On July 27 we hosted another of our informal discussions on a hot topic. There is nothing hotter right now than human rights, under assault from this government on multiple fronts and via multiple bills. We take our rights for granted at our peril.
- We are at grave risk of rights being entirely linked to wealth. Property rights are the only rights of interest to this cabinet and the ruling party.
- The police will protect the rich from the poor. The poor and the stateless (asylum seekers etc) will have no access to justice as the courts are starved of resource.
- The Elections Bill has undermined equal access to the democratic process.
- Cronyism in Lords’ appointments will enable the government to push through legislation inimical to the people.
- Access to health and education will be determined by wealth.
- The right wing, billionaire-owned print media has a lot to answer for in undermining democracy and supporting the removal of rights. It is hardly surprising that the prevailing attitudes are not the same as ours, even though print media is in decline.
- Mark Thomas said it was useful sometimes to remind Tories that they will not always be in power and that some of the measures they are considering could end up adversely affecting them too. That, he said, ‘concentrated minds’ …
- Writing to MPs does work. Even more so if letters come from people who do not normally bother to write. Letters from avowed Tories to their Conservative MPs which start “I’ve been a lifelong Tory voter, but no more because xxx…” are really taken notice of.
- An incoming Labour government would have so much Tory damage to redress that it was probably unlikely to be able to turn its attention to some of the things that we would want. It may well suit successive governments to leave some of the legacy legislation in place.
- If each of us managed to convince two others that these Tories have done some dreadful things, and those two each went on to convince two more … we might begin to see a snowball effect.
- Cal Roscow warned against extrapolating too much from the by-election triumphs, reminding everyone that a by-election allowed parties to throw everything at the campaign. This was not possible in a general election and, on current modelling, the Tories still have a chance to hold on to power – thanks to the first past the post system. Small wonder they are anti electoral reform.
- Writing to Lords can achieve more traction than writing to MPs.
- Daniel Sohege (who operates at the sharp end of infringements of refugees’ rights) reminded us that we must look after our mental health and stop to reflect on, and enjoy, any victories, however small.
Please watch the video of the event (and subscribe to our channel). At times the mood was a little bleak, but the discussion was wide-ranging, the questions interesting and the panellists ended the session with some actions we can all take.
Mark Thomas’s excellent article sums up the key issues and I urge you to read it and share it widely, please.
As with freedom of movement and the right to peaceful protest, there’s a risk that we only really appreciate these rights once they are gone. We must not make that mistake.
There is a very dark agenda being pursued by this government and by the far right globally and it does not augur well for us or for the planet.