T19 – Leaping Out Of The Box – Responses

T19 Responses – audio transcript.

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One Response to T19 – Leaping Out Of The Box – Responses

  1. Alice says:

    I’d also like to thank Conor for a series of essays that has been so satisfying to read and such a therapeutic antidote to the poverty of much mainstream public and political discussion about human rights – and about what is ubiquitously referred to as the need for fairness. This is a term that has become so drained of meaning as to be worthless (so many acts of social vandalism by the coalition apparently being ‘tough but fair’), despite the efforts of Will Hutton and others to define fairness and place it centre stage politically.

    The benefit of human rights is that they offer a coherent and transparent framework of standards and principles to examine the conduct and impact of government actions – a framework that governments themselves have signed up to, saving it from being a purely oppositional project. I think it’s important that human rights therefore also give us a way of talking about the state and our relationship with it, which moves beyond the facile ‘big society’ rhetoric and the cul-de-sac that Labour, in its authoritarian drift, has gone down.

    But a note of pessimism: I find that it is still hard to get human rights to be viewed as a language that can be instrumental and ‘capture the moment’ in the way Conor suggests. The appallingly low level of discussion about prisoners’ rights and Strasbourg was only the latest example. We may (think we) know why this is so – tabloid mischief, Tory xenophobia and the rest – but the resistance (or at least indifference) is also evident in public services and the voluntary sector. It is a sad fact that the worse the social dislocation from austerity, the more human rights might fight their way into the political arena – and I agree with Conor that this is where the cause of human rights must be argued for and won.