SCC cowards cut Ipswich adrift

Suffolk County Council look set to make a historically stupid decision and cancel the Upper Orwell Crossings project; three bridges across the Orwell that would relieve traffic through the town and create a huge boost to the economy.

Twenty percent reductions in journey times at rush hour would result in £200 million in economic benefits from journey reliability and business. A further £400 million in economic benefits from transport related improvements. And a whopping £6.5 billion in economic benefits to the wider town and East Suffolk.

Ipswich has the highest rates of poverty in Suffolk. It has the highest level of intervention spending from the County Council. Every 1% increase in the Ipswich economy has a massive impact on the level that the County Council has to spend on services that come with deprived areas. And every 1% increase in the Ipswich economy also sparks extra council tax income. So economic improvement is a win win for the council.

Yet Suffolk are proposing to slash this capital spending, cancelling the bridges and destroying the economic boost that the scheme will have in the town – consequently forgoing the additional income and the savings that come from improving the economy of the County Town.

For those Suffolk County Councillors with rural seats who think that the problems of Ipswich end at the border, think about this. You are telling Government that you are incapable of delivering major infrastructure investment – guaranteeing when funds are needed, Treasury will be spending elsewhere. So by cutting Ipswich adrift, you are destroying your own hopes of infrastructure spending. Money will not come for any scheme Suffolk County Council is involved in, because you are hanging a sign out saying “we can’t deliver”.

For the Suffolk Tories whose seats surround Ipswich, consider the number of your voters who commute into the town every day, all of whom would have seen a boost from this scheme – an almost 20% cut in travel times.

For the Suffolk Tories in the west and north of the county, who generally don’t care about Ipswich, think about this – the more Ipswich fails, the less money there is to spend on services in your districts.

If Suffolk County Council goes ahead and cancels the bridge project, this will be the biggest mistake the council has made since Labour hiked tax rates by 18.5%. They are guaranteeing NO Ipswich northern bypass, NO Government funding for an Elmswell bypass, NO Government funding for any highways improvements on the A12 at the four villages. Treasury will simply say you cannot deliver and shut up shop.

This decision, if it is made on Monday night, will be an absolute disaster for the town. It is an act of total cowardice.


Tories must remember why tax cuts help

Britain’s poorly paid public sector workers deserve a pay rise, says Jeremy Corbyn.

Britain’s poorly paid public sector workers will lose £3,000 in salary unless pay policies end, says the TUC.

Government poised to spend £4 billion to give public sector workers a pay rise, suggest the newspaper headlines.

Yet again, the Tories don’t appear to be prepared to defend their own record in Government, preferring instead to concede yet more ground to the socialists running Labour.

You see the truth is that every full time employee has received an increase in take home pay. It is true that the value of this is falling, as inflation is finally approaching historic norms, but it is still a substantial rise in the take home pay of every full time employee – private or public sector.

How has this rise in take home pay come about? Well, tax cuts. In 2010, the personal allowance meant employees paid taxes on every penny earned above £6,475. From this year that personal allowance has risen to £11,500. Yes that’s an extra £5,025 that you don’t pay tax on – worth at least £1,155 in additional pay.

If the Government has £4 billion to splurge on largesse – unlikely given the deficit still stands at £43 billion, and the debt to GDP ratio has now grown to 89.3% – then it should absolutely NOT spend that money on increasing public sector pay.

That might seem harsh, but it would be far better to spend that money on giving EVERYONE a pay rise, by cutting taxes. A 1% cut in the basic rate of income tax would cost marginally more than an increase in public sector pay, but would give EVERYONE a rise in their pay cheque.

Mr Corbyn may not have a decent grasp of economics. After all, he did suggest that Venezuela was a good example for the UK to follow.

But there is no excuse for the Tories in Government to forget the basics of running a country. It is a massive over-simplification, but lets give hard working people a further rise in their take home pay – by cutting their taxes.

Communicate better, Lib Dem troll tells blogger

Earlier today I reacted to a snide tweet from a Lib Dem campaigner in a way that has left me uneasy. Mark Valladeres, who tweets as @HonLadyMark because his wife is Baroness Scott of Needham Market, accused me of poor communication skills, and I bit. Hard.

