I read with some astonishment the “Breaking” news on the BBC website that presents – in shocked terms – the notion that the elections in Scotland and Wales in May are covered by the ECHR jurisprudence on prisoner votes.
This follows Aidan O’Neill QC raising the issue with a parliamentary committee in response to this bizarre comment from the Cabinet office minister, Mark Harper in his written statement of 10 December:
“The right to vote will be restricted to UK Westminster parliamentary and European parliamentary elections only, and no other elections or referendums.”
Why am I shocked?
Because Smith v Scott, the Scottish prisoner vote case, was decided in the Inner House of the Court of Session in 2007, mere months before the last Scottish parliamentary election. This case, criticising the previous government, noted at para  that,
“the Scottish parliamentary election in May 2007 will take place in a manner which is not Convention-compliant.”
And pronounced a declarator of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights – meaning that the government should – at some point in the last four years – have responded to this and amended the law.
So which is worse?
That UK government ministers did not seem to know that Scottish elections were affected at all?
That UK government ministers appear unaware of the Scottish appellate decision declaring the provisions of the Representation of the People Act incompatible with the ECHR from 2007 BECAUSE THEY DID NOT EXTEND THE FRANCHISE TO PRISONERS IN RELATION TO THE 2007 SCOTTISH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION?
I personally plump for the latter.
And that the UK government have not respected a decision of the Scottish courts declaring legislation incompatible with the ECHR is disgraceful.