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Convention on human rights - something we might want to keep

(31 Posts)
bythestairs Wed 06-May-15 07:37:00

No one has debated the implications of the Conservative's proposal to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

I understand some of the arguments for doing so but I also think a lot of them are fundamental: right to life, for example, and free speech. Every other country in Europe is staying in it.

Anyone out there who could explain what we might be losing, personally, if we leave?

FarFromAnyRoad Wed 06-May-15 07:38:29

Politics topic is ------------------->>

Unless you feel you are being unreasonable in some way?

bythestairs Wed 06-May-15 08:12:39

Well, I suppose, I feel that it has been taken as reasonable that we just leave the European Convention on Human Rights, so I might be considered unreasonable to be suggesting that we keep it.

I don't remember this being part of any of the debates but it seems to be a historic commitment to me which marks aligns us with other 'civilised' countries.

I can't understand why people don't care more about it. I'm not a lawyer but we do not have a written constitution so I wonder if we are risking losing something fundamental. British law is case-based where as the Convention is a set of rights. I feel this is probably complementary.

I really would like to have an informed opinion(s). Dominc Grieve had many reservations about this before his departure.

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 08:44:06

If we left the ECHR, we'd have to leave the EU.

Membership of the EU is conditional upon already having signed the ECHR (which, if I recall, has 47 signatories. Which does make you wonder why the other 46 don't seem to have a problem with it. Maybe their governments aren't so keen to act unlawfully ?)

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 08:45:02

p.s. I'm very proud of the ECHR. It's one of Britains better legacies to the world (you do know we wrote it ?).

BeyondDoesBootcamp Wed 06-May-15 08:52:52

Well, no, i dont think it is reasonable to propose to leave the echr. So i'm not gonna vote tory. i assume those who are for it are people liable to vote tory anyway? confused

redexpat Wed 06-May-15 08:55:18

Lurking Did we really? Gosh every day's a school day smile

Makes me rather proud to be British.

CMOTGilbertBlythe Wed 06-May-15 08:58:26

One of the myriad reasons I won't be voting Conservative tomorrow.

Mistigri Wed 06-May-15 08:59:43

We were involved in writing it ;)

And in fact one of the key people involved in drafting the ECHR was a leading Conservative politician.

Which makes it very puzzling why the right in Britain is now so keen to throw out the baby with the bathwater. You might think that, for conservatives, they show a surprising disregard for one of the prouder moments of british political history.

bythestairs Wed 06-May-15 09:04:53

I didn't know that. Thank you. Some of the commitments, seem sensible to me: right to life? 'Think (Solyent) Green, vote blue', perhaps?

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 09:28:35

If you actually read below the fold, and discount the hysteria, the real reason the Tories are so keen to dump the ECHR, is because - horror of horrors - it actually holds governments to account.

Look at all the deportation decisions that get overturned (which are the main ones people think of). In every single case, the real reason is that the Home Secretary ignored her own laws. It really is as simple as that.

I leave other readers to consider the nature of ministers who don't like to obey the laws they don't like. Personally, it's not the sort of country I like to live in.

If Britain were to leave the ECHR, there would be no mechanism to hold parliament accountable for anything. They could easily pass a law saying women can't earn more than 50% of what a man would be paid (for example). Don't go crying "sex discrimination" because that will have ceased to exist with the ECHR (which is what actually underpins the UKs sex discrimination legislation).

Has anyone on this thread read the ECHR ?

Even the US government - arguably the most powerful in the world - is constrained by the US Constitution (which is pretty similar to the ECHR, death penalty aside). And before the ECHR we had the Bill of Rights, and Magna Carta.

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 09:29:40

In a you-couldn't-make-it-up moment, it seems Europe isn't working. this link will have to do.

cookiefiend Wed 06-May-15 09:33:22

I find it worrying that any government would want to leave. The Tories don't like that we are 'told what to do' by an outside organisation, but I see it as an important check to ensure we don't go too far in stepping on the rights of miniroties.

The European Court of Human Rights rarely decides anything massively controversial as it protects a minimum standard of rights- looking at the practices across its member countries which includes places like Russia- so rhe bar is often fairly low. If we are in breach of minimum human rights protection there should be someone to hall is up on it.

I hate using nazi Germany in arguments generally as it is a fairly week point, but it annoys me that my grandfathers daily mail reading generation are so disparaging about human rights as though they are a modern scourge. It was their parents generation who set up the ECHR in a direct response to the atrocities of world war two to ensure that nothing like that could ever happen again. Grr.

cookiefiend Wed 06-May-15 09:34:30

Sorry but of a cross post there.

DoraGora Wed 06-May-15 09:38:45

For me, being a signatory to any such charter, the Geneva Convention, etc. removes the arbitrary quality that justice has. Civilisation I think is something that can be argued about endlessly, therefore I don't think in those terms. But, treating other humans despicably for convenient political reasons can be done (and is currently being done by our government) at the drop of a hat. For me, it isn't the good of the charter that is at issue, it's the malevolence of man and politics which needs to be dealt with.

HappyxDays Wed 06-May-15 09:44:12

The ECHR is so important - anyone who claims they want us to leave it should try to justify which right they don't agree with. The right to life? The right to be free from torture? The right to free speech? Etc. The ECHR was put in place after WW2 to prevent extremism ever taking hold in Europe again. If we were to leave it, what sort of example would that send to other countries who would then also seek to leave it (including eg. Russia and Turkey).

Contrary to popular opinion, the ECHR is actually quite conservative and gives governments quite a lot of leeway in establishing how to ensure rights taking account of their own culture and society. Much of human rights reporting in our press is inaccurate (eg. many newspapers actually confuse the ECHR with the EU - they are two totally separate entities).

Anyone interested in or wanting to find out more about human rights should take a look at this website:

It gives brilliant, non-technical information on key rights cases and why they are important. It's designed for non-lawyers, so do take a look!

HappyxDays Wed 06-May-15 09:45:14

Sorry in my second paragraph I meant to say the European COURT of Human Rights is quite conservative

HappyxDays Wed 06-May-15 09:46:37

Sorry - just one more thing. The Tories' position on the ECHR is one of the main reasons I won't be voting for them!

DoraGora Wed 06-May-15 09:48:37

I don't think the argument against ECHR is against this right or that one, but rather against supranationality itself. It's odd then, that nationalists who make these arguments don't call for a removal of our Security Council seat.

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 09:51:30

If anyone wants to know what the Tories think of the rule of law, look how they rushed a retrospective piece of legislation through to strip people who had been unlawfully deprived of benefits from claiming redress from the government.

Courts: That's unlawful
Government: No it isn't
Appeal Courts: That's unlawful
Government: No it isn't
Supreme Court: That's illegal
Government (fingers in ears): la-la-la-la lets's change the law, so it wasn't illegal. Trebles all round !

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 09:52:16

waiting ...

DoraGora Wed 06-May-15 09:59:33

Are you talking about IDS' retroactive bodge in respect of slave labour in Poundland?

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 10:11:44


Yes, that was what I was thinking. I just felt a little unclean Googling "Iain Duncan Smith" shock

DoraGora Wed 06-May-15 10:29:32

Great legal chomping over the issue. But, the great legal minds of the day seem to be saying, it's underhand and sneaky, but, there's not much anyone can do about governments rewriting the law to get themselves out of trouble

apparently Labour are at it, too! (Can't say I'm wildly surprised.)

LurkingHusband Wed 06-May-15 10:42:38


Interestingly, one of the ECHR provisions (article 7) emphatically forbids retrospective criminal legislation.

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