Polly Toynbee Doesn’t Understand Human Rights

Or at least Polly Toynbee makes a claim about human rights which is at odds with the actualite. She seems to think that the European Union is both the source of and guarantor of human rights legislation in the UK. This is not in fact true and leaving the EU makes no difference to which court rules on hte subject of the rules which such a court decides upon.

Because, you know, humans rights legislation doesn’t stem from the EU:

What is all too possible is a blue wave sweeping all before it to wipe out all that tactical nuancing of each seat. In that instant our Brexit doom will be sealed and Boris Johnson will be off the leash – with the BBC, NHS, and safety, food and work regulations all in peril. As his party’s manifesto suggests, we will be out of the European convention on human rights, and he will be free to do anything that takes his populist fancy (alone with Belarus, no place for minorities or journalists). Whether throwing away keys, reintroducing capital punishment, banishing foreigners, stamping on “scroungers’’ or cracking down on Gypsies and Travellers, now that he’s replaced Tory liberal lawyers with cohorts of Priti Patel, he will be able to use any means to bind his ex-Labour Brexit seats to Torydom.

That’s the nightmare: Britain joining the rightwing authoritarians to break Europe’s civilised democratic values.

The problem with this is that the European Convention on Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU. It stems from the Council of Europe. The European Court of Human Rights is not an EU institution – it is a Council of Europe one. One reason I know this is because I’m possibly the only person in the entire country that recommends leaving the Council of Europe as well. Certainly, the Tories aren’t suggesting it.

Therefore they’re not suggesting leaving the European human rights system, are they?

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jghLeo SavanttSpike Recent comment authors
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Polly provides another instance of the frequent assertion that the only alternative to the status quo is total vacuum.

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt

Perhaps there are two (you and I) who want to leave the Council of Europe, having Azerbaijan judges adjudicating on my Human Rights and in effect defining UK law is more than a little unpalatable at this table. Perhaps its original purpose of allowing a space for European intergovernmentalism was a lofty aspiration but in some ways it has been eclipsed by the EU’s single-governmentalism and there is always the Organisation for Spreading Confusion Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enjoy, be appalled with and flummoxed by; the CoE wouldn’t be missed here.


In Polly’s world, there’s no such thing as elections, so she’s actually right in her own mind.