Now all political campaigners will tell you about how patronising Lib Dems have sneered at them, and in this age of social media it is all too easy to let it bother you. I usually don’t, but that is no excuse.

Mr Valladeres suggests that I learn to communicate better, after his Lib Dem colleague, my successor as a County Councillor, Caroline Page, warped the phrasing of a tweet to suggest that I believed news should be faked. As someone who takes the power of the media and the dedication the majority of journalists give to balance very seriously, I was pretty insulted by that. Councillor Page has form for deliberately misrepresenting me, so I snipped back at her.

Mr Valladeres’ intervention shouldn’t have rattled me, but as someone who made a living communicating, I objected to being told that Lib Dem lies were my own fault.

Now it is no secret that I have a very low opinion of Liberal Democrat activists, especially those in Woodbridge. Their behaviour during my 2004 by-election victory confirmed to me that they are the dirtiest and most hypocritical of campaigners, bending electoral law to the very edge, and indeed in one case breaking it, though this was never proven.

Among their many misdeeds during that election were telephone calls to Tory supporters suggesting that a 24 year old candidate was simply too young to be able to comprehend the complexity of Council business – a suggestion that was proven hypocritical by the first Lib Dem County Councillor to welcome me to the Council once I was elected, with the words “It’s so nice to have some young people on the Council.” They were, I recollect, spoken by Cllr Ros Scott. I’ve never forgotten the hypocrisy.

Another misdeed was when a former Lib Dem Town Councillor encountered one of my more senior leafleters on polling day. Lying through his teeth, he told this elderly gentleman that he was breaking the law by leafleting on polling day, and that if he didn’t throw his leaflets in the bin, he would call the police and have him arrested. Disgusting and disgraceful behaviour towards a man in his eighties who was upset and frightened by the incident. It is, of course, completely legal to deliver leaflets on polling day, and all political parties do so.

The same former Lib Dem Town Councillor was himself later seen wandering around the High School with a camera, attempting to take photographs of the polling station. Quite why was never clear.

These are merely three incidents from one election campaign. I fought six election campaigns in Woodbridge, five as a Tory (one as an Independent when I was just 21). In every single one of those election campaigns, the Lib Dems lied, cheated and claimed credit for someone elses achievements. None of this will surprise anyone who has ever been involved in an election campaign against the dirtiest party of them all. They even put in their campaign manual to “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly“.

So in conclusion, I shouldn’t have told Mr Valladeres to “Bog Off” or called him patronising. I shouldn’t let their sneering attitude, or snide reference to long past events, get to me. After all, having campaigned hard for Brexit, and seen the Lib Dem Remain Fanatics lose 375 deposits in the latest General Election, I should console myself with the knowledge that at least the rest of the country sees them for what they are – shameless, wicked, malicious, nasty, and losers.


May should quit. NOW.

Theresa must go. That is the conclusion I’ve come to after a weekend of her feeble defence, and a careful consideration of the errors made by the Conservative Party that have led us to here.

It is no secret that I didn’t think she was up to being Prime Minister when she was effectively crowned thus in the Tory leadership election last year, after David Cameron cut and run. Far from an “Anyone but Boris” campaign, I’d have backed anyone but Theresa. Her endless thirst for the role had led her to make poor policy decisions as Home Secretary, and her antipathy towards Human Rights, which should have excluded her from the role, was aimed at keeping the right wing of the party on side; she was, after all, Party Chairman under Iain Duncan Smith, when the Tory Party was at its most toxic.

Theresa’s very visible flaws have become glaringly obvious now she has called an election she didn’t need to, campaigned appallingly badly, and then effectively enhanced a proto-Communist, terrorist appeasing, Iranian and Russian supporting neophyte in Jeremy Corbyn as Opposition Leader.

Worse, she has retoxified the Tory Party, by hitching the majority wagon to the vagaries of the Democratic Unionists, a party of Christian fundamentalists whose beliefs are more in line with the US Republican Party, not a modern democratic right wing party. Trump would not seem to be bonkers in comparison to some of the DUP. Even their relatively presentable Westminster Leader, Nigel Dodds, was criticised for appearing on a platform following the sectarian murder of two terrorists.

