Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prisoner Votes - The problem with coalition

Prisoner votes should be an easy win for the Prime Minister. He's against them, and his Conservative Cabinet Ministers (minus Ken Clarke) are against them, but the issue is the ECHR. The solution which has been much mooted is to withdraw from the ECHR and replace it at the same time with a British Bill of Rights (which presumably by some clever wording would make sure prisoners couldn't get voting rights).

This is a fantastic solution, which also delivers a Conservative manifesto pledge, that would also appease the eurosceptics amongst the base and the backbenchers. It may not be an in out referendum on the EU that they all want so much but it would stick two fingers up at the EU for meddling in British affairs, plus resolve the issue of prisoners being given votes which is far from popular with the electorate.

Except we're in coalition and our Liberal partners rather like the EU. The question therefore becomes could the Coalition survive the PM ramming this through (and to complicate matters too, would his Justice Secretary survive) and could we get enough Labour MPs to support a British Bill of Rights (a Conservative Manifesto pledge) to make up for pro ECHR and abstaining Liberal MPs.

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