6 October 2014

Utter scumbags

The intellectual and political problems with the Tory indictment of the Human Rights Act, the European Convention and the Court of Human Rights are legion. The idea of "Europe's war on British justice", and of a meddling Strasbourg Court, is blown to bits by the data. The UK lost eight cases in the European Court last year. Chris Grayling and Theresa May argue that losing 0.48% of the cases lodged against you represents an illegitimate and hyperactive form of judicial activism. 

I believe that the European Court's jurisdiction represents a modest check on the overwhelming powers of the state to crush the life, liberty and privacy of the individual. It is this government's overreaction to the modesty of the European Convention's protections which makes it so contemptible. The Lord Chancellor's dismal suggestion that only the popular and the agreeable parts of our community should have their qualified rights protected spectacularly misses the point. 

I can accept, politically and philosophically, that there is a serious debate to be had about the desirability of entrenching fundamental rights in law, how far you go, and the extent to which we empower (in our tradition, an unelected and socially and professionally narrow) judiciary to take important political decisions in the absence of a participative democratic process. Reasonable people, to my mind, can reasonably differ on these questions. 

What I cannot accept, however, is the properly grotesque argument which this contemptible, reckless, immoral and intellectually bust Conservative Party is running to justify and explain its human rights plans. In Grayling's thumping rhetoric to the grinning faithful in Birmingham, you do not see a meaningful and serious-minded parliamentary deliberation on the contested understandings of human rights, but an abject and irresponsible failure to engage in any intellectual or morally credible way with fundamental rights ideas.

Can it be right - can it ever be right - to deliver anybody over into circumstances where we reasonable expect they will be tortured, subject to inhuman and degrading treatment or the flagrant denial of justice? According to David Cameron and his party, this should be an option, and Jehovah rot them, those "unelected Euro judges" in Strasbourg are holding up the rendering flights. The interfering so-and-sos. Electric batteries are running down in dank cells, unused, somewhere in the world. The state torturer's rope hangs idle. All because some piffling jurist from Luxembourg believes that it can't be right to deport anyone - even your worst enemy - into the hands of humanity's darkest and most inhumane functionaries. Britain deserves better. We must scrap the Act. 

This isn't a civil and anxious debate about the proper scope of privacy rights, or the right to liberty, but a tantrum, impervious to the facts. It's the work of a smug toddler standing triumphant over a fly he's malevolently depinioned. "Aren't I a clever boy?" he gloats. The moral compass of this Conservative Party is a forgotten aftermath of shards and broken glass, arms bent and buckled. Theresa May tells cheap jokes about cats, glowing with the glib self-image of being the new deputy in town, tough on crime, tough on some undifferentiated, disagreeable them, animated only by brisk and matronly common sense. I can't begin to describe the malevolence, tawdriness and irresponsibility of this attitude.

The brutal reality of the Tories' human rights rhetoric is not that it aims to repatriate the human rights debate, but to liberate the government from elementary principles of fairness, humanity, compassion and justice. What they are proposing isn't just politically disagreeable: it is monstrous. See no evil, hear no evil cannot be a principle of British justice. 

Nobody with any moral sensibility could make the case for deporting folk to places where there is a real risk they will be tortured. Nobody with an ounce of responsible humanity could promote it. But this government, this shallow bunch of irresponsible, gut-gripped eejits don't care. It breaks my heart and burns my blood.

After all, how can the trivial matter of connecting one of your fellow, sentient creatures up to a car battery compare to the overwhelming importance of attracting a few extra UKIP votes in the debatable lands of Essex and Kent? How can the soles of feet, beaten black and blue, measure up to the significance of being able to give a sleek and populist address to your fellow Conservatives at Conference, who cheer like dunderheads, more than drowning out the distant screams? Who gives a damn if some villainous foreigner with disagreeable views finds himself suspended from the ceiling, arms half wrenched from their sockets? 

This is Britain. We have the right to live in freedom from such persons. I'm sure you'll find it in Magna Carta somewhere. Why should we care that we've pitched them into this disaster? After all, it isn't our police, our secret services who are sodomising them with truncheons or connecting up their genitalia to car batteries. Lie back and think of England. Rejoice in the liberties of a freeborn Briton: you've earned them. You're not a gypsy, or a criminal, or someone whose views the central government finds disagreeable. Your right not to be tortured isn't trivial.

Congratulations, comrades. We've finally uncovered Britain's moral mission in the world: to lend a helping political hand to tyrants and torturers in Europe, and the great wild world beyond. To excuse their torture chambers and their mistreatments of their citizens, to align ourselves with the Belarusian tyranny, and the persecutors of Kurds, and the Roma. To embolden, in short, everything most ghastly about illiberal state apparatuses. All for the sake of getting a modest electoral edge over Nigel Farage.
 
These people disgust me. 

We cannot deliver people up to torturers' chains and hooks and shrug, unmoved, and say "it is nothing to me guv'" over the anguished cries of the people - the fellow creatures - we make their victims. Yet this is precisely what David Cameron and his allies now propose, for the sake of a sympathetic response from the eurosceptic tabloids. They chafe against the modest restraints of the European Convention, flinging every cheap jibe and intellectually lazy epithet at the judges of the European Court. They want the liberty to do wrong - horrible, horrible wrong - for the sake of a human rights fairytale and good headlines in the Express. Nothing better expresses the festering rot which gnaws at British politics.

These people are scumbags. Utter, utter scumbags.

