Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Bill Of Rights - Jack Straw

Jack Straw has announced his green paper on a British Bill of Rights proposal, just looking at the title “Rights and Responsibilities - developing our constitutional framework” I lower my expectations.
The Government believes that any Bill of Rights and Responsibilities should seek to articulate what we owe, as much as what we expect.(2.18)
How individuals should live together, what rights and freedoms we should enjoy in relation to one another and against the state and how they should be balanced by the responsibilities we owe each other are among the most fundamental questions in politics.(vi)
You would be forgiven for thinking the most fundamental question was how much money can be crammed into their pockets, and that does have validity here. Accountability to the people should be at the heart of such a proposal, because as Jack says.
...power always clusters, chemically, round the powerful. And it requires rigorous and vigorous activity to reverse this law of nature. (x)
Yes especially when people won't release their grip, creating the chemical N+O=Bi. So what are the suggested responsibilities we all “owe as members of UK society”.
  • Treating National Health Service and other public sector staff with respect
  • Safeguarding and promoting the well being of children in our care
  • Living within our environmental limits
  • Participating in civic society through voting and jury service
  • Assisting the police in reporting crimes and co-operating with the prosecution agencies
  • Paying taxes
  • Obeying the law.
Though there is the caveat of “being a matter of debate”, it states the government doesn't suggest they should be legally enforceable, as there are laws and penalties already in place for the fore mentioned. Yet, when referring to our rights it states that because there are laws in place already.
At this stage, the Government does not propose the inclusion of the principle of habeas corpus or a right to trial by jury in any new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities... (3.31)
If the replacement laws in question had our interests at heart, if people really felt secure, we wouldn't be discussing a Bill of Rights. 'Britainimo Bay' and orange jumpsuits really don't work for me.

The suggested rights the government proposes in this bill.
  • Setting down provision for victims from rights already accorded
  • A right for children to achieve well being, whatever their background or circumstances
  • Emphasise the extensive equality safeguards provided under the law
  • Healthcare and child welfare having existing entitlements stated
A little lacking when it comes to rights compared to responsibilities. I guess Jack he giveth and then taketh with both hands, but rest assured.
The Government does not consider that a generally applicable model of directly legally enforceable rights or responsibilities would be the most appropriate.. (4.25)
They'd prefer a symbolic statement, because here's the real caveat, the sting in the tail, the idealogical statement of New Labour. The bill wouldn't add to or modify legislation put in place by New Labour i.e anti-terrorism, detention or trial of suspects or the removal of deportees etc because.
... in the Government’s view these should properly remain the subject of political decisions, taken by Parliament. Any new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities should make it clear that Parliament remained free to legislate on such areas in the future and that the courts would have no power to strike down or re-write future legislation in these areas. (4.26)
That's the problem in the first place Jack, you're really missing the point completely. If you have to earn rights then what's to stop someone moving the goal posts, or continuing to move them. A right is a freedom that is morally or legally due to a person. As Chris Huhne expressed well:
Human rights (such as the right to a fair trial) are not and cannot be conditional, because by definition they are the minimum we should enjoy as human beings. (read more)
The document states "they want all parts of society to enter into discussion", by that they mean the election will be a referendum, as they're not proposing this before then.

No comments:

Post a Comment