There are a number of charges against Theresa May, which will be vexing Tory MPs as they return to Westminster. Firstly, and most heinously, she has presided over a reduction in the number of Tory MPs. David Cameron bequeathed her a Tory Party with 331 MPs, and she now has just 318 MPs. Losing a majority should be enough for her position to become flaky.

Secondly, the campaign itself was the worst in living memory. To be charitable, not all of this will be Theresa May’s fault; but how she takes advice and how she makes decisions is critical to this.

It would appear that nobody was “in charge” of the election campaign. Lynton Crosby was an advisor, as were Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, her recently sacked joint Chiefs of Staff. No doubt Patrick McLoughlin will have had an input as party Chairman. Clearly former Cabinet Office Minister and former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer will have been involved at some level, as he helped write the manifesto. You cannot run an election by committee, and you need one person in charge. In 2010 and 2015 that person was Lynton Crosby. It was only once he was promoted from “advisor” to boss that the ship stabilised, otherwise we could be looking at Prime Minister Corbyn today.

The decision to call a General Election was not, in itself, a terribly bad idea. At 47% in the polls, with Labour struggling on 29%, it seemed obvious that Mrs May would increase her majority, allowing her more freedom to manoeuvre over the Brexit talks; she wouldn’t have been reliant on a relatively small faction of Tory MPs not breaking ranks in one direction or the other. But to suggest, as she did, that it wasn’t called for entirely party political reasons was ridiculous and was rightly scoffed at by the public, who mostly shared the view of Brenda from Bristol – not another one!

But having called an unnecessary General Election, you have to make sure you bloody well win it. Yes, it’s great to have ambitious targets for taking seats in the North East and North West. And she certainly increased Tory support in swathes of seats. Had she not had such a bloody dreadful campaign, she’d likely have won dozens of new seats.

There is a rule about elections and the economy. Two years ago, the refrain “Long Term Economic Plan” was as unerringly uttered by Tory candidates as “Strong and Stable” was this time. This time, despite the promises of the Labour Shadow Chancellor to turn our economy into the “economic miracle that is Venezuela”, we barely heard anything about the economy.

This is because in the rush to call the election, Mrs May had forgotten to draft a manifesto, and so when the manifesto was rushed out, it didn’t include any costings. So, despite the IFS damning the Labour manifesto as unworkable, they also said that the Tories were not being honest with the voters. This made the economy almost impossible to campaign on.

Instead the Tories were left with a Presidential style election, which this country never really likes, promoting an uncosted manifesto and hoping that the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for his support for terrorists (IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah) and his views on shoot to kill and nuclear power would sway the country their way.

The problem for the Tories was that the Corbyn record on terror is so bad, it was dismissed by voters as made up. Nobody seems capable of believing that a British MP, that nice kind looking gentleman, would back the IRA.

Even when those who brought about the peace process, like Seamus Mallon and Ken Maginnis said he wasn’t involved, nobody believed it. They believed him when he said he fought for peace, despite Seamus Mallon, deputy to John Hume, the former Social Democratic and Labour Party leader and the architect of the peace process, telling The Sunday Times: “I never heard anyone mention Corbyn at all.

“He very clearly took the side of the IRA and that was incompatible, in my opinion, with working for peace.”

Lord Maginnis, the former Ulster Unionist MP, said: “I was central to the peace process and Corbyn had no participation in it that I was aware of.”

So, faced with an electorate who didn’t believe their claims about their opponent, a Leader who was about as wooden as the Trojan horse, and an election campaign that couldn’t mention the economy, the Tory campaign drowned. Rather than increasing the Tory majority won by hard graft in 2015, Theresa May’s hubris lost the Tories a majority and left her reliant on the DUP to cling to power.

All of this was avoidable. When Amber Rudd’s father sadly passed away, 48 hours before the Cambridge debate among party leaders, Theresa May could have stopped the bleeding and swung the country back to her. She could have appeared on that stage, won the debate, explained her points, and returned to Downing Street victorious. Except… her failings were that she was a wooden performer – even junior campaign staff called her the Maybot – and she is incapable of emoting.

It has been suggested to me in recent days that women in power are always considered to be witches, and are given a harder time than men in similar positions, especially when they don’t show their softer side. It is true that people expected more emotion from a female leader, but I don’t think they were any easier on Gordon Brown, whose social afflictions were such that he did all he could to avoid emoting.

