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Is this the reform of our human rights that we really need?


FOR the past few months emails expressing concern about the government’s proposed ‘UK Bill of Rights’ to update and replace the Human Rights Act have been mounting in my inbox. The plan has red flags all over it. To my shame, with vaccine wars and insanity wars to fight daily, I have been kicking this particular can, if not down the road but to the next day, for too long. 

I have been comforted by the fact that other groups have been campaigning, foremost amongst which is Save Our Rights, the grass roots liberty charity campaigning for a real democracy. They have been encouraging people to respond the Human Rights Act Reform Consultation via a Twitter campaign.

They have devoted the main pages of their site to explaining all that they think is wrong with the proposals: that far from strengthening our basic rights the new Act will weaken and dilute them. You can find their detailed explanation and guidance on how to make submission to the consultation, which is open for another two days, here. I know we ask readers to do a lot but please check it out. You still have time to make your protest.

Given that the coercive and mandatory vaccines have proved discriminatory and so wrong it’s not surprising that many TCW readers have been expressing very real worries that the proposals could open the door to an even worse scenario: to ‘legal’ compulsory vaccines or other forms of authoritarianism. This is our key worry at TCW.

The assertion that ‘Our reforms will be a check on the expansion and inflation of rights without democratic oversight and consent, and will provide greater legal certainty’ might look fine – even attractive – in the context of the increasingly ludicrous ‘intersectional’ identity rights that companies, universities, schools, sports organisations are now compelled to observe or suffer the consequences of not doing so.

Chapter Three, headed The Case for Reforming UK Human Rights Law, likewise sounds rather attractive. Who wouldn’t be sympathetic to the idea that ‘the growth of a “rights culture” that has displaced due focus on personal responsibility and the public interest . . . public protection [is] put at risk by the exponential expansion of rights’.

But if concern about the ‘inflation’ of rights is really what it looks to be on the surface, surely that also needs to be dealt with by dealing directly with one root cause of the identity rights culture and repealing the 2010 Equality Act? That, I fear, is something they have no intention of doing.  

In fact the document reeks of mendacity. The sheer number of mentions of ‘duty or ‘responsibility’ to ‘the wider society’ is what rings authoritarian alarm bells in my head.

It was readers who first alerted me to the specific text of the section titled A ‘rights culture’ that displaces personal responsibility and the public interest.  Why so much emphasis on ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘duties’ to society they asked.

Here is more on the same theme (my bold):

‘The international human rights framework recognises that not all rights are absolute and that an individual’s rights may need to be balanced, either against the rights of others or against the wider public interest. Many of the rights in the Convention are “qualified”, recognising explicitly the need to respect the rights of others and the broader needs of society . . . The idea that rights come alongside duties and responsibilities is steeped in the UK tradition of liberty. . .’

What a cunning gloss to put on it!

Do not be deceived into believing that this use of language is anything to do with that moral principle of duty that David Selbourne wrote about years ago in his essay on the foundation of civil order. His idea was the old-fashioned one that ethics are founded not upon rights but upon duties: like the duty of a father and mother to child as well as the duties of the citizen to society and of society to the citizen, but not however upon what someone – whether Johnson or Putin – might perceive to be our public duty towards the State. His criticism was of the corrupted liberal order, of its rights, privileges, demands and aspirations, an order that is even more corrupted now it is determined and decreed by the State and supra-national elites. His criticism was not of citizens’ lack of compliance or refusal to conform to State dictats, which I fear is the case here. 

I am worried the proposed legislation may not only be a perversion of the traditional notions of rights and duties, but a mendacious and threatening one.

Who is it that will decide what those broader interests of society may be? The government or the WHO or any other international public health body with undue influence over the Government?

Worrying statements succeed each other: 

‘The Bill of Rights [will] provide greater clarity regarding the interpretation of certain rights, such as the right to respect for private and family life, by guiding the UK courts in interpreting the rights and balancing them with the interests of our society as a whole . . . The Bill of Rights will provide more certainty for public authorities to discharge the functions Parliament has given them, without the fear that this will expose them to costly human rights litigation.’

If that is restricted to deporting illegal immigrants that is fine and understandable.

But what if it is used to include the human right to protest or defy mandated vaccination or to force parents into total compliance with a one size fits all state education for their children?

In the foreword Justice Secretary Dominic Raab who commissioned the consultation, writes: ‘Our system must strike the proper balance of rights and responsibilities, individual liberty and the public interest’, a sentiment reiterated in the Executive Summary: ‘The Bill of Rights will make sure a proper balance is struck between individuals’ rights, personal responsibility, and the wider public interest.’   

Later he said in an interview on LBC: ‘Our plans for a Bill of Rights will strengthen typically British rights like freedom of speech and trial by jury, while preventing abuses of the system and adding a healthy dose of common sense.’

Will it? I have no doubt Mr Raab is well meaning, but also naive. He and every minister in this government should be able to realise that what counts as common sense for them will not necessarily be so for their millions of critics – not least those who have quite rationally (and ethically) refused to be injected with an inadequately trialled and tested experimental gene therapy or have seen their jobs and university applications threatened, in a word have been discriminated against. Will it protect the right to medical autonomy? And what about those who wish to assert their right to set up a church school or withdraw their children from ‘sex gender education’ in schools or set up a new Church school?

Will the new Bill of Rights protect those rights as well as the Government’s right to deport terrorists and cross Channel asylum seekers? That is the test.

This UK government consultation remains open till 11.59pm, Tuesday 8 March 2022

Article updated June 22nd, 2022

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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