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.

12 thoughts on “David Cameron, Human Rights and the Daily Mail”

  1. *Sighs*

    As the rights granted to citizens under the Convention are civil in nature, there is no question of anyone under any circumstances being “found guilty” under the Human Rights Act 1998. You might think that the Prime Minister should at least be aware of the basic difference between civil and criminal law, before commenting upon the repeal of an Act of Parliament.

    Still, as he steadfastly ignores the question of whether it would leave the UK and Belarus as the only European states to have rejected the Convention, that’s not wholly surprising.

  2. Cameron is a fucking embarrasment. He’s the only man who can make Ed Milliband look charismatic.

  3. Usual pandering dribble from this moronic leader who loves to play to the gallery. The HRA is a very lovely piece of legislation, succinct and clear, and open to interpretation. Cameron knows this but insists on choosing to follow the tabloid chorus of outrage over alleged abuses of the Act.

    And therein lies the beauty, it is open to people to use it to make claims, but despite what the tabloids would have us believe, making a claim is different to winning a case. The more extreme cases they love to cite are usually people flying a kite. So is it the cost they don’t like? The openness and accessibility of the law which is increasingly being shut down to all but the very poor or very rich? Or giving voice to people over certain issues that may require consideration (small things like inhumane treatment etc)?

    The reality is that the tabloids love the scare stories, the HRA is the EU in large bogeyman form, undermining those precious “British” freedoms (since of course, the Magna Carta after all really was for the “common” man not the barons ) but as always the media rarely follow up with the “this ludicrous attempt was thrown out by the judges” but Cameron plays on, showing an increasing pre-occupation of opinion polls from Middle England and making policy based on tabloid headlines. Scary to think that he is in charge and seems (after backing down once) desperate to try and make this happen.

    Perhaps someone should sue him personally under the HRA for undermining their rights in his trying to seek to remove their rights…just a thought

  4. I’d be interested to hear your view on the other aspect of the Human Rights Act which is sometimes cited in a variety of newspapers. This is in relation to the apparently several convicted foreign terrorists who have been released from UK prisons and are now walking amongst us (and won’t be deported due to the HRA allegedly). Personally, if this is true, then that seems quite scary to me, and much more important than whether a lorry had to drive 100 miles. I don’t really know if there is any truth to these but would appreciate your opinion and perhaps your accumulated knowledge on this? I appreciate some would say they’ve served their time and deserve a second chance and are being monitored etc. However I catch the tube every morning and would prefer them not to be in London frankly.

  5. Glad I wasn’t alone in noticing that particular bit of lying spin from the prime minister; couldn’t believe he was trying to palm off that particular story as a human rights scandal having read about the incident last week which was clearly reported without any blame for the HRA. What a total embarrassment our polticians are to themselves and us, it’s just a pity that so many people out there will suck this stuff up from him as the truth.

  6. The Mail has now pulled the article above. For those who didn’t see it, it was published online at 8.50pm, and pulled about 9.30. For about forty minutes you could read –

    “As Knox realized the enormity of what judge Hellman was saying she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears.

    A few feet away Meredith’s mother Arline, her sister Stephanie and brother Lyle, who had flown in especially for the verdict remained expressionless, staring straight ahead, glancing over just once at the distraught Knox family.

    Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.

    Both Knox and Sollecito – who have always denied any involvement in the brutal murder – said they would take the case to the third and final level of appeal at the Supreme Court in Rome where it will probably be heard late next year.”

    EVERY WORD of this was complete falsehood.

  7. I can understand why government leaders might view human rights and privacy laws as inconveniences they wish to curtail, and I can understand why Cameron would use this as an excuse to try and get what he wants. But what I can’t understand, what I well and truly can’t fathom, is how so many people, voicing their outrage on the Daily Mail website and various forums about this whole ‘yoo-man rights’ malarky, fail to recognize it is there to protect THEM. Why they talk about human rights as if it is a bad thing. Why don’t they all move to China if they hate human rights so much?

    David Cameron: “Shall I repeal this law, thereby making it perfectly okay for the police to pick you up on flimsy grounds and have you tortured to within an inch of your life, then have you convicted through a kangaroo court even though you did absolutely nothing wrong?”

    Daily Mail-readers: “Yes please!”

    Isn’t that what is truly chilling?

  8. another non story see http://cllrgavinjames.blogspot.com/ if a prisoner has been to be taken handcuffed along a public street by either a Private Prison Officer , HMP Prison Officer or a G4S Prisoner Escort into a Court there is obviously serious security concerns .

    Normally Prisoners are taken in by road into the rear entrance of a Magistrates / Crown Court through electric gates or in a Edwardian / Victorian Court through heavy iron doors .

    The Prisoners are normally kept in a sealed off holding area in the Court Basement and taken upstairs straight to the dock whence required in Court …hence the expression …..” Take him down ! ” after sentencing .

    What would have probably happened in this instance with ” risk assessment ” is G4S staff saying they are not really paid enough to get jumped in a street and the HRA shame and humilation scenario was a ” way round things ” .

    ……the golden rule in the security industry is that you don’t say anything critical of the Court Service as you could be held responsible for losing your firm the contract if you upset anyone . The contract is king . It’s a cut throat true blue industry .

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