A British Bill of Rights. Again.

I’m tired of being poised for this stupid shoe to drop. Although the proposals for the British Bill of Rights are in the Queen’s Speech, word on the (nerdy) street is that in reality, they’re on the backburner while Cameron battles to keep us in the EU.

For excellent analysis on this, I recommend Jack of Kent, the blog by David Allen Green, in particular this post looking at the Tory gesture politics of all this. I would add that as always, gesture politics of this sort has serious long-term consequences but hey, that’s not bothering the likes of Theresa May when they pull on familiar and useful levers – immigration, human rights (which is in a way about immigration too).

Also recommend this video by Rights Info on human rights:

And finally, an excerpt from a speech by Lord Bingham, which I think sums it all up – regarding why a “British Bill of Rights” would somehow be better than what we currently have. (sidenote: just occurs to me that Brexiters are also selling this  watered down rights argument in nationalistic packaging. According to them, Britain would be Great again if the EU would just let us go – but we’re already so Great that it’s hard to fathom how we ever ended up needing anyone else in the first place – and apparently also a little stupid to let ourselves be duped into this evil plot*)

The rights protected by the Convention and the Act deserve to be protected because they are, as I would suggest, the basic and fundamental rights which everyone in this country ought to enjoy simply by virtue of their existence as a human being.

Let me briefly remind you of the protected rights, some of which I have already mentioned.

The right to life.
The right not to be tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The right not to be enslaved.
The right to liberty and security of the person.
The right to a fair trial.
The right not to be retrospectively penalised.
The right to respect for private and family life.
Freedom of thought,conscience and religion. Freedom of expression.
Freedom of assembly and association.
The right to marry.
The right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of those rights.
The right not to have our property taken away except in the public interest and with compensation.
The right of fair access to the country’s educational system.
The right to free elections.

Which of these rights, I ask, would we wish to discard? Are any of them trivial, superfluous, unnecessary? Are any them un-British?

There may be those who would like to live in a country where these rights are not protected, but I am not of their number.
Human rights are not, however, protected for the likes of people like me – or most of you. They are protected for the benefit above all of society’s outcasts, thosewho need legal protection because they have no other voice – the prisoners, the mentally ill, the gipsies, the homosexuals, the immigrants, the asylum-seekers, those who are at any time the subject of public obloquy. – Lord Bingham


*see: Hitler. Apparently, that’s another lever everyone (Boris) is pulling lately.

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