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Britain has very little to fear from the ECHR. So why are so many Tories so afraid of it?

22 July 2014

3:36 PM

22 July 2014

3:36 PM

On matters domestic (England and Wales division) I was sad to see Dominic Grieve turfed-out of the cabinet in last week’s reshuffle. Today he pops up in the Times to remind us (well, me) why his departure has lowered the average level of decency in the cabinet.

According to the former Attorney-General, the Prime Minister’s plans to rework Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights are the kind of cockamamie scheme that would, quite correctly, be considered laughable if it were copied by, say, Vladimir Putin. You see:

“What actually is being suggested is not that we will leave the ECHR, but that we will announce for our manifesto that we will pass primary legislation to use parliament to prevent the government from implementing its international obligations, except when parliament rules when we should,” he said.

“The inference is that when the UK government doesn’t like something that the court’s done it’ll just use parliament to not implement what it has signed up to. Of all the ideas I have heard about, that strikes me as just about the worst of all. It may appear superficially attractive, but it is effectively driving a coach and horses through international legal obligations, behaving in a way that can only be described as anarchic. It creates massive uncertainty and it risks a legal road crash.”

Parliamentary sovereignty was “open to misuse”, he said. “You could enact through parliament to have someone summarily executed. You could require the whole of the United Kingdom to worship the Moon, but we don’t do this and we don’t do it because it would be wrong, in exactly the same way it would be thoroughly wrong for parliament to use its power to defy an international treaty obligation.”

Well, quite. Then again, the Conservative hostility to ECHR has never made much sense to me. Not least because it is very odd to see people getting all red in the face and shouting liberty as they try and undermine an institution that, in general and most of the time, is a pretty reliable friend to liberty, decency and civilisation.

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That does not, of course, mean that every ECHR ruling is the kind of thing our political masters will welcome. But that’s rather the point of the thing: it is a backstop against the tempting corruptions of power. It cannot be stressed often enough that the European courts – in their varying guises – are a defence or shield against our own government. As such they place a useful brake on sometimes over-zealous, careless government. The court is often on your side against our government. This is a good thing.

Not, happily, that the United Kingdom has very much to worry about when it comes to these matters. The vast majority of petitions against Her Majesty’s Government are ruled inadmissable and even when cases are heard the UK government is much more likely to win the day than are the governments of any other major european power when they are hauled before the court. In its own way the court pays a rather fine tribute to the on-the-whole decency of British government and law. There is much less to be afraid of here than you may imagine.

But then right-wing hostility to all things european is less a matter of reason than of feeling. The former citizens of the Warsaw Pact might have something pungent to say to the kind of British blowhard who bores on about the EUSSR. Similarly, there is something dispiriting about enduring UKIP-friendly Tories banging on about liberty at the same time as they do their best to curtail the EU-sponsored freedom of movement that has been the single greatest advance in european liberty and opportunity since the Iron Curtain was lifted.

Sometimes it would do us all some good to remind ourselves just how fortunate we are in this country and recall that mechanisms such as ECHR which may from time to time prove mildly (if usefully) irritating in the UK are actually extremely important in other, less fortunate, lands. It is one of those things that separates leading countries from good countries and, in turn, good countries from bad countries. But it seems sadly typical of the Tory party in its present mood that it would rather run away from these matters than lead them.

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Show comments
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  • andagain

    it would be thoroughly wrong for parliament to use its power to defy an international treaty obligation

    True, but it would be acceptable to withdraw from the treaty honestly. Whether it should presumbly depends on your opinion of the ECHR.

  • John Mangan

    They fear it because human rights have never been the basis of conservative beliefs. Conservatives have great difficulty with complex thought so the very simple paradigm of “money -good, no money – bad” works for them. Human rights disrupt the smooth transition of wealth to the top 1% so therefore “ECHR – bad”. Simples!

    • Jacky Treehorn

      Yeah and don’t forget that the tories like to eat babies and worship the devil.
      Or it could be that we seemed to be able to run a fairly libertarian country before those ever so wise europeans came along and told us how unfair the UK was and how all along (not withstanding Hitler/Napoleon/Mussolini/Franco etc etc) the law in europe regarding yooman rights was much more civilized.

      • John Mangan

        Well I wasn’t going to mention the baby eating and devil worship but you brought it up. You might also notice I used small case “c” for conservative and it’s only a capital the second time because it begins a sentence. That’s because I was educated in a grammar school before Labour and Tory governments destroyed that brilliant education system in favour of insane educational experiments a la Gove and other amateurs. Your rosey-glassed vision of pre-war Britain is cute but utterly inaccurate and now that the Conservatives (with a capital “C”) are intent on demolishing the post-war consensus we all agreed to at the time, the presence of the ECHR is more rather than less necessary

        • rtj1211

          Look mate, not everyone does best in a grammar school. I was an exam factory in school but school didn’t teach me what I needed to learn. I learned it the hard way. The way of ‘what use were all those exams because they taught me nothing of the real world?’

          I would have benefitted far more from a Steiner Education.

          I’d probably still have got 10 O Levels, 4 A Levels, 2 S Levels and 3 degrees.

          But I’d have been far more emotionally rounded as a result of it.

          • John Mangan

            Very possibly but we would have to have two different lives going simultaneously as in SLIDING DOORS to know for sure. I’m not going to share how beneficial grammar school was to me as the child of working class Irish parents because this thread is about why Tories fear Human Rights and we should stay on-topic.

