The European Court of Human Rights – More Government bluster

The following article was recently sent to me by Professor Tim Congdon CBE, former economics spokesman of UKIP (Pictured below)


It is reproduced here with his kind permission


Prof Tim Congdon


1.   Theresa May and Chris Grayling, and the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights


Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, have let it be known that they want the UK


i.              to repudiate or anyhow ‘to disapply’ (a new word intended to be more polite, I suppose) the European Convention on Human Rights and

ii.             to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.


The ECHR has used the Convention to justify such monstrosities as voting rights for prisoners and the prevention of extradition on the grounds that notorious criminals have ‘family rights’.


It seems that May and Grayling did not understand that the UK cannot disapply the Convention or withdraw from the ECHR’s jurisdiction, and still remain in the EU. I am not joking. If it staggers you that they did not understand the current legal and constitutional position, well, it staggers me too.


A few searches in Google would have established the matter, but the key change was in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. Article 6(2) of that treaty says that the EU shall accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention – which falls under the jurisdiction of the ECHR – then applies to all EU member states. The fact that the ECHR is not, strictly speaking, an EU institution is neither here nor there. (Needless to say, Article 6[2] is immediately made ambiguous by a protocol – Protocol [No. 8] – which says that application of the Convention must not undermine specific characteristics of EU law. These lawyers have a lot of fun, don’t they?)


Anyhow the civil servants have now told May and Grayling the truth. This is that the only way that the Convention can be disapplied, and for the ECHR’s judgements to be rendered inapplicable/ineffective on British soil, is for the UK to leave the EU. Does that mean that May and Grayling want the UK to leave the EU? After all, that would be the logical implication. No, it does not. Almost certainly, it means that they want David Cameron to include the subject in his renegotiation agenda, so that the UK can discuss a new UK-EU relationship after – or rather in the unlikely event that – the Conservative have won the next general election.


What does all this mean for UKIP? I now have it on good authority that Philip Hammond’s 20th July statement on the Andrew Marr show (that he would want the UK to leave the EU if the status quo were to continue) had been cleared with David Cameron, the Prime Minister. (This is just what I thought.) I also have it on good authority that the May/Grayling repudiation of the Convention/ECHR had not been cleared with Cameron. (A bit of a surprise to me.) However, Cameron did force Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, to resign. Grieve, by all accounts a nice and clever man, was a Europhile who fully appreciated that – because of the Lisbon Treaty – the UK had to accept ECHR’s verdicts on such issues as votes for prisoners, no extradition if criminals have families, etc.


One has to wonder quite what game May and Grayling think they are playing. May fancies herself as Prime Minister and seems to be trying to position herself on the Eurosceptic side of the Conservative Party. (Admittedly, it is entirely likely that she is fed up, even furious, with the ECHR.) I am 100% certain that most of the Thatcherite, Eurosceptic, so-called ‘right wing’ Conservative MPs can’t stand her, and that her prospects of support from such MPs are more or less zero. But the larger message – as I said in my last e-mail – is that the Conservatives, including Cameron, will be falling over themselves to make Eurosceptic noises in early 2015. Even if Cameron’s position is not being coordinated with his ministers, the Conservative Party will claim in the general election campaign that, ‘if voters want the UK to leave the EU, they should vote Conservative’.

Euro parliament chamber

UKIP must emphasize that the Conservatives are not to be trusted on this issue. It is the Conservatives?


i.              that took the UK into the EEC (as the EU then was) in 1973,

ii.             that passed the Single European Act in 1986, and

iii.            that broke a cast-iron guarantee to hold a referendum on the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.


The Conservatives have lied repeatedly about the UK and the EU; they have betrayed the British people and indeed large numbers of their core traditional voters. They are not to be trusted, and UKIP must say so loud and clear.


EU wants to “redraw the map of internet governance” (control it !)


EU body calls for US to give up internet control, pushes for international governance

The European Commission has said it is determined to “redraw the global map of internet governance” as massive US surveillance has damaged public trust in the web, and said it is ready to negotiate with Washington for control of web architecture.

The commission, the EU’s top executive body, on Wednesday proposed a key reform to the way the internet is managed and run, saying that Europe will “pursue a role as honest broker” in future global negotiations on the issue.

“The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance. Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance. Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like,” EC Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

Kroes directly connected her demands of a “more transparent, accountable and inclusive governance” of the web to the revelations on large-scale internet surveillance conducted by the US government, which was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The revelations “have called into question the stewardship of the US when it comes to Internet Governance” and pointed at the need to switch to a “more global model,” the EC statement said.

“Our fundamental freedoms and human rights are not negotiable. They must be protected online,” Kroes said.

Currently, some vital functions of internet management are in the hands of US-based companies. For instance, top-level domain names (as .com, .net, .org) and IP address spaces are controlled and managed by the California-based corporation ICANN, which operates under a contract with the US government.

But according to the EC statement, ICANN and other key decision-making internet institutions must be globalized to “safeguard the stability, security and resilience of the Internet.”

It also called for the creation of the Global Internet Policy Observatory – an online platform for“creating transparency on internet policies.”

The “open and unfragmented nature” of the global web must be protected by a special set of principles, the Commission said.

Previously, when a UN agency, the International Telecommunication Union, came up with detailed proposals on more diversified global internet control, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia rejected the plan. The four governments – allies under the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing group – claimed that internationalization of internet governance would lead to internet censorship in some countries.

Kroes also appeared to be skeptical of the UN’s proposal, calling it a “top-down approach.” A multi-polar internet should be the world’s aim, she believes.

“We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation,”the EC official said.

Kroes’ words came as European Parliament lawmakers were preparing a response to US snooping activities. The MEPs are keen to demand that virtual data be stored on computer servers in Europe to improve oversight, Reuters reported.

Before any concrete steps are taken by Europe, both the lawmakers and the EC need to gather support of EU member states, some of which have been reluctant to get tough with the US, despite vigorous rhetoric.

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