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Monday, March 04, 2013

Tories in search of a USP

The shock of coming third behind Eastleigh has obviously affected the Conservatives badly. The weekend has seen a succession of Ministers throwing out initiatives and ideas to recapture their party's zeitgeist all, it has to be said with little affect.

The one constant amongst this flow of consciousness is the re-emergence of the Human Rights as the target of Tory hatred. Both the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary have separately threatened to draw back from the European Court on Human Rights despite the fact that they know that their coalition partners and treaty obligations make this a non-starter.

Nevertheless, this sort of threat is not one that can be allowed to go unchallenged and, as the Independent reports, leading lawyers and human rights advocates have picked up the gauntlet. They have warned that ministers risk making the UK a pariah state alongside Belarus, which is the only European country that has not signed the European Convention on Human Rights:

In conflicting statements, Mr Grayling indicated the Tories would abolish the Human Rights Act in the UK while it was reported that Ms May wanted a pledge in the next Conservative manifesto to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights altogether.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “Churchill must be spinning in his grave as modern Tory Cabinet ministers trash his post-war legacy.

“They can’t even seem to agree on whether it’s the Human Rights Act or European Convention they want to scrap.” Both ideas are currently being blocked by the Liberal Democrats from becoming Government policy.

Only Belarus has not signed up to the landmark ECHR treaty, drawn up in the aftermath of the Second World War, largely at the behest of Winston Churchill.

The leading human rights barrister Ben Emmerson QC accused the two ministers of working in a political pincer movement: “The increasingly shrill rhetoric from Theresa May is beginning to sound decidedly unhinged. There is not the slightest prospect of the UK pulling out of the European Convention before the next election.”

“In Europe and the UN the UK is seen as having lost the plot. The UK’s international reputation as a leader on the rule of law and human rights is plummeting at an alarming rate and with it our ability to influence other states. I cannot recall a time since 2003 when the UK’s international reputation has fallen farther and faster.”

I think that sums it up nicely.
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