Status anxiety

You’ll regret not having a Human Rights Act when Labour get back in

It’s bad being bossed about from Strasbourg. But the risks of the alternative are worse

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

I’ve been thinking about the Conservative party’s proposal for a Bill of Rights and am finding it difficult to make up my mind. On the one hand, I like the idea of making the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom the ultimate guarantor of our human rights rather than the European Court. British judges are surely more reliable guardians of liberty than the jurists in Strasbourg. But on the other, I’m nervous about the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights becoming less sacrosanct, particularly Article 10, which deals with freedom of expression. I’ll explain what I mean by that a little bit further down.

Let’s start with a straw man. The fact that David Cameron has said he would like to repeal Labour’s Human Rights Act doesn’t mean he’s seeking to disapply the European convention. On the contrary, his proposal is to embody the convention in a British bill of rights. Nor is he arguing that the European Court should be completely disregarded. Rather, if the judges in Strasbourg rule that a particular British law is incompatible with the convention, that would be treated as advisory rather than binding under the new proposal. Whether to amend or repeal the law in question would be a matter for Parliament.

So far, so good. But if the convention will still apply, what guarantee is there that the British Supreme Court, whose judgements would be binding, will interpret it any differently to the European Court? Like many conservatives, I think it’s absurd when a foreign convicted murderer, on his release from prison, cannot be deported by the Home Office because Strasbourg has ruled that sending him back to his country of origin would violate his right to a family life. But isn’t it naive to think that British judges, many of whom are quite left-wing, would always side with the Home Office? It’s not as if they do at present.


The team in the No. 10 Policy Unit have come up with a solution to this problem — and this is where they stray into dangerous territory. According to the document posted on the Conservative party website, some of the terms used in the convention ‘would benefit from a more precise definition’ so as to prevent them being given ‘an excessively broad meaning’. So the bill of rights wouldn’t simply reproduce the convention in every particular. Rather, it would seek to define the rights enshrined in the convention in a way that made it harder for left-wing jurists to impose their political views through the court. In short, the bill of rights would put a conservative spin on the convention.

My worry about this is that any such guidance would be rejected by the next Labour government — and Labour are bound to get back in sooner or later. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which a socialist government decides to amend the Bill of Rights, replacing the right-wing spin with a more leftist interpretation. Take Protocol 1, Article 2, for instance, which talks about the right of parents to educate children in accordance with their own religious beliefs. At present, that clause gives some protection to faith schools and a Labour government that sought to abolish them could be challenged in Strasbourg. But once the precedent has been set that it’s legitimate for Parliament to direct judges about how to interpret the convention, that protection begins to look more fragile.

Alternatively, a future Labour government might simply decide to repeal the bill of rights and disregard the convention altogether. Some jurists would argue that the convention still applied, just as it did before Labour passed the Human Rights Act in 1998, because the UK is a member of the Council of Europe. But what if the previous Tory government had decided the only way to entirely escape Strasbourg’s jurisdiction was to leave the Council of Europe? In that scenario, there’d be nothing to prevent a despotic Labour government riding roughshod over human rights, such as the right to free speech.

Defenders of the Conservative proposal will say that the risk of that happening is very slight and they’re probably right. For me, the biggest worry is that a country that is currently signed up to the convention, such as Russia, would cite the British government’s repeal of the Human Rights Act as an excuse to remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court.

Don’t get me wrong. The present arrangement, whereby the will of Parliament can be thwarted by Strasbourg, is far from perfect. But all in all, I think we’re better off with the devil we know.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • davidshort10

    Labour is (unlike Spectator headline writers I don’t think it is a collective plural) is neither left-wing nor socialist.

    • Simon_in_London

      Depends on your perspective – where you sit on the political spectrum. Labour certainly abandoned economic socialism, they are economically a Neo-Liberal party. Modern politics tends to divide more on social than economic issues though.

  • Craig Dinning

    “For me, the biggest worry is that a country that is currently signed up to the convention, such as Russia, would cite the British government’s repeal of the Human Rights Act as an excuse to remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court.” – Sorry Mate, being a shining example to Russia over Human Rights ain’t a reason to stay in this other undemocratic, authoritarian hegemony.

