So the Conservative party is planning to review, amend or repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 if they get elected.
This pre-election policy spin was hinted at by their leader Michael Howard and more recently by the otherwise sensible sounding David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary his article published in the peculiar low circulation (around 60,000) right wing magazine The Spectator (this reprint of the article is available on the Tory party website)
The Spectator is a peculiar right wing magazine, with a readership of only about 60,000, which, under its editor Boris Johnson Tory MP for Henley (infamous for his buffoonery on TV programmes such as "Have I Got News For You"), and whose publisher is alleged to be literally in bed with the Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett, seems to have forgotten the journalistic standards it used to have in its long historical past, and now seems content to publish stuff full of annoying and intellectually offensive inaccuracies e.g. the recent article "Its time to move on - Britain has no reason to apologise to Poland" by Simon Heffer (who also writes for the Daily Mail) which claimed that the British government could not possibly have sent any aid to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 because it was too far away, when in fact there were (too few) airdrops from Italy by the RAF and the US airforces.
The David Davis article is also full of such half truths and political spin.
How does the amount of compensation paid by local councils for injuries caused by broken pavements, which they have a statutory duty to maintain, have anything at all to do with the Human Rights Act ?
The "compensation litigation culture" which David Davis is complaining about is a direct result of the "no win, no fee" change to the legal aid rules and previous Tory government's botched privatisations, and the current Labour government's bloated bureaucracies, quangos, non-departmental agencies etc., which are happy to settle financial claims in the public sector with taxpayer's money, whilst denying any personal, corporate, organisational or political responsibility.
Even so, the amount of litigation is still nowhere near the level of the "ambulance chasing" sue and counter sue culture in the USA.
If the Tories are planning to reduce financial compensation claims as a result of Health and Safety violations and negligence, will they actually put the directors of companies or the civil servants responsible for the lax implementation of health, safety or security policies on trial for criminal negligence or corporate manslaughter etc ? Will they actually jail a few "pour encourager les autres" ?
It is completely unacceptable that there should be higher standards of health and safety in other countries than in the United Kingdom, so blaming EU red tape from Brussels etc. is also wrong.
One almost might suspect that this policy is the result of lobbying by people who have a direct financial interest in not paying out compensation or insurance claims - surely there are none of these amongst the Tory party supporters ?
"Overall, we need to nurture a culture of responsibility and common sense. To my mind the worst emanation "cause and effect" of the compensation culture is the Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Once, we had inherited English liberties; now, we have incorporated European rights. The English idea "evolved through Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628) and the Bill of Rights (1689) " was of freedoms held back from the state. The new idea "invented with the Code Napoleon" is of bounties handed out by the state. Once, the law limited the state and enlarged the sphere in which the citizen could be free; now, it imposes obligations on the state and limits the freedom of the citizen. British judges once "discovered" the law with reference to statute and precedent; now they must "divine" the law by appeal to the declarations of politicians."
When did we suddenly get too many Human Rights ? Who believes that they should meekly accept the granting or denial of rights merely because of any politician's manifesto or arbitrary legal declaration ? Surely an individual has these fundamental human rights, no matter whether the Government chooses to honour them or not ?
What does the alleged and heavily disputed assertion that we live in a "compensation culture" have anything to do with the Human Rights Act ?
All that the Human Rights Act did was to make the final appeals process slightly easier (but no less expensive) by allowing a case to be heard in UK courts, without having to go through UK courts and then also finally to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (one could never apply directly to this court in the first instance).
The United Kingdom was not only a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights , and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, but it was British lawyers who essentially draughted both of these just after Worlds War 2.
This is not Code Napoleon legal tradition enforced by Europe on Britain, it is in fact, vice versa.
It is simply not true to claim that Britain has "a long history of civil rights", from the Magna Carta etc. onwards.
It would be truer to say that Britain has a long history of tampering with and revoking Human Rights legislation to suit the powerful.
The Magna Carta, sealed by King John at Runnymede on the 15th of June 1215 AD had nothing to do with any rights or privileges for ordinary people, but only for some of the rebel barons and nobility. Within two months, i.e. as fast as it was possible to make a return journey from London to Rome at that time, by August 1215, the Magna Carta had been reneged on and repealed and those who had signed it as beneficiaries were excommunicated by Pope Innocent III.
Yes the Human Rights Act should be reviewed, not to weaken it further like the Conservative and Labour parties seem to want to do, but to strengthen it and modernise it for the 21st century.
As it is based on the European Declaration of Human Rights, it does not explicitly cover the fundamental rights which we all should have with respect to the hugely important scientific and technology advances in genetic engineering and information technology.
It is inconceivable that if the the ECHR were being written today, that it could ignore these powerful technologies, which have such a potential for good, but which also have a massive potential for evil, against which Human Rights legislation should protect individuals, families and ethnic groups from abuse by government and corporate interests.