Letter to the Editor of the Times (not published(!))
The current debate about the UK’s supposed loss of sovereignty by virtue of membership of the EU seems
to be misplaced. Certainly we do appear to have lost sovereignty in the last 40-50 years, but we may
have done this to ourselves, by passing successive legislation which has had unexpected consequences,
from which we lack the wit to extricate ourselves. And the same legislation has had a deleterious effect
on our national culture and psyche.
I refer to four legislative activities, each of which seems reasonable and sensible on its own, but which
have mutually interacted to our detriment: Laws supporting Political Correctness; Health and Safety;
Human Rights; and the legal profession.
Political Correctness is designed to avoid offence or disadvantage to any particular group of people in
society. Seems reasonable. In practice it has resulted in situations like that in Rotherham, a widespread
loss of free speech and the rise of trolls, social critics and witch hunters, each with their own narrow
interpretation of “correct,” and “that’s racist,” when either it isn’t racist, or its simply bad manners and rude. Our culture has been changed, and not for the better; instead of tolerance, we have bigotry. Instead of humour, we have four letter words on tv and social media, where previously such language would have been considered “not in polite use,” or even contrary to the Public Order Act.
Health and Safety has become a national joke and it should not be, but the practice has been
inadvertently framed in such a way that it cannot work sensibly. Practitioners have amply demonstrated
that they are unable to carry out reasonable risk assessments. Hence bans on conkers and hand-stands
in the playground; photography in public places; and police being sued when a PC hurt her ankle when
investigating a potential intruder. Time to reframe the legislation so that such nonsenses cannot occur.
Human Rights. The UK is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. Seems sensible
and reasonable. Unfortunately it is not; it has been used to overrule our British laws in ways – with
which we are all familiar - that we find offensive. Not only should we withdraw from the Convention,
but with the experiences gained we should then refrain from instituting our own laws of Human Rights:
the concept is fraught. Authority and Law should not grant or circumscribe human rights. Like respect,
these are earned, and like respect, they can be lost.
The UK has become hooked on the use of law to pursue those who may, or may not have done
supposed evil–often decades ago. This contemporary pastime – witch-hunting – has been made
possible by freedoms for the legal profession, especially no win-no fee schemes which encourage the
pursuit of questionable quarry by seekers after revenge and compensation. While some of this is
unquestionably justified, much of it is not – and it should not have been turned into a national pastime
by abuses within the legal system.
Repealing/reframing these various laws and practices will go a very long way to restoring our sense of
sovereignty in the UK, will restore our sense of British-ness regardless of whether, or not, we remain in