David Cameron, Human Rights and the Daily Mail

There is a reason that I tend to focus on the Daily Mail – when I know they are not alone in wallowing in terrible journalism – and the reason is that the Daily Mail seems to wield significant political influence. This morning David Cameron said the following on the Andrew Marr show:

Prime Minister David Cameron said he agreed with Mrs May that the [Human Rights] act should be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said that because of the coalition it would take longer to review this than he would like.

He also said he wanted to change the “chilling culture” created by the act.

He cited an example of a prison van being driven nearly 100 miles to be used to transport a prisoner 200 yards “when he was perfectly happy to walk”.

“The Human Rights Act doesn’t say that’s what you have to do. It’s the sort of chilling effect of people thinking ‘I will be found guilty under it’.

This is a story that I have already covered last week, and it has since had an interesting update that confirms my original theory that this was definitely not a human rights issue. It is very interesting indeed that David Cameron is using this example as evidence that Britain needs to opt out of the Human Rights Act, because had he read the article more closely he might have noticed that something else was in fact to blame:

Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘This is a prime example of how the privatised system is a constant drain on public resources.

‘In the past police would have been able to walk him to the station themselves but now because of the contracts with private companies they are not able to do so’.

Of course, privatisation is a favourite past time of the Conservatives ever since Margeret Thatcher introduced economic shock doctrine into the UK back in the 1980s. Perhaps this is what we have to look forward to when the NHS is slowly auctioned off to private companies in aid of ‘competition’ and the supposed efficiency magically generated by the ‘free’ market – you know, the system that has led to the generally terrible and still state-subsidised ‘private’ railway system we all ‘enjoy’ in the UK.

Still, rather than actually investigate just why the prisoner was driven such a short distance instead of walking – the fact that a private contract exists to deliver the service of prisoner transport, hence why the police felt they could not walk him or drive him; it is no longer their job – it was obvious the Daily Mail would blame ‘human rights’ as the real reason. Just as inevitable would be that at some point this story would enter the public discourse thanks to a politician – in this case the Prime Minister – who then uses this populist, simplistic bullshit to try and force through a policy change.

Is it any wonder political apathy is rampant in the UK when this is the level of public discourse, this is the intelligence level of our Prime Minister – basing policy on some made-up crap they saw in the Daily Mail?

It is also interesting to put one final chunk of the Mail article here:

A police spokesman said: ‘It may be possible for officers to assist with prisoner transport, as we work in partnership with the contractor.

‘However, every situation will need to be decided on its merits.’

So, here we have clearly conflicting statements being issued by the Police and the Prison Officers’ Association. The Prison Officers’ Association seem to believe that the Police cannot transport prisoners because of the private contract in place, whilst a Police spokesman believes that it ‘may be possible to assist with prisoner transport’. So, this situation could have occured for many reasons:

  • Police wrongly thinking that prisoner transport must be carried out by the Private Contractor
  • The private contractor could have made this seem the case and insisted on driving the prisoner the short distance because it was profitable to do so
  • The prison service / local courts could have believed that the contractor must be used at all times to transport suspects

Whatever the truth may be, what is certain is that this had nothing to do with the Human Rights act. As for David Cameron, he demonstrates once again that he is utterly unfit to lead the country. But he isn’t alone, most of our political class aren’t as long as they keep buying into the media agenda and in particular the agenda set by the Daily Mail (see the £250m set aside for weekly bin collections as a prime example of Daily Mail campaign becoming government policy).

Many thanks to Liz Church for pointing this out in the comments.

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