Human Rights & the UK General Election
And they’re off! The least surprising news story of the day so far has been that Gordon Brown has made the trip to Buckingham Palace to request that the Queen dissolve Parliament, effective next Tuesday (this is to allow the Digital Economy Bill to be rushed through Parliament in the next six days). A General Election will take place on Thursday 6 May.
There are two key human rights issues that may be affected by the outcome of this election – one of which will be of great concern to human rights advocates in Ireland. These are:
- the future status of the Human Rights Act; and
- the campaign for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland (see here, here, here, and here).
Other human rights issues will undoubtedly arise in relation to criminal justice and asylum and immigration policy - and in a broader sense in relation to education, healthcare and welfare. It is worth recalling that the UK Labour Party has had a clear and discernable effect on human rights in Ireland in their 13 years in power: they negotiated the Good Friday Agreement and were instrumental in bringing about the new institutions in the North, their Human Rights Act 1998 was the model for the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 and their negotiating stance in relation to the EU has strongly influenced the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which Ireland ratified as part of the Lisbon Treaty. Tony Blair’s active partnership with George W. Bush in the years following the September 11 2001 attacks in New York and Washington has brought an end of what Conor Gearty has referred to as the ‘free 1990s’ – a high point for global human rights evolution between the end of the Cold War and the start of the ‘war on terrorism’.
It is as likely as not that there will be a change of Government on 6 May. Any change there may be will impact most directly on those in the North of Ireland and indirectly on everyone else. Human Rights in Ireland will keep you up to date on the human rights related developments in the coming weeks.