I am a Runnymede Tory

Now I profoundly dislike what is called ‘the human rights industry’ but I do believe in the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of slavery and forced labour, the right to liberty and security of person, the Right to a fair trial, no punishment without law, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of assembly and association, the prohibition of discrimination, the prohibition of abuse of rights, the protection of property, and the right to an education as set forth within the Human Rights Act.

From here.

Runnymede Tories believe that Blair and his successors have exploited the fear generated by terrorism to curtail rights and augment state power. For them, human rights are both profoundly precious and profoundly British. In 1951, after all, Britain became the first country to ratify the European convention – a text that had been heralded by Churchill and (mostly) drafted by the former Conservative attorney general David Maxwell Fyfe. For Conservatives of this stripe, the convention’s roots, furthermore, lie in the common law of this country and what Burke called the “recorded” rights etched into countless judgements of English courts.

Now I shall get on to what people are rightfully upset about. I do not believe that somebody who has committed a terrible crime should be allowed to go home from prison at the weekend because he has a right to a family life. The people who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Human Rights Act. is based on would never have dreamed that such an interpretation would be made. Furthermore, nothing in UDHR can be translated that way. When they wrote the UDHR nobody would have believed that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage….” would be translated as “prisoners have the right to vote” But lawyers are very good with semantics. So there are clearly some things that need to be clarified. So the Human Rights Act needs to be tweaked a bit rather than scrapped.

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4 Responses to I am a Runnymede Tory

  1. ericwalker2013Eric Walker says:

    Hello Kevin, your email came to Lydia who passed it on to me. I would like to know more about the agitation to give prisoners who have committed serious crimes, the right to weekend leave. Where did you find this information please?

  2. Ben Redsell says:

    Actually Kevin the reverse happens in the Netherlands and has for some time – to avoid someone convicted of a crime losing their job and therefore not being a useful citizen on release, some low risk prisoners are allowed out of jail to go to work but have to return to jail after work and for the weekend.

    Fundamentally the repeal of the HRA98 would have very little effect on the rights and responsibilities guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms, as drafted by Viscount Kilmuir, former Tory Home Secretary and former Lord Chancellor, former judge at Nuremburg, who knew more about what happens when fundamental human rights are contravened than any of us. This is because the HRA merely enshrines the Convention rights in English (and Welsh) law. Rather than your case being decided by foreign judges in Strasbourg, an English judge in an English court can determine if your rights have been breached.

    The problem is, of course, that repeal would mean people had to take those cases to Strasbourg rather than to the English courts, and there are huge backlogs. So it would have the effect of making it much harder to access justice.

    The Human Rights Act and the European Convention should be as much a source of pride for the Tory party as the NHS is for Labour. Instead some right-wing headbangers decided that they could court cheap and easy headlines from the DM and Daily UKIP/Express, with the result that they turned on the fundamental freedoms that guarantee our Government cannot abuse our unwritten constitution. Chief amongst these idiots was the last Lord Chancellor, Chris “Failing” Grayling, now tasked with steering legislation through the House of Commons, ablely assisted by Suffolk Coastal’s Therese Coffey. Thankfully he’s gone and Michael Gove will realise that there is not a majority in the House of Commons for repeal.

    The proposals in the British Bill of Rights are not compatible with the ECHR, and so will be ruled out by the Council of Europe – and would not get a majority in the House of Commons, let alone the House of Lords. The Convention rights are guaranteed in the Scotland Act and the Sewel Convention requires that the UK Government obtain the consent of the Scottish Parliament to change that Act. The Convention rights are guaranteed in the Good Friday Agreement. Even the most bonkers headbanger on the right of the Tory Party is not going to tear up an International Treaty that is fundamental to the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

    In his Hague Speech in 1948, Winston Churchill said (of the Tory Party) – “In the centre of our movement stands the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, guarded by freedom and sustained by law.”

    Michael Gove should listen to people like former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis MP, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP QC, former Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke MP QC, and Jesse Norman MP (whose wife Kate is the daughter of a former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, who wrote a terrific 10 point defence of the HRA back in 2009).

  3. Anastasia says:

    Hi Kevin. Great to hear that you support the Human Rights Act. Would you like to join a campaign against it being repealed? If so, please email me – anastasia.solopova@gmail.com.

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