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Monday, October 03, 2011

Replace people's human rights with politicians sound bites

Replace people's human rights with politicians sound bites

Alarm bells ring in my head when I read the following:

Human rights

The Prime Minister backed calls from the Home Secretary to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.

“That was the Conservative policy at the last election. That is, I think, the right thing to do,” he said. However, the Liberal Democrats say they will thwart any attempt to scrap or water down human rights laws.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to see a more commonsense approach to human rights laws.

The first thing to point out is that we already have the Bill of Rights 1688/9. Prior to the HRA being passed by Parliament, it was the Human Rights Bill. From a legal stand point, it appears to make no sense to replace an Act with a Bill and appears to be a backward step. Whilst I am generally in favour of the HRA, in my view it is too weak and requires amendments to strengthen it. This is a far call from abolishing it altogether just to replace it with a so-called Bill of Rights. The second point is that the Tories did not win a majority at the last general election, therefore the electorate has not given the Tories a mandate to scrap the HRA. In my view, the Tory policy should instead be scrapped. Dictatorships abolish human, civil and political rights. It would appear that David Cameron is seeking to become a dictator by claiming that abolishing human rights is the right thing to do. In my view, it is the wrong thing to do. Therefore I will stongly oppose him and any attempt to scrap or dilute human rights in the UK.

Given David Cameron's elite, privileged, upper class background, the last thing that can be said about him is that he is common. Therefore, it is questionable whether he has any idea what commonsense means.

Common sense, as described by Merriam-Webster, is defined as beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people "in common". Thus "common sense" (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have. According to Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase is good sense and sound judgment in practical matters ("the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way").

Whichever definition is used, identifying particular items of knowledge as "common sense" is difficult. Philosophers may choose to avoid using the phrase when using precise language. But common sense remains a perennial topic in epistemology and many philosophers make wide use of the concept or at least refer to it. Some related concepts include intuitions, pre-theoretic belief, ordinary language, the frame problem, foundational beliefs, good sense, endoxa, axioms, wisdom, folk wisdom, folklore and public opinion.

Common-sense ideas tend to relate to events within human experience (such as good will), and thus appear commensurate with human scale. Humans lack any common-sense intuition of, for example, the behavior of the universe at subatomic distances [see Quantum mechanics], or of speeds approaching that of light [see Special relativity]. Often ideas that may be considered to be true by common sense are in fact false.

When David Cameron speaks about common sense, it is worth bearing in mind that "Often ideas that may be considered to be true by common sense are in fact false".

When commenting in 2006 on his former pupil's ideas about a "Bill of Rights" to replace the Human Rights Act, however, Professor Bogdanor, himself a Liberal Democrat, said, "I think he is very confused. I've read his speech and it's filled with contradictions. There are one or two good things in it but one glimpses them, as it were, through a mist of misunderstanding".

At best David Cameron has only the foggiest idea. At worst he is downright dishonest.

Politicians of the new generation are carefully coached by their spin doctors to produce on-demand sound bites which are clear and to the point.

In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.

Politicians are often accused by their opponents of claiming to be honest and seek the truth while using spin tactics to manipulate public opinion. Because of the frequent association between "spin" and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room. A group of people who develop spin may be referred to as "spin doctors" who engage in "spin doctoring" for the person or group that hired them.

It can reasonably be claimed that what David Cameron is really engaged in is spin. Another word for spin is lie. A lie tends to mask the truth. What is it that David Cameron is trying to hide from the public?

It is disconserting that Teresa May the Home Secretary seeks to abolish the HRA. She seeks to be above the law. This case shows why she should be strongly opposed.

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