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Human rights: a choice

Posted on March 14, 2013 by

A little compare-and-contrast to contemplate.

This is from the Scottish Government document about setting up a new constitution in an inclusive process after a Yes vote in a referendum:

“…a constitutional convention should consider how to further embed equality and human rights within the constitution and the extent to which the people of Scotland should have constitutional rights in relation to issues such as welfare, pensions, health care and education.”

This is from a recent speech by Theresa May:

“…and we need to stop human rights legislation interfering with our ability to fight crime and control immigration. That’s why, as our last manifesto promised, the next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and it’s why we should also consider very carefully our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention it enforces.”

I can’t decide for you, but I know which one seems more appealing to me.


Michael Greenwell runs the “For A’That” podcast (with Lallands Peat Worrier) and has his own blog, on which a version of this post appeared. Reproduced with permission.

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36 to “Human rights: a choice”

  1. Doug Daniel says:

    I’ll never really understand how we can criticise other countries for human rights abuse, when we elect governments that consider human rights legislation to be evil.
    Scotland wants to be like Norway, while SE England wants to be like Belarus. It’s that simple.

  2. MajorBloodnok says:

    This illustrates perfectly the difference between the Scottish Government and the UK Government.  They former wants to lead, and to lead us in the right direction; whereas the latter just follows, but only where the right leads.
    Shhh, don’t let Morag see that split infinitive in the SG document.

  3. Desimond says:

    Live in Hope or Live in Fear.

  4. seoc says:

    Could the distinction between controlling and co-operating be any clearer.

  5. Jiggsbro says:

    we elect governments that consider human rights legislation to be evil.
    It’s not that they think human rights are evil. It’s that they think some people aren’t human.

  6. May believes that saying these things will win her votes – and there have probably been focus groups done to test the theory. She would not be saying them otherwise.
    Whereas it seems for the Scottish public a very different discourse is required. Is this (more) evidence that the two countries are preparing to go in fundamentally different directions?

  7. MajorBloodnok says:

    @Jiggsbro said: It’s not that they think human rights are evil. It’s that they think some people aren’t human.

    That’s exactly it.  You see this all the time from the Tories – them and us politics. I can remember back before the crash, when the argument was that the wealthy clearly had to be paid more to incentivise them to work harder (bonuses and such like) whereas the poor(er), being ‘different’, had to be paid less to incentivise them. 
    Even after the crash the former notion is still there but unspoken and we are seeing the latter being put into action on a daily basis.
    The only way to get away from this ‘new barbarism’ is to become Independent.  It’s our only chance.

  8. Macart says:

    KInd of underlines who is really all about social division and ‘separation’ and who is all about inclusion and building social bridges doesn’t it?

  9. Cath says:

    It’s interesting. For all this talk about “British” and “Scottish”, I know which of those two statements I would regard as more traditionally “British”. It’s not May’s. And that’s the issue with the way the UK has gone over the past few decades. I regard my values as Scottish and British. I don’t regard Westminster’s values as either.
    People across the British Isles need the jolt that Scottish independence, and perhaps more powers for Wales and the English regions following that, would bring. We are all currently being pulled in a direction that is alien to me, and I’m sure to many across the UK.

  10. Nikostratos says:

    Being a member of the EU guarantees human rights and given eu law supersedes

    both UK and(if it were to be) an Independent Scotland does a constitution actually have any relevance.
    seems to me and others too that my beer (if the snp have its way) is going
    to be more expensive and yet the EU is in the forefront to protect my FREEDOM
    to buy from a seller what  l want at a price we both agree to.

