That is what David Cameron once said he felt at the thought of giving any prisoners the vote. It was a nakedly populist remark designed to play well in Tory heartlands. Nausea? Surely the Prime Minister was made of sterner stuff than that.
To be honest, though, the thought that inmates Peter Chester and George McGeoch might win their Supreme Court bid this week for the right to vote was deeply uncomfortable. Two more grotesque poster boys for prisoner rights it would be hard to find. Chester is serving a life sentence for raping and strangling his own seven-year-old niece in 1977, while McGeoch is a violent thug who murdered a deaf bakery worker in Inverness in 1998 by bludgeoning him and slashing his throat; then in 2001 he held two prison nurses hostage with a razor. The idea of these men being handed ballot papers is absurd. Luckily seven Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected their appeal.
You might think that normal service could now resume, but of course it can't, because the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2005 that Britain's blanket ban in serving inmates voting is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. A committee of MPs and peers is currently chewing over a draft bill setting out three options: a ban on voting for those sentenced to four years or more, a ban on those sentenced to more than six months or a continuing ban on all prisoners.
There is no justification for violent criminals getting anywhere near the ballot box, but there could be a case for low-level offenders having the vote. There is a world of difference between a child killer getting a say in an election and someone imprisoned for a breach of the peace. People will say that a crime is a crime, and that if you are caught and sent to prison, you must forfeit the right to vote, but the truth is that neither the public nor the justice system looks upon all prison inmates as equal. We make distinctions between them all the time. Some prisoners, for instance, are allowed out on temporary release while others are not. There is no commandment to say that no prisoner may ever vote.
At present, there is a drive to reduce the prison population by handing out more community sentences because research shows that these are more effective than short-term prison sentences at preventing reoffending. It hardly seems fair that you could have two individuals who commit a similar crime go before two different judges and where one is sent to prison and loses the right to vote, the other is given a community sentence and does not.
Ultimately, however, any change to the status quo would be highly contentious. Set the bar at four years and some serious violent offenders would get the vote; even at six months, a number of violent criminals would be casting their ballots. Would there even be any benefit from the change? Even among remand prisoners, who may vote, there appears to be little demand to do so. In truth, even charities that support extending the franchise to prisoners do not argue it could have much more than a marginal impact in making more responsible citizens out of offenders. They see it as part of a general drive to ensure that criminals are less marginalised. That is perfectly valid, but it's unlikely even they will be getting out the placards in favour of prisoners voting any time soon.
For those who see the value of the much-maligned rights-based culture, the bigger worry is that this furore about prisoner voting could be used by opponents of the convention to crystallise public opinion against it. The Conservatives have already made clear that repealing the Human Rights Act, which brings the rights and freedoms of the convention into UK law, will form part of their next manifesto (the party has plans instead to bring in a responsibilities-focused Bill of Rights). This row is a gift to those who would like to see the Act torn up.
The Human Rights Act has in general been a force for good, protecting rights for every citizen including the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for one's private life and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
It would be a bitter irony if the European Court of Human Rights' demands on prisoner voting led eventually to the repeal of the Human Rights Act.
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