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.