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Two sides to every story

(25 Posts)
Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 10:57:28

Link to the original BBC article here

Under proposals announced by the home secretary, the government will be given greater powers to interfere with peoples’ rights to a family life.

Theresa May will talk of the government’s plans to abuse their position of power to dictate how the legal process should apply the system of checks and balances that operate to modify the exercise of executive power.

The move is likely to go down well with Tory activists at the party’s annual conference in Manchester. Many have been calling for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped. It is likely to be less popular with the Conservatives Lib Dem coalition partners, who are strong supporters of the act, which incorporates the European Convention into British law. But aides have stressed that the policy has been cleared by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, as well as Justice Secretary Ken Clarke – who have both become increasingly illiberal voices on criminal justice.

Public protection

Official figures show that the Home Office attempted to unlawfully interfere with the private and family life rights of more than 100 people who have been convicted of an offence, or are unable to show that they fall within any of the strict immigration categories. In each of these cases, the courts found that the Home Office had failed to strike a proportionate balance between the need to protect people living in the UK, and the right of the people involved to maintain their family relationships.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC: "We believe that the courts are currently giving too much attention to that [the right to family life], rather than the protection of the United Kingdom.
"And you are able to change the immigration rules and ask them to look more carefully about the danger these individual pose. The right to family life is not an inalienable right in the European Convention, so we believe this change can work."

It is expected that MP’s will get a chance to vote on the change. Although the Human Rights Act is a piece of statutory legislation, which would require parliamentary approval to amend, it is proposed that these changes be brought in through the immigration rules. These rules are secondary legislation, which can be changed by the use of executive powers, so do not have to go thought the normal democratic process. Despite the fact that the immigration rules have far-reaching powers which can drastically impact upon the lives of thousands of foreign national people, and their family members and children (who may or may not be British Citizens), the government frequently uses secondary legislation to push through sweeping changes with no democratic mandate.

Home Office sources do not claim the rule will mean the government can deport everyone it wants to, but it will “rebalance” the system in favour of making quick political gain at the expense of families and children.

Although everyone has a right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to respect for their private and family life, officials point out, it is not an absolute right. They insist it is legitimate to interfere with the exercise of that right where it is in the public interest to do so, for public protection or to protect the British economy. Although this is already a balancing exercise the that the courts perform, after taking on board all the available evidence from probation and social work reports, the government is not happy that the courts often find that any residual risk of the person re-offending is outweighed by the damage that would be cause to the rights and quality of life of that person’s family.

Despite the fact that powers already exist in immigration legislation, the home secretary is examining how to make clear in the immigration rules that a foreign national can be deported when they have been convicted of a criminal offence, or removed from the UK if they are unable to meet the specific immigration rules, even where they have a family here who will also be affected by their removal. The powers can be used to remove children, who had no choice in where they were born, have lived here for several years, and who know nothing of the language or culture of the place where it is proposed to send them. These powers will be used to remove families, who, through no fault of their own, have become unable, whether temporarily or permanently, to support themselves financially.

The Conservatives are already on a collision course with the Lib Dems over plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. A commission set up to examine the policy, which is enshrined in the coalition agreement, is due to report later this year.

Lib Dem opposition

Conservative MP Conor Burns told the BBC: "The deputy prime minister told his conference really clearly last week that he is having no truck with removing the Human Rights Act from the statute book. "So we have got a bit of an impasse here." He added: "I don't really understand the point of the report going to Nick Clegg if Nick Clegg has already made his mind up.

"So I think the prime minister now should ask the commission to report to him. All I'm saying is, very clearly, the coalition should implement the coalition agreement."

The prime minister and Mrs May both say they want to scrap the Human Rights Act but cannot push the proposals quickly through parliament without rigorous scrutiny and debate, as they would like to do, due to Liberal Democrat opposition.
Several high-profile cases have attracted criticism, including that of Iraqi Kurd Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who killed 12-year-old Amy Houston in a hit-and-run in Blackburn in 2003.

He was jailed, and subject to the normal criminal punishments for the offence. He was not removed from the UK immediately on his release and he and his wife had two children following his release from prison.

Ibrahim's lawyers successfully argued that he posed no future risk to the public, and his removal from the UK would be a disproportionate interference with his and his children’s right to have a normal father-child relationship. The court found that it would not be reasonable to expect his wife and children to return to Iraq. Judges at the Court of Appeal refused an application to appeal against that decision in April this year, finding that the Tribunal had struck a fair balance between the interests of public protection and the rights of the family.

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 12:15:09


CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 12:15:47

For those of us that found it a little long-winded, could you condense what the two sides to the story actually are?

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 12:44:04

I am sorry that it is a long post. I would like to invite people to read the original BBC article I linked to alongside my re-writing.

I think that for all the supposed neutrality of the BBC, it has a hidden pro-establishment bias that is all the more pernicious for its subtlety.

