Cameron promised that this British bill would be “rooted in our values”

From a New Statesman review by Sophie McBain of Shami Chakrabarti’s book On Liberty last December:

This book is above all a treatise against David Cameron’s pledge that a future Conservative government would create a British bill of rights to replace its international commitments – a dangerous attempt to “redefine our fundamental rights as citizens’ privileges”, in Chakrabarti’s view.

Speaking in October 2013, Cameron promised that this British bill would be “rooted in our values” and he singled out a European ruling that prisoners should have the vote: “I’m sorry, I just don’t agree. Our parliament – the British parliament – decided they shouldn’t have that right,” he said. The problem is that human rights are too precious to entrust to party politics and external institutions – such as the European Court of Human Rights – act as an important safeguard to keep democracies liberal.

Human rights shouldn’t be national, because they shouldn’t be particular – they should be universal. If they’re particular rights they’re no longer human rights, they’re just whatever the local particular is – British rights, Muslim rights, capitalist rights, Hindu rights. That’s no good. They have to be universal to do the job they’re meant to do.


  1. says

    The votes for prisoners sctick that the Tories roll out every time they want to bash the ECHR always makes me laugh.

    For a start it shows how petty they are and so quick to point to the most disadvantaged as being “the problem”.

    Someone accused of a crime could just happen to remanded to prison on the day of the election, be entirely exonerated the next day and still not have been allowed to vote. In the meantime, one of their own might have lets say committed perjury and been gaoled for 18 months, or maybe defrauded the Crown and spent the best part of a year banged up and they get to keep their HoL seats and vote on legislature.

    Secondly, the haste at which they are pushing this through might just be because many Tory constituencies , being rural, contain a large and overcrowded prison. A couple of thousand pissed off prisoners isn’t going to do much for an incumbent Tories margin.

  2. Milton says

    To add to what Danny said, it’s also worth pointing out there was no “European ruling that prisoners should have the vote”. This is a deliberate distortion by some and a misunderstanding by many.

    What the court ruled was that the UK could not automatically remove the franchise from its citizens purely on the basis that they had been imprisoned. That doesn’t mean you can’t strip a criminal of their right to vote for a period, just that doing so has to be a specific sanction imposed upon them.

    The Indy piece quoted in the last post may have mentioned right-wing distortions and misrepresentations of the court?

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