What I said at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference 2015: On Human Rights

The afternoon after the trans motion passed unanimously, I was back on the Conference podium speaking in favour of human rights. This was to propose Calderdale’s amendment to the human rights motion putting party policy in favour of ratifying the Protocols to the European Convention of Human Rights that the UK hasn’t already.

The amendment originally called for the UK to also opt in to the applicability to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, until the party’s justice spokesman, Lord Jonathan Marks, told me that such a step would not be necessary to the Charter’s functioning in the country. Personally, I would also opt-in to many of the treaties the UK has opted out to – Schengen included – but that’s for another Conference. Find, below the cut, more porcine puns to appreciate:

Thank you, Lord Marks, and I accept your comments on the amendment.

I have a question for you, David Cameron: which human right do you object to? The right to life? The right of free speech? The right to not be tortured? Or are you upset that the wrong people are using them? Here’s the thing: human rights are universal. And frankly, instead of campaigning against them like you did in 2005, you owe those people who were subject to centuries of genocide their humanity back.

There is much to be disgruntled with the Tory majority government, but none so much as their pernicious attempt to destroy human rights. They claim that their renegotiation with the EU will bring home the bacon of more powers, it’s clear they won’t.

The United Kingdom should not be a fairweather friend to Europe. Securing opt-out after opt-out on issues does not make us look good and it does not make the EU look good.

We should not be ditching the European Convention on Human Rights. To do so would put us in the company of a tiny theocracy and a Stalinist dictatorship as the only European non-signatories to the Convention. When we lose our status in the world, Cameron will have to reap what he sows.

Without us in government, fighting the good fight for privacy rights and strong encryption – the best way to a girl’s heart – the Labservative plans for an Orwellian security state are laid bare. And in an act reminiscent of Napoleon in Animal Farm, the Tories have no problem using encryption themselves. But really, Dave, when Orwell wrote about “the creatures looking from man to pig, and pig to man”, and it being impossible to tell which was which – he didn’t mean it like that!

This amendment puts us on the absolute course in favour of human rights. We should be supporting more rights, like as Lord Marks said, the rights of the child. As long as the Convention exists, which we will hope shall be forever, we should go the whole hog, sign up to every line, word, and full stop. Thank you, Conference.

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