I think that the campaign was basically sunk by two things; a Labour strategic masterstroke, in offering a £27,000 bribe to young voters, and Theresa May’s appalling character flaws, that make her unfit to be a Party Leader in the 21st Century.

It is time for her to make way for a leader more at ease with themselves and with their Conservative values. Whether that is Boris (please no) or David Davis, or Nicky Morgan, or Liam Fox, or any of the other likely runners and riders, it should absolutely not be Theresa May.

Copeland reaction reveals Labour in cloud cuckoo land

“The decline in Labour support in these areas did not start when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader; it started when a New Labour project took hold of our party and decided to ignore working class communities across the country. The fragility of Labour’s core vote in Scotland and the North was an issue long before Corbyn arrived as an easy scapegoat for the existential crisis that we face as a party. It would also be wrong to deny the impact of a concerted effort by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party to undermine Jeremy Corbyn since the day he was elected. Indeed Peter Mandelson proudly admitted recently that he works ‘every day to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’.”

That’s Liam Young writing in the Independent. He’s right, of course, the fragility in Labour’s support among the working classes was started under the middle class privately educated Oxford graduate, Blair, and continued under the middle class Edinburgh graduate Brown. It got worse under the middle class Oxford graduate Miliband, and the entire POINT of Corbyn was that he would appeal to the masses, supposedly. Quite how a middle class, privately educated professional objector and demonstrator was supposed to be the “champion of the workers” has always mystified me, and instead he has continued to allow the Labour support to decline to just those foolish enough to believe in policies that the majority of the public – 74% at the latest polling – do not support. You cannot win a general election when 3 in 4 people believe you to be wrong.

Ludicrously, Ian Lavery maintains today that Jeremy Corbyn is the most popular politician in the country.

These people need to wake up to reality, because while they are arguing over whether someone who left professional politics 10 years ago is still relevant now, the Tories are getting on with winning by-elections and running the country. And Labour’s positions, bonkers as they may be considered by most, are entirely irrelevant when they are not seen as a credible threat by the Government.

Ipswich marches against Trump

I’ve just been on my first protest in 23 years, to protest against the travel ban imposed by Executive Order under President Donald J. Trump.
The travel ban imposed against seven countries is not exactly a ban on Muslims; although these are Muslim majority countries, the ban does not include Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai or Lebanon.
However, it is intended to ban Muslims from the countries on the list; those from minority religions are specifically excluded.
In practice, the ban has been much more severe than was legally allowable even under the draconian Executive Order. This was, no doubt, because Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff were told how to interpret it by the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC that now includes White Supremacist Steve Bannon, but no longer includes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Director of National Intelligence. People you might think have an input on, well, National Security.
In practice the ban has led to children being handcuffed, babies being left unfed as mothers were put in cells, at least one death as a woman who needed urgent surgery was turned back at the airport, and several tens of thousands of unfair, unnecessary and unAmerican actions against refugees and even those with leave to remain in the United States (Green Card Holders).
The ban does not apply to joint UK Passport Holders, so as a UK Passport Holder it could not apply to me, even if I had been born in one of the relevant countries. So why did I protest today?
Well first of all, the Rule of Law is important to me. The imposition of this Executive Order breaks the US Constitution (the Equal Protection clause) and is fundamentally against a number of treaties signed by previous US Presidents and ratified by Congress. In its intent, in its drafting and in its practice, this Executive Order is unconstitutional and illegal, which is why a stay was issued by the Federal Court in Washington State. No doubt the Department of Justice (about to become an oxymoron under AG Sessions) will appeal to the Ninth Circuit, although if they lose there they might want to reconsider before sending it to the Supreme Court of the United States, since they will almost certainly throw it out and that could make life harder for this administration. We can only hope.
Secondly, I want to be able to look future generations in the eye and tell them that when this awful man with tiny hands tried to turn the Republic into an Empire, I was one of millions who stood up and said no.
Thirdly, I wanted to stand in solidarity with the millions of honest Americans who have been appalled at what this monster is doing to their country in just two weeks. In towns and cities across America, people are standing up and saying no. They need to know that the world stands with them.
So my answer to the question “why were you marching” has got to be why weren’t you!

