Anyone who thinks our civil liberties will be any better protected by a Conservative Government should think again. Speaking in Bangor (the Northern Ireland flavour) on Friday, the News Letter reports Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve saying:
… there is â€œa rights cultureâ€ which is â€œout of controlâ€, not just in Ulster, but throughout the UK.
It did not help that â€œthe undeserving in societyâ€ can often use rights legislation for personal gain, he added.
The Conservatives, he suggested, intend to create a UK Bill of Rights which would have in-built safeguards to prevent those â€œwhose own behaviour is lackingâ€ from abusing the powers.
I’m used to people from across the political spectrum differentiating between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor when it comes to welfare but not when it comes to fundamental rights. This rhetoric even goes beyond the talk about “rights and duties.”
In fairness to Labour, even the Jack Straws of this world have fallen short of using language as stark as this. Michael Wills was arguing last month that by “responsibilities” all they are talking about is the vague rhetoric about responsibilities that you can find in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I have heard Straw on more than one occasion insist that by “duties” he means nothing more than the riders which can be found in the European Convention. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from using loaded rhetoric whenever they want to court favour with the Daily Mail.
I suspect that tailoring your rhetoric to suit your (in this case the dinosaurs in the DUP and UUP) audience is something that Grieve himself is guilty of here but even at their best, the Tories don’t offer the same reassurances that Labour do. It is rank cowardice on their part not to call for its outright rejection, rooted in a knowledge that it would make us the pariahs of Europe (we would have to leave the Council of Europe and subsequently the EU). More to the point, he is talking tosh: when challenged, the anti-HRA brigade consistently fail to come up with concrete examples of how eeeeevil people are using it for “personal gain.”
I don’t actually think the Tories mean all this nonsense. I do fear however that if they regain control the constant undermining of the HRA that Labour are guilty of will be turned up several notches.
And let’s not forget that Grieve is a supposed “wet” – just imagine how much further his own backbenchers will want to push him? And before you carp “never mind this human rights nonsense, at least the Tories will be better on civil liberties” – nu-uh.