Harriet Harman, at her pious worst today, declared in a speech about Human Rights:
“Labour values are about social and economic rights. And they are also about the civil and political rights embodied in the Human Rights Act. But these are not just Labour values – they are British values and universal human values. Simple but powerful, enshrining: The right to life, liberty and security…The right to a fair trial.”
Harman must have forgotten that when she was last in government. Here is a flavour of her voting record:
“Harriet Harman voted very strongly for introducing ID cards.”
“Harriet Harman voted yes on Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill — Indefinite detention of suspected terrorists.”
“Harriet Harman voted against giving a greater role to the courts in relation to the imposition of control orders.”
After previously voting for ID cards, detention without trial and house arrest for enemies of the state, today she says:
“What an irony that yesterday the Prime Minister was presiding over the celebration of Magna Carta at the same time he’s planning to undermine the Human Rights Act. No wonder that though he mentioned human rights in South Africa – and preyed in aid Nelson Mandela – and mentioned human rights in India – and preyed in aid Ghandi – he could not bring himself to mention Europe and our Convention.
But we believe that, together, we can prevent the government eroding human rights. Their policy is intellectually incoherent and, worse, it’s wrong in principle. Though Labour is in opposition, not in government, we believe that in this case, on an issue of such profound importance, they can and should be held back.”
Labour will stand up against the erosion of Human Rights?
Let us rewind to 1999 when Labour tried to scrap trail by jury for thousands of people every year:
“Plans to limit access to trial by jury are being criticised by the legal profession and human rights groups. Unveiling the plans, Home Secretary Jack Straw said he intends to stop people accused of theft, burglary and assault from opting to be tried in a crown court, rather than by magistrates. The home secretary unveiled the move during a speech to the Police Federation Conference in Blackpool on Wednesday.”
There is certainly a case against the reform of the Human Rights Act, but Labour are in no position to make it or lecture on the erosion of rights.