Revisiting the ECHR can strengthen our human rights heritage

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, pronounced in July that Conservative plans to reform the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was letting the ‘headbangers’ win. According to our erstwhile DPM the suggestion would “tear up Britain’s long standing tradition of human rights”.

But he couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now given the UK helped draft the ECHR following the end of the last world war, how can Nick Clegg credibly claim the UK had no ‘historic’ commitment to human rights prior to signing up to the document? Maybe someone should inform our DPM that some of us have more faith in our country long standing traditions on human rights?

It seems to me that what reform or outright withdrawal from the ECHR would do is enable a return to our historic concept of human rights. What it would do is reaffirm British faith in our tradition of upholding the principle of democracy “in which a parliament mandated by the people has the sole right to legislate on matters of human rights”.

In fact what a British bill of Rights would do is ensure the UK concept of human rights is defined by our representatives. As opposed to the ECHR status quo, where we risk letting judges from illiberal countries such as Albania & Azerbaijan dictate the terms.

The sad thing is, Nick Clegg himself has admitted the ECHR was something we helped draft for a different age. If anyone is letting the politics of the ‘head-banger’ prevail surely it is the DPM?

I don’t see anyone lining up to give credence to his shockingly low opinion of our British traditions on human rights.

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