From Human Rights to the EU, the Tide's Turning against the Liberal Thought Police

Article excerpt

Byline: by Melanie Phillips

MAY the tectonic plates of British politics be starting to shift just a fraction towards a state approximating reality?

The Home Office is shortly to publish a discussion paper about rethinking one section of human rights legislation.

This is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees the 'right to family life'. Increasingly, it is being used by foreign criminals and illegal immigrants to dodge deportation by claiming they have the right to family life in the UK.

But other parts of human rights legislation cause just as much trouble - such as Article 3, which bans inhuman treatment and which has been similarly used to paralyse deportations of undesirables.

To bring to an end the grotesque carnival of injustice and erosion of Britain's security caused by human rights law, Britain would have to leave the ECHR altogether, or at the very least officially derogate from whole sections of the treaty. But the Government has so far been extremely reluctant to embark on either course, due to the likely political and legal repercussions.

Reluctant

Human rights law is not the only issue on which it has been reluctant to face up to hard choices and where the ground seems to be shifting rapidly.

Scarcely a day passes without some fresh and outrageous imposition upon Britain by the EU: a rise in its budget forcing Britain to cough up another [pounds sterling]1.4billion each year; threats to the hard-won British rebate; yet more invidious and crippling taxes.

And all this on top of the steady erosion of British selfgovernment by the unceasing tsunami of European laws, rules and regulations.

Such is the mayhem being caused by human rights law and the EU that something rather significant is happening to British political life. Views hitherto derided as extreme and beyond the pale are becoming mainstream.

Only recently Lady Hale, a justice of the Supreme Court usually associated with overwhelmingly 'progressive' views, warned that the increasingly pervasive use of Britain's Human Rights Act should be reined in.

She also suggested European human rights judges may have got it wrong by ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote. When an ultraliberal such as Lady Hale voices such sentiments, it's time to man the lifeboats.

Similarly, the view that Britby ain should leave the EU - once derided as the wittering of swivel-eyed British fanatics - is being voiced well beyond the usual suspects.

Reportedly, two of David Cameron's arch party 'modernisers', policy guru Steve Hilton and Policy Minister Oliver Letwin, say they think Britain should get out of the EU. And an ever-swelling number of Tory MPs appears to agree.

It is far too premature to say that the Prime Minister would even agree to derogating from the ECHR, let alone taking the far more explosive and separate step of leaving the EU.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable that, at the very least, it is becoming possible to have a debate about these propositions. For the terrible fact is that, until now, such a debate has been impossible because the Left-wing intelligentsia has ruthlessly shut it down.

This is true of a wide range of issues - such as immigration, multiculturalism, man-made global warming, equality and anti-discrimination laws, overseas aid and many more - on which only one viewpoint is permitted.

This has created a hidden iceberg of issues where the views of the people are not only ignored but scorned as extreme or bigoted - and those who express them are accordingly deemed to be beyond the pale. The results have been chilling. The equality agenda has deprived people with traditionalist religious views of the freedom to live according to their precepts. Worse still, adherents of the 'one view' agenda lose their ability to tell right from wrong and truth from lies - and so end up justifying their own wrongdoing as a moral act. …