I don’t think the facts around Human Rights and Sovereignty are being well exercised. I have just seen a post on Facebook where someone claimed that Britain was being ruled by the ECHR in Strasbourg. In the words of Captain Blackadder, there’s only one problem with this theory. I thought I’d put this right; this article contains hyper-links and hover comments.
In this article, Channel 4 News take a selective look at recent rulings, pointing out that the Government may not deport people to countries that use torture as means of criminal investigation, that there may not be a blanket prohibition on voting rights for prisoners, striking down the laws prohibiting male gay sex, striking down employment conditions restricting the wearing of crucifix jewellery at work as an expression of freedom of religion, prohibiting whole life sentences without review, and we’re waiting to see their view on the investigatory powers bill and the intelligence agencies, although the CJEU has stated that the data retention directive under which the telco/ISPs collect the data is illegal.
This paper contains a statistical analysis of the work of the ECHR. Table 4.2 shows that on average, there were 8 adverse findings per annum and the foot notes show that having a European Court, accountable to a simple basic law is a necessary back stop against harsh and arbitrary behaviour by an over mighty and over entitled government. Frankly, this is one place where advice from judges forged in anti-facist or anti-stalinist struggles and the new democracies would benefit us in Britain.
Isaac Deutscher criticised Lenin’s methods [of “hard” centralism and mistrust of the working class] as leading to this:
….the party organization substitutes itself for the party, the central committee substitutes itself for the organization, and, finally, a “dictator” substitutes himself for the central committee. …
In the UK we have something similar where Parliament assumes it represents the popular will of the masses, a right assumed by the majority party, which is again assumed by the government and its payroll vote. Parliament due to the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, where it cannot bind its successors, means it can’t make unbreakable promises to its citizens. Interestingly it can to other countries if the treaties have dispute resolution clauses, and the EU treaties do. This is why the EU is the effective guarantor of our human rights. It can sanction the government, and leaving the jurisdiction is hard.