you should be striving for not periphery tinkering for political capital.

  41. cynical said..

    " So if you really want to get out of the EU then a break up of the UK constituent countries is what you should be striving for not periphery tinkering for political capital. "

    I think I will have to repeat what I have said previously.
    The SNP wants us to stay in the EU. Their main slogan is ' Independence in Europe'. This is an oxymoron. Check this word on google.
    I'm starting to feel sorry for you. You're not cynical at all and probably have never been to the Highlands.

  42. I understand that is up for a vote. this is going nowhere.

  43. Rather late to get into this discussion but three small items-

    Yes, the Express is somewhat off target, not only about the ECHR/EU split (of which surely the journalists are aware) but in attacking European institutions when it is our own Quislings and Vichyites - not anybody else - who make us subject to them. However, the Express is the first paper to campaign for "out" and that is welcome. Previously the so-called eurosceptic press would only attack aspects of the EU and not go for the main principle.

    The argument is not about whether prisoners should have the vote but who decides it.

    The EU is committed by treaty to joining the ECHR but has acceded to joining under Protocol 6 which allows it to introduce the death penalty "in time of war or imminent threat of war". Member states are signed up under Protocol 13 which prohibits the death penalty under all circumstances. However, as the EU now has separate (and superior) legal personality to member states, it could enforce it. Please Google Schachtschneider 10 for an explanation of this (with English subtitles) by Professor K.A. Schachtschneider, emeritus Professor of Public Law at the University of Erlangen Nuremberg. He was also the successful advocate in the trial in the German Constitutional Court which resulted in an injunction against the German President, restraining him from signing the original EU constitution into law.

  44. Kipper:

    I'm an SNP supporter because they are the party that will take us out of the union with England.

    When we do that, the SNP as a party of indepencnce will cease to exist. It may go on being a party, but not in its current form.

    It has been suggested that Scotland will have to have referenda on a number of things after independence, eg, monarchy, membership of various bodies, Nato, UN, EU, Efta, etc... € or Scottish Dollar/Mark/Pound whatever, one or two houses of parliament, method of election etc.

    I’ll express my opinions on that when the time comes.

    The SNP has members from across the political spectrum. You can be Conservative by nature and want your country for yourself, and you can be socialist and want the same thing.

    The SNP has policies on everything because the way that it inte4nds to get independence is evolution, not revolution.. . and that means doing what we are doing at the moment...rather well, if you ask me.

  45. Never too late to join in the discussion Mr S, and your comments are always so well considered and so courteously phrased that I’m always happy to see one.

    I agree that the Express has been the first paper to engage in an all out campaign to get the UK out of Europe. I wonder if in all honesty that is much of an aid to the campaign, the Express not exactly holding much in the way of intellectual credibility (endless Princess Diana/Madeline conspiracy theories). Well, put it this way,

    It doesn’t have a hard job to do. The bulk of the press has always been anti EU and a referendum tomorrow would have the UK out of Europe with 2 weeks. Even in my own country of Scotland there is no doubt that a referendum would mean bye bye Bruxelles!

    It is successive governments of both shades (and they are only shades these days) which have gone deeper and deeper into the EU whilst of course proclaiming to the public how they will be in Europe but won’t let them take control... how they will show Europe a thing or two... but they are all mouth and trousers.

    Thanks for that information about the death penalty clause. Surely we couldn’t consider going signing up to something that involved the death penalty? That hardly takes the Human Rights agenda any further forward.