Thursday, 23 December 2010

guest blogpost from an old friend from school

Well this is something a little bit different for you all now. a friend from secondary school approached me earlier in the week claiming to enjoy my blog, thanks for that by the way glad your reading. His name is Steven Basing who attended Richard hale school in Hertford between 1999 and 2006 like myself. He has attended University thanks to low tuitian fees and a good education he appears to have recieved too the wonders of investing in higher education ay Mr clegg ?

Well here is a piece of work steve has done all about David CCameron his views on HRA which he outlines below in great accurate detail. I feel more than happy to publish any of my friends work on my blog if they wish me to do so. Although these are not my views i feel a blog is more than just sharing your own views, if you like what someone else has to say then why not republish their work and spread it out there to the world. Afterall it will hopefully encourage debate and discussion.

Well here below is Steve's post to me please have a read if you can. I'll be sure to pass on any feedback to him if you like.

In 1950 the European Convention of Human Rights was drafted by the Council of Europe, and intended to ensure the protection of basic human rights, such as the right to life, privacy and a fair trial, to every man, woman and child of Europe. The catalyst for the drafting of the document was largely a response to the horrors of Nazi Germany, and an attempt to ensure, such atrocities as the Holocaust would never again occur.

When the ECHR came into force in 1953 every citizen of the UK had bestowed upon them the rights it contained, subject to certain limitations. However until 2000, the rights we all had, could only be enforced in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

If an individual felt their rights had been impeded by an employer, a local authority or the government, they were required to first exhaust the British courts, without raising their rights under the ECHR. Only after the House of Lords had found against the individual, could they proceed to Strasbourg, and make accessible the full rights owed to them.

So although, the magnificent ECHR applied universally in principle, in practice, it was only those privileged enough, with time and money, who could pursue a case long enough to actually enforce their rights. Add to this the enormous cost to the taxpayer, of cases proceeding from Magistrate Courts all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, via the House of Lords, and it was clear the system was not working.

It thus became a cornerstone policy of the 1997 Labour election campaign to ‘bring rights home.’ The simple idea was, to introduce a piece of legislation, which brought the rights we all already enjoyed, into a domestic sphere, so all could enforce them, simultaneously making the system easier and fairer, for the individual, as well as more economical for the nation. Born of this was the Human Rights Act, which came into force in 2000.

Under the HRA, the ECHR could be applied to UK legislation, as well as being admissible, in any court of the UK. For me, this could not be a more uncontroversial piece of legislation, but for some on the right, the HRA has come to represent, all that is wrong with the world. This right-wing point of view is perhaps unsurprisingly, championed by such media as The Daily Mail and The Sun, however more surprisingly and a lot more worryingly; this is also the view of the man resident in Number 10. Prime Minister David Cameron also adheres to this misinformed, right-wing belief, that the HRA is ‘rotten to the core’ and needs repealing.

During the election campaign of this year, David Cameron pledged to repeal the HRA, although this ludicrous policy seemed to disappear in a haze of broken promises, student demonstrations and disenchanted Lib-Dems after Cameron took office, this week it raised its ugly head again.

After an Iraqi man, Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, won his right to stay in the UK using the HRA, after killing a child in a hit and run, Mr Cameron restated his desire to repeal the HRA.

Mr Cameron’s, views on the HRA worry me in two distinct ways; firstly, it worries me that the man in charge can misunderstand the law so much. How can the Prime Minister of the UK, vow to repeal the HRA and free us from Human Rights cases which lack common sense, whilst we remain tied to the ECHR, which grants us all those rights anyway?

But secondly, and more worryingly, it worries me, that in the 21st century, the leader of a free and democratic nation, who supposedly hold fairness, equality and justice as core principles, could ever consider so dramatically undermining a system of human rights, which does far more good, than ill.

If Cameron repealed the HRA although, he would not lower the amount of rights an individual has, he would make their implementation much more difficult and elitist. But he would also send a message to the world, and the message that the world would receive loud and clear is that the United Kingdom government does not care about human rights, and protecting individuals or minorities.

As I have already explained, repealing the HRA would not end the Human Rights available to individuals. But it would make it a lot more difficult to enforce. And if the rights are more costly and time-consuming to enforce, it would be the ordinary citizen who would lose out.

