Since the European sovereign debt crisis, the usual voices on the Europhobic right have been in full cry, “Let’s withdraw from Europe”! “Give the British people a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU”. To the latter, I’d say, “We’ve already had the referendum and the majority of British people elected to join the EU”. To the former, I’d say “The only reason you want out of Europe is to scrap crucial workplace legislation”.
The one thing that has caused them to increase their anti-EU noise levels over the past few years is the Human Rights Act or, rather, its interpretation by judges… but that isn’t something that they want you to know about. They’d rather you think that it is the convention itself is the problem. We can’t have people coming here and breaking the law, only to be allowed to remain in the country because they have a cat. It simply won’t do.
Yet, when it comes to Syria, it’s a different matter. In that country, human rights are routinely abused as they are in Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Burma and many other countries. They’ll complain bitterly about abuses in those countries but yet, they want to scrap the act in this country and replace it with something called the “British Bill of Rights”. According to the Newsnight studio guests last week, the proposed bill would be exactly the same as the HRA. As the average bloke in the high street would say, “It’s, er, like the Human Rights Act but it’s, er, British. Because, like, we ‘ave nuffink in common wif dem bloody Europeans”.
But that sort of flushes over 1000 years of history down the khazi, doesn’t it?
This country owe much of its character to continental Europe. Okay, the Normans were a brutal bloodthirsty bunch who introduced feudalism but what about those Romans? Or the Norse? Or those Saxon hordes? They all hated human rights….well, to tell the truth, they had no conception of human rights. If they didn’t like the look of you, they’d have cut you down where you stood.
Europhobes claim that the reason they want Britain to withdraw from the EU is “sovereignty”. They want Britain to be able to lock people up without trial without recourse to human rights legislation. They want to roll back workplace legislation because they believe that “health and safety” is a form of red tape that prevents people from making a profit. People should work in dirty, dangerous and unsanitary conditions and like it. Just as workers did in the 19th century. Which reminds me, the Tories tend to view the 19th century through rose-tinted spectacles. For them workplace deaths were a price worth paying. After all, it made Britain great. Those dead workers were martyrs to the cause of capitalism. Well, they weren’t actually.
The problem for the Tories is that, for all their talk, they can’t repeal the HRA, as this blog points out.
The Conservative Party has its own Human Rights Commission. As one might suspect, the commission is only concerned with human rights outside our borders.
Are they hypocrites? Of course they are.
But are the Tories the only ones to oppose the HRA? Well, no and predictably enough, UKIP also oppose the HRA… but then UKIP are, for all intents and purposes, cut from the same cloth as the Tories. Here’s what UKIP’s Paul Nuttall had to say in 2007,
The second problem is the Human Rights Act, which was incorporated into British law in 1998. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for human rights, but only the human rights of the victim. Those perpetrators of low-level crime who ruin the lives of many hard-working citizens could not be locked up as in New York because it would contravene their human rights. It leaves a sour taste and a feeling that the human rights of the criminal are well protected but those of the victim are routinely trampled on. It has also been a golden opportunity for human rights lawyers, such as Cherie Booth QC, to make a fortune. Again, if you want “zero tolerance” then the Human Rights Act needs to be ripped up.
“Don’t get me wrong” he says, “I am all for human rights, but only the human rights of the victim”. In which case he isn’t in favour of human rights at all.
What really makes me laugh is the way some vox pops on television will actually claim that they “hate” human rights. Maybe a few months in concentration camp will help to change their minds?