  • Simon_in_London

    “I’m nervous about the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights becoming less sacrosanct, particularly Article 10, which deals with freedom of expression”

    We need far stronger protection for free speech than the worthless Article 10.
    Putting it strongly: the ECHR is a bad document, written by bad men – socialist lawyers – and completely unfit to protect our ancient liberties as Britons and Englishmen. Any decent British Bill of Rights needs to start from Magna Carta, take a look at the Treaty of Arbroath, and be based on the real English Bill of Right, 1688/9, just as the Americans based theirs. We need a Bill of Rights that protects Life, Liberty and Property from unjust tyranny. If it’s regarded as compatible with the Council of Europe, fine. If not, well hard cheese – restoring and protecting our own liberty is far more important than some Sorosite propaganda war with Russia.

    And if another Labour regime gets in, and seeks to amend or repeal it, seeks to restore the Blair tyranny? Well, this time we need to be ready for them. We were asleep in 1997, lulled into stupor by BBC miasma. Almost no one awoke until it was years too late. Never again.

    • GraveDave

      The act needs to be written by a disparate group with everyone’s interests at heart.

      • Simon_in_London

        As Puttnam has shown, the more ‘disparate’ – diverse – a community is, the more they hunker down to protect their own interests. So your prescription would likely have the opposite effect from your stated intent. Liberty thrives when the rulers are wary of the people rather than claiming ‘We ARE the people’. Historically it also thrives when the people are relatively homogenous and able to articulate a coherent interest, though a Swiss-style cantonment system with federal diversity and local homogeneity can also work.
        The British Bill of Right and the US Constitution & Bill of Rights support an argument that putting a homogenous group of nearly-all-Protestant Whig Liberals in charge works best. With Jacobins, Socialists, Nazis or Communists in charge, it tends to go badly for everyone who isn’t them. Mixing Left-Liberals (Social Democrats etc) with Right-Liberals (Whig-Liberals) tends to result in Left-Liberal domination, as we see with the ECHR.

      • evad666

        I will wager the inaugurating group will all be victims of socialist groupthink.

  • Sean L

    Yourself and others, Dellingpole for instance, like to champion “freedom”. But I don’t know what it means in practice if a woman can be imprisoned merely for saying ” You’re not English. This is England, this is.” But you defenders of freedom in the media no more rallied to her cause than that woman from ‘Liberty’. Indeed it was the media that got her locked up for being “racist”.

    • Simon_in_London

      I’m sure I’m not the first one to note that Shami Chakrabarti’s first name is extremely apt given her role. She and her organisation are a New Labour government creation, what Americans call Astroturf, there to ensure that actual Liberty and its Libertarian advocates don’t get onto TV. The BBC chooses ‘safe’ Right-wing opposition like grumbler Peter Hitchens and neoconish Douglas Murray to appear on TV, people they are confident they can deal with. A genuinely charismatic Libertarian speaker like Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance – http://www.libertarian.co.uk/ – would be an actual threat, so is never seen on Question Time et al.

      • Sean L

        Yeah I recently read a piece by Sean Gabb on the former member for Wolverhampton – someone posted a link to it on here. Very sound! Yes Peter Hitchens is a bit of a sour puss but I think he’s mostly right on the money and his heart’s in the right place – I like him. I didn’t realise he appeared on the BBC. . . but I can’t recall where I’ve seen or heard him so maybe it was on the Beeb, which I mostly avoid. . .

        • Simon_in_London

          Peter H’s heart is in the right place but because he cannot enunciate any positive agenda I think the BBC regard him as safe opposition. He can tell the Lefties they are wrong but he cannot put forward a positive view. The Daily Mail in general seems to have that problem. They foresaw the coming disaster of the New Labour regime but never sought to put forward an alternative. In fact a lot of conservatism is Eeyore pessimist-conservatism, which the Left knows how to deal with. Conversely they were never able to deal with Thatcher’s positive Hayekian vision re the British economy no matter how much hate they poured on her. We need similar vision in the moral sphere.

