« On this day in 1879 | Main | The lights are going off all over Europe »

Slipping new "rights" in under the radar

Within the next couple of months, Jack Straw will outline the Government's plans for a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Will this legislation, if enacted, give "practical effect to our common values", as the Lord Chancellor suggested in a speech this week? Or will it just be a lot of hot air, unenforceable in the courts and designed simply to wrongfoot the Tories?....

...Mr Straw's Bill of Rights will probably not give us any rights at all - or, at least, not the sort of rights you can enforce in court.

Instead, he is thinking of including economic and social rights in his Bill - benefits payments, the minimum wage, and so on. These are already legally enforceable, as Mr Straw pointed out. "But," he stressed, "we would have to look very carefully before making any further economic or social rights justiciable."..Even so, Mr Straw insisted, "this would not in any way make the exercise worthless". A Bill of Rights was "a combination of law, symbolism and aspiration"...."There is a continuum," Mr Straw said. "And it is entirely consistent that some broad declarative principles can be underpinned by statute. Where we end up on this continuum needs to be the subject of the widest debate."

So you want the widest debate about a weasel worded bill which you claim will confer no new legally enforcible rights, but just enshrine "feel-good" sentiments into law. OK here it is: you are a duplicitous shyster - you know lawyers and judges will pick up these aspirations and create new "rights", creating the laws you would like to see but daren't present to public and parliamentary scrutiny.


Of course, the point of a Bill of Rights is to bind subsequent governments. That's great when it's things like "you can't punish people without a fair and open trial", but when it's "you need to make it illegal for low-skilled people to work i.e. impose a minimum wage at the barrel of a gun" then it's somewhat less desirable...

"designed simply to wrongfoot the Tories". Is Straw really that stupid? Even blind Freddie can see what the opposition should do. Fully support the idea of a Bill of Rights as long as it includes the really important rights like 1) the right for the citizens of a country to have their own sovereignty i.e. only English politicians voting on 'English' issues! 2) The right to decide if any of their other rights can be signed away i.e. recind the EU treaty and let the people decide.
Brown won't allow either of those through so the Tories will be able to get the upper hand. "What sort of tearty is it that ignores the most basic of rights?"

Post a comment