Freedom from Want!

I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion. …

First they came …

 

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the sick, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not sick.

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

This is based on speeches made by the anti-nazi German priest Martin Niemöller and sourced from Wikipedia; most versions of the poem seem not to include the sick, the so-called incurables, but I wanted a longer version and think its more relevant to the UK today. …

We have a choice

We have a choice

The events of the weekend have led me to the conclusion that my review of the manifestos as they relate to the internet and civil liberties were too factual and too dry. Over the weekend, three islamist terrorists attacked London with a white van and knives. It is now believed that at least one of them has been radicalised by Al-Muhajiroun a banned group and had been, yet again, notified to the security services and police. I suspect we’ll learn more over the next couple of days. This was a week after an attack in Manchester on a concert. Overnight the political parties agreed to suspend the campaign for the following day, but one of the parties broke that agreement. I look at the responses of May and Corbyn, linking to their speeches and analyse the meaning of the promise to deny the terrorists a safe space on the internet, to increase prison sentences together with the impact of the cuts to the police and intelligence service staff numbers.  …

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

I went to the Labour Campaign for Human Rights meeting in the Commons yesterday, the keynote speaker was Kier Starmer, the Labour Brexit spokesman. He opened his speech stating he had voetd “Remain” based on jobs and rights and woke up on 27th June asking what world we live in. He argued that now we needed to accept democracy and that UK’s politics is about the new relationship with the EU. He argues we need to re-root our rights in UK law! (What like the Human Rights Act?) Labour is proposing a new Law to transcribe the EU’s rights and protections into UK law, but under the Tories this will be weak since the Tories are not planning to bring the “Fundamental Charter of Rights” across into UK law. …

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Late last year, the UK Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This law builds on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts and the Data Retention Laws. This law allows the Government to store all our electronic communications traffic, read the content and meta data and co-opt the product and service vendors to help them. I describe this in more detail below.

The Law was written in the aftermath of Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling in the Schrems vs. Facebook case that the EU’s Data Retention Directive and hence the member state implementations were in contradiction to the EU’s human rights law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Parliament had considered aspects of these proposals twice before under the two previous administrations and rejected them.

This article looks at the new Law, criticises it on Human Rights grounds in that it jeopardises the right to privacy, the right to organise, the right to a fair trial and rights to free speech and on IT Security grounds in that the new regulation of encryption products jeopardises access to electronic trust and privacy. It also examines the likely impact of the recent CJEU ruling on the legality of its predecessor law, and in passing, likely conflicts with last year’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union.  …

Sovereignty

Sovereignty

I don’t think the facts around Human Rights and Sovereignty are being well exercised. I have just seen a post on Facebook where someone claimed that Britain was being ruled by the ECHR in Strasbourg. In the words of Captain Blackadder, there’s only one problem with this theory. I thought I’d put this right …

RemaIN

RemaIN

On June 23rd, there will be the most important democratic decision taken in the UK, ever. The British People and those of Northern Ireland will be asked if they wish to remain in or leave the European Union. I am firmly of the view that both collectively and individually we will be better off, have more freedoms and a richer political, and non-political culture if we remain in. Like others, I have a list of issues that I believe need to be considered, mine are, Jobs & Prosperity, Citizenship Rights, Sovereignty and Peace & Hope. …

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Left Foot Forward publishes an article “Who is the ‘human rights candidate’ for Labour’s leadership?”. This is based on a post on the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, who publish the candidates answers in their own words  on their own blog.  One of the LCHR’s questions was on Surveillance, and none of them have consulted me ;), but Cooper and Burnham both support the need for judicial authorisation and probable cause. Kendall and Corbyn both support strengthening the legal framework in favour of civil liberties. Kendall states she opposes the privacy breaches inherent in mass surveillance. Corbyn that he thinks mass surveillance is ineffective (and thus not justified?). …

English Revolution

pikes

I have just seen the first of Melvyn Bragg’s documentaries in a two part series called “Radical Lives”. This was about John Ball, a radical priest in England who in 1381 supported the Peasants Revolt. The documentary does a fine job in describing the feudal economic and racist oppression by the scions of the Norman invasion. The original poll tax was levied at this time and the reaction from the peasantry was swift and violent. They rose up and marched on London, sacked the Tower of London and executed several leading government officials.  …