          • Sean L

            Yeah fair point – it’s a tough one because as a conservative one is naturally sceptical about “positive visions”. I’d frame it more in terms of strong leadership but of course that implies some kind of ” vision ” that people buy into as it were. The problem with Thatcher as I see it is that because she ‘won’ the economic argument the left advanced into cultural territory, so Thatcherism was to some extent counterproductive, uniting and empowering the left and not actually substantially diminishing the state sector. In that sense the rhetoric was always ahead of the reality. It’s conceivable than apparently more conciliatory, less ostensibly Thatcherite leadership, could have accomplished more, by stealth as it were. The problem is that the ideologues or activists are often more concerned with doctrinal purity than reality.* Promoting* economic liberalism isn’t the same as *realising* it. Equally you need those selfsame activists to counter the left, as you say, and they need to be inspired by some kind of moral vision. No easy answers!

          • Simon_in_London

            Good points. I think the best answer is Sean Gabb’s: if lovers of liberty can just once get a voting majority in the House of Commons, they can immediately dismantle the organisations of State control through which the Left controls discourse, and deal it a crippling wound, perhaps mortal.
            UKIP could do it (but might not).

          • mikewaller

            There are no easy answers because there are are no inspirational answers of the kind you are seeking. Given our by now wholly untenable expectations in relation to the distribution of the World’s goodies, economic liberalism would be suicide. It only benefited the West in the past because it then it had a near monopoly on manufacturing technology. Quite apart from the huge, growing, skills-base in the newly emergent nations, the economic liberal “geniuses” who favoured the out-sourcing of most manufacturing activities have now brought about the most massive and wide-ranging technology transfer in the history of the human race. Couple that with a killer factoid I recently came across (QI yearbook of 2012) that anybody earning more than £15,000 p.a. is in the top 4% of the world’s wage-earners and you can see the sheer enormity of the bind we are in. It is increasingly my belief that the old free-trade arguments only work within certain parameter and a world in which the capacity to make things is starting massively to outstrip the aggregate capacity to purchase them, ain’t one of them. As a result, I think democracy will soon be driving us back to trade blocks.

          • Sean L

            I agree it was more a response to a previous question – I’m a total pessimist politically and don’t see politics as directed towards any goal – my only point was that what could be intended by its proponents to be conducive to liberalism, economic or otherwise, is likely to carry implications or have effects which might be be the opposite of those intended. Ditto socialism or any ideology – Thatcherism merely being one example which, in my view, may have had the effect of empowering the left, in spite of all the triumphalism.

          • mikewaller

            Perhaps the most effective way of getting “ordinary” people to understand the new economic realities is to do what the Chairperson of our County Council recently did: let a cross-section play the game of cuts and consequences on the Council’s computerized model of the world in which it operates. She said that they were distinctly chastened; but it would be an exercise somewhat difficult to scale-up! [:-)]

  • Who’s going to protect us from our government if the European Convention on Human Rights is replaced with a watered down national Bill of Rights, with no right of appeal to the international court?

    Human Rights laws are about protecting us from the failures and excesses of the State. So when it comes to taking our own government to court for possible human rights abuses, isn’t it right that we can ultimately appeal to an international court if our own state court fails to deliver justice (as we know it can on occasions).

    Please see my commentary on this: ‘UK SOS! Our human rights are under attack’

    http://www.humanrights.mythexploder.com

    • Sean L

      I’ve read your article. Sanctimonious waffle. *Whose* rights, *what* rights? What do you even mean by ” human rights “? Such a loaded and wooly concept. Meaningless without reference to concrete examples. Some people claim a right to work or a right to political asylum, but a right is meaningless in the absence of a power capable of enforcing it, and the enforcement of such rights is bound to conflict with no less legitimate rights to trade freely or to live at peace in one’s neighbourhood untroubled by the introduction of a foreign population with their own conflicts and grievances into one’s midst. As for Churchill, he was advocating it for *Europe*. Our rights, unlike Europeans, being already protected by common law,of which you appear to have no concept. But if you were serious about protecting our freedoms it’s the erosion of common law that ought to concern you. Talking of which, what about the rights of the woman who was locked up merely for saying: ” You’re not English. This is England, this is.” without a batsqueak of protest from those who otherwise profess such concern over “rights”.?

