Miliband makes stirring defence of Human Rights Act

Ed Miliband Andy Coulson

Ed Miliband marked the UN Human Rights Day today by making a powerful defence of the UK’s role in creating documents to codify internationally recognised human rights. Human Rights Day mark the anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, a document that Miliband says has “British DNA” running through it.

He also pledged to protect the Human Rights Act, and keep Britain in the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) – as opposed to Cameron, who promised to scrap the Act at Tory Party Conference this year. Miliband says he won’t let the Tories “turn back the clock”, noting that the freedoms enshrined are enjoyed by “countless people on a daily basis”.

Writing on Facebook, the Labour leader’s full statement can be read below:

It is a mark of our dignity as a democracy that the fundamental freedoms we cherish apply to every single person who lives in this country. Protections from torture, a right to privacy, a right to a fair trial, and protections for free speech – each and every person, regardless of their colour, sexuality, gender or background has the same rights by virtue of being a human being.

We are rightly renowned as a nation for being a beacon of liberty and the rule of law. My own family escaped the tyranny of continental Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. I owe this country an enormous debt of gratitude for offering a refuge to my parents.

The UK’s values prevailed in the years following the war. We led the way getting the UN to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 66 years ago today. This was the first ever statement of a set of basic rights and freedoms for every person on the planet. Only the Bible has been translated more times.

British DNA runs through that document. Our politicians and lawyers led the way in writing the European Convention on Human Rights. Over 800 million people have their basic freedoms and liberties protected as a result of the UK’s vision in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Nowadays human rights protect the freedoms and liberties of countless people on a daily basis. From innocent victims of crime, to the disabled. From the elderly treated badly in care homes to those who suffered from phone hacking. The protections put in place many decades ago are as fresh and relevant today as they were in the late 1940s.

I won’t let the Tories unravel the remarkable progress we’ve made over the last seven decades. If they have their way, people’s basic freedoms and liberties will be watered down. They’d walk away from our international obligations, exposing many millions around the world.

Labour is proud of the benefits the Human Rights Act has brought to a countless number of people in the UK. We will passionately defend our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. We mustn’t let the Tories turn back the clock.

More from LabourList


We provide our content free, but providing daily Labour news, comment and analysis costs money. Small monthly donations from readers like you keep us going. To those already donating: thank you.

If you can afford it, can you join our supporters giving £10 a month?

And if you’re not already reading the best daily round-up of Labour news, analysis and comment…