27 comments :

  1. I think it's ironic that, after all of the bleating by unionists (including Tories) for the last three years, this is a classic example of "narrow nationalism". I don't think Grayling or the like would have a problem with the Human Rights Act if it was being adjudicated by British judges. Indeed, Theresa May used the Human Rights Act to justify not extraditing Gary McKinnon to the United States (with the support of the newspapers that also frequently bleat about it).

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  2. Oh jeez, strong stuff LPWA but oh so true. I just don't have the vocabulary to voice how much I loath and detest them. If I wasn't such a caring person I might wish for them to have a taste of all the immoral acts they have brought in.
    He'll mend the lot of them

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  3. No, you won't find it in Magna Carta. That 717-year old law has been almost entirely repealed

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw1cc1929/25/9

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  4. Andrew.

    "We cannot deliver people up to torturers' chains and hooks and shrug, unmoved, and say "it is nothing to me guv'" over the anguished cries of the people - the fellow creatures - we make their victims."

    No, we can't.

    I have been a member of Amnesty International as long as I can remember. I will, probably, remain a member until I die. It is what I believe in.

    The entire British media will attack your 'just so' in the same way they attacked "Independence".

    These folk know a trick or too.

    .

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  5. LPW ... I've always known the Conservatives were the nasty party. I've always opposed them. Why not join me in opposing Tories and promoting fairness and justice instead of obsessing on the constitution.

    You know it makes sense.

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    Replies
    1. Why don't you leave the Red Tories, Cooncilur Braveheart?
      Your Red Tories are no strangers to bombing brown people.

      I've always despised the Tories, but now I actually hate the Labour Party. They have done the work of their establishment masters for too long in Scotland, keeping the people in their place.
      You are either a useful fool, or an evil person that knows exactly what he is doing.

      Delete
    2. It helps remind me that the LabTories, like their brothers the ConTories, are part of the same Westminster Fascist Party.

      Delete
    3. So your hate achieves more hate? And what does that achieve?

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    4. It gets Tories like you and Broon out of power.

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    5. When? Haven't noticed it yet?

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    6. We only need to win once. You need to keep the Scottish workers in chains to maintain your position. Tory scum.

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    7. Well you lost.

      If you really care about the people you will change your behaviour, stop wasting your energy on thing, and do something useful.

      Delete
    8. Well you lost the last UK general election and the last Scottish general election.

      If you really care about the people you will change your behaviour, stop wasting your energy on the Labour Party, and do something useful.

      Delete
    9. I accept losing and move on but a GE is not the same as a referendum. You cannot be having random refs all the time it stops real politics and the delivery of services..

      You win. You lose. You move on......

      Delete
    10. You become a Labour MP, fill your pockets, move on to the Lords and fill your pockets from directorships of private health care or military companies.
      You get rich, move on, and the next Labour careerist takes your place.

      Delete
    11. Braveheart - DeepPockets more like. If you "always knew the Conservatives were the nasty party" why did you sidle into their pockets in the referendum debate? Somebody else (I can't remember who, but big respect to whoever) gave you the real acronym for the Labour party in Scotland - SCaLP...the Scottish Conservative and Labour Party. Let's see how many of your supporters vote for SCaLP next year..

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    12. Mr Veg. I didn't. Any more than the SNP slid into the pockets of Brian Souter.. oh wait a minute.....

      Anyway all this guilt by association stuff is just designed so you don't have to acknowledge that you lost.... It's what magicians call misdirection ....


      Oh look a Tory!!!! We won!!!! ..... Only you lost.

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  6. Very powerful piece of writing Andrew. Deserves to be widely read.

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  7. I agree with everything you say except, perhaps, for your suggestion that the Tories want to free the UK government from the restraints of the ECHR simply to compete with UKIP for votes and MPs. My suspicion is that they want the freedom to do things that the ECHR would certainly object to. Perhaps they are looking enviously at Australia, which has just passed a law giving agents of the state immunity for acts committed during a 'Special Intelligence Operation' as long as they do not cause significant injury, death or significant loss of property, or involve a sexual offence. Presumably this legalises a lot of 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, such as sleep deprivation, stress positions and water-boarding.

    The present bunch of Tories are managing to make Maggie Thatcher look quite angelic by comparison.

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/george-brandis-has-silently-swept-away-your-freedoms-20140929-10nev6.html

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  8. The Independent

    Just days after The Sun newspaper celebrated David Cameron’s promise to abolish the Human Rights Act (HRA), it is using the very same laws to protect one of its own journalists.

    On Thursday, The Sun, owned by News UK, ran a congratulatory front page on the Prime Minister’s apparent decision to “adopt” the paper’s “manifesto” in his Conservative Party speech.

    Next to the headline, “Here Cams The Sun,” the paper applauded a list of Mr Cameron’s party promises, which included the intention to axe the "hated Human Rights Act,” it said.

    But just four days after trumpeting its support of the abolition of HRA, The Sun has invoked the powers afforded to UK citizens through the very existence of HRA for one of its own journalists.

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  9. I am confused by this post. Qatada was held without trial for 8 years and then deported under the existing law, HRA included. This was because he is not a European or British citizen? My most favourite human right - freedom of speech - seems to be repealed anew every year (eg the offensive singing at football matches act). The house appears to have collapsed before the Tory bulldozer is due to arrive.

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    Replies
    1. Qatada was deported because they found a work round (Jordan agreed by bilateral treaty not to torture him).

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22953531

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    2. Ah, so he was a British resident and the sticking point was that he would agree to deportation if Jordon guaranteed a trial in which none of the evidence was obtained by torture. He was protected from deportation by the ECHR (not that I agree to this court's existence). But the ECHR's rulings were bypassed through political negotiations, rather than challenged legally.

      If you are defending the status quo, the decade of state harrassment is still a depressing monument.

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