      • I agree it’s more useful to refer to concrete examples (which I do in my article by the way, so I am unsure if you read it).

        These are some examples of how our Human Rights Act has helped British citizens:

        * The Human Rights Act has brought to account UK police for failing to investigate human trafficking and rape cases.

        * Thanks to the Human Rights Act, UK law was changed to prevent rape victims from being cross-examined by their attacker.

        * It’s because of the Human Rights Act that the right was established in the UK for an independent investigation to take place following a death in prison.

        * Human rights laws have also helped patients gain to access life-saving drugs and held hospitals to account when failures in mental-health care has directly led to suicide.

        * In the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, 100 claims were made invoking the Human Rights Act claiming that gross or degrading treatment of patients, mostly elderly, had caused or hastened their deaths.

        * Human Rights laws have also helped to establish that failing to properly equip British soldiers when on active duty abroad was a breach of their human rights.

        I am not convinced that these or similar cases would have prevailed without our Human Rights Act; I certainly don’t think they would have got anywhere under the 1689 Bill of Rights, or under a new Bill of Rights without any redress to an international court when our state courts fail to deliver justice (as sometimes, as we know, they do).

        And the examples above are just that – some examples. There are many other cases where British people have needed our Human Rights Act to protect them against the excesses or failures of the State.

        See my commentary: UK SOS! Our human rights are under attack

        http://www.humanrights.mythexploder.com

        • Sean L

          It’s the selective nature of the concept of a right which seems to apply disproportionately to certain fashionable causes that concerns me. I mentioned the woman on the Croydon tram who was *imprisoned*. As to rape, what about the rights of wrongly accused men? Or those men prosecuted on no other grounds than the uncorroborated testimony of their accusers for alleged offences from decades past? These are cases where law enforcement is being driven by political causes and their media prominence, which supersede the rights of the individuals. I can’t think of a single case where the issue of “rights” was invoked to defend a person associated with an unfashionable cause. Otherwise, more generally, the principal issue in this sphere is the erosion of common law, whose raison d’etre is to protect the rights of the person against arbitrary power.

          • Sean, the allegations you mentioned, if corroborated, would also involve abuses of human rights – so are we really that far off from agreement? We surely agree that humans need to be protected against the failures and excesses of the State – the issue is how best to achieve that. When it comes to taking our own government to court for abuses of our civil rights, I don’t feel safe only to rely on a state court (although in most cases they probably come to the right verdict). I also want the right to refer to an international court.

            Human Rights are too precious to demean or degrade. In this world, we need Human Rights more than ever. And we need Britain, a country historically famous for its liberal and compassionate values, to be leading the way in promoting and upholding international conventions on Human Rights. We should not be withdrawing from them as if they are of little value or consequence. What message would that give to other countries with far worse human rights records than our own?

          • Sean L

            Well Jon, properly understood there’s no such thing as a state court, that’s what we mean by an independent judiciary to which agents of the state are no less answerable than anyone else. But I can’t interpret the term “Human rights” when used without further qualification other than as a weasel term or rhetorical device that serves as an unquestioned good. That’s because I’m bound to think in terms of real life actual cases, from a bottom-up rather than top-down point of view. And that’s the essence of common law, which I believe is a more reasonable, realistic and productive mechanism for the discovery and discussion of what constitutes a right, as well as for realising a right. But anyway thanks for engaging.

          • Yes, thank you for engaging.

          • GraveDave

            On this I agree with you too. There seems to be only one form of free speech when it comes to human rights.The kind of dissent shown by Emma West, a bi polar sufferer who had her child knocked off her lap by an impatient passenger of immigrant descent got her locked up for her outburst. But such an outburst coming from anyone else but a poor white would have been overlooked. In fact that same week a black girl did a racist rant but unlike Emma West her rant was truly racist and contained the most vile expletives against white people. However, after a few thousand hits on you tube and a visit by the police, she was merely told to keep off public transport for the foreseeable future.

