The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will be central to Tory planning for the EU referendum. The Tory manifesto gave a clear commitment to scrap the 1998 Human Right Act (HRA) and curtail the role of the European Court of Human Rights. It seems likely that there will be a measure paving the way to the Act’s replacement with a British Bill of Rights in the first year of this new government. This is a key part of Cameron’s plan to manage the EU Referendum which he unwisely conceded in order to appease his unruly right wing.
He has been told for some time now that the EU is in no hurry to make any treaty changes and it has also been made clear to him that the EU will not amend its core freedoms (in particular freedom of movement for labour) or its acquis (the body of acquired EU law). Scrapping the HRA and even withdrawing from the ECHR are then to be the red meat he can offer to his rebellious back-benchers if he cannot achieve the treaty changes or opt-outs from the EU fundamentals. Continue reading
The Tories, helped by their lickspittle Tory tabloids, are building up a huge wave of hysteria not only against Romanian and Bulgarian immigramts, but also against the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act which it brought into UK law. They quote the large number of human rights cases taken to Strasbourg -2,082 in this last year – but they don’t admit how many were actually upheld by the ECHR. The answer is 12, or 0.5%.
They also don’t say why so many cases are taken to the ECHR in the first place. The answer is that human rights are not upheld in this country as well as they could, and should, be. Nor do they mention the kind of cases that end up in the ECHR – protecting the rights of care workers, for example, or the right to wear a crucifix at work, or the lifting of the ban on homosexuality in the armed forces. It is cases like this which, astonishingly, have led Home Secretary May to announce publicly that she is actually contemplating the renunciation of the European convention. Continue reading
For centuries the liberty of the British people was grounded upon the concept of negative liberty. People held the freedom to do as they wish up until they were limited by statute.
The 1998 Human Rights Act changed this. Finally people were granted positive liberty: a set of apparently inalienable rights for all citizens, and to which all parliamentary legislation must conform. All good in principle, but it has become clear that codification of rights merely through a parliamentary act has significant weaknesses.