It makes me very angry that article such as the original I linked to are presented as neutral fact, but are in reality anything but. My only aim is to get people to appreciate that there is another view than that promoted by the mainstream media, which is not 'loony left', but worthy of proper consideration.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 13:02:19

I'm always told that the BBC is left-wing. What particularly marks the above down as pro-establishment?

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 13:03:48

Have you read the original I linked to?

My OP is my own re-writing of the BBC story.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:05:06

Don't believe all you're told. The BBC is the government's whore. It's a factually incorrect piece of useful propaganda to characterise the BBC as leftwing. It's very convenient to many.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:06:26

OP be careful with Cogito. She's a propagandist or a fantasist. Can't tell which one yet. Perhaps both. Suffice to say you'll waste alot of energy.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 13:15:52

I read the original. It seemed to be a fairly straightforward report of a speech to a conference. It didn't strike me as especially pro the controversial position stated. Many of the claims being made by the Home Secretary are contained in inverted commas in the piece... the usual way of indicating that they are a claim rather than anything more concrete.

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 13:29:46

Glasnost - I appreciate your comments, but have seldom found ad hominum attacks to be the best way to prove a point.

Cogito - do you not see any difference in the way the story was originally presented and how I have re written it? I accept the bias is subtle, but that is what makes me so angry. If it is obvious, more people would notice and question it.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:33:20

Me neither Thisledew. But she may resort to telling you to eff off if she fails to wear your arguments down.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 13:36:53

It's difficult to compare and contrast two relatively long, relatively similar pieces. If the bias is subtle - and the subject matter is pretty technical - then it's going to go right over the heads of most readers either way. I was listening to Theresa May being interviewed just now on the BBC and the questions about this were fairly challenging. I'm sure the Opposition and the Lib Dems will have plenty to say about it and that will be reported as well. I'm a supporter of the coaliition (cards on the table) but I'm not convinced about this position. Rather like the votes for prisoners issue, the first time the new rules get challenged in court, we'd be back where we started.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 13:37:37

Glasnost ... if you can't play nicely with the grown-ups, go back to your little placards.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:39:30

OP you really should read John Pilger's articles on the BEEB.

All Brits should be disabused of the notion the BBC is leftwing.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:41:35

Patronising snidiness - check! Not long til the f word makes an appearance.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 04-Oct-11 13:49:08


Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 13:55:21

I dunno. I thinks that most MNers are a bright lot who might be able to pick up on the point I am trying to make.

I have no idea what the beef is between the two of you, but do carry on, as it is bumping my thread nicely! grin

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 13:56:40

Feigned boredom - check! I can definately feel an f word coming on.

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 14:26:04

Can I just say what an excellent example this thread is of modern politics:

Two parties locked in opposition, taking cheap shots at each other, and in the process putting everyone else off from engaging with the fact that the government is riding rough-shod over human rights and civil liberties.


glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 15:14:42

How do you know who I'm in opposition to OP?

Can I just say your thread wasn't very good in the first place? You could've said what you wanted to without all that verbiage. The BBC is not leftwing. That's propaganda.

We know this gov is doing that so DO summat about it.

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 15:30:56

glasnost - you are clearly in opposition to cogito, unless you have some mutual love/hate relationship going on.

And if we are playing bingo, I will claim a point for another political trope, of attacking the human rights defenders, rather than engaging with the issues.

I think I made my point, and I am doing something about it. The bias of the BBC is only a side issue for me, my aim is to counteract the lies about immigration that are spread around the media. I can't hack the BBC website and re-write all the articles on there, but I can use this forum to state my case.

glasnost Tue 04-Oct-11 15:54:56

Counteracting the lies about immigration on MN isn't easy but good bloody luck!!!

Am with you all the way.

Hullygully Tue 04-Oct-11 15:56:49

I am none the wiser.

Please can I have a summary? <lazy>

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 16:04:20

That's better

The BBC has (partially) redeemed itself in my eyes with this article.

Hully- basically, I felt that the original article I linked to in my OP contained inaccuracies and half-truths about immigration, and was very much in line with the political bias that this government displays. I decided to re-write the story to give a more accurate view.

Thistledew Tue 04-Oct-11 16:21:07

In essence:

There are already statutory powers by which the secretary of state can remove from the UK people who have no permission to live here, or who do have permission but have been convicted of a criminal offence.

As a check and balance against this use of power, the people affected can appeal the decision to an immigration tribunal. The tribunal will consider all factors relevant to the decision - how long has the person lived here, what family members do they have and how would they be affected by the person's removal etc. These factors are balanced against the seriousness of the offence and the need to maintain immigration control. The tribunal will consider whether the person has a history of offending, and the views of probation etc as to the likelihood of them reoffending.

The government want to stop the tribunals taking into consideration the rights of the family members affected by the removal, even if this means that British Citizen children are faced with the choice of losing the opportunity to live here, or one of their parents, or elderly parents are deprived of a son or daughter to care for them, or husbands and wives are separated.

The government are proposing to make these changes by way of secondary legislation, which means they can push through changes quickly, without them having to be subject to parliamentary debate.

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