            It is cases like this and the publicity it has garnered has probably impelled this country to go further to the nationalist right ie UKIP.

        • Sean L

          As to the right of a woman not to be question by her “attacker”. What about the rights of the accused? To say nothing of the presumption of innocence. Again it’s all about the political cause, to which the concept of rights is subordinate, in the service of. Therefore I can’t see this as an issue of rights as such but rights as a means of promoting certain causes under a false and emotional pretext. After all only a meany-minded “right winger” could question the notion of “human rights” and who wants to thought of as one of them?

        • GraveDave

          I believe if the Tories get in on a majority they will tear up the act if only metaphorically.That is they will merely disregard the findings of any shortfalls against them.It’s not like they haven’t already shown their contempt what with the recent condemnation on the sanctions and the poverty levels within.The bedroom tax was also criticized by another international body.Then you have IDS with his ‘retrospective legislation’.
          They’ve put the brakes on slightly since but that’s only because there’s an election in the offing, But it’s still happening. It’s also been shown that the bedroom tax actually costs more to implement than what it saves. In many cases its also prevented more money coming through for future house building projects. Typical Tory ideas then.Not thought out properly and seemingly motivated more by spite than by tough line economics.

        • GraveDave

          And it’s not like some of our own judges haven’t been soft on murderers and rapists.
          Is it?

          • Our courts have got things wrong on occasions. That’s why, when it comes to taking our own government to court, I believe that citizens should retain the right, as they do now, to refer to an international court. In most cases, this shouldn’t be, and isn’t, necessary.

            Thanks to the Human Rights Act people can take allegations of human rights abuses by our government to be judged by our national courts, instead of having to wait years to go to the court in Strasbourg, as used to be the case.

            If you think we should scrap the Human Rights Act, can you say specifically what’s wrong with it? It’s better to discuss specifics.

      • Simon_in_London

        ” the woman who was locked up merely for saying: ” You’re not English. This is England, this is.” without a batsqueak of protest from those who otherwise profess such concern over “rights”

        Oh, they were cheering her incarceration from the rooftops.

    • Simon_in_London

      “Who’s going to protect us from our government if the European Convention on Human Rights is replaced with a watered down national Bill of Rights…”

      Who protected us from the Blair Regime, that introduced the HRA? It’s a silly question. Only law-abiding governments obey judicial pronouncements. Any government you actually need protecting against does not care.

      • So what message do we send to countries with far worse human rights records than us, if we abandon the apparatus for human rights resolutions that we helped to set up? If the apparatus is not suitable for us, then others can claim it’s no good for them too. The danger is that throughout the world, human rights and their enforcement will be diminished.

        We led the way in establishing the world’s first enforceable human rights convention; please let us not be the nation that leads the way to the dismantlement of that convention, and the decline of human rights.

        • Simon_in_London

          “If the apparatus is not suitable for us, then others can claim it’s no good for them too. ”

          Well, that would be my view – they’re certainly no good for us and I very much doubt they’re any good for them, either. I think the concept is a bad idea badly implemented. I would very much like to see the dismantlement of all Human Rights conventions and the promotion of actual useful stuff such as impartial judiciaries and secure property rights – but never as ‘Human Rights’.

          • Well, we can fortunately, in this country, agree to disagree. 🙂

            Can you say more specifically what’s wrong with the European Convention on Human Rights, that has lasted 60 years and I think served our continent well?

            Did you read my commentary on why I think it’s so important?

            http://www.humanrights.mythexploder.com

          • Fergus Pickering

            Can you define human rights. Do you suppose, for instance, that the right to family life is a human right? Nearly all human rights are negative, the right not to be…

          • I believe that the principles of human rights were defined in broad terms by the European Convention of Human Rights, and subsequently interpreted by court rulings.

