Cameron’s cunning plan to undermine Strasbourg
It’s not what Tory activists in Manchester really want, but at least it’s a start
A THROW-AWAY line in David Cameron's interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday could give the Tory faithful at Manchester fresh hope that some reform is going to be made to the European Court of Human Rights, which is blamed by home secretary Theresa May for undermining Britain's battle against terrorism.
Tory supporters at the party's conference are pretty hacked off all round with Cameron and cabinet colleagues, May included, who appear to be doing the Dance of the Seven Veils.
This 'now you see a bit of leg, now you don't' routine is driving some party members to despair.
They want tax cuts to boost the economy - but all George Osborne can offer in his big speech today is a freeze on council taxes.
They want a straight ‘in or out’ referendum on Europe – but they will have to settle for a vote among MPs in Parliament, with no clear commitment, even from eurosceptics like William Hague, that the Tories will vote in favour of a national referendum.
All the party activists have been offered so far is a pledge on weekly bin collections by the blushing, pouting Eric Pickles and a promise to restore the Thatcher discounts for the sale of council houses (which few now want to buy).
The most shocking Big Tease of the weekend was Theresa May’s shameless interview in the Sunday Telegraph in which she said she wanted to replace the hated (by Tories) European Court of Human Rights with a Bill of Rights, knowing full well that the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg won’t let her do it. Only a fortnight ago, he told the Lib Dem conference it was here to stay.
But the Mole suggests it's not all bad news for May on the ECHR front. In a little-noticed remark on the Andrew Marr Show, Cameron gave a hint of another way of dealing with the dreaded Strasbourg court.
Cameron pointed out that Britain is due to take up the chairmanship of the Council of Europe next month, and he intends to use the opportunity to push for reforms at the ECHR.
The PM went into no further detail but the Mole understands that Britain will argue to streamline the court which, as the Daily Mail likes to point out, has such a bloated panel of judges that some of them are not even trained lawyers.
What Cameron wants is for more cases to be resolved in London by the new Supreme Court and for Strasbourg to accept that, in many cases, there is no justification for the ECHR to interfere, thanks to the doctrine of 'margin of appreciation'.
This doctrine says that different member states have a right to a different interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights because of cultural, historic and philosophical differences. If this doctrine were properly applied, Strasbourg would have to hold back far more often than it does.
As well as reducing the number of headline cases going from London to Strasbourg, this would help reduce the backlog of 150,000 cases pending at the ECHR.
It’s not what party activists really want to see, but it’s better than May going into the conference chamber completely naked - isn’t it? ·
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