Those who can’t break the law shouldn’t make the law

So it looks as though some form of lifting of the ban on UK prisoners voting in elections will effectively be imposed on the UK by the European Court of Justice. However, what I’m wondering is whether any eventual legislation allowing this would create a legal precedent for banning non-English-elected MPs from voting on English laws.

The principle behind not allowing prisoners to vote is often expressed in the phrase: ‘Those who break the law shouldn’t make the law’. I.e. prisoners, by virtue of having the vote, are effectively cast in the role of lawmakers. On this logic, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish residents are effectively makers of English law, as they elect MPs who legislate for England. But isn’t the logic of allowing everyone within a given jurisdiction, even those who’ve broken its rules, to contribute towards making those rules that those who don’t come under that jurisdiction should have no say whatsoever in making those rules? In other words: ‘Those who can’t break the law (because they don’t live under it) shouldn’t make the law’.

Seriously, I think there might be a legal case to answer. If you allow criminals to make the law that they’ve broken, it’s wrong to allow people who could neither keep nor break the law to make it: only those affected by a law should input into its creation.

Now that would make an interesting human rights case before the European Court of Justice!


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