In other news…

Good news on human rights:

Lib Dems thwart Tory hopes of human rights convention withdrawal
Decision will infuriate Tory rightwingers unhappy at what they believe is Strasbourg judges’ interference in UK rights

Chris Rennard writes in The Guardian:

Those seeking a fairer voting system may be rather more dismayed if the Guardian is correct that there are difficulties getting Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg working together in support of the referendum. Political rivalry over other issues should not prevent all supporters of reform from campaigning for a cause on which they agree. Lessons should be learned from the Scottish referendum in 1997 when Labour had to campaign with its great rivals in the SNP (as well as the Liberal Democrats) to secure a Scottish parliament.

An update on Tessa Munt and her council tax, via the Daily Mail:

Barely weeks after winning the Somerset seat of Wells, Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt,52,  was facing her own accusations of sleaze amid claims that she improperly claimed council tax benefits on her constituency home … Mrs Munt tells me: ‘Inquiries into my claims for single person discount on my council tax began more than a year ago. I felt the inquiry was not progressing, was wasting taxpayers’ money and council resources.

‘Without any new request  from the council, I recently decided to pay the contested amount in full.

‘As I have said in a number of public meetings in Somerset, I did not claim or receive any benefits, with the exception of child benefit during my long campaign.’

And finally news from Redcar on the other big local issue:

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Redcar and Cleveland Council, Councillor Chris Abbott, confirmed that if they win control of the council in the May elections, they will abandon the controversial plans for an 80ft vertical pier on Redcar seafront.

Labour currently control the council with 25 councillors. There are 16 Lib Dems, 11 Conservatives, five Independents and two East Cleveland Independents.

The £1.8m building has polarised opinion since it was first announced in 2009.

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  • The first one’s a great reminder of the importance of the LibDems in this coalition.

  • The ECHR is to do with the Council of Europe, not the EU.

  • If you think human rights are ‘EU-toadying’ then you are welcome to disagree with me anytime @Dane.

    Human rights are, quite frankly, not the consequence of democracy. That is why I am a Liberal Democrat and not a democratic liberal: no power, howsoever elected or selected, should be able to infringe a group of rights which I think are fundamental building blocks to a fair and just society.

  • Joe Donnelly 15th Mar '11 - 1:15am

    @ Dane

    Could you find the evidence for why you think the ECHR is enforced by the EU?

    The EU itself has the option to decide to follow the jurisdiction of the ECHR following the Lisbon Treaty and it seems likely in the future that it will become a member of the Council of Europe itself as well once its integrated itself under the ECHR.

    The ECHR and council of Europe are quite distinct from the EU which has its own courts of justice.

  • Christ, some Eurosceptics do just sound like bloody broken records. I can’t even be bothered today.

  • BlahBlah – With respect, that is part of the problem. It is possible to take a sceptical view of the ECHR and still be pro-European. I would describe myself in those terms.

    I may not agree with every criticism. But it is true to say that the court has massively expanded its remit with not much by way of oversight. Now practically every law has to be seen through the prism of the court’s rulings. It is a massive centralisation of power and one that I would have thought Lib Dems would find uncomfrotable.

    It is not the place of a human rights court to overrule national immigration systems, say whether religious symbols can be displayed or extend the vote. To say as much does not make me some sort of swivel-eyel little Englander.

  • David from Ealing 15th Mar '11 - 12:28pm

    I tend to agree with Dane Clouston. We’re too happy to say that everything coming from the EU is good.

  • @ David from Ealing

    Agreed. A little more constructive criticism about how things should be changed, with the emphasis on the word “criticism” would go a long way towards improving our image on European matters.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 15th Mar '11 - 1:36pm

    “Lib Dems thwart Tory hopes of human rights convention withdrawal”

    Hardly news – since the Coalition agreement was quite clear about remaining within the convention. Or can we presume that the Tories are now free to challenge other parts of the agreement, perhaps with the encouragement of certain LibDems in Govt. If so perhaps the poor electorate could be told in advance.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 15th Mar '11 - 1:48pm

    Does it by any chance worry the LibDems that they are in coalition with a party that would appear to seriously contemplate withdrawal from the Convention (so that we could join Belarus as the only European nation that did not sign up to it), breaking the Coalition agreement in this regard, and as a result falling in breach of the conditions of EU membership. If Nick Clegg is really spending his time having to fight such proposals one wonders at what stage he will think it appropriate to withdraw his support for the coalition.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 15th Mar '11 - 3:04pm

    “No, what worries me is the fact that we have out-sourced responsibility for maintaining our own civil and legal institutions.”

    Get used to it – some of us happen to believe that the nation state is not the always the best defence of individual human rights (as well as a belief this is also a fact based observation) and that the existence of multi or pan national bodies which seek to uphold those rights is necessarily a bad thing (that doesn’t mean that those bodies always act sensibly – but neither do nattion states). There are also rather a lot of matters that cross national boundaries which can only be considered sensibly/democratically by bodies other than the nation state. I daresay that Mr Lukashenko also has a lot of convincing arguments as to why he doesn’t want the ECHR to interfere into how Belarus conducts its own human rights.

    You also conveniently ignore that there is no electoral mandate within the UK for withdrawal from the Convention and it is specifically ruled out in the coalition agreement. Allowing a minority to determine what is and isn’t in the national interest doesn’t have a very good record I’m afraid – but this doesn’t seem to worry you.

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