That judgement, by 12 votes to five, recorded that the UK Government were in violation of Article 3, Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Whether one likes the Human Rights Act or not (the legislation that enshrines the Convention in UK law), it is the law.
Now, since that time the Goevrnment have been holding "consultations" about how to do something about the judgement. Cynic or not the use of consultation, more than once it seems, is little more than a stalling tactic. Back in November it was reported that if the Government did not act swiftly then there could even be a challenge to the legality of the next General Election.
In fact, much of the talk on the issue until now has revolved around the next General Election being a sort of "deadline" for the Government to do something, but it appears that they may have actually miss a trick, and the Hirst judgement now has the Ministry of Justice by the proverbial short and curlies.
The problem is that in June there are European Parliament Elections, and the Government has already set a precedent by acting upon a judgement that it was in breach of of Article 3, Protocol No. 1 of the Convention. This happened after the Matthews vs United Kingdom judgement in 1999 that finally lead to citizens of Gibralter being given the right to vote by the UK government in European Elections.
There is therefore a potential for a legal challenge to the validty of the European Elections in the UK in June, and it appears that there is movement amongst the legal minds in the prison population to challenge the Government in the High Court if the latest issue of the prisoners newspaper, "Inside Time" is anything to go by.
It seems highly likely that the isue of prisoner franchise is going to become quite a political hot potato sooner than the Government might like. Now whatever one thinks of prisoner voting rights, and as I said I don't personally agree with it, the law as it stands syas that they must get the vote, and the European Election seem to be a time when they are likely to force the issue to the top of the news agenda.
The problem of course, and this is just a hunch, I doubt that public opinion will generally be in favour of such things. As such, I imagine many of the political parties will attempt to bury their heads in the sand on the issue.
From a purely political campaigning point of view though, if the issue does become a leading one, then the only people likely to gain will be UKIP as they will argue that a vote for them is a vote to stop Europe forcing these decision on the UK - even though of course this is a Council of Europe and not a European union issue.
Time will tell I guess, but I expect that prisoner franchise will be something in many of the papers in the coming months.