  11. Chic McGregor says:

    I’m afraid it is more sinister than most people seem to realise.
    By first setting up the UK Supreme Court and then withdrawing from the ECHR and then, or perhaps even simultaneously, withdrawing from ICCPR, they would no longer be legally bound to recognise the right to self-determination of the Scottish people or to respect and accord the right of the Scottish people to their own natural resources.  The ECHR does not cover constitutional status on its own.
    Since the legal obligations under the ECHR are pretty much a mirror, albeit a subset, of those under the ICCPR, objections to the former under claims of interference in UK domestic law leads directly towards similar ‘arguments’ being made for withdrawal from the ICCPR, which is what they really want so Scotland can be prevented from ever gaining independence.  By withdrawing from the ICCPR they would be removed from obligations under international law e.g. article 1 of the covenant/treaty.  They would also join an exclusive club, with one other member – North Korea.
    The setting up of a UK  Supreme Court with Human Rights scope and the undermining of Scottish jurisprudence has been on the cards ever since the Canadian model was hatched between Toronto and Whitehall apparatchiks  in the 80s as a potential barrier to independence for Quebec and Scotland.  But even I did not foresee withdrawal from the ICCPR.
    The UK master plan now seems to be:
    1Set up UK HRC – done – Supreme Court.
    2 Complain about the nasty ‘EU’ interfering in UK laws even though the ECHR is NOT an EU body. I.e. they will use their lovingly crafted anti-EU paradigm to generate acceptance of withdrawal from the ECHR.
    3 Oh dear – we’re being interfered with by the ICCPR now, oh well better just leave that as well. Only logical, innit  guv?
    4 Oh dear! – now how do we cover all that self determination shit? Oh I know, how about our new UK Supreme court?  Lucky we had that.
    5 What? You want another referendum?  OK it’s up to the UKSC.
    6 Sorry Guys – it’s a no.
    7 Appeal court?  Sorry guys, that’s yer lot.
    Too late to get through before this referendum, future ones?  Forget it.

  12. Jiggsbro says:

    seems to me and others too that my beer (if the snp have its way) is going
    to be more expensive
    Judging from your posts, that can only be a good thing.

  13. Chic McGregor says:

    Strike one Rev?

  14. Craig P says:

    Chicmac, I’d be amazed if Teresa May had thought things through to that extent, surely it is more likely that she just doesn’t like foreigners and criminals?

  15. Tris says:

    …and Craig P…
    It will go down singing hymns with a lot of the Tory party that see Cameron as a lefty.
    Mrs May wants to be prime minister and that’s how she’s going to get the support of the majority of her back-benchers. She’s probably pro hunting with hounds and death penalty.

  16. pmcrek says:

    … and for those interested, here are a couple of quick examples of European Human Rights legislation interefering with British “Justice”:

  17. CameronB says:

    This would prepare the way quite nicely for secret trials and the suspension of habeas corpus.

  18. Chic McGregor says:

    @Craig P
    What Theresa May knows or doesn’t is neither here nor there.
    What I am talking about has been a very long time in the planning.  I go back a very long way, to pre-internet-browser days.  Way back in the day it was possible to find all kinds of stuff  on the internet.  You could log into local networks with terminal applications and find out a lot of stuff that is much harder to get to now.  Not just political, but academic research papers etc.
    For example, many years ago (> 20) I did research into Quebec nationalism and uncovered minutes of working party meetings held to consider the matter of repatriation.  I have seen the actual moment when the inclusion of certain powers to the Canadian Supreme Court might, paraphrasing the euphemism from memory, ‘also be of assistance in managing the situation should Quebec seek secession’  I have seen (later in the same meeting) the subsequent suggestion that a similar UK Supreme court could likewise help manage a similar scenario re Scotland.
    In fact it is so long ago when I posted those findings on forums (or newsgroups) that I cannot remember exactly which ones they were posted to.  Possibly the early Scotpol newsgroup or perhaps even pre-newsgroups alltogether.  I was for two or three years a contributor on Almac (then Scotland’s largest ISP) which had a Scotland wide local network.
    Perhaps there are some here old enough to remember this, or my often subsequently posted prediction that the UK would create a Supreme court long before any such suggestion appeared on the public radar (a suggestion itself which was often poo-pooed by others – until it happened of course).
    I’ve probably still got the original transcript of the meetings on an old hard drive, one of about ten or so, in my workshop, if they are still retrievable.
    However, you do not have to rely on my opinion as to whether those extra powers given to the Canadian Supreme Court (which were surplus to the requirement for repatriation closure with Westminster) are regarded as being designed to ‘manage’ possible Quebec secession, you can get the answer from any Quebec nationalist.  I suppose (apart from the many public condemnations by Q Ns) the big clue is that the Quebec Government refused to recognise or sign up to them unlike the other 8 Provinces.
    Anyway, here’s hoping the whole project becomes moot, for Scotland at least, with the return of a YES vote in 2014.

