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.
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.