        • Jacky Treehorn

          Could you let me know what laws the europeans have given us that you really appreciate and that we in the UK would never had recieved unless we were not bound by the ECHR.
          I don’t have a rosey-glassed vision of pre war Britain but if you are to go back that far perhaps you can tell me about all the european countries that were fairer in regards to yooman rights than britain at the same time.
          Thanks for informing me about your education. I’m a big supporter of grammer schools thats one of the reasons I now vote UKIP the only political party advocating their return, I hope we can rely on your support.

          • John Mangan

            I fear not but that you support an extreme far-right pseudo-party does not surprise me. UKIP has the distinction of being the laziest party in the European Parliament, taking their wages and expenses without doing any work or turning up for most of the debates so if they apply that same principle to being in power in the UK, god help us all. If you want a party that will support the rich and the bankers even more than they are at the moment, you’ve picked the right mob.

            Supporting them for wanting grammar schools back alone would be like voting for Mussolini because he made the trains run on time.

            1947 was the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights from which the powers of the EU court of human rights flows. The question you have to answer and around which you dance is why Dave wants to demolish their laws and deny us all access to a higher court ie one that would very likely overthrow his inhuman and punitive social engineering agenda? The clue is in the words “Human Rights”. Why do the Tories oppose human rights? It’s a very simple question.

            • Jacky Treehorn

              I read the your first line and stopped realising there’s no point debating with someone who thinks UKIP are extreme right wing. You sound like a beardy weirdy freak. You need to grow up, I thought that by going to a grammer school tou were at least educated but it just goes to show educated idiots do exist.

              • John Mangan

                You are unaware that UKIP is extreme right-wing? That it was approached by the various fascist parties in the EU to form a voting bloc especially by the French Front National who saw similarities. Nige didn’t quite go that far but “Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, has rejected fresh overtures from the far-right French Front National leader Marine Le Pen but admitted she has “got some good qualities” and is “achieving remarkable things”. which is a bit like saying Mussolini was a thug but made the trains run on time. A grammar school education teaches you to think for yourself so, as it seems the idiot is you, a grammar school education would have been wasted on you. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/18/nigel-farage-rejects-ukip-tie-french-front-national

              • John Mangan

                PS. Not a fan of beards and a little girl having a tantrum and flinging names and insults around because she’s losing the argument is hardly mature behaviour.

          • John Mangan

            As for where we are now, thanks to Dave, we have fallen from being a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights in 1947 to 27th, just above the Czech Republic and Greece. Slovenia and Israel are better than us. We should be proud to be British in this modern world! http://www.vexen.co.uk/countries/best.html

          • John Mangan

            What you don’t seem to know or appreciate is we have NO human rights legislation in the UK and none of the rights you think we invented become law here until the HRA was “imposed” on us

            “The UK has a long and proud history in leading the development and recognition of fundamental rights and freedoms. In fact, many of the rights in the HRA had their genesis in principles that emerged from Magna Carta, the 1689 Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus Acts and the common law. However, the common law is liable to be overridden at any time by statute and provides no possible recourse when rights are undermined. There is also nothing in Magna Carta or other historic legislation that protects free speech, personal privacy, the right to protest, non-discrimination etc. Many of the rights we have long taken for granted found no protection in domestic law until the HRA gave effect to them. Until the advent of the HRA, British residents had to rely solely on the good-will of government for protection or take the long and costly route to the European Court of Human Rights. While the freedom of a person to do anything that is not prohibited by law is an important part of our constitution, this principle gives no protection to individuals from misuse of power by the state or public bodies”

            All of which explains why Cameron and Farage want to deprive us of the HRA and the Court of Human Rights. They want “rights” to be their gift, rather than our rights under a democratic system. In other words, the old master/serf relationship of the Middle Ages.

            I suggest you do a little research next time.

            https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act/human-rights-act-myths

            • Jacky Treehorn

              Yeah but answer the question, what are the specific laws that we would not have if we pulled out? Its all very well to say this and that could happen if we were not in it but you give no evidence of when it has happened.
              And if we were to pull out and we were given our own human rights act would you be happy or are you only happy when judgments are handed down by foreign judges?

              • John Mangan

                You really are stuck on the world as it was BEFORE the HRC and can’t see that it was all those abuses it was designed to rectify and avoid in the future. WW2 ended in 1945. GET OVER IT! As for losing laws to the HRC we’ve lost none because we never had any. You don’t realise we have NO human rights here in the UK that are not the gift of whatever government is in power, right or left. The HRC guarantees human rights whether we are in a benign or fascistic state. As for my education it’s YOU that keeps going on and on and on and on about it so I think you have a problem there. Your spluttering rage over Nazis and Russkies and your conflating of that with how their descendants are now is little Englander syndrome at its worst. It’s clear your mind is closed so good luck with your human rights when the Tories remove them forever.

            • Jacky Treehorn

              One other thing. You along with a lot on the left have so much faith in a continent that in living history spawned Hitler Mussolini, Franco and a strong showing by the Communists and that other fine upstanding democratic institution the EU but little faith in its own people to decide on who makes the laws. You along with most of the sixties generation of politicians are just gutless losers.

              • John Mangan

                Astonishing. Are you really so blinded by your dogma that you did not realise Hitler and Mussolini were leaders of extreme right-wing political parties? That the communists sacrificed 20 million soldiers and civilians to defeat the Axis, before it became expedient to start hating them again post-war? The EU and the Human Rights Charter was designed to ensure that Europe would never again go to war with itself so your point is wooly at best and utterly bonkers generally. PS: when you have to resort to insults, you’ve lost the argument big time.