  19. Chic McGregor says:

    Sorry in the above I used ‘repatriation’ when it should be ‘patriation’
    Basically it refers to the removal of a long since anachronistic but still standing requirement for Canadian Acts to be ‘approved’ by Westminster (by then ‘rubber stamped’ essentially)

  20. Holebender says:

    FYI Chic Canada has 10 provinces.

  21. Chic McGregor says:

    Sorry 2
    I hit 8 instead of 9 for the number of other Provinces in the second post.  In the first post I said ‘Toronto’ instead of ‘Ottawa’ (Which I have done a couple of times before for some reason).  Not that either typo/brainflip changes the points beibg made.

  22. Chic McGregor says:

    Right Holebender, just posted a sorry 2 before I read your post.
    You might remember me predicting the emergence of a UK Supreme Court, no?

  23. Boorach says:

    Completely o/t Rev but get no response from the ‘support wingsland’  button. Wish to set-up standing order type of subscription. Grateful for advice.

  24. crisiscult says:

    By first setting up the UK Supreme Court and then withdrawing from the ECHR and then, or perhaps even simultaneously, withdrawing from ICCPR, they would no longer be legally bound to recognise the right to self-determination of the Scottish people or to respect and accord the right of the Scottish people to their own natural resources. The ECHR does not cover constitutional status on its own.
    I’m a bit confused by this. I thought self determination was jus cogens. Could the UK refuse to recognise these? Or alternatively, if they wanted to avoid such obligations, would it make a lot of difference which treaties or conventions they’d signed. I naively thought the Human Rights statement was just a flexing of sovereignty muscles, but basically just bluster.

    On another, unrelated matter – anyone been following Magnitsky case? MI6 involved?

  25. creag an tuirc says:

    I thought the point of this was to allow the Tories to force people off benefits and into 50p an hour factory jobs . Then the UK can compete with China with regards to manufacturing and exports. 🙂

  26. The Man in the Jar says:

    Newsnich trailing Hammond spin.
    Who would have thought it?

  27. BillyBigbaws says:

    Good posts Chic.  There are other benefits, at least from the Atlantic Bridge point of view, that come from getting rid of these international protections, not least the ability to do away with most of our current employment rights – rescind the European Working Time Directive, abolish minimum wage, attack collective bargaining and so forth.  The same pattern as in the States over the last decade and more.
    The recent official introduction of secret courts makes me very uneasy too.

  28. The Man in the Jar says:

    Just Breaking
    Eric Joyce arested for fighting in a Westminster Bar. AGAIN!

  29. Bill C says:

    “He said that the economy would even have grown last year by 1.5% if it was not falls in construction and North Sea oil production.” ” North Sea oil production”?  Nah, Mervyn must have got that wrong.  Unionists have been telling us all week that the oil was running out and that an independent Scotland couldn’t rely on it. See that Salmond, he got it right again and he’s doing it deliberately!
    o/t Posted the above on the Herald blog in response to a story that Mervyn King thinks the UK is on the mend.

