Bill of Rights, anyone?

As part of his Britishness agenda, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has set in motion a process of constitutional reform – or preparing for it, at least. A written bill of rights (and responsibilities, presumably) was one of the options to be considered.

Now that he’s going to be writing a book on his favourite subject (no, not prudence – it’s “Britishness”, again) and trying to revive his premiership with an economic rejaunch, will Brown have time to draw up a list of rights? There won’t be many, since he’s all for internment and the anti-union laws…

Paul Feldman at A World To Win writes:

Parliament’s joint committee on human rights report acknowledges that both major parties are lukewarm about the idea, so the chances of the Bill becoming law are tiny. Secondly, the economic and social rights outlined by the committee would not be enforceable in law – they would be a statement of rights and no more.


Recent surveys show that more than 75% of those questioned favoured a Bill of Rights, with massive majorities in favour of the right to privacy, to a fair trial, trade union rights, hospital treatment and housing. The market state that has replaced the parliamentary state has no interest in enshrining these principles, let alone making them enforceable.

Under these conditions, the struggle to establish permanent democratic, social and economic rights can only succeed in the context of a new, democratic state that reflects the aspirations of the presently powerless majority. How to achieve this aim is one of the key themes of our Stand Up for Your Rights festival on October 18.


2 Responses to “Bill of Rights, anyone?”

  1. Leftwing Criminologist Says:

    that the thing about rights, they will not be given, they have to be fought for.

  2. David Lindsay Says:

    Do economic and social rights belong in a Bill of Rights?


    After all, that would entail a significant transfer of power over economic and social policy from elected politicians to the judiciary. And that would in turn entail such a significant, even if indirect, transfer of power over taxation.

    Instead, the way to fight want, idleness, ignorance, squalor and ill health is to organise and support candidates and parties to that end.

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