Judgment call: the case for leaving the ECHR

The debate about the European Convention on Human Rights is in danger of being diverted into irrelevant byways. Hostility to the convention has become a trademark of the right wing of the Conservative party, which invites unnecessary partisanship. This is unfortunate, because the United Kingdom’s adherence to the convention raises a major constitutional issue which ought to concern people all across the political spectrum. It is far more important than Suella Braverman’s battles with boat people and ‘lefty lawyers’. Yet so far, the debate has rarely risen above the level of empty slogans, meaningless mantras and misleading claims. The real purpose of the convention is to make us accept rights

Europe’s human rights judges are right not to ban compulsory vaccines

If you think public health authorities in England are overbearing, spare a thought for the Czechs. Parents who fail to have children vaccinated face being fined or having their offspring excluded from nurseries. Now, in a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights, has backed that policy. But even critics aghast at the thought of compulsory vaccinations should welcome the court’s verdict. Why? Because human rights judges should not be butting in here. The Czech law bends over backwards to accommodate welfare concerns: vaccinations are free; there are exceptions for good medical reasons; and any vaccine-generated injury is automatically compensated. Yet it was still an obvious target for human rights challenge on

The ECHR’s ruling on defaming Mohammed is bad news for Muslims | 3 November 2018

In a monumental irony, the ECHR’s agreement with an Austrian court that offensive comments about the Prophet Mohammed were ‘beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate’ has handed a big victory to both Islamists and Islamophobes – while infantilising believing Muslims everywhere. The case concerns an unnamed Austrian woman who held a number of seminars during which she portrayed the Prophet as a paedophile. After she was convicted by an Austrian court of ‘disparaging religion’ (and fined nearly €500), she appealed to the ECHR claiming the punishment breached her right to free expression. The court disagreed. As a practising Muslim, I find this notion – that the Prophet was

Laying down the law

A great test of political leadership is how well you deal with vested interests on your own side. In his first speech as Lord Chancellor this week, Michael Gove has shown himself willing to tackle a profession which has long been comfortable with Conservative governments and whose reform, as a consequence, is long overdue. A legal system designed from scratch would not resemble what we have now. The only thing wrong with Michael Gove’s observation that Britain has a ‘two-nation’ justice system is that he should really have said three nations. Like the central London property market, the courts have become the preserve of the very rich and the very

Gove vs the Euro-judges

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Daniel Hannan and Greg Callus discuss the battles ahead for Michael Gove” startat=42] Listen [/audioplayer]They have taken to calling themselves the ‘Runnymede Tories’: those Conservative MPs who, knowing that David Cameron has a majority of just 12, want to sabotage his manifesto commitment to end the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Britain. Well, sorry chaps, but that name is taken. The actual Runnymede Tories — that is, the Conservatives elected to Runnymede Borough Council — will be gathering next month on the bank of the Thames to celebrate the anniversary of Magna Carta. They — we, I should say, since I’m closely involved

Gove, gone

‘There’s no shame in a cabinet to win the next election,’ declared an exasperated senior No. 10 figure on Tuesday night. This week’s reshuffle was not one for the purists: it was designed with campaigning, not governing, in mind. With less than ten months to go to polling day, politics trumps policy. This is why Michael Gove is moving from the Department for Education to become Chief Whip. The test of this shake-up will be whether the Tories win the next election or not. This reshuffle demonstrated that Tory modernisation is not about measures anymore but men — and women. The party has spent most of David Cameron’s leadership trying

After Woolwich, what will change?

The decapitation of a British soldier on a street in London is the latest disgusting new low in this country’s experience of Islamist terror. But everything else in the aftermath of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby is hideously familiar. What the country has gone through since last Wednesday is the same endless turning over of clichés about terror which we have now heard for years. But one thing is clear. Nothing will be done. This country simply will not deal with the extremists. Not just because part of our political leadership does not want us to, but because those who do want to do something cannot. As on each