Brexit needs democratic legitimacy of Commons vote

Sir Humphrey Appleby once intoned to Jim Hacker, “Minister, if you’re going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

This particular phrase has stuck in my mind several times since Theresa May took over as Prime Minister with an insistence that her entire plan for leaving the EU was that Brexit means Brexit.

I voted to Leave the European Union, and one of the many reasons I voted to leave was because I wanted more power in the hands of the House of Commons and British Parliamentarians. The official slogan of the official vote leave campaign was “Take Back Control”.

Mrs May wasn’t on the Brexit side, and there was considerable disquiet from Brexit voters that the new Prime Minister was a Remainer. It has left her with little legitimacy from either Brexit or Remain voters, and therefore with little leeway in implementing policy.

Prominent Leave campaigner Peter Bone MP today put forward a Private Members Bill to enable a notification under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Such a notification is a formality that is required before we start to negotiate on the terms of our exit.

Yet the notification has not been made – and some Brexiteers fear it will never be made. This is in part because of the legal disagreement between the Government and the Judiciary over the right of the Royal Prerogative to make the notification.

Frankly the Government has gone down the wrong path and it ought to recognise that.

By insisting that the Prime Minister has the ability to make a notification under Article 50, and that it doesn’t require an Act of Parliament, the Government has set off a chain of events that were entirely unnecessary.

This insistence has further enraged Brexit voters and made them feel genuine concern that the establishment is trying to frustrate the will of the British people.

It has emboldened Remain voters who believe that they are right to try and frustrate the will of the British people.

It has sparked the resignation of a Member of Parliament, Stephen Phillips QC, from the Government’s own side, who called the moves a “tyranny” and said the Government was acting in a way that was “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional and cuts across the rights and privileges of the legislature.”

It has lost a case in the High Court of England and Wales and looks about to lose in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Rather than continuing to avoid democratic institutions in a kamikaze attempt to avoid gifting further democratic legitimacy to the notification of Article 50, the Government should abandon the appeal to the Supreme Court, which many legal observers believe it is doomed to lose, and instead put its weight behind Peter Bone’s Private Members Bill, a move which would also give him the honour of sponsoring the Act of Parliament that finally begins our exit from the oppression of the European Union.

The only way to heal the deep divisions caused by Brexit is by ensuring democratic oversight of the entire process, and by winning a vote in the House of Commons to give expression to the will of the British people.

In other words, if the Government is going to do this very sensible thing, it should ensure it does it in a very sensible way…

Farage has no place as a British Diplomat

Following his bizarre pilgrimage to New York for a photo opportunity in a gold plated lift with the latest abomination on the world stage, Nigel Farage is now demanding to be appointed to some official Government role to negotiate with the United States.

Mr Farage is the temporary leader of the UK Independence Party, having resigned after the Referendum and sworn he was done with politics because he wanted his life back.

Five months later he is swooning at the sight of a racist misogynist moron being elected to one of the most powerful positions in the world. The meeting with Donald Trump was weird from the point of view of Mr Farage, but another huge blunder from the out-of-his-depth President-elect.

[This article isn’t about Mr Trump, but one does rather get the impression that he wasn’t really sure what the President does until his 90-minute meeting with Obama, and is now terrified as he realises how out of his depth he is.]

Mr Farage, meanwhile, demands that Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, appoints him to an official Government role to take advantage of his relationship with Mr Trump. I’m not sure what is more of a shock – that he has the chutzpah to suggest such a thing, or that Tory MPs as respected as Sir Gerald Howarth would think that it was a good idea.

Mr Farage is the temporary leader of the UK Independence Party. This is another political party, not a fringe of the Tories, no matter how much the left likes to suggest otherwise. UKIP candidates stand in elections, take votes that could otherwise go to Tory candidates, possible cost the Tories an overall majority in 2010, and certainly hold Council seats that were once Tory – Suffolk County Council would not be a hung council were it not for UKIP.

To suggest that a majority Tory government would appoint someone from another political party to such a vital relationship is bizarre enough, but what exactly does Mr Farage claim qualifies him to do the role? A political career spent sitting on various EU gravy trains while railing against the very organisation whose cash he is busy trousering?

