This week, one week after the UK General Election, has been one of the most prominent weeks in politics in the 21 years that I have been alive. After the shocking Exit Poll results on the night of the 7th of May I asked myself if the whole country had Stockholm Syndrome, or if it was just bent on repeating the history of the Thatcher years. Those thoughts were mild however, compared to the thoughts I have now, after hearing David Cameron’s victory speech, and reading all the essential parts of the new Conservative manifesto that they conveniently hid pre-election.
While I could argue about the fact that the Conservatives got only 37% of the votes this election, yet managed to secure 51% of the seats in Parliament, and argue against the electoral system, I am resigned to the fact that the country voted ‘NO’ to the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011. Yes, I would prefer a system of proportional representation but First Past the Post is not all that’s wrong with the new government.
Firstly, it seems important to note that the austerity protests taking place in the country have received relatively little if any mainstream media coverage at all this week. Whether that is stop the spread of so called ‘riots’ as in 2012, or to try and keep the public as uninformed as possible I do not know, but with thousands of people marching outside Downing Street, 30 people injured and 17 arrests, you’d expect a media frenzy. But since there’s been a media blackout concerning the subject, I can’t help wondering what they’re hiding.
David Cameron began his victory speech claiming the government he led ‘did important things,’ and that it ‘laid the foundation for a better future.’ In reality what he has laid the foundation for is £12bn of welfare cuts, a massive fall in unemployment, 400,000 more zero-hour contracts allowing large corporations to exploit their workers, a continuing rise of people needing to use food banks because of spiralling poverty, an increase inequality through tax cuts for the richest, more privatisation of the NHS and educational institutions and cuts to local councils and local services such as the police and fire departments. While all of the above things are terrible and I truly believe it could lead to unrepairable damage to our society, it was more or less what I would expect from a Conservative majority government. What did shock me though, was the announcement that the Human Rights Act would be scrapped.
The new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove (note the irony; the man who wanted to bring back the death penalty and almost destroyed our education system), will lead the act of repealing Human Rights, which were enacted in 1998, to acknowledge every human being had basic and universal rights, which include the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to a fair trial; protection from torture and ill treatment; freedom of thought, conscience, religion, speech and assembly; the right to marry; the right to free elections; the right to fair access to the country’s education system; and the right not to be discriminated against. All of these are basic and simple rights that we’ve grown to take for granted, but which one, or more, of these is it that the Tories are unhappy about? While those in charge spurt lies about how it is to stop interference from Eurpoean Courts, this Guardian article explains how those claims are false and how the repeal deprives people of basic and fundamental rights, and will cause major divisions between nations at home and abroad.
The repeal of the Act will allow Britain to have the final say on court cases within the country that may clash with the European Convention of Human Rights. The government claim that foreign nationals use the Act to stay in the country after committing crimes and that they are given too much freedom under the Act, but it affects all of us, those native to the country and those who are not. The repeal of the Act will lead to a constitutional crisis and if something as monumental and terrible as this has been announced just days after the election, I have to wonder what more they have in store. It’s going to be a hard 5 years for the British public.