In a campaign full of lies, this one is possibly the most ridiculous

The problem with lies is that they can sometimes get so big that they take on a life of their own. As Winston Churchill once remarked, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

The big problem is that if people are ill informed and gullible enough, then they can easily be convinced that what they are hearing is not a lie, it’s the truth, and that they should spread the word to let everyone else know. 

It doesn’t matter to them that the truth is something different. They are so consumed in their own little bubble that even if they are shown their belief to be false, cognitive dissonance kicks in. And at that stage, they will literally swear black is white rather than accept they have made an error. 

This current election campaign has thrown up several examples of this, but none so stupid at the lie that if we leave the European Convention to Human Rights (ECHR) we won’t have any human rights in this country, which is apparently gaining traction on social media. 

That I should even need to write this is disturbing, as it highlights just how unhinged people can become when social media algorithms feed them a constant reinforcing narrative. 

To clarify, we already have a Human Rights Act in this country which was enacted in 1998 and which guarantees our rights in a huge number of areas. These include: 

The right to life

The prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment

The right to liberty and freedom

Protection against slavery and forced labour

The right to a fair trial and no punishment without law

Respect for privacy and family life and the right to marry

Freedom of thought, religion and belief

Free speech and peaceful protest

No discrimination

Protection of property

The right to an education

The right to free elections

What people seem to miss is that before this piece of legislation was introduced we already had human rights; in fact we’d had them since the 1689 Bill of Rights, so we did not need another Act to confirm our rights. We weren’t suddenly gifted human rights in 1998 and when the Act is repealed, we won’t suddenly lose them either.

The problem that Reform U.K. has with the current U.K. Human Rights Act is not to do with the rights enshrined in this Act, these are, after all, basic rights that we enjoy and frankly, sometimes, take for granted. The problem is to do with how they are currently being ruled on and applied by the ECHR.

The current Act makes it clear that any judgement made using this Act must incorporate any “…judgment, decision, declaration or advisory opinion of the European Court of Human Rights”. In other words, our Act is subjugated to the European Court of Human Rights. In short, the ECHR is enshrined into U.K. law and it doesn’t need to be. Even the Lords were debating this in 2022 as there was already a clear understanding that this needed to be changed.

When the Act was first introduced, there were very few instances where the ECHR and British law clashed, but over the past 25 years there has been a clear divergence and now, we find ourselves at odds with them in several areas. 

And it’s not only Britain. As neatly summed up by the House of Commons Library “In April 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the Swiss Government’s climate policies violated human rights. The judgment said that the right to a private and family life meant that states are obliged to protect their citizens from the “serious adverse effects” of climate change”.

That the ECHR felt able to dictate to an elected government sent a shockwave through the political system. The Swiss response; they’ve decided to ignore the ruling. Their view is that as a democratic country they don’t need to be told what to do by an outside court.

Did the world come to an end when they did this? Did the skies fall? No. Nothing changed. Apart from the fact that the Swiss people were supported by their democratically elected government against a handful of environmental protesters who felt that ‘lawfare’ was their best option. 

In the U.K. we have an existing courts system of magistrates, crown, appeal, and supreme courts to decide on our law. They should be sufficient to ensure that the law is applied fairly in this country. However, when claimants have exhausted our legal system and are still being told no, they currently have the right to take their case to the ECHR.

Unfortunately, as we have seen, the ECHR through their recent decisions, have led some to question whether they are making the right decisions. Their rulings have become more and more detached from the original aim of the legislation they are ruling on. 

Instead of simply ruling on the application of the law as set down by Parliament, they have shifted to a position where they are interpreting law; in other words, changing the law to what they think it should say rather than what it does say, without any reference back to the Parliament who made the law in the first place.

The end result is a handful of unelected individuals, sitting in a court that is not based in this country have assumed the right to make new laws for us, without oversight, nor the chance to debate and decide whether these laws are correct.

The current U.K. system of government was deliberately designed to prevent this from happening. Parliament debate and agree laws, the justice system applies those laws. They should not be open to interpretation, and certainly not to create precedents that prevent the country from carrying on its lawful business.

The Rwanda flights brought into sharp relief exactly how far this system has moved away from its original intent. Despite the fact that no one other than the government thinks these are a good idea, the courts prevented them from fulfilling an essential part of any government responsibility, that of keeping its borders secure.

Which brings us back to the original lie.

As a sovereign nation, we have a long tradition of giving our citizens rights and protections that are so well regarded internationally, that much of the world now has the same or similar rights.

We set the benchmark for human rights and have fought wars to protect them, not only in this county, but across the world. We helped create the ECHR based on the rights that we already enjoyed back in 1950. To suggest that suddenly we are going to remove them all because we leave the ECHR is not only a lie but betrays an ignorance beyond comprehension.

To be clear, the Reform U.K. Contract with You states clearly that once we leave the ECHR we will introduce a British Bill of Rights. A bill that will codify the rights we all correctly enjoy and ensure we can continue to enjoy them without interference from unelected foreign courts.

So, if anyone tells you that Reform U.K. policies are dangerous because we will lose our human rights, feel free to enlighten them. It’s not the case, has never been the case, and will never be the case. A vote for Reform U.K. is a vote to restore the sovereignty of the country and to reaffirm the rights of every citizen in the land.