A random sample survey of UK prison inmates conducted by UPeepul has found that an astonishing 99 per cent of them are 'totally devastated' by the House of Commons vote depriving them of the 'human rite' to the Franchise - in other words, the right to vote in local and national elections.
"I am just mortified," said a sobbing prisoner, whom we can only name as Geraint, doing 45 years for repeated armed robbery and killing several policemen. "I was so looking forward to taking an active role in society, doing my little bit to influence the way our great nation goes, and now, there seems no point in going on - " He broke off, overcome, and was led tenderly away by a sympathetic warder.
"Yer," rejoined another inmate, known as 'Zag', doing the time for the crime of raping pensioners. "I mean to say, I've been doing me readin' up on politics an' that, an' I wuz well impressed by John Stuart Mill's theory of Utilitarianism, more than that Rousseau character with 'is Noble Savage ideas... I mean, who ever met a savage that wuz noble? Look around you, look around..."
Zag is a lucky one, however. He has a light sentence, and should be out - and voting - in five months' time. Is he looking forward to that?
"You bet! Can't wait to get down that polling station again!" he crowed, to a muttered background chorus of 'lucky bugger'.
It seems that, in anticipation of the MPs being swayed by Europe, the prisons have been running educational courses in Political and Social Awareness and, says the governor of Wappittoem High Security Jail, "We were overwhelmed. We had to create a waiting list, so popular were the classes." This was a trend echoed nationally, and it is the more tragic, therefore, that these keen and eager prisoners should have been thwarted at the last hurdle.
In the women's prisons, it was a similar story.
Benefit fraud inmate Lottie Cash remarked that 'she would never have got herself into this dump' if she had known that she would not regain her right to vote.
"I'd have thought twice about claiming benefit on my seventeen kids and carers' allowance for my elderly parents and gran if I'd realised the consequences," she averred.
Lottie, 22, admitted that twelve of the children were fictional, and that her parents and grandmother lived in wealthy circumstances in the Bahamas as tax exiles.
"Well," she said, defiantly, "What is a girl to do? I'd never have been able to afford the cosmetic surgery otherwise."
As our photographer was persuaded to take his attention from her enhanced breasts, we heard one last, pathetic story.
Elderly prisoner Betta Fluck, 72, who has been incarcerated for 'most of her adult life' for offences various and violent, some apparently involving sexual activity with animals, had recently found Jesus.
"I let Him into my life," she quavered, tears filling her rheumy eyes to match the cliches coming out of her mouth and from your reporter's pen, "and He told me to Get out and Vote. In other words, our Sweet Lord wanted me to return to society, to play my part - and now I cannot obey Him in the twilight years of my benighted life."
Those MPs have a lot to answer for. What do YOU think, reader? Join our discussion form and Have Your Say!
Ed note: Sadly, following this report, Mrs. Fluck was found deceased in her cell, apparently having swallowed most of the New Testament whole.