Thursday, 14 May 2015


We've discussed the ECHR quite a bit on Munguin's Republic over the last few days since its continued existence became a point of some dispute.

I was interested to read this article in the Independent, which I reproduce here, without permission.

It makes a point that the UK government can't actually stop UK citizens petitioning the court in Strasbourg unless the UK disassociates itself completely from the Convention, which it was largely instrumental in setting up.

It points out too, that the UK government would be required to get the approval of the Scottish parliament before it could remove the ECHR legislation from Scots Law. Under the present parliamentary arithmetic, that would be out of the question, but under other possibilities, it would still be extremely unlikely to happen.

Furthermore, it highlights the fact that the ECHR is incorporated into the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. 

Can you imagine someone of Gove's limited intellect, capabilities and understanding tacking negotiations for a re-write of the Good Friday Agreement?

Here is the article, as always I'd be interested in your thoughts:

In their 80-page manifesto the Conservatives dedicated less than 50 words to a subject that is set to become the biggest test of David Cameron’s authority and the Tories’ small parliamentary majority.

“The next Conservative Government,” it said, “will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.”

In the run-up to the election most commentators assumed the pledge was only there to appease the Tory right and would be kicked firmly into the long grass – even with a Tory majority government. Now it seems Mr Cameron and his new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, are deadly serious.

Senior Conservatives have briefed that abolishing Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act will be a central part of David Cameron’s 100-day policy priorities.

Mr Cameron faces a battle royal with the judiciary and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – not to mention significant numbers of his own MPs. At the heart of the proposals is an attempt to rein in a Strasbourg judiciary that the Tory right blames for stopping the Government deporting foreign criminals and restricting the rights of prisoners to vote.

The new British Bill of Rights would restrict the use of human rights laws “to the most serious cases” and allow Parliament to ignore rulings from Strasbourg that it did not like.

The first problem with the Conservative proposal is that it is not possible for the British Government to “break the formal link” between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights without withdrawing from the Convention completely.

That is because, under our treaty obligations, we have accepted the Strasbourg court as the ultimate arbiter of Convention violations.

For years before the Human Rights Act was introduced, members of the public with a legal grievance used to petition the Strasbourg Court directly because they could not go through the English court system. That could happen again if a Tory Bill of Rights is incompatible with the Convention in areas such as prisoner voting.

The only way to guarantee supremacy for a new Bill of Rights would be to withdraw from the Convention altogether. And that would have profound consequences. Britain was one of the first signatories to the Convention, which was drawn up after the Second World War in response to the human rights abuses of Nazi Germany.

It has over 47 signatories and through the ECHR is widely credited with improving human rights in areas such as minority rights, freedom of speech and unlawful detention through international independent judicial oversight. 

As the former Conservative Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke has pointed out, if Britain decided to pull out of the Convention or ignored the bits it didn't like, other countries, with far worse human rights records, could do likewise.

Separate but related problems would arise in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The SNP-led Scottish Government is strongly opposed to any attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act or to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

And, under the terms of the devolution settlement, to do so would, by convention, require the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Without that, the Government could end up in the constitutional quagmire of having a new British Bill of Rights in England that was not accepted or acknowledged in Scotland.

As for Northern Ireland the problems are even more intractable. 

The ECHR is integrated into the Good Friday Agreement and to fundamentally alter how it is given legal effect in the province would almost certainly require the rewriting of the Good Friday Agreement – not something any British politician would want to undertake lightly.

All this adds up to a mighty headache for Michael Gove, who has been charged with drafting a new British Bill of Rights.

(Emphasis, and pictures with the exception of the 2nd one, are Munguin's addiditons.)


  1. They'll have a battle royal with Stormont and Holyrood. I'm not sure how much power the Welsh have in this area though if they can I suspect they will refuse too. I think the Tories have been taking imperial pills as they seem to be daring the devolved nations to put up or shut up. Over at the Guardian they are reporting several new Lords created so they can be ministers, one of them in the Scottish Office. And who have they picked? Only the guy responsible for the poll tax!!