                • Jacky Treehorn

                  Let me get this clear. You cant answer what rights we would lose if we were not in th ECHR only that you trust the europeans over indiginous politicians. You go off on a rant about Hitler and Mussolini being right wing, really??? (that grammer education you’re so proud telling everyone about really came in handy) which only backed up my point that the europeans have a chequrered past when it comes to rights as opposed to our centuries old traditions. You clearly hadn’t thought it through had you?
                  I’m sure the grammer education you love speaking about also informed you that the soviets started off on Hitlers side in carving up Poland a free nation and that Stalin was supplying the Nazis with war materials and food right up until operation Barbarosa so please forgive me if I don’t fawn all over them for their latter sacrifices and that it was that selfish nation Britain that was in the struggle right from the start.
                  My partner lived in the old soviet empire, oh how she laughs at soviet appologists for their sweet naivety.

      • Angus McLellan

        Ah, yes, the good old days. When “the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe” was sufficient justification for locking people up, and not just in wartime. And how did the courts know that a “reasonable cause to believe” existed? The SoS or his creatures told them so.

        • Jacky Treehorn

          And what was going on with regard to yooman rights in europe when all these things were happening in Britain?

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    Thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family?

    Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks.

    Are you passing through any of these problems,

    DO YOU NEED YOUR EX BACK VERY FAST

    DON YOU WANT YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU AS NEVER LIKE BEFORE

    ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM A LONG TIME SICKNESS

    ARE YOU FACING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

    ARE YOU SEEKING FOR A GOOD JOB

    DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A HOUSE OWNER

    ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A FIRST CLASS GRADE

    DO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FIRST IN YOUR EXAMS

    ARE YOU A STAR AND YOU WANT TO BE SO POPULAR TO THE WHOLE WORLD

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    ARE YOU FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE A LIFE PARTNER

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    IF you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

  • AtMyDeskToday

    Interesting the different perceptions of the ECHR in Europe. One of my bright, intelligent and highly qualified German relatives told me she had been startled to learn in a class that day that Britain had been the progenitor of the ECHR, post WW2. She, like all of her classmates, had thought that it was a treasured gift of the EU. She admitted that her admiration of the UK had grown from that new knowledge.

    • Andy

      Yes well it seems to be the duty of the UK to save Europe from itself.

      • AtMyDeskToday

        I’m certain modern Germany needs no “saving” by the UK on any front, and I’m equally certain that her lack of understanding on this subject was entirely due to the fact that I’ve *never* heard the ECHR featured in any conversation while in Germany. It just does not exercise them at all.

        • Andy

          Looking like large chunks of Europe need saving from the Germans – yet again. And the ECHR was only written because Germans had been so busy murdering all and sundry. You probably don’t hear that mentioned ‘in any conversations while in Germany’, but it happens to be true.

          • AtMyDeskToday

            “And the ECHR was only written because Germans had been so busy murdering all and sundry.”

            WOW! There’s a revelation, bet you spent a lot of time thinking about that one. You are sharp today (although somewhat sad and desperate).

            • Denis_Cooper

              Of course the British drafted the Convention because of what the Germans, primarily, had done, just as the British drafted the German federal Constitution to try to stop the Germans doing it again. Do you honestly believe the Convention would have been written if the Germans had won the war?

              • AtMyDeskToday

                “Do you honestly believe the Convention would have been written if the Germans had won the war?”

                Hmmm… no, I do not believe that, and I believe you are remarkably stupid for thinking that I do.

                • Denis_Cooper

                  You should learn to express yourself more clearly.

                • AtMyDeskToday

                  You should read the posts in their entirety before leaping in.

              • rtj1211

                It’s a shame they couldn’t have drafted a similar constitution for the British at the same time. It would have served us far better than the way we bumble along.

                And there I was thinking that it was the Americans who had drafted it.

                Live and learn……

            • Andy

              Well most Germans I have met are too busy running away from their past. The ‘German problem’ hasn’t gone away: we see it today in the EU. The ECHR was another tool to tie the Germans down, but perhaps since unification it isn’t working quite as well as it once did.

              • AtMyDeskToday

                “Well most Germans I have met are too busy running away from their past.”

                Well get out more you sad person, you’re spending too much time on DT blogs.

              • rtj1211

                I have to say when I lived in Germany in 1999, those born in the mid 1970s were fully emancipated from their grandparents’ sins. They were young, jolly, forward-looking and respectful of all their neighbours.

                • Andy

                  Hmmmmm but the problem is two fold. First, old sins cast very long shadows. German history in Europe cannot be whitewashed away, no matter what many might like to do. And second German ‘power’ is a reality in the Europe we have today. You only have to read some of the European press to see how the Euro debacle has poisoned European relations – Germany bearing the brunt of the blame, which is maybe not entirely fair but there you go. And if the UK left the EU, which I for one hope we do, that will further alter the balance within the EU to make Germany even more powerful.

          • Damaris Tighe

            I’ve long suspected this. The whole European project is founded on an effort to prevent France & Germany going to war again. Fine & dandy. Why Britain has to participate is less clear.

            • rtj1211

              Because historically, Britain has always played the role of balancing Franco-German power.

              By rights, we should be ganging up with France on the Germans to diddle their economy.

              For some reason, we seem to be hating the French even more and sucking up to the Germans!

              Must be that 70% tax and socialist President Hollande!!

              • Damaris Tighe

                ‘For some reason …’: the Englishman’s dislike of the French is a wonder to behold.

      • rtj1211

        I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to save the UK from itself………

  • Paul Z. Temperton

    The phrase “turfed out” does not have a hyphen except when used attributively.

  • ohforheavensake

    Thanks, Alex.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Either you believe in the sovereignty of the British people and their Parliament or you don’t; it has long been obvious that Grieve doesn’t, and therefore he is not fit to be a member of that Parliament, let alone be the Attorney-General; the sooner we boot all of his treacherous kind out of our national Parliament the better.