The general outrage towards the HRA, which emanates, from The Sun and Daily Mail, forced upon their readers and designed to purposely mislead, comes mainly from cases which allow terrorist suspects the right to stay in the UK or allow failed Asylum Seekers, like Mr Ibrahim, to stay in the UK despite committing a crime. Whatever the rights or wrongs of these cases, we would not see a reduction in such cases, should the HRA be repealed. For a terror suspect facing deportation to a homeland where he may be killed, would probably be more inclined to use his money or legal aid money, and time to fight the deportation all the way to the Strasbourg. Whereas the single mum made redundant from her job, because she wanted to take time off to care for her sick child, would probably not fight such a redundancy all the way to the top. However under the HRA a Mum in this exact position, was able to successfully take action against her employers.

I do not for one minute believe Mr Cameron misunderstands the law, I believe he knows exactly how the HRA works and its close relationship with the ECHR, which leads us to one very important question, why does Cameron want to repeal the HRA?

It seems totally clear that Mr Cameron desire to repeal the HRA is born absolutely out of political calculation, The Prime Minister, has seen the contempt with which large portions of the public view the HRA, and has thus seized upon this as a way of increasing his popularity. I do not criticise the public for disliking the HRA, although I obviously feel they are very wrong. But for most people the only contact they get with the HRA is what the right-wing press tell them. People are understandably too busy to go and research the cases or the laws, and equally understandably believe that the media is not trying to mislead them, for their own gains.

However I do not have the same understanding for our Prime Minister, his job is not to pander to popular opinion, it is to do what is right for the nation, and regardless of your views on Human Rights, it is clear that repeal of the HRA would be a costly, time-consuming waste of time, which achieves nothing, but create a two-tier system of rights, where instead of applying universally, would apply alone to those wealthy enough to enforce them.

My second gripe with Mr Cameron’s pledge, is that any reduction in Human Rights, even a partially symbolic one that the HRA’s repeal would be, is just plain wrong. When the Labour government of Tony Blair, bought the HRA into effect, they should the people of Britain, the down-trodden, the forgotten, the abused, as well as the people of Europe, that the UK cares about individual rights, and also that the UK feel it is vital that the actions of Employers, Local Authorities, and even the Sovereign Government, are liable to being limited if they breach certain inalienable rights.

However, when Mr Blair did this, he did not do it without regard for the process of Government, or public safety. Under the ECHR certain checks were already in place which allow individuals rights to be limited, in situations which are, ‘necessary in a democratic society.’ In fact under the ECHR, only the prohibition of Torture is absolute and without qualification, the ECHR also allows derogations under Article 15, when ‘there is a public emergency threatening the life of the nation.’ Furthermore the ECHR under section 3 makes it necessary for legislation to be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the ECHR, but only as ‘far as it is possible.’

Should Mr Cameron succeed in his desire to repeal the HRA, he would undermine all of the progress made in Human Rights by the UK since 2000. Mr Cameron has already largely done this, and when he refers to the Act as, a ‘criminal charter,’ a phrase taken straight from the front page of The Sun, it leaves me with great panic for the equality in this nation under Tory rule.

Cameron’s assertion that the HRA only protects criminals and terrorists, may play well for the right wing vote he so needs, but it does not represent the truth. And just like Murdoch and co, Cameron is misleading the public, by scaremongering them into believing, an act which allows them unprecedented rights, is going to allow a failed asylum seeking Muslim terrorist ex-offender, to come and kill them, and then avoid any sort of punishment.

The HRA has done considerable more good than ill, and even when prima facie the decision appears wrong or to as Mr Cameron stated, ‘fly in the face of common sense,’ upon closer inspection it often makes huge sense.

The HRA has, in the decade since it became law, helped pave the way for homosexuals to serve in our armed forces, kept the government in check by holding their policy of treating foreign Terror suspects as different to domestic terror suspects as discriminatory, and allowed injunctions to be won to prevent tabloid newspapers printing lies or private matters. This is without mentioning the literally thousands of cases, where honest citizen have won against, local authorities, the government, or their employers, who seek to discriminate or mistreat them.

It seems clear to me, that Cameron is playing a political game; he is trying to score points and win votes, whilst misleading the public, and undermining the rights we all have, and should have. His pledge is simply an empty promise to appease the right.

This nation has faced down fascists intend on ending our freedoms before, and at this time, we need a lion to roar against the tide and defend the HRA,

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