The Tories’ love affair with the ruthless and obtuse right-wing press has led them to the crazy idea of dumping the Human Rights Act (1998). The Human Rights Act enabled law courts in the UK to ensure human rights are respected without having to go to the European Court of Human Rights. The Act was a fundamental step in constitutional reform in the UK protecting citizens’ rights and liberties rather than leaving it to the benevolence of the state.
I suppose Cameron taps into that romantic belief that Britain has always been and will always be a liberal country, and that this liberalism is preserved by Parliament. This only shows crass ignorance of the past and the present and bewildering naivety. Even Dicey, who was the great advocate of parliamentary primacy, recognised that a written constitution and Bill of Rights would have been essential to prevent an elected dictatorship. Labour have passed draconian legislation counting on their majority. Remember the Lords trying to stop the anti-terrorism act in 2005?
No country has a liberal DNA. That’s why constitutions and checks and balances are so important. They are a very recent thing. They are the result of hundreds of years of oppression, of absolute power, of wars. Our conception of freedom and rights has matured over a long period of time and it’s still developing. The Human Rights Act (1998) comes from the European Convention of Human Rights (1950), which comes from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the human response to the many millions who died in WWII and the horrific acts perpetrated in the name of the nation. Those rights cost us the lives of millions. Did they really die in vain?