Our hidden neighbours resident in Wormwood Scrubs may hold the balance of power in the Battle of the Bush, with the Fulham Chronicle reporting that they may be given the vote in time for the General Election. This is because of a ruling given by the Council of Europe which, if not complied with by the Government, could result in legal action.
Given that most prisoners come from poor backgrounds (and therefore likely to be Labour voters if they vote at all) it hasn't taken long for Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey to come out against the idea in very forceful terms. He said in an email to supporters:
"I'm opposed to prisoners having a right to vote. Civil rights go with responsibilities and I believe that those in prison should temporarily forfeited [sic] those rights. Part of prisoners paying their debt to society should include them temporarily forfeiting rights that the rest of us enjoy".
But he then went on to say:
“The very fact that Labour is considering putting a mechanism in place that would let prisoners vote is just another example of how out of touch with public opinion they are" - ignoring that it's not a Labour initiative but one coming from the European Council. Andy Slaughter isn't that keen either, saying:
"Part of their punishment is having some of your civil rights withdrawn ... but people who have short-sentences there may be room for them to have the vote as part of their rehabilitation back into society."
I've often wondered about those who live in HMP Wormwood Scrubs because I see the prison almost every day, either on the tube or running around the Scrubs training for the marathon. You see the prisoners looking out or moving the curtains from the ground and on the occasions when we used the maternity services at next door Queen Charlotte's Hopsital I used to look over the wall and into the prison to see daily life going on. Lets not forget this prison was found to be a very brutal place, with torture the norm just a few years ago, abuses which took place right amongst us without anyone knowing. Should they have the vote? On balance probably not in my view, but its a difficult one.