The Human Rights Act is a good idea. So is Utopia. How many, after all, would actively not want others to be happy? Would actively want others to be tortured? Denied safety of home and family and freedom to think? (Well, Labour would rather deny that last 'right', but moving swiftly on...) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live in a heaven on earth? Unfortunately, what Marx didn't bargain for when he pushed for the adoption of Communism which, to all intents and purposes, is a secularised form of Christianity as originally conceived in the Gospels, was humanity. Socialism works fine as long as there are no people inconveniently getting in the way of progress and asking questions and trying to get ahead and not wanting to be equal. It tends to break down when people sneer at bad accents and bad table manners and persist, despite socialist governments' desperate efforts, in believing that education should be elitist. The Human Rights Act is perhaps the pinnacle of socialist achievement, and therein lies its fundamental flaw. It only allows people to be grateful for the 'rights' handed out and has no safeguards against abuses.
The UK government in its wisdom adopted this one-size-fits-all-generic-Roman-law-based piece of legislation, overturning a good 1200 years of a fine legal system painstakingly built up on past precedent distinct from that being developed on the Continent. Rather than helping victims of crimes - something the English legal system used to be rather good at - the legislature has been forced to find on behalf of the criminals, rather than the victims. It's rather like rewarding the architects of the financial crisis for their destruction; in Abu Qatada's case, we are paying him because after holding him for too long without trial we now want to extradite him to a country where he might be tortured on the basis that he attempted to incite mass slaughter in Britain.
And other, similarly shocking abuses have been perpetrated against the victims of crimes solely because of the HRA. Recall, for example, the case of the woman who was raped by a violent African immigrant who'd spent most of his time in the UK in prison; the judge refused to deport him to his home country because he would be too unaccustomed to the culture (one wonders how much of the UK he can learn from a jail cell). So he's cooling his heels at Her Majesty's leisure; and the rape victim's taxes are going towards his upkeep. She is having to pay for her attacker to have three square meals a day and free dental treatment. And, given the economic climate, it is possible that she has lost her job whilst the thug who brutalised her is enjoying far greater security: he doesn't have to worry about bill-paying. She and the rest of Britain are paying the bills for him, just as they are paying the bills of the repulsive thugs who kicked Gary Newlove to death - and then appealed for reduced prison sentences on the basis of their 'human rights'.
I am often conscious of a slightly giddy, panicked sensation as though I've stepped through the Looking Glass: everything is back-to-front. Bankers take bonuses from the taxpayer. Starbucks says 'sorry' to Mandelson for telling the truth. Clarkson is condemned for making an observation. Heroin dealers are allowed to carry on dealing, whilst those who challenge them are thrown in jail. Benefits cheats go to jail, and Jacqui Smith keeps on raking in the allowances. Speaking about religion in the public sector is a sacking offence, Geert Wilders is banned, but marches supporting Hamas in Gaza are supported and anti-Semitic plays attract large audiences. The intellectuals are in a war with the averages and the averages are winning. And Abu Qatada, now in the UK indefinitely, is paid £2,500 for indignities against his person in a country that proposes to ostracise Muslim clerics who shun the Western way of life. Is there no end to the insanity?