Alternatives to free movement

LCHR’s preference is for a post-Brexit immigration system based on free movement or a variation of free movement. However, if this proves impossible to attain, it will be vital for Labour to ensure the most damaging aspects of the current non-EU system are not foisted on EU nationals.

In our latest briefing, we explore the pitfalls of the current system and argue that any new system implemented for EU nationals arriving in the UK from January 2021 should not mirror it.

Would you like to join LCHR’s board of directors?

LCHR is now advertising for a new non-executive director to sit on our board. If you’re an LCHR member, or if you join before the deadline, you are eligible and welcome to apply.

Please view a description of the role here. Please note, this is an incredible opportunity to get involved in the running of LCHR, but it’s also a serious responsibility. Being a non-executive director carries legal responsibilities, which you can read more about here.

If you would like to apply, please send your CV and a cover letter to andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk by the deadline (22 April). Candidates will be shortlisted, interviewed, and then appointed by the current board. We look forward to your application!

Concerns about Voter ID pilot

A guest blog by LCHR member, Dermot Mckibbin

The Government has announced that a pilot scheme will be set up to require voters to produce identification in the polling booth prior to voting. Local councils will decide on what is suitable identification, and if voters do not have the required identification they will not be able to vote. Postal votes will be unaffected.

Four pilot exercises will be conducted in Bromley (Conservative) Watford (Lib Dem), Woking, and Gosport (both Conservative).  After the pilots have been evaluated, a decision by the Government’s Cabinet Office will be taken whether to roll out the practice nationally or not.

It is not clear whether voters have to produce both photographic and non-photographic identification at the same time. No decision has been made about what type of identification is acceptable. The details have still to be worked out. It appears that the Cabinet Office will be involved in the decision-making process as a statutory instrument will be required.

The voter ID requirement was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2003. Turnout for the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections was 68.8% in 1998, 63.1% in 2003, 62.3% in 2007, 55.7% in 2011, 54.9% in 2016 and 64.8% in 2017. An Electoral Commission report on the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections fails to even consider whether the fall in voter turnout was due to the ID requirement issue.

The Electoral Reform Society is opposed to voter ID. 51.4 million votes were cast in 2015. There were 130 allegations of voting fraud and only 26 were for voter impersonation. This represents 0.00005% of the votes cast. The Government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

In the 2011 census, 9.5 million people stated that they had no passport, 9 million did not have a driving licence, and – in 2013/4 – 1.7 million did not have a bank account. Many of these people are likely to have low incomes.

There are some legal problems with the Government’s approach. The courts can scrutinise decisions made by Government via the process of judicial review. It may be that the courts would strike down this scheme as the decision is disproportionate to the problem it seeks to remedy. Challenges to government decisions in the courts via judicial review are an expensive business, though group funding can be successful.

By virtue of Article 3 of the First protocol in the European Convention of Human Rights, The United Kingdom undertakes to hold free elections. Strasbourg case-law has established that any interference with the implied right to vote must be proportionate. The European Council on Human Rights has a code of practice on electoral matters. Any deprivation of the right to vote must be subject to the principle of proportionality.

If Labour cannot change this policy in Parliament, progressive citizens should band together to fund raise to challenge this restriction on the right to vote in the courts.

Dermot Mckibbin
Beckenham CLP

Launching Fair & Free – LCHR & Fabian Society pamphlet

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new pamphlet on Labour, liberty and human rights published by the Fabian Society and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. Fair and Free includes essays by MPs, academics and human rights experts setting out a fresh vision of human rights and liberty.

With an introduction by shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti, the collection initiates a new debate on how to safeguard our freedoms in this era of uncertainty and polarisation.

In her contribution, Lisa Nandy MP argues that in future the role of governments must be to facilitate shared decision-making, not simply make those decisions themselves. “Without this, more complete democracy, the concept of democracy will continue to be contested and freedom will remain, as Janis Joplin once said, another word for nothing left to lose,” she writes. “Now that we have seen the disastrous political consequences that despair breeds, it would be criminal not to take heed.”

Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh MP argues against ‘mission creep’ on internet liberties, encryption and moves around facial recognition software. “Just as we hold the police accountable in their use of force, so must we do so in their use of data and any violation of our privacy,” she writes. “To do otherwise questions their legitimacy, which must absolutely be sustained as without it, we fail the fundamental test of the British model of policing – the ability to police by consent.”

The chapters are:

  • Dr Jason Brock, teaching fellow in intellectual history and history of political thought at Royal Holloway, University of London, writes on how Labour talks about liberty
  • Dr Andrew Fagan director of academic studies at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre writes on economic and social rights as human rights;
  • Frank Field Labour MP for Birkenhead and Andrew Forsey head of Frank Field’s parliamentary office revisit the ‘rights and responsibilities’ debate;
  • Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and shadow policing minister writes on Labour and law and order;
  • Dr Laura Janes, legal director at the Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity that has no political affiliations writes on rights for all;
  • Virginia Mantouvalou, professor of human rights and labour law at University College London writes on human rights, work and exploitation;
  • Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan outlines a new vision of liberty
  • Andrew Noakes, director of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, asks what a post-Brexit immigration should look like;
  • Robert Sharp, head of campaigns at English Pen, an organisation which works to defend and promote freedom of expression writes on privacy, freedom of expression and human rights.

Robert Sharp, head of campaigns at English Pen, argues for stronger support for free speech and human rights at home and abroad. “Post-Brexit, the UK will be making dozens of new trade deals and will take on full responsibility for declaring what can be exported where,” he writes. “A Labour government can ensure that those trade deals are tied to support for free speech and human rights. Such a foreign policy will benefit everyone. But to make it work we need to get our own house in order first.”

Andrew Fagan, director of academic studies at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, calls for economic and social rights to be put at the centre of the human rights debate. “Economic and social entitlements are not discretionary human rights. Thinking of oneself as a bearer of fundamental human rights is inherently empowering and fundamentally alters the terms of the social contract between the powerful and the powerless. From the perspective of human rights, the poor and the marginalised are not the ‘losers’ they are sometimes portrayed as, but human beings whose fundamental rights are being violated.”

We hope you enjoy the pamphlet!

Annual members’ consultation

We’ve just launched our annual members’ consultation, which will help determine what we campaign on in 2018. If you’re not an LCHR member yet, you can join now to participate in the survey and help shape our work.

If you’re a member you should have received the survey by email. If you’re not signed up to receive emails, please contact andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk to receive the survey directly.

 

Brexit & human rights project

Today, as the government begins Brexit negotiations with the European Union, LCHR embarks on a new project, ‘Brexit & human rights’, a year-long policy and advocacy project which will run from June 2017 to June 2018. Our aim is to influence Brexit and post-Brexit policy in Labour and progressive circles, in order to make it compatible with human rights. You can see more about the project on our dedicated website, here.

With the assistance of a group of expert advisors, and with input from all the different constituent parts of the Labour movement, LCHR will examine the challenges and opportunities that Brexit poses for human rights in the UK. We will invite submissions from MPs, trade unions, civil society, Labour CLPs and members, and like-minded political parties, and holding high-level workshops focusing on the key issues. We will produce policy analysis and ideas to help inform the Labour Party and other progressive parties on how to ensure human rights are protected during and after Brexit.

The five key issues we are focusing on are:

  • Citizens’ rights, such as the residency rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
  • The immigration system after Brexit.
  • Human rights in post-Brexit trade deals.
  • Equality and employment rights.
  • Hate crimes and xenophobia.

Those on LCHR’s mailing list will get automatic monthly updates on the project within our regular newsletter, but if you’d like to sign up for separate updates you can do so here.