Human rights, political absurdities

Splendid rant by Charles Moore arguing that Blair’s discovery of the absurdities wrought by his Human Rights Act is analogous to the Black Wednesday when the Major government had to scuttle from the ERM in September 1992.

In popular conversation now, “human rights” in this country is the subject of mockery. It is understood, essentially correctly, to be a system by which judges defend bad people from the consequences of their actions and impose duties upon good people which are unreasonable. Every nasty school pupil knows that his human rights can be invoked if the teacher gets too angry with him; every conscientious teacher knows that 20 years of unblemished conduct will count for nothing in his favour if he can be shown to have breached a child’s human rights.

Every grumpy prisoner, second-rate employee, suspected terrorist, mixed-up trans-sexual, Muslim schoolgirl who wants to wear the most extreme forms of religious outfit – these, and countless others, know that they can get lawyers, attention, legal aid and often, money, out of “human rights”.

Human rights are also understood, also correctly, to be an arrangement by which British citizens derive no advantage from their citizenship and foreigners can ride on their backs. Because the laws of human rights regard most of those rights as being universal, you do not have to qualify for them by becoming a citizen of our country.

All you have to do is get inside the perimeter fence. Then your rights to religious freedom and social security and privacy and founding a family and paid holidays and free health treatment are all there. And so is the delay that so much law involves, the public expense of keeping claimants and their dependants, the fees for people like Mrs Blair, and the virtual breakdown of all administrative systems – policing, immigration, criminal justice, prisons, deportation, extradition – which relate to the problems involved…

He’s right about one thing — the desire to incorporate Human Rights into British law was one of the ruling passions of the incoming New Labour regime in 1997. It’s funny now to see Blair railing against its counter-intuitive absurdities.

Absurdities? Well, it turns out that even companies can have ‘human rights’.