Human rights or Tory rites?

THE FAR-right challenge to the Tories from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has rattled the Conservative Campaign HQ. The Tories now say that they will scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act if they win the next election and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights” if a series of changes, including the right to veto judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, is not accepted. This would jeopardise Britain’s membership of the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 and whose 47 members include all EU countries and others including Russia and Turkey.

The Tory plan has raised a storm of protest from their Liberal Democrat coalition allies as well as the small band of Europhiles, led by old guard Tory Ken Clarke, within their own ranks who see it as an attempt to restrict civil liberty in Britain and as a further step to disengage from the European Union.

They are, of course, right on both counts. It goes without saying that a Tory “bill of rights” would only have one purpose — to empower the courts to impose whatever the bourgeoisie want at any given time. Secondly withdrawing from the European Court would jeopardise Britain’s membership of the European Union because membership of the Council of Europe is a requirement for all EU member states.

At least that’s what David Cameron wants those thinking of deserting to UKIP think. The Tory leader knows UKIP is going to try to make the EU the central issue at the next election and he’s desperate to undercut their platform while avoiding a call for total withdrawal because that would split his party.

Calls for petitions and protests on this issue are all very well but the only practical way to defeat the Tory move is to ensure that Labour wins the next election outright. And that is by no means a certainty.

Labour’s lead in the opinion polls has narrowed in recent weeks. The media pundits say this is largely due to Ed Miliband’s mediocre performance at Labour Party conference this year. But the problem is not Miliband’s lack of oratorical skills. It’s Labour’s lack of any serious proposals on the agenda to help the unions and the millions of working people who want to see an end to austerity.

Miliband & Co still think that the slump in the Liberal- Democrats fortunes and the rise of UKIP will hand them victory on a plate.

Labour’s problem is that its right-wing leaders believe they can administer the capitalist economy better than the Conservatives and refuse to go beyond the parameters set by the bourgeoisie in dealing with the slump. They are quite content, like the Blairites who went before them, to let the capitalists, industrialists and landowners live off the fat of the land while millions of workers make do on bread-line wages or pitiful state welfare hand-outs.

They talk about social justice and defence of the “Welfare State” but they believe that they can simply buy off the workers with a few paltry neo-Keynesian reforms that do nothing to tackle the gross inequality and exploitation that exists in Britain today. They need to think again.

Labour must take up the demands from the union movement — the movement that funds virtually all its efforts — if it wants to mobilise the millions against the Tories and Liberal Democrats at the vote next year.