Don't let them erase the HRA for real

Posted by Mairi Clare Rodgers on 10 December 2015

As it's Human Rights Day, we decided we'd rectify the glaring omission in Parliament's banner exhibition.

This year we have seen much pomp and ceremony in honour of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta. Speeches, events and grand unveilings, attended by the powerful and connected, have reflected on the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. 

However, amidst the celebrations a disturbing message has emerged – that human rights law has “devalued” the legacy of Magna Carta in Britain’s legal system

In a speech at Runnymede, the Prime Minister lauded the Charter’s legacy while threatening to ‘restore the reputation of those rights’ because human rights have become ‘distorted’ in Britain today.  This sentiment has been echoed by others inside and outside Government and is mirrored in the art exhibition currently showing in Westminster Hall.

Banners exhibition

‘The Beginnings of that Freedome’ is an exhibition of 18 banners by nine artists commemorating the history of Magna Carta and covering themes related to ‘the movements and moments which made a difference in the journey to the rights and representation that are enjoyed today’ – so the Parliament website tells us. 

And it does cover some incredibly influential pieces of legislation; the Race Relations Act, Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, the Great Reform Act, the Factory Act, the Sexual Offences Act and the Disability Discrimination Act are just some of those included. 

Glaring omission

And yet, there is a glaring omission – a gaping hole (figuratively, if not literally) where the law which protects those most fundamental of rights should be. A law which has held the State to account for spying on us; safeguarded our soldiers; and supported peaceful protest.  Helped rape victims; defended domestic violence sufferers; and guarded against slavery. Protected those in care; shielded press freedom; and provided answers for grieving families.  That protects every one of us; young and old; wealthy and poor; you and me.

The Human Rights Act, passed in 1998 with cross-party support, has not only been omitted in this grand commemoration of our freedoms – our Government also wants to erase it from the statute book.  We won’t let either stand. 

Don't let them get away with it

Today we righted their error in Westminster Hall and tomorrow we will continue to fight them every inch of the way if they continue with their plans to ‘distort and devalue’ our Human Rights Act.

The threat to our long-held rights and freedoms has never been more real – and we all have something to lose.  As the late Lord Bingham said at Liberty’s 75th anniversary conference ‘There may be those who would like to live in a country where these rights are not protected, but I am not of their number’. 

We need your help – so keep sharing, keep joining and tell everyone you know how important it is that they do the same.  We can’t do this without you.