            Yes, I do believe that the right to respect (by the State) of your “private and family life, your home and correspondence” is a fundamental human right that deserves to be protected. Below is a link to an excellent summary of the rights – and they are not all negative; most of them are positive, in my view, “the right to…”.

            The question is, which rights do you think can be discarded? I believe they are all vital and should be cherished and upheld by modern governments. Only those who have had their rights abused truly understand how precious are these rights.

            http://hub.coe.int/in-brief-european-convention-on-human-rights

          • Fergus Pickering

            Well I don’t. What about someone who lives entirely alone? What are you going to do about it? It is an empty sort of a right, don’t you think?

            What about a child-murderer banged up for ever. Does he/she has a right to a family life?

          • Well of course you have the right to disagree, but 47 countries signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UK pioneered the Convention and was the first country to sign up to it. We should think carefully before being the first country to discard it, and the message that would send to other states across the world. (Including Russia, the country that has had most rulings against it by the Human Rights Court).

            I think there are many misunderstandings about human rights and it’s worth reading the true-life cases brought to the courts and the ones that actually win and fail. Most fail.

            If someone lives alone without any family, how can their right to have respect (by the State) for their family life be abused? The court cannot impose a family life on you, only show respect for one that you have!

            Furthermore, human rights laws do not prevent a criminal from being suitably punished or imprisoned once fairly tried and convicted.

            In just a few cases, human rights laws have prevented an ex-offender from being deported from this country if they have a long-term established family already here.

            However, the vast majority of appeals by foreign criminals to avoid deportation citing human rights laws fail. Only in truly exceptional cases do they succeed. Please read the cases and discover this for yourself.

            A child-murdered correctly “banged up forever” will have the right to be humanely treated in prison according to the law (i.e. not subject to torture).

            Fortunately, human rights are unlikely ever to be needed by you or me; as eloquently explained by the late Lord Bingham:

            “They are protected for the benefit above all of society’s outcasts, those who need legal protection because they have no other voice – the prisoners, the mentally ill, the gipsies, the homosexuals, the immigrants, the asylum-seekers, those who are at any time the subject of public obloquy.”

            Please see my article, UK SOS! Our human rights are under attack:

            http://www.humanrights.mythexploder.com

            And also my most recent article, Should prisoners be allowed to vote?:

            http://www.prisonervotes.mythexploder.com

          • Fergus Pickering

            Ah well, you see, I give rather more weight to public obloquy than Lord Bingham. And a lawyer is the LAST person I should turn to over matters of morality. I would execute the child murderer for obvious reasons, but the Lord Binghams of the world, the comfortable rich liberals, would not let me..

          • Well all I can say is I am pleased you don’t have political power. No doubt my father, who sought asylum in this country as a teenager escaping from the Nazis, would not have survived (and therefore I would never have been born) if your rules prevailed.

            I am proud of Britain’s human rights record and the fact that our war leader, Winston Churchill, tried so hard in peace to pioneer and promote the human rights convention for all our continent, drafted by British lawyers. It’s a legacy I am grateful for and I – and I hope many others too – will speak up loudly and forcefully not to lose it.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Not at all. I would have gven your father asylum. Are you a lawyer by any chance?

          • Well, I don’t think there can be a policy of ‘pick and mix’ with human rights. All the rights I shared with you on that list I feel are vital.

            I think also you might have some misconceptions about the meaning of human rights, which wouldn’t be surprising in view of how human rights are given such a bad press in the UK.

            You posted earlier about “the right to family life” as being a “human right”. But this has never been the case. Human rights cannot possibly give anyone “a right to family life”. What human rights legislation ensures is that our government should have, “respect for your private and family life, your home and correspondence.” I hope you can recognise the stark distinction.

            I’m not a lawyer, I’m a journalist. http://www.jondanzig.com

          • Fergus Pickering

            So I see. All this stuff is your job then. Just as it is with Cheri Blair.

          • No, this is all unpaid work I do out of passion.

            You are giving the impression of jumping to conclusions without being in possession of the full facts.

