David Cameron’s declaration that prisoners “damn well shouldn’t” have the right to vote is a reminder that this issue hasn’t gone away. Cameron was emphatic that the final verdict on this question should rest with the British parliament not the European Court of Human Rights.
But this is not the current situation as Cameron admitted with his line that “we need to clip [the court’s] wings”. But it is hard to see how Cameron can do that while keeping Britain under the jurisdiction of the court. The attempt to reform the court that Ken Clarke launched as Justice Secretary didn’t get very far. So, it is hard to see what other option there is beyond removing Britain from its jurisdiction.
Some suggest that we could simply not abide by the court’s ruling and pay the fine. But that would be a deeply unsatisfactory position for the country to be in. If we can’t, and I don’t think we should in this case, abide by the court’s rulings, we should withdraw from its jurisdiction.
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