Lamb and Farron launch Liberal Democrat campaign to save the Human Rights Act

Both leadership candidates have joined forces to launch the Liberal Democrat campaign to save the Human Rights Act from destruction. This is yet another of these things that the Tories would have quite happily done at any point in the last five years but were prevented from doing so because of the Liberal Democrats. Way back in January 2010, I wrote of my horror at Cameron’s comments in an Andrew Marr interview:

“The moment a burglar steps over your threshold……they leave their human rights outside”

I mean, what cheap, populist rubbbish. If you take his words to their logical conclusion, they could be taken as an incitement to virtually anything.

Now, burglary is horrible. I have friends whose house has been done over twice in the last few years and I’ve seen how traumatised they were. I’m not suggesting it’s soemthing that shoud go unpunished. Let’s get that clear before I get any “you’re soft on crime” thrown at me.

However if a burglar “leaves his human rights outside” what is Cameron giving licence to? Kicking them where it hurts? Bopping them over the head with a frying pan? Stabbing them? Calling your mates over to give them a good hiding?

I mean, if these people have no right to be treated as human beings, where do you stop?

I found it quite scary to hear such nonsense coming from somebody who thinks he’s going to be Prime Minister in a few months.

It doesn’t make me feel particularly safe to hear Cameron talk like this. I can only see an approach on his lines leading to more dead people, householders and burglars. I don’t really think we need to change the law.

Whatever differences our leadership candidates have, they are both totally committed to preserving the Human Rights Act which has:

  • Stopped the state spying on us, supported peaceful protest and protected soldiers.
  • Helped rape victims, defended domestic violence victims and guarded against slavery.
  • Supported those in care, shielded press freedom and provided answers for grieving families.
  • Preserved our right to a fair trial, prevented indiscriminate stop-and-search and protected minorities.

Norman Lamb said:

Our human rights laws have already achieved so much and we must not let the Tories trample all over them.

They have stopped the state spying on us, supported peaceful protest and guarded against slavery. They have helped rape victims, defended domestic violence victims and shielded press freedom.

The Liberal Democrats blocked David Cameron from scrapping the Human Rights Act in Government and we must stop him again now.

That is why we are urging everyone to get behind our campaign to stop the Tories riding roughshod over our freedoms and rights.

Tim Farron said:

By drawing up plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and laying the groundwork to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights – the Tories are revealing their true colours.

It sends a clear message to the British people: the next five years will be nastier, less liberal and less compassionate that any Government in living memory

These are fundamental rights we all have and they define how we treat our citizens and offer our citizens protection from the state.

They are the legacy of Winston Churchill and seeing the Tories trashing his legacy, I am in no doubt that today he would once again be a Liberal.

We blocked them before and we must do all we can to block them again.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Please let’s push really hard on this – unfortunately the SNP already have the lead on this, despite it being “our” issue. Let’s also work as hard as we can across party lines – and make a show of it too – I don’t doubt our MPs and ex MPs have strong friendships on other benches.

    Please let’s make this the first of many post election campaigns that we punch well above our weight.

    All the best to all involved.

  • Thomas Robinson 25th May '15 - 10:56am


    FORTUNATELY the SNP have the lead on this so I have great hope of successful opposition to Cameron in this case.

  • Great to see they have both ‘joined forces’ on this today. It’s not clear from this article whether this is actually a deliberate joint initiative or whether they are both just happen to be talking about it on the same day? I really hope it’s the former. I’d love to see then do a joint press conference – what a great message that would send. ‘We are fighting each other for the leadership, BUT for us as Liberals this issue is above that. There isn’t a cigarette paper between us on this. It’s SO fundamental. Whichever one if us wins on July 16th. we want to show today that the Liberal Democrats are the party that is defending human rights. ”
    * “Oh and by the way, we are defending them across the UK, and Europe, and beyond. See that’s the thing about the SNP, if they had their way they’d defend human rights in Scotland. As far as Coldstream, but beyond that? You’re on your own. The fight for human rights is one of the many that shows up the limits of nationalism., and the need for a truly Liberal party, which puts people and their rights above boundaries and borders every time.”

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th May '15 - 11:38am

    Tony, this is a joint initiative – it came out as a joint press release.

  • Agree with Thomas Robinson, 8 Lib Dem MPs can’t be our only hope, we should be glad the 56 SNP MPs share our values on this topic and hope every parliamentarian fights together.

  • David Cooper 25th May '15 - 1:03pm

    Tim Farron should think twice when he uses Winston Churchill to justify the European Convention of Human Rights in our law. Churchill wanted Nazi leaders to be summarily executed, hardly compatible with its right to life provision. He was overruled by Stalin who liked media friendly show trials. Personally I think Churchill was right about this, but I doubt if his actions would have been in the spirit of ECHR.

  • @tonyj

    Surely the point about the ECHR and its embodiment in national legislation is that it transcends national boundaries in any event. So why the cheap jibe at the SNP who should be your ally in this?

  • This is good as it shows that the two will be able to work together on important issues irrespective of the result..

  • Eddie Sammon 25th May '15 - 3:19pm

    I’m not comfortable with the Conservatives writing the human rights act. It is not just about compassion, but also fairness and our own protection from the state. However, maybe some reforms could be made?

    I just think that we shouldn’t come across as though we are defending it because it has a nice sounding name.

    When it comes to Churchill: let’s not forget about Dresden and Mers-el-Kebir (sinking of French warships in case they found their way into German hands).

