If the Liberal Democrats exist for anything then it is to defend our fundamental human rights.
In the aftermath of the atrocities of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called for a human rights charter, speaking of the need for a Convention on Human Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights was one of the greatest British exports to the world, and for a Conservative Prime Minister to be talking of legislating to end the British Human Rights Act, which enshrines that European Convention into British Law shows just how far removed from Churchill’s party they now are.
Liberal Democrats do not have time to sit and lick our wounds over the defeat of last week. Now more than ever our nation needs Liberals to unite in the singular cause of defending the human rights of the British people.
Amongst the rights that are threatened are the right to education, free elections and liberty, and if the Conservatives get their way then gone is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The Liberal Democrats in Government blocked the snooper’s charter but if the Human Rights Act is repealed then gone is the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions.
The Liberal Democrats in Government protected Trades Union rights, but if the Human Rights Act is repealed then gone are the right to freedom of assembly and association and the right to freedom of expression, and gone is the right to be free from slavery or forced labour.
The Liberal Democrats condemned and ended the extraordinary rendition of prisoners to torture, and the detention of the children of asylum seekers in detention camps. If the Conservatives get their way then gone is the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way, gone is the right not to be punished for something which wasn’t against the law.
The Liberal Democrats are proud to have introduced the right in this country for same sex couples to marry, but if the Conservatives get their way then gone is the right to marry and found a family.
Indeed the very right to life is gone.
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.
We spent the last five years frustrating the Conservative ambitions, now more than ever we must unite not to frustrate them but to stop them.