  30. Heather Wilson says:

    The SHRC, ( Scottish Human Rights Commission) is worth a visit.
    I went to a really great day-long workshop with the BIHR ( British Institute of Human Rights) in Edinburgh some months ago, it was well attended but still not many people there really, being at a small venue. It was really interesting re;the history of Human Rights, and just what the scrapping of it will mean for people within the UK. It’s hasn’t actually been in place that long, and is crucial to a civil society, without it really would mean a huge loss of rights across the board, what gets me, do the politicians who want to get rid of it think they have special rights and that it doesn’t apply to them?
    I mean, it could backfire, I don’t think they thought about that!  If anyone can be chucked in prison and the key thrown away, and with absolutely no grounds for appeal and no access to a lawyer etc,  why not them! Smells of the film, 1984 but much worse.

  31. douglas clark says:

    I kind of despair about the society the Tories love. Having read Chic McGregors post at 4:37pm, I am quite angry that Tory politicians can try to remove from us rights that ought to be universal, unchallengeable and seen as inalienable. Yet these bastards can remove them at the stroke of  pen?
    We need that sort of thing guaranteed in a written constitution, No mere politician should be able to mess with our rights.
    Or, am I missing something obvious?

  32. Barontorc says:

    Chic McGregor says …why the UK Supreme Court, why now and to what purpose?
    I have to agree with his principle point, which also is, if I may suggest; why did Tony Blair insinuate this Supreme Court on a UK basis when we have a separate Scottish legal system? 

  33. CameronB says:

    Re. Tony Blair and the erosion of our civil liberties.

  34. douglas clark says:

    Cameron B,
    Anything and everything that Rachel North has to say is worth listening to. As far as I am concerned she represents a strand of English society that is utterly ignored. She wrote a book called ‘Out of the Tunnel’ which deals largely with her own, as a victim of 7/7, experiences in the aftermath. You might find it interesting.
    It deals in part with both her own views and the aftermath of psychological damage that she had.
    No-one in government, nor the rest of the people on the whacky side of conspiracy theories had any time for her. She was put through the mill by the establishment for stating the obvious.
    I do not know exactly why, but she closed her web site down to the general public, including me, a year or so ago. I imagine that that was due to her getting fed up with the critics. That is what they do, they suppress alternative voices. They pretend that they see the world more clearly than anyone else. It is all quite sad.
    All is perhaps not lost though. I recently had a post inviting me to be her ‘friend’ on facebook. Obviously, I accepted. No-one should be put through what she experienced, and the bomb on the Tube was only the start of it. The shitstorm of pandering to our worst fears has never subsided. A certain, disgusting  strand in politics (and sadly, society) nowadays sees the possibility of strengthening the role of draconian law as some sort of expression of our rights. It is not, and it is just them  preying on our fears.
    You, very rarely, hear about the potential terrorism threat that the extreme right offers, nor the, comparably laughable sentences that these guys get. It is muslim this and muslim that and it plays into our xenophobia. It seems to me pretty obvious that all of this feeds off an inherent strand in human nature that includes anti-semitism. It is a very dark side of us and politicians that pander to it should be called out as the exploitative, manipulative bastards that they are. The right reaction to 7/7 was to ignore it politically. That would have sent a fundamentally better message than all the debates about rendition and why torture should be back on the table.
    We are in desperate need of a written constitution that politicians cannot tamper with easily.
    I like to think that Rachel North would agree with me on this. She is one of my unsung heroines.

  35. Holebender says:

    The UK Constitution – not worth the paper it’s not written on.
    The proper reaction to terrorism is the way the Norwegians reacted to the Anders Breivik massacres – increase civil liberties, don’t let the bastards win. Shutting down liberty is exactly the goal of the terrorists so why give them what they want?

  36. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Completely o/t Rev but get no response from the ‘support wingsland’ button. Wish to set-up standing order type of subscription. Grateful for advice.”

    “Support WingsLand” isn’t actually a button, it’s just a banner above the buttons. Click on the last image in that column (the one marked “Donate” and “Subscribe” and it’ll take you here:

    From where everything should be simple. Or just drop me a line via the contact form and we can sort it all out by email.

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