12th June 2024

As each party manifesto is published online, and for my own easy amusement, I like to search the pdf for words like “enshrine” and “clear”.

And after that easy amusement, I look for more serious things.

Yesterday the Conservative manifesto was published.

(Many “clears” but disappointingly only one “enshrine”.)

What were the Conservatives were promising (threatening) this time for the Human Rights Act?


Doing something to this Act has been a mainstay of every Conservative general election manifesto for as long as I can remember.

But the search return was…


I am a clumsy typist and so I thought: a typo. Let me try again.

And it was still a nil return.

Something must be up with the search function, I thought.

And so I tried “ECHR”.

I even typed out in full the “European Convention on Human Rights” and the “European Court of Human Rights”.

Nil, nil.

How odd.

Could it be that the manifesto actually did not threaten the Act or the Convention?


A closer look revealed one fairly oblique mention:

Of course, the European Court of Human Rights is not meaningfully a foreign court: it has British judges, British lawyers can appear, British residents can petition the court or appeal cases there, and its caselaw can be relied on in our domestic courts. Foreign law usually is a matter of expert evidence, but Strasbourg case law is part of our own jurisprudence.

It is an international court, of which we are part, rather than a foreign court.

But that is by-the-by.

What is significant is not this sort-of commitment, but the lack of any other promises (or threats).

It is an astonishing, unexpected absence for a Conservative manifesto – perhaps the manifesto equivalent to leaving a D-Day commemoration early.


Over on Twitter, Adam Wagner noticed the same:

Of course, it must be noted that government has recently been disapplying the Act on a statute-by-statute basis, rather than making any full frontal attack.

But even taking that point at its highest, one would still expect an explicit manifesto commitment just for the claps and cheers of political and media supporters.

And this is a governing party that needs all the claps and cheers it can get.

It is a remarkable omission.


And one suspects it is an accidental omission, for the governing party has little to gain by leaving it out, and something to gain electorally (or at least hold on to) by leaving it in.

If so, the possible significance of the omission is that the Conservative leadership, having got bored with the pretence that the Act will ever be repealed or substantially amended, simply are not thinking about it any more.

Their minds have moved on to other “red meat” for their more illiberal supporters.

But what it also means is that, in the highly unlikely event of the Conservatives staying in government after 4 July 2024, there is no manifesto commitment they can rely on in forcing any changes to the Act through the House of Lords.

What that in turn means is that the Human Rights Act will now be safe for the lifetime of the next parliament, whatever happens at the general election.

And that itself is quite a thing.


Source: https://davidallengreen.com/2024/06/the-strange-omission-in-the-conservative-manifesto-why-is-there-no-commitment-to-repeal-the-human-rights-act/

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