Danny Kruger is the MP for Devizes in Wiltshire
Danny Kruger has become conspicuous in recent weeks as the quasi leader of a group of MPs who wish to see a firmer crackdown on the boat people crossing the Channel to claim asylum in the UK. The issue of the boat crossings is the subject of considerable political controversy and many people are outraged at the arrivals.
He was in the news recently when it was reported that the government had ‘caved in’ to demands by party rebels, in which he was a leading member, to amend the Illegal Immigration Bill by allowing ministers to ignore European Judges in certain situations. This sprang from the last minute intervention by the European Court which prevented the deportation flight to Rwanda last year from leaving Boscombe Down near Salisbury. This decision enraged many in the Conservative party and much of the right wing media.
He is in the news again this week for an article in the New Statesman (online) which repeats and amplifies comments about immigrants calling it a ‘national disgrace’. He goes on:
“The importance of this topic to many voters cannot be overstated. To put it as plainly as people outside the liberal bubble put it: the small boats scandal shows that the powers that be are not on the side of the British people, but instead serve the abstractions of “human rights”, “international law”, or other signals of the middle class virtue. Lawyers and activists get to buff their own haloes while ordinary people pay the price, in longer queues for public services, lower wages and higher taxes”.
The placing of human rights and international law in inverted commas is interesting and is a piece with another quote from a chapter he wrote on this subject discussed below. The article suggests that ordinary people are experiencing difficulties in obtaining public services and having to pay higher taxes because of this immigration. The facts speak otherwise and a number of Home Office reports demonstrate that immigrants are a net benefit to the UK economy. Mr Kruger may be forgiven for not knowing this as the reports have not been published. Wording such as the ‘abstractions’ of human rights suggest that they are in some way theoretical and is perhaps intended to be dismissive. ‘Powers that be’ is also puzzling since that is the Conservative party of which he is a member. Issues of access to public services is as a result of government policy, austerity and other matters not connected with immigrants.
In a book produced by a group of backbench Conservatives called Common Sense: Conservative Thinking For a Post-Liberal Age (2021) is a chapter written by Danny Kruger entitled Restoring rights: Reclaiming Liberty. This chapter goes a little way to explain the thinking of the MP.
His chapter contains odd reasoning and some curious logic. His first claim is that the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted by British Lawyers after World War II [lawyers from other countries were involved so it is incorrect to say ‘British lawyers’] ‘sits uncomfortably with the English tradition of preventing tyranny’. This will come as something of a surprise to the millions of people who were enslaved and were worked to death in the sugar plantations or those who worked in fearful conditions in nineteenth century factories. The acquisition and retention of Empire also has many horror stories. Quite where this ‘prevention of tyranny’ was taking place is not made clear.
Human rights are misnamed he claims ‘the rights we really need, and the only ones we really have, derive from something higher and something lower than mankind. They derive from the idea of God, and from the fact of nations: from a Christian conception of law …’ It would be difficult to locate in the Bible many of the principles enshrined in the ECHR or the Human Rights Act (which Mr Kruger is keen to abolish) if only because these ideas and principles were a long way from a society colonised by the Romans and where practices like slavery were common. There are many favourable references to slavery in the Bible for example. The ‘lower than mankind’ element is not explained (although it could be a reference to Psalm 8).
He quotes approvingly the American author Patrick Deneen who wrote Why Liberalism Failed (2018). Many do not agree with Kruger’s admiration of Deneen’s book regarding his blame of a huge range of society’s ills on excessive liberalism to be odd not to say ridiculous.
His analysis seems to go seriously awry however with the following passage:
“And so, from an early stage we came to think of rights as the means by which we are set free from external pressure, set free from obligations to others; and from there it is a small step to the hypocritical assumption that rights confer obligations on others to satisfy us.” P49 ibid. This is a unique view of what human rights is about. Surely the point of our system of government is that it does involve governments carrying out policies which are about the wellbeing of those who are governed? It is why we elect members of parliament to raise taxes and pass laws which make our life as acceptable and as fair as possible. Who are these ‘others’ he refers to?
To read all of Mr Kruger’s articles and speeches is to struggle to find a coherent strain of thought as far as human rights is concerned. They are a mixture of false premises, muddled thinking and ideas sprayed around which frequently make little sense. Yet he appears to be someone of influence in the party at present and is often to be seen being interviewed.
Sources include: New Statesman, the Sun, Evening Standard.