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Tory extremists go for broke over European Court of Human Rights

echr_judgesIt has been said that Grayling’s inveighing against the European Court of Human Rights is to spike UKIP’s guns in denouncing the EU. It is much more likely to be spurred on by another Tory personality trait – the unyielding demand for control to mould everything in their own image:

  • They concede greater devolution to Scotland, but only at the expense of neutering Scottish MPs at Westminster to secure their own semi-permanent dominance in England.
  • They are prepared (or at least some of them) to tolerate the EU exclusively as a trading bloc, but only on condition of junking the social, environmental and labour standards that go with it.
  • They’ll put up grudgingly with trade unions, but only so long as they have little or no power to be effective.
  • They want charities and voluntary groups to blossom in the Big Society, but then use the Lobbying Act to try to choke them off from having any political influence.
  • They pretend to be champions of liberty, but then keep trying to push through the intelligence-gathering Snoopers Act to hoover up all the communications of every single citizen.
  • And now they want to exit the ECHR and become the only European state except Belarus to dump this fundamental statement of human rights, so that they can re-write their own version to suit their own prejudices, for example to dispense with any rights for trade unionists.

Ironically this is a creed of human freedoms drawn up largely by British lawyers after 1945 to lay the foundations for fair and equitable rights for all to try to eliminate the chances of another catastrophic war in Europe. It covers basic rights that underpin any free and fair society – the right not to be tortured or enslaved, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to a fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of assembly and association, among others. So which of these would Grayling’s Bill of Rights drop or modify? Or would it be aimed to make life more uncomfortable for ‘undesirables’ like prisoners, immigrants, gypsies and gay people?

The only excuse the Tories bring forward concern voting rights for prisoners and the difficulties they had, in light of bleeding-heart EGHR judges not wanting to deport someone to face torture in their home country, in removing Abu Qatada. On the former, Strasbourg overturned a long-standing British ban on giving prisoners the vote; but the 9-year stand-off hasn’t changed British practice, and nor can the ECHR enforce it. On the latter, Qatada was actually deported, and it’s very unlikely that Grayling’s Bill would have altered what happened at all.

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