Posted by: Will Rhodes
I open with a question. If the proposed Bill of Rights is so difficult to draft, why is it so easy for the UK government to dispel and dilute them?
They do this all the time it would seem – but giving people the ‘right’ of something is so hard.
I can assure you that the real reason it is so hard is that the wording must be such that a neo-liberal party like New labour will be able to suspend or repeal that Bill of Rights for the most spurious of reasons.
Jack Straw does not believe in the rights of the public – he once did, but no more. He believes that there should be inquiries without jury, trials without jury. He believes that the infringement of civil rights is justified – all in the name of terrorism or something else he thought up that morning.
Supporters of constitutional reform believe a bill of rights must be shaped by the public, not government, otherwise the process will be “discredited”.
A joint parliamentary committee on human rights has argued that an independent group must be set up to consult the public on what should be in a bill of rights and what should not.
This is so obvious being hit with a dead fish wouldn’t make it clearer. But Straw says:
the reason the green paper had taken so long to prepare was that it represented new constitutional territory.
In particular, ministers were concerned about the extent to which existing rights to health and education should be included in a single document of rights, how people’s responsibilities should be articulated and the balance between broad statements of intent and what should be legally enforceable.
Those words are what makes you think that even though a Bill of Rights will be drafted – they won’t mean anything, anything at all.
This is because this government, as well as the future Tory government do not want the UK population to have legally enforceable Rights – they baulk at that – it gives power, however little, back to the people.
Only the LibDems have said they would do that willingly – and that is a government you can begin, even slightly, to trust.
On the controversial issue of enshrining social and economic rights into law, Mr Straw said MPs must be “extremely careful” about handing over duties which voters expected their elected representatives to perform to the courts.
Are the courts going to be so invasive that they will allow the police to use an illegal act to look at you computers hard drive? Will they act in a way to take all your personal information and put it at risk? Are they going to give the police, local authorities the go-ahead on spying on what people do in their own community – even if it is for the community?
The answer to that is no – it is a matter that he believes and will have this Bill drafted in such a way that MPs will have more power than the people who elect them to office.
That isn’t, in any sense of the quote, a Bill of Rights – it is a Bill of Wrongs!