To all those who Tweeted messages of love after the Manchester bomb.
To all those who posted Facebook messages of defiance after the London Bridge attack.
To all those who shared pictures of the Jewish woman praying with the Muslim man, and to those who clicked ‘like’ on that video of the policeman dancing.
To those who spread about the Keep Calm and Carry On posters, and reminded everyone about London’s ‘Blitz Spirit’. To those who Tweeted banter and funny hashtags about the things that make Londoners really afraid.
To those who offers a cup of tea or a bed for the night to anyone stranded in Southwark. To those who offered a lif home to the kids stuck in central Manchester. And to all those who shared these stories and these memes, whose heart was warmed by the idea that we have ‘more that unites us than that which divides us‘. To those who said, over and over, that we would not let a few murdering idiots affect our liberal values or our democratic way of life.
To all these people I ask: how do you feel about Theresa May’s pathetic, ahistorical and opportunistic statement that she will weaken our human rights laws?
It is possible to be ‘Tough on Terror’ with out messing with the basic rights that underpin a society. You can give the police and security services more resources, so they can hire more people and buy better equipment. You provide better help to the Muslim communities who are eager to expel the extremists in their midst. You can step up infiltration efforts. And you devise a better domestic policy, and a better foreign policy, that eradicates the conditions that extremism needs to grow.
But what you do not do is suspend habeus corpus and delay the right to a fair trial, as Tony Blair attempted to do after 7/7. Nor do you ignore conscience and human decency by condoning torture of suspects, as Mrs May did when (as Home Secretary) she embarked on her Quixotic attempt to deport Abu Qatada al-Filistini from 2010 to 2013.
And what you certainly do not do is tear up the Human Rights Act, a piece of legislation that (among other things) ensures that local councils, government agencies and the police cannot discriminate against LGBTQ people, short-change the elderly, or ignore people with disabilities.
It is possible to get rid of undesirable people in a manner that upholds human rights. When the Court of Appeal told Mrs May that she could not get rid of Abu Qatada while the shadow of torture still hung over his case, the British Government found another way. A treaty with Jordan ensured that Abu Qatada would not have evidence obtained through torture used against him. After that development, he was deported.
We should be ashamed that Theresa May was untroubled by the torture of criminal suspects. But we should take pride in the fact our current legal framework takes it seriously. Instead of compromising human rights, as Mrs May wished, the UK’s opposition to torture was upheld… and we got rid of toxic hate preacher Abu Qatada in the end.
I know I’m weird, but reading the Court of Appeal decision on Abu Qatada (2013) makes me proud to be British and proud to be European https://t.co/4LqGnvxhlr
— robertsharp59 (@robertsharp59) May 4, 2017
Theresa May’s opposition to human rights laws have nothing to do with keeping us safe. She is hostile to the Human Rights Act and the European Convenion because these laws and treaties constrain her power. The idiotic Islamist murderers in Manchester and London have gleefully provided her with the excuse she needs to chip away at our long held protections.
In threatening to scrap human rights laws, our Prime Minister is following the classic script penned long ago by the authoritarians of history. Meanwhile, authoritarians of today—in places like China, Russia and Turkey—will be delighted at the way she is undermining British values: the very same values that the rest of us were Tweeting about this past weekend.