The best person to lead the British Government’s relationship with the US Government is a professional diplomat, namely the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch. At a Governmental level it will be led by Theresa May, and Boris Johnson will negotiate with whoever Trump picks as Secretary of State, be it Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie or Sen Bob Corker.

Nigel Farage has nothing to offer the British Government; his time is past, his links to the vile racist elements of the Brexit campaign harmed that campaign and while they may endear him to the “Senior Counsellor to the President” Stephen Bannon – a racist white supremacist – they exclude him from ever having a role in any British Government post.

He should shut up and return to the obscurity he claims (from in front of the nearest TV camera) to crave.

Brexit must mean Brexit

One hundred and eleven days ago, some seventeen million people voted for this country to leave the European Union. That is a mandate larger than any Government, including this one, has ever had.

The backlash has been vicious and ongoing. Some one hundred and seventy days before the Prime Minister intends to have delivered notice to the EU, we have had a debate in the cradle of democracy, led by those who lost the election, whose entire purpose is to frustrate the seventeen million people who voted for us to leave.

The debate has now moved on from Brexit or Remain, to Hard or Soft Brexit – or as one Bremoaner put it, a Long Brexit. Remain supporter after Remain supporter has stood up in the House of Commons and claimed that voters backing Brexit didn’t know what they were voting for, or were not voting for us to leave the Single Market.

It is certainly true that there was no detailed plan for Brexit on the ballot paper. Exit polling (much more accurate than other polling, since it asks people who have just voted) suggests that the number one reason people gave for voting Brexit was a desire to “take back control” of Britain’s laws. The second reason people gave for voting Brexit was a desire to “take back control” of immigration, including the ability to choose which people come into our country.

Membership of the Single Market is incompatible with taking back control of Britain’s laws. The Single Market has an incredibly complex and voluminous legal framework to make it work. That framework is imposed by the European Commission and enforced by the European Courts of Justice, based in Luxembourg. It isn’t possible to have free access to the Single Market without accepting the legal framework that comes with it.

Membership of the Single Market is akin to remaining a member of the European Union. It will, by necessity, require the decisions of the ECJ to remain sovereign, essentially allowing a foreign court to continue overruling the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The difference between the ECJ and the ECtHR, which is not part of the EU, is that decisions made in Luxembourg (ECJ) are mandatory, while decisions made in Strasbourg (ECtHR) are merely advisory.

It has also been made very clear by the other Member States of the European Union that membership of the Single Market is underpinned by Freedom of Movement. Many of those who voted for Brexit clearly did so with the intention of ending Freedom of Movement. Not, as Sir Kier Starmer MP, the Shadow Brexit Minister, suggested today some small movement on Freedom of Movement.

For British business it is very worrying that membership of the Single Market may be taken away. This is because the narrative about that membership suggests that there is no halfway house between membership of the Single Market and massive trade tariffs.

It is entirely irresponsible for people to suggest that to be outside the Single Market will be a financial disaster. It is no surprise that the same people who told you that the entire world would end if the UK electorate didn’t do as they say and vote to remain are those who are now suggesting that membership of the Single Market must be a red line.

As the Brexiteers keep trying to make clear to the world, and to business, the United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy on the planet. We have no free trade agreement with our largest customer, the United States. It is simply dishonest to suggest that Germany and France will want to impose huge trade tariffs on us, given the number of jobs in those countries that rely on exports to the UK. It is also dishonest to suggest those trade tariffs will be enormous, given the World Trade Organisation rules that would engage if we left without a trade deal. Germany doesn’t want to see the price of a Mercedes go up by 10% in the UK, because we’ll simply start buying Jaguars or Lexus’.

Polling indicates that voters are more able to identify with having voted Brexit or Bremain than with any of the political parties. It is the defining decision of our generation, and it is a subject that will dominate British politics for the next few years – in a way that no decision has since the Corn Laws. Any MP who represents a seat that voted hugely for Brexit and is perceived to be trying to frustrate that democratic decision will need to look nervously over their shoulder come 2020.

When we leave the European Union, on or before the 31st March 2019, voters who backed Brexit will expect that, in Mrs May’s now infamous phrase, Brexit has meant Brexit. It cannot be that somehow we are still controlled by the unelected Eurocrats.

