Human Rights Act will be safe with a Labour government | Letters

I read with interest Shami Chakrabarti’s article (The big idea: why we need human rights now more than ever, 6 May). The context for her article is the Conservative right’s repeated calls to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. This was one of the landmark statutes of the first Blair administration, and its legal and constitutional significance is immense.

Although now retired, I was a member of the Home Office bill team that developed the policy broadly set out in the 1996 Labour document Bringing Rights Home, supported ministers during its passage through parliament, and started work on its implementation. I had several discussions with Jack Straw, the then home secretary.

I know from these discussions just how deeply committed Straw (and Derry Irvine as lord chancellor) were to the cause of human rights in the UK. That commitment remained, even when the Blair government’s enthusiasm for civil libertarian projects waned in the next year or two. Their experience with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 may have been the final nail in the coffin.

I have traced the development and nuances of the Conservative position on the Human Rights Act since 2010. I agree that, politically, the act will be in danger from a future Conservative administration if the party’s soul is captured by the right.

But I am as sure as I can be that the act will be safe in the hands of a future Labour government – even one as sensitive to pressure from the right as the current party leadership seems to be.
James Toon
Godalming, Surrey

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply