Thursday 10 February 2011

Turning Europe

MPs will soon finish their debate on prisoner voting, but it seems clear that the motion – preventing inmates from taking part in elections – will be approved.

The real question is what happens after that. One school of thought among legal minded Tory backbenchers is that the Government will be able to take Parliament’s decision back to the European Court and persuade it to change its mind.

It’s not a plan based on the hope that the court will simply give way because the Mother of Parliaments has spoken – though some Tories would like to think that’s what should happen.

The MPs believe there is a powerful grouping of judges at the courts who actually oppose the idea of prisoners voting, and who were only narrowly defeated first time round when the original decision was passed.

Overturning the decision may therefore not be as difficult as thought, plus it holds out the prospect of the Government being able to stop prisoners voting and adhere to the court’s ruling.

It would also mean achieving something that Labour never even thought of doing.

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