Brexit does not mean keeping Freedom of Movement. Brexit does not mean allowing the European Courts of Justice to retain powers over British laws. Brexit does not mean some form of Associate Membership of the EU.

Brexit must mean Brexit.

What does Human Rights mean to me?

I don’t like being told what to do. It’s a failing I’ve had since childhood. As a result, at heart, I’m a Tory. Because if I don’t like being told what to do by other people, I loathe being told what to do by the State.

Since I don’t like being told what to do by the State, many people assume that I would, like far too many Tories in my experience, dislike the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), or its precursor, the European Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms (to give it its full name).

But it is precisely that loathing of being told what to do, that means I am an advocate for the HRA, and the British-inspired Convention. It is my respect for the rule of law, which I felt all my life but only came to understand while studying law, that leads me to be grateful for a framework of rules that isn’t about what you can’t do, but what the State cannot do to you.

It often surprises people when you tell them that the Convention was inspired by the British. In fact, it was more than that; it was almost entirely written by a Conservative lawyer, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, who was both Home Secretary and Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain in his time. Maxwell-Fyfe, who became Lord Kilmuir in 1954, was a prosecutor at Nuremburg, so he had witnessed first-hand the vile excesses of a State where the rule of law had been warped by evil.

It saddens me that Conservatives have taken against the Human Rights Act. You would think, by looking at the way the HRA is derided by some Tories, from our new Prime Minister down, that it was some monstrous foreign construct imposed on them from above. Many probably think it is – there are Tories who believe anything with the phrase European in it is related to the EU. But it is especially sad when you consider that it was a Tory MP, Sir Edward Gardner QC, who first introduced a Private Members Bill to incorporate the Convention rights into English law. Indeed, before that Mrs Thatcher had promoted amendments to the Scotland Bill in 1977 which would have incorporated the Convention rights into UK law.

It took a Labour Government to introduce the Human Rights Act. Tory support was far om absent when the HRA was debated at second reading, in February 1998. But concerns about sovereignty, hopefully addressed by the sight of the Act in practice, led the Tory opposition to vote against it. In my view that was a mistake, and one that presaged a worrying move towards outright opposition, not just to the Human Rights Act, but also to the principles espoused in the Convention.

The rights protected in the Convention are misnamed “European” rights. They are no more European than any rights protected by a putative ‘British’ Bill of Rights would be British. The rights protected by the Convention are universal, though their recognition by States is patchier.

Everyone deserves the right to life, as protected by Article 2. Everyone deserves the right not to be tortured, or subjected to degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment, protected by Article 3. Everyone deserves right not to be enslaved, provided by Article 4. Everyone deserves the right to liberty and security of the person, protected by Article 5. Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, provided by Article 6. Everyone deserves the right not to be retrospectively penalised, provided in Article 7. Everyone deserves the right for their private family life to be respected, and that’s protected by Article 8. Everyone deserves the right of freedom of conscience, religion and thought, and so says Article 9. Everyone deserves freedom of expression, which is protected in Article 10. Everyone deserves the right to assemble and associate, protected by Article 11. Everyone deserves the right to marry, provided by Article 12. Everyone deserves the right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of these rights, under Article 14. And under Protocol 1, everyone deserves the right not to have our property taken away except in the public interest and with compensation (Article 1, Protocol 1). Everyone deserves the right of fair access to education (Article 2, Protocol 1). Everyone deserves the right to free and fair elections (Article 3, Protocol 1).

It is in the balancing of these rights that the most contentious and controversial cases come forward. Those that get the most publicity involve the right for a private family life, competing with the right to freedom of expression. Newspaper editors were concerned about the law being used to create a “right of privacy” law before the HRA was introduced; despite reassuring words from the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw QC, just such a right has effectively been crafted by the judiciary. Rather controversially, Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, suggested that Parliament was cogniscient of the precedents when they passed the HRA, and therefore that Parliament had intended a right of privacy to grow up. Indeed, Parliament was pretty clear during the debate on second reading that it did not wish such a right to be provided without Primary Legislation.

It is true that most of the rights protected by the Convention were already rights in this country before 1951. The Convention, and by extension the HRA, doesn’t give us many new rights.