    • rtj1211

      That is very true. The real question is whether people in Europe would like a third choice instead of solely being between an undemocratic stitch up in Brussels vs national Parliaments. The third one is a transparent, democratic, professionally audited Eureopean Parliament led by directly elected representatives with an appropriately drawn up Constitution capable of revision by elected representatives??

      The In-Out vote is going to happen before the third occurs, which is a shame.

      But that’s life…….

  • GraveDave

    I think the Human Rights act is worth the trouble. But we should be able to boot out people who prove a danger to society. That of course includes the Tories.

  • Bob Thomas

    Can I presume that you have read the (IMHO, very good) article by Philip Johnston about the same topic, in which he describes the “profound concerns” of senior judges on the “constitutional impact” of these rulings? If you have not, then I commend it to you. It is not merely Tory “headbangers” – to adopt Nick Clegg’s playground language – who would seek to alter the current status quo. Certainly, I do not think it is tenable to perpetuate a situtaion in which the British constitution is subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign court that has the power to supercede decisions taken by our own democratically accountable legislative and judicial institutions.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, in 9.5 months time, after the electoral shellacking that’s coming to him, Clegg won’t have to worry much about any of the “headbangers”, and he can repair to whichever sinecure Brussels has waiting for him.

  • Damaris Tighe

    Britain has a fine tradition of ‘rights’ based on common law. I don’t understand why we need ECHR. I do understand why countries with histories such as Germany & France might need it.

    • HookesLaw

      In what way is the history of France different from ours? What other countries are there with histories like these?

      Is our tradition so brilliant when we think of the way we transported political prisoners or used the cavalry to attack political protesters. These issues were events of their time and part of our evolution as a nation, I have no great problem with them, but I do not seek to list my country as some way morally superior.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Both France & Germany have suffered from authoritarian or totalitarian governments in recent history. Britain hasn’t.

        • mightymark

          Cromwell was a weeny bit totalitarian I think.

          Like many here I was deeply frustrated by the court’s stop on deporting terrorists. However I’d have to admit that the fact that all the legal t’s were crossed and i’s dotted at least meant that their apologists hadn’t a leg to stand on criticising the UK/its government when the terrorists were eventually deported.

          The argument about sovereignty is a red herring. Most international agreement place obligations on a nation state – are we to renege on all on such grounds? Sovereignty is retained by having the right to withdraw from the agreement/treaty involved – which clearly we can do as the mere fact of this discussion makes clear. Whether we should do so has nothing to do with sovereignty but the perits or otherwise of the treaty involved here. incidentally why are some so gung ho to withdraw – have we ever attempted to amend the treaty to bring it closer to what we want?

          • mightymark

            “merits” – of course!

          • Damaris Tighe

            But Cromwell was a long time ago & the experience hasn’t been repeated.

            • mightymark

              I’m simply saying it is not unheard of in our history – and it is arguable that we came fairly close to it during and just after the Napoleonic wars.

            • pointlesswasteoftime

              Yet.

              • Damaris Tighe

                Maybe Cromwell’s successor will be a Caliph.

          • Damaris Tighe

            The trouble with ‘human rights’ is that they are perceived to trump natural justice. A migrant who has deprived a family of family life because he has murdered one of them, cannot be deported because of his ‘right’ to a family life. This is seen as a moral inversion & totally contrary to natural justice & any sane justice system.

            I know nothing about law but this, I believe, is why the ECHR is so despised.

            • mightymark

              That is a pretty poor example though. Surely someone who murders here would (should) not be deported but tried and sentenced to a long spell of imprisonment here.

              You say human rights “are perceived” to trump natural justice but even if true that can not make human rights irrelevant – it simply means that we should as I suggest above, campaign to amend the Charter to balance the two out better.

              • Damaris Tighe

                There have been a number of cases where the prison term was served & the authorities wanted to deport but couldn’t because of this ‘right to family life’.

                • mightymark

                  ………..which is why, as I say, we should campaign to have the charter changed to avoid such stupidity. Is it really likely that the UK is alone in finding such rulings idiotic?

                • Damaris Tighe

                  Or is it because our idiotic judges, many of whom grew up & were educated in the 60s & 70s, interpret it that way?

                • mightymark

                  “You may think so Damaris – I couldn’t possibly comment”!

        • rtj1211

          Perhaps not, but we have experienced colony status due to the inability of our Masters to uphold our ancient Principals in the face of buccaneering Yankees.

          ‘You reap what you sow’……perhaps just as we restore freedom, the Americans will be subjugated for long enough to expiate their 2 year old frustrations about not being able to rule the world…….

      • Tony_E

        Actually, it’s fair to say that our legal history is very different to that of any of our continental European neighbours. For example, we have had a consistent form of Law (up until the HRA 1999) that has evolved without revolution for around 800 years.

        Despite the English Civil War, the basis for law in England was not substantially altered, and that speaks for itself really in that the development of the Common Law was held as sacrosanct. Germany, of course did not exist as a state during most of this time, France has undergone a number of revolutions (most notably in 1789, but several republics have come and gone). Nowhere on the continent has the stability of the Common Law, and its gradual growth, been mirrored.

        Plus, our system of Common Laws has always been ‘negative’ in character – revolutions on the continent brought with them positive law, conferring rights, rather than the English system where all things are permissible unless strictly forbidden by statute or the common law. Statute before 1999 did not generally confer rights, but set restrictions on action, or conferred responsibilities, or set a standard form or expecation for transactions between otherwise free parties. Each statute was strictly limited in its interpretation to that which was written at the time – rather than to be read into the actions of statutes they did not specifically amend.