          • Fergus Pickering

            For which I respect you though it doesn’t make you right of course.. Let us agree to disagree

    • IJMO_DS

      What did we do in the past? We had the convention for 15 years before signing up to the court and 50 years before bringing in the Human rights act. Everything was fine no WWII style atrocities were committed by the state in the UK. Where do you draw the line between domestic political matters and human rights. Laws are detailed and give judges only a small amount of room to manoeuvre. Human rights can mean just about anything the interpreter likes, so rely on the personal and political views of unelected judges.

      • No, not WWII atrocities, thank goodness, but do remember that our support of the European Convention on Human Rights is an international obligation under law, and that by leaving it we do send out a clear message to those countries who might well consider human rights atrocities similar to those that occurred during WWII.

        I think we need to take this obligation very seriously, and I am horrified by any suggestion that we might leave or wish to dilute the principles of the Convention and the reach of the international Court.

        It is useful to understand some of the issues our Human Rights Act has helped to resolve; yes, not WWII type abuses, but I think very important matters nonetheless.

        •Held the police to account for failing to investigate rape
        and human trafficking.

        •Compensation for minors who were abused but ignored by
        social services.

        •Upheld the rights of children to express their religious
        faith.

        •Supported families fleeing domestic violence.

        •Ensured the right to access to life-saving drugs on the
        NHS.

        •Held hospitals to account when lapses in mental-health
        treatment have resulted in suicide.

        •Given same-sex partners the equivalent rights and status as
        heterosexuals.

        •Ensured that inquiries into civilian deaths in Iraq at the
        hands of British troops have been independent.

        •Used to establish that failure to properly to equip British
        soldiers is a breach of their rights.

        •Stopped councils from misusing CCTV surveillance.

        •Used against councils who have closed libraries.

        •Stopped Councils that have bypassed the rights of the disabled and the elderly.

        • IJMO_DS

          I would say that roughly 90% of the negative media reported issues with human rights come from deportations and the other 10% from interference in domestic political matters. The former can be solved by applying article 1 correctly. The courts have no business considering anything that happens beyond our borders when they perform their interpretation of human rights. Let everyone in the UK have their human rights but don’t extend them to third party countries. That is probably the only long term viable compromise between the conservatives and the liberals.

          The points you make are not enough to counter the injustice of not being able to deport a foreign criminal of terrorist. They could after all, all be solved by political lobbying.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Human Rights laws seem to be about us being unable to get rid of foreign undesirables.

  • IJMO_DS

    “Like many conservatives, I think it’s absurd when a foreign convicted murderer, on his release from prison, cannot be deported by the Home Office because Strasbourg has ruled that sending him back to his country of origin would violate his right to a family life. But isn’t it naive to think that British judges, many of whom are quite left-wing, would always side with the Home Office?”

    Article 1 of the European convention restricts interpretation of human rights to the geographical jurisdiction of the signatory. Therefore a British bill of rights would not allow British judges to take in to consideration events in the home country of the foreign criminal to be deported.

    Being a foreign terrorist is a dangerous occupation and surely being killed, tortured or not receiving a fair trial is an occupational hazard that comes with the job description? Why should we worry about what happens to them after we have deported them? Not caring is not the same as directly violating their rights.

    This moving of the goal posts to extend the UK states liability to third parties in Soering vs UK 1988 is where it all went wrong.

  • stniuk

    No matter what anyone says when someone wants to take rights from the ordinary person it is worrying and dangerous.

  • mikewaller

    Be careful, Toby, you are showing a propensity to think that could wreck any parliamentary career you have in mind. David Cameron is the best available demonstration of the dangers of bringing all matter judicial “in-house”. The declaration of the French revolutionary that, “I am their leader therefore I must follow them” was tailor-made for DC. In terms of changing his stance in accordance with the public mood, he is a weather vane to Blair’s comparative Rock of Gibraltar.

  • Jonathan Burns

    The greatest Human Right is to have laws made by people who are elected and can be unelected every five years. Not by giving unelected (by the people) judges a blank cheque to make up any law they like, to keep lawyers on a gravy Ship.

  • Faringdon

    It seems to me that its the Tories who are despots riding roughshod over our human rights. FFS.

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