Human Rights – will you miss them? Maybe, just maybe!

The Tories have been eroding our freedoms and rights since they day Cameron took office. We are in serious danger of silently acquiescing in unprecedented attacks on our civil liberties. State surveillance, human rights violations, censorship of the media, the ‘gagging Bill’: the ConDem’s record of authoritarianism is truly frightening. And yet, through the skilful manipulation of public opinion over a handful of cases like Abu Qatada, aided by odious rags like the Daily Mail, the British public seems prepared to see the the Human Rights Act torn up and for us to be withdrawn for the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

I can only assume that most people do not understand what they would be giving up – because rest assured, these rights belong to all of us, me and you included, not just the the ‘ill-deserving’ criminals, terrorists and immigrants spotlighted by the Tory media. These are the rights you are happy for Theresa May & Co to shred, your rights as a human being:

  1. Mutual respect of each others rights – usually binned before wanting to conquer others. (We haven’t seen Poland partitioned for quite a while now.)
  2. Right to life – doesn’t get much more basic than that. Unless you don’t value it very much.
  3. The right not to be tortured – with that word ‘torture’ being open to debate about semantics. Those Police knuckles behind the ears we saw in Balcombe clearly don’t count, and what the British army get up to in Afghanistan is outside of European jurisdiction. But then again, so would we be if we withdrew from the ECHR .
  4. The right not to be enslaved – already being ignored near Newport it appears. It would open up new ‘Welfare’ reform possibilities for the Tories if removed. We are not far from the return of the workhouse already.
  5. The right to liberty and security – so we don’t have to be worried about being dragged from our beds in the middle of the night for crimes against the state – like trying to stop the frackers, or whistle blowing on war crimes, or protesting in the streets, or agitating in print/social media. You get the idea.
  6. The right to a fair trial – largely binned already for most with the Tories Legal aid ‘reforms’. The Guldford Four and Birmingham Six were bad enough. What hope would there be for the Balcombe Sixteen, getting in the way of Government policy?
  7. The right not be retroactively prosecuted. In other words, if binned, the Government could produce new laws and then prosecute people for breaking them before the laws were even passed. How neat would that be? It has proved to be a handy device for quite a few regimes down the years.
  8. The right to a private life – including a family life. Those traditional family values the Tories love espousing wouldn’t apply to those pesky immigrants, and as for privacy? State snooping is already a reality. Imagine it unfettered.
  9. The right to freedom of conscience and religion – want to choose your own deity, be it Jehovah or the FSM? State religion has long been a tool of control. As Seneca the Younger said, “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”.
  10. The right to freedom of expression. Do you value being able to call the Tories ‘scum’? At least if I did I might get to share a cell with the Manic Street Preachers. I would say call me a ‘c**t’ if you like – but that liberty has already been eroded (most wouldn’t dare print it) by people imposing their ‘sensitivities’ on others, so where could this end?
  11. Freedom of association – Trade unions haven’t completely disappeared despite the Tories best efforts. How on earth did they muster 50.000 in Manchester? Never again, perhaps.
  12. The right to get married – to whoever you like? I suppose you can’t miss what you never had, especially if you are gay.

I can well imagine many readers bristling at the over-reaction of a raving leftie, so let me share with you the words of Pierre-Henri Teitgen, one of the founders of the European Court of Human Rights (ECoHR):

“Democracies do not become Nazi countries in one day. Evil progresses cunningly …. one by one freedoms are suppressed, in one sphere after another. Public opinion and the entire national conscience are asphyxiated. …. It is necessary to intervene before it is too late.”

The Human Rights Act and the ECoHR are far from perfect. This is an argument for reform, not the careless discarding of something precious, that was hard won (and, ironically, largely shaped by British Tories) and which I, for one, am desperate to hang on to.

What say you?

Andy Chyba

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