        That makes us very different in legal character to our European cousins. And I would counter that our legal system was superior to that of our Continental cousins because it offered much more legal certainty to Englishmen than other systems conferred.

        • Andy

          Quite so, and well said. And that is why Britain has such a frought relationship with Europe.

        • Damaris Tighe

          And am I right in thinking that it’s more libertarian because, to put it crudely, in the English tradition “all is permitted except …” while in the continental tradition “nothing is permitted except…”?

          • Colonel Mustard

            Essentially an Englishman is – or was – a free agent. Constrained in his activities only by the rule of law and not by government or the state and free to speak his mind. The freedom to speak out was an essential element of his liberty.

            The police are – or should be – “only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

            We have seen the rise of governments which seek to control rather than represent and the militarisation of the police as an arm of the state to control the people. We are now treated more like schoolchildren or employees than free individuals whose dignity is greater than the state which should serve us. The contrast to when I was a boy is profound but under appreciated. Even those who are supposed to be custodians of our liberty are ignorant of it.

            • Damaris Tighe

              The police are not only militarised, they’re politicised.

              “We are now treated more like schoolchildren”: that must explain why politicians speak to us in such patronisingly infantile soundbites.

            • rtj1211

              My experience is that you aren’t even treated like an employee. You are spied on in your own home by employers. It is that colonial officers who rebelled to free the Africans became a ‘good colonial officer’ in how they treated their son.

              I have never experienced what people describe as ‘the english way’.

              ‘Know your place’ is just about the only thing I would describe as my experience of being English……..and those who know where my place should be have always expected me to educate them whilst knowing my place……

              Lovely…….

          • Andy

            Basically yes. In England there is a different relationship between the individual and the State. And it is rooted in the English notion of Liberty. The problem today is that our Liberty has been usurped by the socialists and their Stateist agenda.

        • rtj1211

          I must say that how you view those two alternatives depends on the kind of family you were brought up in. If your parents acted out Common Law, you are probably comfortable with it. If, however your family was like a nanny state, constantly being nitpicked for inconsequential things, then a feeling of security is more likely to come from a positive statement of rights, since the experience of life you have had has said that your right to choose has been expressly deemed inpermissible; your right to freely associate has been deemed permissible only after permission from another family member etc etc. Those last two continued into my 40s, by old style Socialists. My experience of ‘common law’ rights wasn’t a very empowering one, to be honest……..

      • Colonel Mustard

        The very fact that you think it a question of moral superiority demonstrates what a fathead you are. And no conservative.

        • rtj1211

          It is the mark of those who do not suffer to have neither tolerance nor understanding for those who do……

          The need to rule the world is not a sign of superiority, it is a sign of pathological immaturity. The need to subjugate women is not a sign of superiority, it is a sign of emotional incompetence. The need for the rich to have slaves is not a sign of superiority, it is a sign of narcissism in the extreme. The need for the Christian Church to burn heretics at the stake was not a sign of religious values, it was a sign of intolerant fascism.

          Being permitted not to attend church but being ostracised from society as a result of it is not a sign that everything is permitted it is a sign that conformism was required.

          Needing a Royal Family is also something which can be questioned when people talk of ‘superiority’. I don’t NEED a royal family and I find most of the antiquated pagaentry quite laughable. Many may CHOOSE to have a Royal Family but there is nothing superior in assigning intrinsic superiority through primogeniture. Nothing at all. It’s merely an artefact of British and European history. America has never had one, after all.

    • allymax bruce

      Correct; the problem for Conservatives, is that the EU, as an institution, controlled by a bunch of NWO Bilderbergs, is using the ECHR as a tool to ‘de-Nationalise’ European Nation-States. LadyDingDong is right to say our Sovereignty is under threat of being abrogated by these EU horsemen.

      • Damaris Tighe

        ‘our’ sovereignty? I thought you were American allymax.

    • pointlesswasteoftime

      Maybe you should look a little bit more at British history. You can argue that we have moved on from Henry VIII or Charles I or Cromwell, but that’s not a guarantee that we can’t move backwards.

    • Colonel Mustard

      ECHR offers nothing to prevent the iniquitous European Arrest Warrant which is in flagrant breach of our habeas corpus.

      http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2011/02/habeas-corpus-and-the-european-arrest-warrant.html

      The puppet governments that now rule over us merely dismiss our centuries old rights and common law with platitudes that protect nothing. They think they know better than our birthright.

      • rtj1211

        I think the reality of all legal systems is that they have fallibility. Without commenting on whether the EAW is good or bad, it is clearly the case that if some terrorists bombed Britain and then holed up in Poland, it would be useful to use EAW to have them nicked over there, rather than having to go through the chicaneries of loads of extradition warrants.

        Clearly, the downside is that some cases will emerge of UK citizens wrongly arrested by other nations.

        However, if UK people transgress laws in, say, Poland, they should be dealt with under Polish law, not under British law. Habeas Corpus or not. When in Poland, do not expect Habeas Corpus to apply until you have found out that it does……

        In the end, it comes down to whether the legal systems and how they are practiced in other European countries are up to the standard of what we expect in Britain.

        I’ve yet to read a set of comments here or anywhere else which allows me to answer that question. Too much froth, vitriol, emotion and blanket statement of opinions.

        • Colonel Mustard

          You make a fundamental error in presuming guilt when you write of being “nicked”.

          “In the end, it comes down to whether the legal systems and how they are practiced in other European countries are up to the standard of what we expect in Britain.”

          You should not expect an answer to that in a thread of casual opinions here but should be perfectly capable of researching it yourself as I have. But your last paragraph demonstrates that quandary is really just a vehicle to express one of your usual sly and pompous ad hominem attacks against other commentators.