    "(Andrew) Dunlop was Cameron’s special adviser on Scottish matters and worked for Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit when the poll tax was introduced in Scotland. The SNP has condemned his appointment."

    Angus Robertson "

    This appointment is a scandal. If one thing demonstrates how out of touch the Tories are, it’s the appointment as a government minister for Scotland of an unelected Lord who played a leading role in the imposition of the hated poll tax on Scotland.

    It is hard to believe that following the worst Tory result in a general Eelection in Scotland since universal suffrage that they could have fallen further in people’s estimation, but they just have with this appalling and anti-democratic appointment."

    1. Incredulous and speechless.

      They probably don't need a minister of state. There's almost nothing to do, if you discount making up stories about the First Minister.

      Instead they appoint a man as a lord, not for anything he's done to deserve elevation to the aristocracy, but because they didn't win enough seats to have two representatives in Scotland, and all their Scottish Lords are too stupid to be Fluffy's Assistant.

      As if all that wasn't bad enough they choose the muppet who thought that the poll tax was a good idea.

      Where has Cameron been over the last few years?

      Has been been snorting with Gid?

  2. I think,human rights issues aside,we have a clear insight into how this Tory government thinks.
    Power must be centralised at Westminster and any idea of "sharing" which,of course,would include any meaningful devolution to Scotland is out of the question.
    They want to repatriate powers to London from Europe which have been "shared and pooled" with our neighbours and ensure that London is firmly in control over all matters that effect the British isles.
    I.E. back to where we were before the EU and devolved parliaments came into existence.
    That is their wish and intent.
    Whether they will succeed is another matter but we should be on notice.

    1. They seem to be under the illusion that a tint majority is a landslide. They are going about like it was the biggest victory in the history of the universe, ever.

      If they occasionally got something right it wouldn't be so ridiculous to want to control everything... But I can't remember the last time they made a right decision about anything.

      I think as Panda Paws says, they have been taking "imperial pills"!

  3. Short answer, no. He has neither the brains, talent, ability or a leg to stand on.
    Given that, the Scottish electorate have returned 56 SNP Westminster MPs, and the Scottish government is the SNP. The settled will of the Scots, which is enshrined in Scots law; will not, cannot be swayed.
    The articles of union, state clearly that no law can be forced on Scotland by Westminster, unless the Scots agree to it. This used to happen when Labour, and other unionists, sat on their hands to appease their party and not their electorate, nor nation.
    Times have changed, Westminster; like "Scottish" Labour before it, has yet to wake up to the new reality that is, a Scotland wide awake and, ready to take them on, in the very heart of their "power and privilege".

    1. I was surprised Cameron gave him a proper job, having made a complete mess of education, and being demoted to chief whip.

      (I often wonder what ever happened to the Mitchell character...but clearly not enougyh to look him up.)

      If he has to take on the Welsh and the Scots and then has to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement, I can see him being back as Chief Whip in a very short time.

      At least locked in the lavatory he will be safe from the Celtic faction who don't trust British Bills of Rights.

    2. Mitchell won't appear in the Cabinet anytime soon. Remember he lost the libel case and has had to pay eye-watering costs (well, for us they are).

      Too much of a liability even for Cameron.

    3. Yes, he came out of it badly... I expect he paid it out of his back pocket. He was another one that was fingered by Despatches for having money stashed in BVI.

  4. Tris

    I don't think you can be a member of the EU without being signed up to ECHR. I could be wrong but I'm sure I read that somewhere. Either that or you are expected to be signed up to it, I wouldn't think that EU will look kindly on the UK leaving but retaining other benefits of Europe, or even their citizens not being covered in the UK. Just don't think it will happen, just more bullshit from Cameron to appease backbenchers.


    1. I thought that too, but I'm assuming that they have looked into this and that it is OK. Even the British government couldnt be stupid enough to do this without being fairly sure that it was possible.

      Cameron wants the moon on a stick in Europe, and if he gets even half of what he is looking for, the whole thing will come grinding to a halt, and it will all be Eton Boy's fault.

      Still things will still be tickety boo at lords and Wimbledon what what>