Without the HRA, the State couldn’t simply take my life. It couldn’t torture me, or subject me to inhumane or degrading punishment. It couldn’t sell me into slavery. These things are already illegal. But I can think of real world examples where these things still happen; police shootings of unarmed suspects, a bullying culture in an army barracks, trafficked people working slavery hours in factories right here in Suffolk.

But there is a huge difference between the theoretical provision of those rights, and their enforcement. All the HRA does is to incorporate the Convention into British law. Its effect is to allow British judges, rather than “foreign” judges, to determine cases in the British courts. Frankly, I’ve never been certain what anyone’s objection to that could be.

We know from history what happens when the State doesn’t respect the rights of its citizens. In Nazi Germany, those who the State had decided were to be discriminated against saw their property rights infringed, their freedom of expression curtailed, and finally their rights not to be enslaved, not to be subject to torture, inhumane or degrading punishments, and their right to life, all extinguished.

It is not just the far Right that has a history of infringing the rights of others. The biggest mass murderer of 20th Century Europe was from the far Left – Josef Stalin. In Stalin’s Soviet Union your rights could be extinguished by the whim of a State that didn’t recognise the rule of law. Undesirable people were sent to Siberia, or Lubyanka, or simply disappeared. The Socialist Republic forced the collectivisation of farms and assumed control over the industrial output. In my view those acts were simple theft, and crucially they would be illegal under the Human Rights Act; the British State couldn’t simply assume control of private businesses, or force landowners to hand over their land, at least without good reason and without compensation. It is these protections that prevent us from becoming enslaved by our Governments.

People argue that such extremes couldn’t happen here, an argument that is rather offensive to the people of Germany or Russia, since it implies that their culture is more susceptible to extremism than ours. It is precisely because they could happen here that we need to be constantly vigilant in protecting our rights, and the rights of others.

The hardest charge for an advocate of the HRA to defend is when it is used by those society shuns. Yet this is precisely what it is for. The only way I know my rights are defended is by defending the rights of others.

Defending the rights of terrorists, of murderers, of criminals, that is how I know that the rights of everyone else are protected.

There are those who say that a terrorist, or a murderer, has voluntarily surrendered their rights by their failure to abide by societies rules. Or that the rights of law abiding citizens should be put before the rights of criminals. Where, these people ask, are the victims’ rights considered?

This seriously misunderstands the point of human rights. Firstly, rights are universal. They belong to everyone – criminal and victim alike. Second, they belong to individuals, not to collectives. They exist to prevent the extremes of a State, not to prevent the extremes of individuals. There are other laws for that.

The way we set our society apart from that which the terrorists wish us to be is by recognising and protecting their rights. The people best at this are the Scandinavians. Anders Breivik received a painfully fair trial, despite murdering dozens of children five years ago. When two six-year-old boys killed a playmate in Trondheim back in 1994, those children were never named, unlike the two children who killed James Bulger the same year. The law recognised that there was little to be gained from naming children, and so their rights were protected.

Sadly, the UK isn’t perfect when it comes to respecting the rights of those who society shuns, or who shun society. The UK State has taken upon itself the right to kill British citizens without trial, outside of a war, if they are suspected of terrorism. Even where British lives are not in immediate danger. The incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May, has intimated that the UK State will not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in this country, suggesting that their rights will be a part of the Brexit negotiations.

A few years ago the care on elderly wards at Ipswich Hospital was so bad it was described as criminal. Had that situation not been dealt with, there would have been a good argument to be made for a case under Article 3, the right against torture, degrading treatment or inhumane punishment.

I’ve had personal experience of having to enforce my Human Rights as well. I have seen friends of mine discriminated against by police officers because of the colour of their skin. I have had the State attempt to restrict my freedom of religion. So for me the Human Rights cause is both morally right, and personally vital.

Such abuses are thankfully rare in the UK. Sadly, the capacity for abuses remains; the huge increase in racist attacks after the EU referendum shows just how fragile the society we take for granted could be.

So what do Human Rights mean to me? They’re the basis for our whole society; the framework by which we ensure our freedom. They’re vital, and no matter what they are called, they must not be weakened or infringed.