        • Andy

          The problem many of us have with the EAW is that the issuing authority does not have to make a prima facie case which can be tested in a UK Court. It is wrong that you can be arrested and sent to a foreign jurisdiction without the validity of the accusation being proven. It is not just with the EAW: the problem also applies to USA extraditions. Maybe you don’t care. But most of us care for the liberty of our people.

  • bobby_r

    “right-wing hostility to all things european is less a matter of reason than of feeling”

    With that level of analysis, and lack of self-awareness, how the f*ck do you keep your job?

    • HookesLaw

      You may have just proved his point

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The guy is a troll, and his trolling generates mouse clicks, apparently. That’s how he keeps the job .

  • Tony_E

    Alex, it’s not about whether we have something to fear – it’s about a Liberal democracy in the West not being able to govern itself without recourse to a group of unelected Judges, who are prone to attempts to extend their own power, and that of the convention that they were sworn to uphold.

    The ECHR is not now representative in thought or process of the convention that we both advocated and were initial signatories of. That alone should be cause for concern to anyone. The convention was not created to be the subject of judicial activism, but to codify basic human rights and our commitment to them.

    • HookesLaw

      Your point about judicial activism is a fair one.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Meanwhile in far more interesting other news Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll of Marginals suggests UKIP are on target to win seats at the general election. They lead in Thanet South and Thurrock!

    http://www.lordashcroft.com/2014/07/con-lab-battleground-swing-tories-drops-ukip-pick-labour-votes/

    Dirty greasy establishment parties on the slide!

  • Colonel Mustard

    This is the man who before 2010 publicly expressed astonishment at Labour place man Starmer’s radically political subversion of the rule of law but then after becoming AG kept him in post to continue his diabolical work. Starmer is now openly supporting the Labour party and advising Thornberry on further extremist plans to turn our common law and justice system upside down and re-cast it in the European model where innocence rather than guilt must be proven.

    It is nothing short of a national catastrophe that such a partisan ideologue as Starmer was allowed to hold the office of DPP and do such lasting damage to the impartiality of our law and justice system.

    Good riddance to Grieve. He failed to protect the common law and the rule of law from extreme leftist subversion. He was a useless AG.

    • John Clarke

      Thank god, rightwing headbangers like yourself have no power.

      • Colonel Mustard

        So, you like the idea of innocence rather than guilt having to be proven and you call ME a headbanger?

        And I don’t wish for any power. I wish for impartiality in the justice system rather than its politicisation by left wing headbangers like Starmer.

        • dalai guevara

          This is becoming tedious Colonel – you ARE guilty until proven innocent here. Just look at all the accused kiddy fiddlers and celeb tax dodgers out there – they are guilty until proven innocent, FFS.
          Just look at all the cameras in the streets, you are guilty until proven (on camera) that you are innocent, FFS.
          Just look at your, yes *your* brand-spanking new phone and data storage legislation, you are guilty until proven innocent in all your emails and phone chats you’ve ever had. For Fawke’s ake!

          • Damaris Tighe

            But that’s precisely the Colonel’s point – that the fundamental bases of English law are being changed & we should wake up & smell the coffee.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Thank you. Doolally is adept at misreading a comment and then regurgitating its substance in a scornful way that suggests the original point was foolishly wrong but in effect agreeing with it. In this he seldom resists the opportunity for a teutonic poke at the British, not realising that we are – or at least were – less regimented and deferential to petty officialdom and bureaucracy than the German and that the conformity or subordination he mocks is in part a direct result of EU intervention over our sovereignty.

              Therefore he entirely misses the point that whilst those developments he describes are true they are largely hated by a population who can no longer easily speak out against them.

            • dalai guevara

              Excellent comment, so we agree that all those changes were changes made by *us*. It was *us* who made people guilty (in the press and otherwise) before proven innocent, not *them*.
              It was *us* who installed ever more world record number of CCTV, not *them*. It was *us* who NOW decided that not the EU but *we* need to snoop and store.

              Now, either I am thick or it’s you who is.

    • Andy

      Indeed, and the daft bitch that replaced him is no better. Same mould.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Are these courts appointed by people under the democratic control of the British people. NO. Therefore they should have absolutely no influence over our legal system. Parliament should be supreme!

    Massie can do his usual pathetic whining all he likes but if it ain’t under UK democratic control, it with him in tow can go swivel!

    As for Grieve , in all god connscience his association should deselect him!

    • rtj1211

      Now that is your opinion and a valid one to hold.

      However, it is not illegal to form supranational bodies with jurisdiction over certain matters should member states of that supranational body agree on its form, its powers and its accountability.

      What I think you are saying is that you are uncomfortable with supranational European bodies.

      You’re allowed to be but it doesn’t make the concept wrong.

      Nor, however, does it make its practice right either…….

  • LadyDingDong

    Tories do not fear the ECHR you grade A numpty, they fear the loss of sovereignty it represents. We are the most civilised democracy on earth and will take no lessons from foreign judges and bureaucrats on how we should govern our affairs. One begins to understand the feelings of your fellow Scots when reading this drivel. Begone to the northern hinterlands you apologist for the undemocratic EU.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Don’t forget that lefties think our own justice system was terribly ‘unfair’, mainly because it failed to elevate their favoured ‘victims’ above the rule of law, and also that their self-hate leads them to believe anything foreign and alien is better.

    • HookesLaw

      The ECHR has nothing to do with the EU – we helped found it c1950.
      We have always been a part of the ECHR. British people have always been able to petition the ECHR. Labour incorporated it into British law so that British judges could make stupid judgements based on it. Its British judges who are the problem.
      It has nothing to do with sovereignty. You are misguided.
      In any event, there is nothing wrong with wanting to reform the criteria on which the judgements are made and it seems quite reasonable to update modernise revise and reform the ECHR from time to time and not leat in the area ofdealing with terrorists.

