A showdown between the government and the European Court of Human Rights over prisoner votes drew that bit closer today. The government hoped that having parliament vote to uphold a blanket ban on prisoners voting would buy it some time, as the European Court of Human Rights would then have to start examining the issue all over again.

But that hope was dashed today when the Council of Europe declared that a blanket ban ‘cannot be considered compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights’. It also said that it expected to return to this case in September 2013. I expect parliament will still vote for the blanket ban, if it is given the option, meaning that parliament—which is sovereign in this country—and the court will be in conflict.

It was almost inevitable that at some point, there would be a clash between this country and an increasingly activist court. But it now seems increasingly likely that this will happen before the next election. This makes it all the more imperative that the Conservatives go into 2015 with a proper policy on the court.

Tags: Coalition, Echr, European Court of Human Rights, Prisoner votes, UK politics