The Party of Human Rights

Much has been made of the repurposing of the Liberal Democrats in the aftermath of December’s General Election.  Enter the Orange Bookers, the social liberals and the FBPE Europhiles all of whom are beginning to set out the course they feel the party should embark on as it looks to the future.

As candidates put forward their leadership pitches, a variety of paths will emerge. But regardless of the direction that the party membership chooses to take, one issue must regain prominence on the Party’s agenda; the protection of human rights and civil liberties. 

The belief in liberty under law, the idea that all humans are equal and should enjoy the same rights and freedoms universally, is a fundamentally liberal concept. At times, the UK has led the way on human rights and at others, has turned the other cheek. One of the tragedies of Brexit has been the neglect of human rights and the failure to raise some of the worst human rights abuses in the world today. Our Government has been pre-occupied, but equally our party has been distracted.

In China, the mass repression of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese state represents some of the largest scale systematic ethnic cleansing the international community has seen in decades. The UK Government has largely been silent, instead doing deals with state-supported telecoms giants and giving little support to Uyghurs fleeing the persecution. The bombing continues in Yemen, nodded through by the Government and supported by the UK arms trade.

At home, asylum seekers continue to dwell in prison-like conditions for indeterminate periods of time and the Metropolitan Police have made 9 million Londoners suspects in crimes that are yet to be committed, rolling out the use of facial recognition cameras across the capital, in what is a gross violation of the right to privacy.

Through our Government’s silence on the international stage or its infringements of freedom in the UK, our country is beginning to become part of the problem rather than the solution. While the Labour Party’s view on human rights remains subjective (ala Venezuela) and the party itself is plagued by internal racism, a vacancy is there for a party to step forward and be the champions of human rights. Let’s be that party.

* Mark Johnson is a party member in Camden and was a Parliamentary Candidate in the 2019 General Election.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Campaigning for human rights is a fundamental element of what we are as a party. It goes hand in hand with an unshakeable commitment to the rule of law, national or international. I never imagined that we would reach the point of defending the rule of law from the actions and utterances of the Conservatives but I fear that this is going to be a key part of our agenda over the next few years.

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