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Outside a small fringe of soon-to-be-extinct (or homeless) Liberal Democrats, has anybody ever put forward prisoner suffrage as a cause? I ask because, despite such demands being not exactly deafening, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last month forced Britain to give prisoners the right to vote.

By not being allowed to take part in the election of parliamentary representatives, Strasbourg ruled, prisoners were being deprived of an important human right. The natural follow-on point for the ECHR would be to state that being behind bars in the first place is a serious infringement of rights and demand that this too be scrapped. Meanwhile, if you want to stab and kill your local MP, you can have a say from prison in who replaces him.

"We're losing our country." "We're losing our sovereignty." These laments have been heard many times over recent decades. Nightmare scenarios have been wheeled out but perhaps only now are we seeing what it is actually like when they are fulfilled.

Questioned on this obscene decision during Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron said that the idea of giving the vote to convicts serving time for rape, murder and child-assault made him "physically sick". And so the charade of Westminster trundled on.

As with all important issues in our current politics, nobody wanted to ask a thumping supplementary. To recap: a policy is deeply unpopular in the country, deeply unpopular among the country's elected representatives, and the Prime Minster says that the deeply unpopular policy makes him feel physically sick. Even for some of us non-criminal voters, there must at this point arise a temptation to rebel. Because when it comes to actual political representation, those institutions that granted prisoners the vote are ensuring that we are all prisoners now.

For years, those who have predicted that Britain would soon lose its sovereignty were ridiculed. How fantastically atavistic such claims were made to seem. Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem leaders joined together in deriding anybody who made them. Yet now they have become banal reality and pass almost without note or (more importantly) solution. And neither the British people nor their elected representatives can hold out for long against the demands of unelected judges in Europe.

This is simply what it feels like to live through the degradation of a once-great power as it slides downwards from the top rank. When you read about the rise and fall of great powers, it is easy to assume that it was all so inevitable and so unalterable, caused by events far beyond the sight of actual individuals.

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