    I also think Farron’s claim that this government will be “nastier, less liberal and less compassionate that any [British] Government in living memory” is taking it a bit far.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th May '15 - 3:37pm

    Eddie Sammon 25th May ’15 – 3:19pm
    “I also think Farron’s claim that this government will be “nastier, less liberal and less compassionate than any [British] Government in living memory” is taking it a bit far.”

    Hi Eddie, bearing in mind we have their record as a party (generally nasty, illiberal and non-compassionate) , that we know what we stopped them doing over the last five years and that we have read their manifesto including their tax and spending plans, who would you like to nominate for this prestigious award in their place?

  • David Cooper 25th May '15 - 4:29pm

    @Eddie Sammon “maybe some reforms could be made?”
    No, the ECHR cannot be reformed by a single clause unless all 47 members unanimously agree. New protocols can be added, but existing protocols are set in stone. So your reform requires agreement from beacons of democracy such as Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

    What you are saying is that you trust Vladimir Putin to guard our human rights sooner than you trust Parliament. A curious position.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th May '15 - 8:27pm

    I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about the SNP’s contributions on human rights. When the Scottish government was found wanting on human rights, the then first minister’s (and current Westminster foreign affairs spokesman’s) first response was to say that the people who brought the cases were among the vilest in the land and basically spoke like a Daily Mail article.

  • Eddie, what was wrong with Mers-el-Kébir in your opinion? It was clearly the right course of action at the time. The French Navy could have come over to the British side as, for example, the Polish navy did.
    Getting back on topic, its great that Lamb and Farron have declared for Human Rights, I just take issue with one statement from Lamb which suggests a lack of awareness. “They have stopped the state spying on us”. Clearly not the case, Lamb must have heard of Edward Snowden?

  • @Stephen Hesketh “Eddie, bearing in mind we have their record as a party (generally nasty, illiberal and non-compassionate) ,”

    You may find this instructive

  • @Eddie Dresden is always singled out when it was in concept no different to any other city raids; it was just executed better. Although you’re correct to lay the responsibility for Area Bombing at Churchill’s door rather than Harris’s as most commentators do. Churchill very carefully sought to distance himself from his own policy once the war was done.

  • Good news that both are working together on this sort of campaign. Exactly what we want from them. Best wishes for more co-operation, it is very much our way!

  • Just to be clear about my comment above – I’m exceptionally happy that there is a united opposition to the Tory plan, and that the SNP are using their new found power and profile to push this issue.

    SNP MPs are just as legitimate, and may make excellent allies.

    I think that’s all very fortunate. Only unfortunate that LibDems may be drowned out, if we’re too late. However, this isn’t a publicity campaign, it’s for Human Rights… So don’t really mind who gets the credit!

  • Very happy to see them working together and hope this carries on whoever wins

  • I can’t help feeling that in a fight that liberals should be leading, we are in real danger of becoming the followers or even worse the on-lookers.

    Is the problem not rather than proposing a Bill of Rights the Conservatives have proposed a BAD Bill of Rights . They have proposed a Bill of Rights that damages our freedoms rather than a Bill of Rights that improves on the workable but far from perfect HRA.

    The arguments against the Tories seem to hang on the idea that what we have is good enough – is that really the case?. The Tories are offering a solution even if it is a bad solution, they are moving forward, nobody else seems to be – perhaps all we really need is someone to offer a good solution to the actual problem. As liberals, rather than taking part in a fight to maintain the status quo, should the fight not be to find a radical solution that will bring all sides together and bring about a change for the better.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th May '15 - 5:41pm

    Alistair and TCO, interesting historical and political points. I’m not a historian, but just thought I would raise some controversial actions by Churchill to question whether he would be a member of the Liberal Democrats today. Somehow I don’t think he would. Possibly too small for him. And maybe a bit lefty.

    When it comes to Mers-el-Kébir: maybe sinking the fleet was the right course of action, but I know some in France feel that it wasn’t definitely going to go into German hands, but Churchill sunk it anyway. Perhaps one for historians to debate, but not everyone sees it as the “right course of action”, especially not in France :D.

  • David Cooper 26th May '15 - 8:24pm

    @Eddie Sammon “Mers-el-Kébir”
    I understand that you are presenting the destruction of the French fleet after their surrender in 1940 was contrary to human rights and illiberal. So I understand that you believe that the “liberal” approach would have been to let the French fleet remain intact, on the assumption that the nice Mr Hitler would behave like a gentleman and not use it against the British. And indeed the right to life of the French sailors, our allies who had committed no crime against us, was violated in an awful way. Yet the action was entirely moral and right: Churchill was an extremely moral man and a great liberal.
    What this shows is there there is no set of absolute legal principles laying down human rights which can apply forever and in all circumstances. Any attempt to do this, such as the ECHR, or for that matter the universal declaration of human rights, is provisional and must adapt to circumstances. This change must be democratic. For this reason the ECHR is hubris, since existing provisions are immune to democratic change.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th May '15 - 8:44pm

    David Cooper, you make a good point about the European Court of Human Rights, but really I am not the one you need to be winning over. I don’t want the Conservatives to write our human rights, but the starting position for those at the top of the Liberal Democrats seems to be that a British Bill of Rights would be wrong regardless of what it said.

    I don’t really care whether my writes are written by a British court of a European court – I just want to make sure we have strong human rights. My point about Churchill is a side point of interest, of which I have no strong opinion on.


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