Yesterday evening lawyers, politicians and campaigners gathered in the House of Lords, united by our determination to ensure that the Modern Slavery Bill does not ignore the plight of those brought to this country as domestic workers.
“If human nature does alter it will be because individuals manage to look at themselves in a new way. Here and there people — a very few people, but a few novelists are among them — are trying to do this.”
EM Forster, 1927
The Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry MP has been forced to resign from the Shadow Cabinet after a Twitterstorm in the wake of yesterday’s Rochester and Strood by-election. Raised by a single mother on a Council Estate, she went on to study law in preparation for a career of public service as an equality and anti-racism campaigner, respected legal aid barrister and then a Member of Parliament which she entered in 2005.
The House of Commons will this afternoon debate 35 EU justice and home affairs measures including the European Arrest Warrant. The process by which MPs were asked to approve these measures last week was an insult to the constitutional position of Parliament. When discussing the EAW today, rather than focus on the same old ‘in, out, in, out’, we hope Members of the House will do what is really necessary and demand a serious shake up.
In a comment piece in the Financial Times on his first day in office, the new Director of GCHQ has accused US tech companies of being “command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals” aiding and abetting murder and child abuse. Robert Hannigan's decision to “enter the debate” at all is as extraordinary as his claims and threats. In a parliamentary democracy based on the Rule of Law, the person listening to the headphones shouldn’t be holding the microphone. He is a civil servant, not a Government Minister, and he has wandered dangerously far from his constitutional brief.
Lascelles Abercrombie, our grandfather, was one of the original Vice-Presidents of the Council for Civil Liberties. A poet, academic and critic, he was Professor of English Literature at Bedford College, University of London in the 1930s.
MPs will today debate an amendment to the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill that would restore vital protections for domestic workers – protections which were stripped away by the very same Government back in April 2012.
Lib Dem delegates joined us in Glasgow for a discussion of rights and freedoms so important to the Party's identity. President Tim Farron joined Kate Alexander, Coordinator of Scottish Detainee Visitors, on our panel. We'd hoped to hear from the Business Secretary, who sadly didn't make it, but Telegraph columnist Mary Riddell, came to the rescue.
Today the Conservatives unleashed their long-awaited plans to repeal our Human Rights Act (HRA) and replace it with a so-called “British Bill of Rights” (BBR). The proposals are legally illiterate, politically provocative and designed to put us on a collision course with the Court of Human Rights and likely lead to the UK’s ultimate departure from the Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe. They will also further destabilise the Union.