      • LadyDingDong

        Don’t patronise me you Heathite twerp. I will take no lectures from you either. British judges making precedential judgements based on decisions from a foreign court is very much a loss of sovereignty and only a fool like you and your catamite alter ego telemaclindsayarsebone would not understand it. And our adherence to the ECHR is very much tied into our membership of the EU. I would very much prefer not having to engage with you again as I find 99% of what you say most objectionable and un-Conservative.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …only 99% ? You’re being rather generous.

        • southerner

          I’d love you to identify the missing 1%. When he’s not busy polishing his framed photos of Cameron or Blair I have yet to see him post anything other than socialist sh1te.

          • HookesLaw

            Pretending issues and events that do not exist is what keeps your fantasy going. You are the one and other traitors like you who are happy to plot to hand power to Europhile immigration friendly Labour led by crypto-marxist Miliband. Get that into your thick numbskulls, you not me are actively plotting for Miliband to win.

            Unlike you I am a true conservative and I, I assure you, will be voting to keep Miliband out of power. So please keep your thick ignorant traitorous notions and fanasies to yourselves.

            • Colonel Mustard

              If Miliband comes to power it will be because Cameron has failed to unite the right but instead divided it in the hope of attracting centre-left voters who will still hate him anyway.

              The responsibility is entirely his. If conservative leaders in Canada and Australia can do it then so could Cameron. Unfortunately Britain is a country where left-leaning grandee wets hold sway even in its main right wing party.

              You agree with the socialist trolls here too often to be a “true conservative” and the abuse you level at fellow conservatives is a meme for how Cameron will lose the election.

        • HookesLaw

          British judges interpreting the law in a peculiar way. The ECHR is a British creation
          And of course you fail to admit you are wrong when you try to associate the ECHR with the EU. It is a totally separate body, Completely.
          You are the unconservative one. I am the one holding my nose engaging with you.

          • southerner

            You really ought to change the locks on that bedsit of yours then because somebody keeps coming in and posting incomprehensible socialist Europhilia on your laptop.

          • wycombewanderer

            And I do declare that no foreign prince, person,
            prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction,
            power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or
            spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.”

            Oath under the English bill of rights!

            as far as I know has never been rescinded

        • Paul Z. Temperton

          “Our adherence to the ECHR is very much tied into our membership of the EU” — No, you are mistaken. Britain signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights many years before it decided to have anything to do with what is now the EU. If we were now to decide to leave the EU, we would still be party to the Convention. They are completely separate things.

        • Daidragon

          Dear God at least try and educate yourself on the subject of your rants. The ECHR is nothing to do with the EU and was originally Winston Churchill’s idea. You should know that. It’s a sure sign of how far to the xenophobic, rabid right some of you have gone that you don’t.

    • Freddie

      “The most civilised democracy on earth”…

      • GraveDave

        The most sheep like you mean.

    • dalai guevara

      People all over the Northern Alliance note your words and will from this moment on, given what you just uttered, live in fear. They are shocked, no, tell a lie, they are stunned by the amount of outright dictatorial legislation coming their way and the thing is, they too never appear to have voted for any of it.
      Now you see, this kind of thing is curious and it bothers me because my Vandal-Hun-Norman-Frank-Angle-Saxon forefathers never fought for this kind of blatant oppressive cult of plebs just doing their own thing. But then again, a guy from Greece wouldn’t have a clue what I just stated there.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Is there another socialist nutter out there who can translate this EU sponsored socialist nutter’s gibberish?

        • Jimmy R

          I think dg must be referring to the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan which is more commonly known as the Northern Alliance.

      • McClane

        The Northern Alliance? Is this some sort of Tolkien thing?

        • dalai guevara

          Very good – also hugely popular.

    • David Lindsay.

      Sabre rattling because Farage has them quaking.

      Withdrawal will make not a jot of difference.

      if we did leave the ECHR court and the Supreme Court had the ultimate say on human rights, the judges will not be predisposed to the Government when it comes to interpreting human rights, and particularly if they know that the right of personal petition to the ECHR – a safety net in the current system – had been removed.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Hello Telemachus warming up another old sock puppet I see.

      • HookesLaw

        Is it being proposed to remove the right to petition which we have had since 1950?
        I’ve missed that, who said that?

        • Andy

          Actually since 1966.

    • GraveDave

      Well, you Tories shouldn’t have sold it off the first place then, should you?
      Numpty.

    • McClane

      There are 43 judges on the EHCR. Some of them come from countries like the Ukraine, Bosnia Herzogovina, Moldova, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, countries with a very different recent history to ours. There are some from countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary who will have trained under the Communist system. There are some from countries like Portugal, France, Denmark, countries which have well-established legal systems but of a totally different basis to ours. There is one judge from the UK.

      None of these people have any right to dictate to Parliament, the British courts or the British people. The fact that we give the title of judge of the EHCR to some Azerbaijani (2 of them, in fact) gives him no rights in Great Britain.

      • you_kid

        Correct! Those Azerbaijanis “have no rights in Great Britain”.

        Next.

        • McClane

          You deliberately misunderstand my comment and fail to respond in any substantial, meaningful way.

          Next.

          • you_kid

            I deliberately expose your ill-conceived and pathetically worded inuendo. Those Azerbaijanis “have no rights in Great Britain.” Next.

            • McClane

              You have exposed nothing.

