UK Politics

The Conservative Attack On The Human Rights Act

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The current incarnation of the Conservative Party is filled with incredibly toxic people. Arguably one of the worst of Johnson’s cabinet is Dominic Raab. After his failure dealing with Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary, it was decided by Johnson that Raab should be made Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary.

Rather than humiliating our country on the world stage, Raab is instead up to something far more dangerous: his personal crusade to remove your human rights and undermine the UK’s legal system.

Human Rights Act

Since coming to power in 2010, some fringe movements within the Conservative party have wanted to remove human rights legislation. Since the Brexit Referendum, and especially since Johnson became PM, this call has been growing. 

Officially, the government wants to remove the supremacy of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and replace it with a UK human rights bill. This may, at first glance, seem reasonable but there are serious flaws in this thinking. 

Firstly, the ECHR has nothing to do with the EU – just because something has the word “Europe” in it does not suddenly mean it’s connected to the EU. The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe founded in 1953, predating the EEC and EU by a few decades. 

Also, the ECHR is not just international law but is domestic law. The Labour government under Tony Blair made the ECHR part of domestic law in the 1998 Human Rights Act. Thus, claiming that human rights are forced on the British people by a Strasbourg-based court is false. 

If an MP says that we should remove the Human Rights Act or leave the ECHR by linking it to Brexit or the EU, they are lying. The ECHR was the passion project of Winston Churchill, a man who is supposedly loved by the same people who are now trying to destroy his legacy. Additionally, one of the authors of the ECHR was the British lawyer and CONSERVATIVE politician David Maxwell Fyfe, who became the UK’s Home Secretary in 1951 and cross-examined Hermann Göring during the Nuremberg Trials. The founding of the ECHR was a response to the atrocities committed during WW2 and provided a legal framework designed to stop the evils of fascism from rising again in Europe. 

I imagine Raab is fully aware of this. He should know that the EU is not responsible for the ECHR. But Raab purposely uses vague language to convince less-informed voters that human rights are a holdover of EU membership that Brexit Britain needs to unshackle itself from even though it is domestic law and has nothing to do with the EU. 

Undermining the UK legal system.

The UK, like most democracies, has three branches of government: the executive (the government), the legislator (parliament) and the judiciary (the courts). To prevent tyranny, each of these three branches acts independently. However, Raab does not like this. He was one of the leading proponents of shutting down parliament in 2019 and is now after the judiciary.  

In an interview with the Telegraph, Rabb revealed that he wants a mechanism to allow the government to introduce ad hoc legislation to “correct” court judgements that ministers (i.e. himself and his friends) don’t like.  

This proposed move by Raab has worried legal experts across the country. The former head of the government’s legal service, Jonathan Jones, branded the deputy prime minister’s proposals as “muddled”, and a law professor at Cambridge University said it was “deeply troubling”. 

This is incredibly dangerous as it means that if the Supreme Court finds that the government has done something illegal, then the government would be able to “correct” the court ruling and let itself off the hook. 

This attack on the UK’s sovereign legal system by the government and Brexit supporting media is nothing new. In 2016, the Daily Mail published several headlines branding judges upholding British laws as “enemies of the people“. In 2020, Priti Patel attacked the rule of law by calling human rights lawyers “do gooders” and “lefty lawyers”.

No  economic or social rights in Raab’s Britain

But why does Raab (and his co-conspirators) want to remove human rights laws? It’s simple. They don’t like human rights. Raab blatantly said, “I don’t believe in economic and social rights”, in a 2009 video uncovered by David Lanny. 

What type of things are considered economic and social rights that Raab doesn’t think you deserve? According to JustFair.org they include the right to work and workers’ rights, social security, health, education, food, water, housing, the right to a healthy environment, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial.

Does Raab not believe in any of these rights? Does he not want the British people to have freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial or any workers rights?

Summary

The ECHR is designed to protect people from their governments and prevent them from committing atrocities against their citizens. The ECHR (and by extension the 1998 Human Rights Act) has 52 Articles and several protocols ranging from the prohibition of torture to freedom of assembly (which is already being threatened). 

By wanting to remove human rights, Raab and his colleagues are admitting that they are planning on breaking any one or more of these fundamental protections. When it comes to undermining the legal system, I’d say that he already has. By merely appointing someone with such disregard for the courts, Johnson has proven that he is not a Prime Minister who respects the rule of law. 

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