Next week we hope to hear John Glen MP (member of Parliament for Salisbury) explain his wish to see the Human Rights Act #HRA repealed. The original idea was the act to be repealed in favour of a bill of rights which the UK has never had. This died the death in 2012 yet many on the government’s front bench and many back benchers – including Mr Glen – want to see the HRA got rid of without being that clear on what would replace it.
In a leader in the Guardian on July 4, the European convention on human rights is described thus:
‘… it distilled the protections that the English common law had evolved over the centuries, as a gift to a broken continent. […] after two-thirds of a century, by now it might have been edging towards sacred status. Instead it is widely derided. The Conservative party is gripped by a decidedly unconservative urge to chuck this product of experience out of the British courts by repealing the Human rights Act, which incorporates it into British law. The Home Secretary floats the idea of walking away from the convention entirely, a suggestion that the Tory right is bent on getting into the next manifesto.’
Like all laws, it has its absurdities and some questionable decisions are arrived at using it. Nevertheless, it embodies fundamental rights of the citizen and enables them to challenge decisions made by the state or its agencies. It is probably this ability which so narks those in positions of power. We learned this week how a collection of mega-wealthy individuals paid £12,000 (about $18,000) each to have a meal with David Cameron and some of his ministers. Huge efforts were made to keep this secret but the Bureau of Investigative Journalists secured the guest list. Such people are unlikely to be that sympathetic to those at the bottom of the heap or who struggle to have their voices heard. Nor can we rely on the Labour party who are organising their own dinner and are busy courting the corporate community.
As the political class drifts away from the concerns and problems of ordinary people it is acts like the HRA which gives them – occasionally – some kind of chance to even the balance.