              You are Telemachus.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      “Begone to the northern hinterlands”

      Give me one good reason why we alone should suffer him. Excluding the fact that he claims to be Scottish of course.

    • Mike, Preston

      The European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, from which the Court springs, are nothing to do with the EU but are part of the Council of Europe, of which the UK was a founder member and on which the UK has had and continues to have enormous influence.

  • Marmalade Sandwich

    Dominic Grieve as the previous AG said of Pakistanis that they “come from backgrounds where corruption is endemic … have been brought up to believe you can only get certain things through a favour culture.” For which truth he apologised. How can an Attorney General apologise for telling the truth? I am glad he lost his job.

    • John Clarke

      What’s your final solution then?

  • dado_trunking

    … to answer the question posed in the headline: because the bigoted far right are hypocrites with regards to the acknowledging the need for a Multi-national Human Rights Convention.

    You see, in Britain we were never allowed to be fascists – whenever it erupts from the ground (BNP, EDL, that Churchill quoting loon and so on), it is stamped out, when it is imposed top down (Snooping Charter and so on), we have absolutely no problem with it. Come on lads, would you like me to explain the rules again or can we now just play the fascist’s game? Don’t you worry, the evil totalitarian EU will surely beat you at your own game, as they always do.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …when you and your army of brownshirted sockpuppets hold sway, we’ll be seeing plenty of fascism, laddie.

  • Adrian Drummond

    “Similarly, there is something dispiriting about enduring UKIP-friendly
    Tories banging on about liberty at the same time as they do their best
    to curtail the EU-sponsored freedom of movement that has been the single
    greatest advance in european liberty and opportunity since the Iron
    Curtain was lifted.”

    Your (almost inexcusable) inability to discern the clear distinction between the historical notion of liberty and the right of anyone to go where they please throughout Europe, regardless of its consequences, is very dispiriting too.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      I didn’t read that troll’s blogpost, as usual, and the portion you’ve quoted reaffirms the reasons I don’t. You’d have to look long and hard to find a statement more bizarre.

    • John Clarke

      How does it impede your freedom?

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Nice of Massie to volunteer to give away my country for me because I’m too much of a morlock to be allowed any opinion that doesn’t match his Eloi intellect.

    If a Blairite is a follower of Blair, Massie must follow Gobsh.

    • John Clarke

      Then so did Winston Churchill.

  • davidofkent

    Surely, it is some of the rulings of our judges in their interpretation of our Human Rights Act that form the basis of our disagreement with the ECHR, rather than the ECHR itself. Even in the case of allowing criminals in prison the right to vote, it is neither the end of ‘civilisation as we know it’ nor is it at all difficult to workaround the decision. IMHO, our problem is the way that some of our judges thumb their noses at public opinion.

    • trotters1957

      You think judges should be hostages to public opinion?

    • Colonel Mustard

      “…our problem is the way that some of our judges thumb their noses at public opinion.”

      It’s the exact opposite of that. An impartial rule of law and cases tried strictly on their own facts have been subverted by political interference based on manufactured ‘public’ opinion, mainly the pandering to and appeasement of lobbying by identity groups.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    This would look great in the Guardian.

    • trotters1957

      Well,the ECHR was part of Churchills legacy but then he wouldn’t be at home in the current Tory party.
      He’d be back in with the Liberals, his natural home.

      • Tony_E

        Not the current Liberals – he might have been at home with Gladstonian economic and social Liberals of the late 19th and early 20th century, but he would have been totally at odds with the current socialist ‘Liberal Democrats’.

        Like the EU -Churchill thought that was a good idea, but not that we should be part of it. He is often misrepresented these days. I rather think he would be very opposed to losing any sovereignty over matters such as immigration and criminal sentencing to a supranational court such as the ECHR.

        • HookesLaw

          In what area of criminal sentencing do the ECHR interfere?
          The ECHR says that sentences should not be handed down by politicians. This seems sensible We do not want political prisoners – but where else?

          • southerner

            Well you could take a moment to look it up instead of posting trite truisms like this. Try Bailli or any number of other sites that record criminal judgements and appeals. From whole life sentences to registering child offenders etcetc take your pick.

            You really need to move from here and join your friends at the New Statesman.

            • HookesLaw

              Political interference with judges – which may or may not be a good thing but which I covered. What else?
              Judges can as they always have still sentence someone to life for murder. Judges can still set a tariff. The fairly sound principal of the ECHR is that politicians cannot interfere with sentences. Again this may or may not be a good thing but it is quite definitely not interfering with our judges ability to set a tariff.

              • southerner

                You have no idea what you are talking about. Not for the first time. Read my post properly. Do some research. Become a lawyer. Spend 25 years at the Bar. Then come and talk to me about the law as an equal. Until you have, stick to what you know. Socialism, Europhilia and Camerloon worship.

          • Andy

            Mandatory Life Sentence for Murder.

            • HookesLaw

              Thats what I covered in my remarks.

              • Andy

                You didn’t. The sentence for Murder is clearly set out by statute. Prior to 1965 Judges did not have a role in the outcome after passing sentence – that was a matter for the Home Secretary exercising prerogative (prior to 1837 it was decided by the Privy Council with the King). The arrangement remained the same from 1965, absence noose of course, until the ECHR started meddling in things they didn’t understand.

                The same is so of Votes for Prisoners. They have never had the vote once convicted and nor should they. What other countries do is a matter for them, but it was considered by the drafting committee in 1949 and rejected – it was specifically not regarded as a ‘Human Right’. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. It is merely Judicial Imperialism and they should be politely but firmly told to f*ck off.

                • southerner

                  Yes but Hookey wouldn’t dream of it. He doesn’t believe in the sovereignty of either our Parliament or our Judiciary.

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