Sunday 10 March 2013

The warped Tory definition of rights

So the Tory Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that she would like to revoke your human rights by scrapping the Human Rights Act and withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The justification narrative for this Tory attack on the human rights of all British people (freedom from torture, freedom from slavery, liberty, the right to a fair trial, freedom from retrospective punishment, the right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom from discrimination) has already been defined.

We must now expect a barrage of justifications for abandoning human rights, citing a few individual cases like the Islamic extremist Abu Qatada. Here's an article in the Telegraph priming the reactionary right-wing brigade with their argument against Human rights.

The ECHR came into effect in 1953, in the middle of Winston Churchill's second stint as PM. It's a sad indictment of the state of politics in this country when people (including the Tory Home Secretary and Justice Minister) start squealing for 60 year old statutes (that were signed up to by perhaps the most generally lauded Tory PM of all time) to be torn up because of the activities of a loathsome shitbag like Qatada.

It is absolutely clear that this will be their narrative strategy. Their plan is to undermine human rights through association with Islamic extremism, however it is clear that if the words and activities of a tiny minority of Islamic extremists used to destroy our human rights, the extremists have already won. In the words of Benjamin Franklin "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".

As is almost always the case in modern politics the real reason for the policy is not the stated reason for the policy. A closer look at a few Tory policies may help to explain the true reasoning behind their decision to attack our human rights.
  • Retrospective laws: Once again the DWP are at the heart of this conflict with European Human Rights. They're planning to bring in retrospective legislation to avoid compensating all of the people that have been sanctioned for failing to comply with the DWP's unlawful mandatory labour schemes. This is quite obviously illegal under Article 7 of the ECHR which protects us from the imposition of retrospective laws.
  • Internet snooping: Another area in which Tory party policy may conflict with the ECHR is Theresa May's Internet Snooper's charter, which would allow the government (and countless agencies working on their behalf) to access your emails and to trawl through your internet history. This kind of Stasi like spying on the general public would be much easier to implement if the Article 8 of the ECHR (the right to privacy) could simply be abolished.

One of the most shocking things about this outright contempt for your human rights, is that members of this government clearly believe in their own right to dictate.

Contrast Theresa May's opposition to human rights, with this statement from Tory Employment Minister Mark Hoban:

"The court has backed our right to require people to take part in programmes which will help them get into work"
It is absolutely clear from Hoban's statement that he sees governance in terms of ministerial rights to dictate. In his view, the ministerial right to dictate clearly supersedes the labour rights of the ordinary person (the right to earn the minimum wage, the right to quit if you are being bullied or exploited, the right to paid holidays and paid sick leave...). Now Theresa May is openly fantasising about revoking your human rights (your right to assembly, your right to free expression, your right to a fair trial, your right to life).

It is quite clear from this, that the Tory definition of a "right" is actually something that belongs to the government, not to members of the public. It is the classic Tory principle, "the right to rule".

Let me finish by asking two simple questions.

What kind of government clearly believes in their own rights, but battles to revoke the rights of the public?
The view that governmental rights supersede the rights of the public is a totalitarian stance closely associated with fascism.
If it has a history of fascism, it sounds like fascism and it behaves like fascism, what is it?
The UK Conservative Party

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