‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…’

This country is in a bad way, thanks to 13 years of Tory austerity. The metrics of our decline are unarguable: from NHS waiting lists to child poverty, from the cost-of-living crisis to the creaking criminal justice system, from record numbers of foodbanks to polluted beaches and ecologically-dead rivers… And Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster. It is all there, in black and white, and it is largely the result of policies pursued by a government almost entirely focused on protecting and growing the wealth of their donors and supporters whilst telling us all that we are their priority.

The government has cast around for people to blame for their appalling record – including asylum seekers, the ‘woke’, Remainers, public sector workers whose pay has declined dramatically in real terms while politicians paid themselves more and the rich got richer. And all those events and factors that government cite as negatives – Covid, the war in Ukraine (and they were bad for most of us and tragically so for some) have been massive money-making opportunities for those able to exploit and profit from them – it’s been a jamboree for the profiteers and scammers. But the government and the off-shore billionaire-owned papers keep telling us to hate a few thousand desperate souls arriving on inflatables, because it’s all their fault.

Yeah. Of course it is.

Now, not content to impoverish the population, stoke division, loot the public purse and re-direct public money into the private sector, this government of kleptocrats, ideologues and proto-fascists is now hell-bent on reducing and removing our rights whilst telling us that to do so will be to our benefit. They’ve already started. Rights to protest, to strike, to claim asylum, to clean air, to vote without photo ID…these have all been severely weakened and that’s on top of Brexit’s removal of our right to live, work, live and love in any EU country.

Their fanatical hatred for everything with the word ‘European’ in it is now manifest in the crazy claims that we absolutely must cease to be bound by the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s the hideous ECHR which is preventing Britain from being great again! It’s all the woke lawyers and woke laws that are stopping us from being as cruelly ‘sovereign’ as Suella Braverman would wish. Funnily enough, this government chooses not to understand that it keeps coming up against the rule of law because it persists in trying to thwart or break it.

Our rights are at stake. Yours and mine. We might think that some of the rights will never apply to us. We won’t ever be tortured or enslaved, will we? But hang on… if we can’t strike for fair pay or conditions, aren’t we as good as slaves? Right to life? Yeah! Naturally! What happened to that right when care homes were seeded with Covid and do not resuscitate orders were slapped on the elderly and infirm?

How about the right to an effective remedy if our rights are breached? Have we woken up yet to the fact that this government is targeting access to judicial review? And why do they hate it so much? Because they lose cases and they lose cases because they are breaking the law!

“Judicial review is one of the cornerstones of British liberty. It allows an individual to challenge the government in court. The name itself is quite boring, but the principle it establishes is profoundly radical: a viable and egalitarian check on unrestrained executive power. It hands everyone in society, including the most marginalised and ignored, the ability to take the most powerful people in the country to court and have their case heard. People often talk about what makes them proud to be British. Judicial review is one of the most convincing answers to that question.

“Attacks on judicial review are not just an attack on a particular legal instrument. They are an attack on the concept of the rule of law, and in particular, the notion that the government should be restrained by it.” 


If this government manages to take us out of the ECHR, it will not be because this will benefit us. It will be because the government does not want to be bound by the very right listed first in the image above: the state’s obligation to respect human rights.

Sunak. Braverman and the rest are now at the point when they pretty much say the quiet bits out loud. Law and lawyers stop them doing what they want to do and what they want to do at the moment is to violate many of our human rights.

We might not feel that any of these violations touch our lives at all, so what’s the fuss?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to find myself in a situation where I realise, with dread and despair, that the rights I took for granted are gone. Oh, and I’d rather live by the principle of ‘do as you would be done by’.

So when someone parrots the gaslighting anti-ECHR headlines from the Telegraph or the Mail or the Express, or a politician claims that leaving represents freedom for the UK, ask them which of those rights listed above they would be willing to lose or remove from their own children, and just how confident they are that they absolutely would not ever need them?