New Tory book in support of the Human Rights Act

05 October 2009

Peter Oborne said
"Like many Conservatives I was sceptical of the Human Rights Act – until I read it and started to think about it. It soon became clear that it was a near perfect expression of Tory values."
The authors say that the Human Rights Act is 'an impeccably Conservative document' and based on ancient conservative beliefs. They dismiss claims that the Act cedes power to a foreign court, insinuates a left-wing agenda into the British legal system and compromises national security. Norman and Oborne will discuss their book at Liberty's Conservative conference fringe event on Tuesday 6 October, 6.00 – 7.00pm in the Midland Hotel.

Contact: Mairi Clare Rodgers on 020 7378 3656 or 07973831128
Notes to Editors
1. Jesse Norman is one of the intellectual architects of the new Conservatism. He is parliamentary candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire, and Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange. Prior to entering politics he taught and did research in philosophy at University College London, was a Director at Barclays, and ran an educational charity in Eastern Europe during and after the Communist period. He writes regularly in the national press. His books include The Achievement of Michael Oakeshott (Duckworth 1992); and Compassionate Conservatism (2006) and Compassionate Economics (2008), both published by Policy Exchange.
2. Peter Oborne is Political Columnist for the Daily Mail, Contributing Editor to the Spectator, and presents documentary films for Channel Four. He was Political Editor of the Spectator for five years. He is the author of Alastair Campbell: New Labour and the Rise of the Media Class (Aurum Press); The Rise of Political Lying (The Free Press) and The Triumph of the Political Class (Simon and Schuster). Peter Oborne’s films for Channel 4 Dispatches include Iraq: The Reckoning; Afghanistan: Here’s One we Invaded Earlier; Spinning Terror and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio Four’s The Week in Westminster. Peter Oborne’s latest film, Holy Warriors, was screened on Channel 4’s Unreported World on  October 2 2009.
3. A summary of the book can be found below:
Chapter 1: Why the Human Rights Act Matters
o They unearth the history of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – in particular the role of Conservative lawyers in its drafting;
o They argue that the Act is a bulwark against an overintrusive state;
o They argue that that Act allows for greater British input into the adjudication of people’s rights and importantly allows British judges to make determinations in line with British culture and traditions;
o They also argue that a large part of the British press believe wrongly that they have a vested interest in the repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA);Chapter 2: The Conservatism of the HRA
o They trace the Act’s Conservative pedigree, including the role of Conservative lawyer and politician Lord Kilmur and the great wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill in framing and drafting the ECHR;
o They place the Act in the conservative philosophical tradition, from Burke through to Blackstone to Dicey;
o They explain how the Act preserves parliamentary sovereignty and is uniquely in keeping with our legal and constitutional traditions; Chapter 3: Addressing the Critics
o They tackle, head on, the many and varied criticisms levelled at the Act over the last nine years, including that:
"Bad people should not have rights; the Human Rights Act hampers the fight against terror; the Human Rights Act undermines Parliament; the Human Rights Act fuels rights inflation; rulings from the European Court should not be part of British law; the Human Rights Act imposes huge costs on business; the Human Rights Act is ineffective"
o They also argue that many of the criticisms of the Act are misplaced – springing instead from other wider public concerns; Chapter 4: Dispelling the Myths
o They argue that falsehoods about the HRA have become so widespread as to make it hard to sustain a reasoned public debate on the Act;
o They unpack the many HRA distortions and myths have entered political discourse;
o They illustrate the scale of the problem by reference to three case studies:
- reporting of the treatment of Learco Chindamo
- media reporting over the role of the HRA in a bid to allow prisoners being able to access hardcore pornography
- reports that the HRA prevents the police from issuing ‘wanted’ photographs of suspects and fugitives Chapter 5: A British Bill of Rights? The New European Charter?
o They analyse recent Labour and Tory proposals for new “Bills of Rights” and interrogate what is really on offer.