The Salisbury Amnesty group is politically neutral. We have an interest in the Human rights Act passed with all party consensus in 1998. The Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2019 general election says:
Once we get Brexit done, Britain will take back control of its laws. As we end the supremacy of European law, we will be free to craft legislation and regulations that maintain high standards but which work best for the UK. We want a balance of rights, rules and entitlements that benefits all the people and all the parts of our United Kingdom.
After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates. Page 48 in the section: Protect our Democracy (our italics)
We can find no similar pledge in the other two main party’s manifesto. To some extent this is a familiar promise. In the past, the party has promised to repeal the act and to introduce a bill on rights and responsibilities. Probably because of the pressure on parliamentary time with Brexit, such a bill has never emerged. Promises to abolish the act also have never emerged. We have asked what part of the act they want to abolish but this has never been answered. The Party does seem to have a problem with the act as it is currently drafted.
The words themselves tell you little and may even seem on the face of it, benign. What does ‘update the act’ mean? Seeking a balance between the rights of individuals and our vital national security and effective government is a bit of a clue. A regular theme of the right wing press is the threat posed by the act to our national security. This for example from the Daily Mail in 2015:
Another day, another insult to common sense courtesy of the Human Rights Act and the lawyers enriched by this toxic piece of legislation, which allows them so profitably to ride roughshod over the wishes of Parliament and the British public. Editorial, 1 August 2015
We shall be keeping a watching brief on Conservative party plans if they assume power on 13 December 2019.
Visitors to this site may like to visit Rights Info where this manifesto promise is also discussed.