Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Make Her Majesty's Prisons their own seat(s)?

Catching up on the current political state of play, I caught sight over at Iain Dale's blog and New Right that prisoner's having the right to vote was presently a running story. I don't know how I feel about this, but if it were to be implemented I'm pretty certain I don't want it geographically based, with prison potentially transforming certain seats against the interests of their law-abiding residents. Prisoners will have rather different interests to the broader population, so why not represent them differently?

Something that has always fascinated me about British politics in ages past was university seats. Could a similar model be adopted for prisoner's representation? The BBC put the prison population of the UK at just below 90,000, which could produce either one larger-than-average seat or two smaller seats. Prisoner's get representation, law-abiding citizens don't have their representative split with felons who have rather different priorities, and we all get to see what sort of candidate each party would choose to run for Her Majesty's Prisons (UK Parliament Constituency).


  1. I could certainly swing seats in elections in England. HM Prison Service for sensible logistical reasons tend to concentrate a number of prisons in the same geographical area. This means for example that the Isle of White, Durham and Preston have three prisons each meaning a high concentration of prisoners in their area.

    Nice idea though introduce the "prisons seats" like they used to have the "universities seats" although I think it would be a seat each for the four parts of the UK. Logistically and topically, such an MP would be dealing with the various aspects of each of the UK nations.

    How about trying to deal with the provision of Welsh language lessons in prisons, Scottish criminal procedure dealing with reserved offences (such as narcotics) and sectarianism in NI for starters.

    Do not scoff about the Welsh language lessons. Welsh language lessons are provided at cross border prisons. North Wales' local jail is Altcourse in Liverpool and central Wales is Shrewsbury. This of course could change should Wales get more devolution and set up their own legal system and prison service-----

  2. Don't worry, I'm going to let the language lessons slide , we've had that argument elsewhere. I of course hope Wales doesn't get its own legal system and prison service.

    They'd have to be pan-UK seats for the numbers to work. Devolution has not wrought such havoc on our country yet that an MP being elected to represent a seat that required knowledge of specific aspects of devolution is impossible

  3. Not necessary to provide seperate seats unique for prisoners.

    The ECHR rulling still allows prisoners to have their right to vote taken off of them -- just by a judge as part of a specific rulling/punishment.

    It is only the British idea of 'civi death' that they outlawed.

    Just introduce a new sentencing rights for judges that enables them to take the right to vote off of the offenders on a scale of either repeat offending or/and serious criminality.

    I don't believe if that happened there would be all that many prisoners voting anyway - certainly not enough to swing marginals like university towns.