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Saturday, June 25, 2011

British bullshit is the best in the world!

British bullshit is the best in the world!

I signed up for Google Alerts in relation to the "Latest news on prisoners votes". Many of the alerts are not about this subject, however, within the articles appears perhaps one sentence on the subject as though a stick with which to beat the Coalition. For example:

"As a matter of justice, is this worse than the Coalition failing to oppose the European Court of Human Rights judgement on prisoners voting because the Conservative Party cannot face their Liberal Democrat partners?".

Slugger O' Toole refers to the failing of the Coalition, but then fails to provide a remedy or solution to the issue. Any fool can criticise. The fact is that the previous administration attempted to oppose the Hirst v UK (No2) judgment for 5 years before the Coalition's failure. Could it just be the fact that under the Convention the Court decision is final and as such it does not permit for any State opposition to this authority?

Prior to the above quote from Slugger O' Toole there is this offering:

"We have ended up with all these pseudo-consultations and Government-rigged reviews (see the membership of the recent UK Bill of Rights Commission) because of unstable Coalition arrangements, relating to in-fighting between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. The ‘national interest’ and democracy have been discarded for now".

On 9 and 16 June 2011, in the House of Commons, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee took oral evidence from some of the members of the UK Bill of Rights Commission. Given the very poor performance of Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky the last time he gave oral evidence, it is understandable that this time he made excuses for his unavailability on both these dates and instead submitted so-called "written evidence".

Every 6 months in rotation a Member State of the Council of Europe takes over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. Recently Ukraine took over from Turkey and the next in line is the UK. Given this I was rather bemused when Lord Lester erred by referring to this term of office as "the British Presidency".

However, in spite of this gaffe, Lord Lester did hit upon an aspect which tends to be ignored in the UK: "That will be an important and difficult exercise because of the time factor and because it is an issue where one has to look at the problems through European as well as UK spectacles".

Nevertheless, in my view, Lord Lester appears to be looking through English Rose tinted spectacles! For example, he refers to both the Interlaken Conference and Izmir Conference in relation to the reform of the ECtHR, but ignores that Member States are primarily responsible for implementing the Court's decisions. Many of the 150,000 backlog of cases are repeat applications because Member States have chosen to ignore the Court's decisions. Since Hirst v UK (No2) there are now 3,500 more cases from prisoners in the UK seeking their human right to the vote!

Moreover, it would appear that his tinted glasses are so dark that he cannot see the Human Rights Act 1998 properly. Lord Lester states: "I regard the Human Rights Act as having worked extremely well in making the English judicial point of view more influential in Strasbourg, and in reconciling parliamentary sovereignty with the need for effective domestic remedies—although it has worked well in those senses, it of course has not worked well in winning widespread political support across the three parties, the media and the wider public". Given the amount of decisions against the UK by Strasbourg, clearly the English judicial point of view does not find favour with the ECtHR. The Act is more concerned with Sovereignty of Parliament than ensuring that the courts provide effective remedies for breaches of the Convention. The Act is a fumbled compromise. For example, Lord Lester states: "What I am saying is that it depends in the end on whether you think that there should be—as article 13 of the Convention requires—effective remedies in this country, through our own political and legal system, for violations of basic rights and freedoms". As Lord Lester well knows, Articles 1 and 13 of the Convention guaranteeing all rights under the Convention apply to all citizens including effective remedies were deliberately omitted from the Act.

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