Questioning the Tory record on civil liberties

This letter appeared in today’s Observer:

The Convention on Modern Liberty last weekend that we attended and addressed was right to identify the threat to our civil liberties represented by the current levels of surveillance and collection of personal data, and we welcome the support of Conservative MPs Dominic Grieve and David Davis (“Liberty groups unite to defend UK rights”, News, last week).

However, the threat to civil liberties goes far wider than these issues. The litmus test of a commitment to fundamental and universal human rights is whether we are prepared to support their application beyond the chattering classes – to gay couples, drug addicts and even terror suspects.

The voting record of the Conservatives on these issues is even worse than that of the government they attack. The Tories are committed to repeal of the Human Rights Act, which allows our European Convention rights to be protected by the British courts. So at the same time as attacking the government on torture, they want to prevent UK courts from applying prior judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Dr Evan Harris MP (Lib Dem, Oxford West and Abingdon), Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour peer and human rights campaigner),Vince Cable MP (deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats),Andrew Dismore MP (Labour, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights), Chris Huhne MP (Lib Dem shadow home secretary), Baroness Ludford (Lib Dem MEP), Neal Lawson (chair of Compass), Chuka Umunna (Labour PPC for Streatham), Sunder Katwala (chair of the Fabian Society, personal capacity)

Update:  Sunder Katwala has published the letter in full on the Fabian Society blog

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