Monday, 10 October 2011

Some say Theresa May

Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, has attracted much adverse comment for some of her remarks on the Human Rights Act, not least from her own side and its partners.  But let's look at what she actually said (full text here):
We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here. The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.
"We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act" - That's unlikely to be exactly true, but if you're looking for an audience that reads the Daily Mail and follows the speeches of Nigel Farage, where better to go than the Conservative Party Conference?  (I assume that the UKIP conference cannot be a better place.)  I think Ms May can be excused this rhetorical flourish.

"The violent drug dealer..."  This story is true.  (Ms May omits the detail that the drug dealer had been in this country since he was four, so it would seem rather unfair on Trinidad to deport him there.  I suspect the Tory Party Conference is not much concerned with fairness to Trinidad.)

"The robber who cannot be removed...".  This story appears to be true.

"The illegal immigrant"  The cat-owner was not an illegal immigrant, he was a Bolivian student who'd overstayed his visa.  But let's not get picky.

"I'm not making this up".  This is true.  It was the Daily Mail who invented the story.  Ms May didn't even make up the line about not making it up.

"because".  This is a whopper.  But it's not Ms May's whopper.  And it's only one word.  And she said it was a story: stories don't have to be true.

"he had a pet cat".  Yes he did.

In further support of Ms May, I might mention that:
i) She wears better shoes than does Ken Clarke
ii) Ken Clarke has made a lot of money peddling carcinogenic drugs in developing counties.
iii) Chris Huhne's ex-wife alleges that he lied about a speeding offence
iv) The Labour Party's most recent Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas, was a proven liar.

On the other hand, Ms May cited these examples in support of her view that "the Human Rights Act needs to go".  This is just populist pandering.  The Human Rights Act simply requires British courts and public bodies to act in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights  so long as British law permits them to do so.  Repealing it would remove enforcement of the Convention to the European Court of Human Rights.  How is it desirable to have the law work more slowly, and with the final decision in the hands of foreigners?  If I read the feeling of the meeting correctly, the Conservative Party Conference is against them.

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