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I'm not a person prone to melodrama, but the Government's decision today to bow

to the European Court of Human Rights' (ECHR) ruling on votes for prisoners had
me with my head in my hands. It's not that the thought of murderers, rapists and
paedophiles deciding the Government of this country deeply offends me; nor that
I felt nauseous watching a man convicted of hacking his landlady to death with
an axe celebrating with 'champagne and a spliff.'
What concerns me the most is I believe I have just witnessed the final death of
the British constitution. We English have always taken pride in bringing the rul
e of law to the world - the idea that no citizen, not even the legislators, of a
nation are above the law. That any legislation passed must be in accordance wit
h the constitution, which is protected from political interference by an indepen
dent judiciary. It is also a system based on negative, rather than positive law
- i.e. only what you cannot do rather than abstract rights concerning what you c
an do.
In the United States, this concept was fine-tuned to near-inviolable perfection
by the Founding Fathers. But while the Americans have a written, clear and conci
se constitution to refer to, in Britain we do not. As such, this makes it except
ionally easy to defile. It has become, in effect, become whatever Parliament dec
lares it to be, which is about as far from the aforementioned principle as you c
an get.
A consequence of this is that Parliament has been free not only to allow laws fr
om outside the United Kingdom to have jurisdiction here, but to actually give th
em supremacy over decisions made by British judges and politicians. There are th
ose that argue this is technically treason. Indeed, the UK's accession to the Co
uncil of Europe in 1950 was the first time any foreign authority had jurisdictio
n over these shores since Henry VIII broke ties with Rome in 1534.
That decision laid the foundation for our whole concept of the nation state - th
at political decisions ought to be made by those elected by the British people a
nd those alone; that no legislation contrary to the law of this land be passed a
nd that this law be protected by an independent British judiciary.
Of course, this is anathema to the European Union, whose repeated promises never
to infringe upon the rights and independence of nation states have been shown b
y the passage of time to be blatant lies. But the trouble is, this has nothing t
o do with the EU. The ECHR is an organ of the Council of Europe, which an entire
ly separate organisation and, unlike the EU, does not even have a Parliament by
which the citizens of its constituent nations can voice their concerns.
This means the rage of both Labour and Conservative MPs, not the mention the Bri
tish people, will go unheard and unheeded. Even the prime minister of this count
ry has said the thought of giving murderers the vote makes him 'physically ill',
yet we are told there is nothing we can do about it.
The politicians hate it, the lawyers hate it and the people hate it. But we are
told that leaving the European Convention on Human Rights is impossible and that
we shall just have to live with the fact that our Parliament and courts are com
pletely impotent against this entirely unaccountable body.
What madness is this? Well, I worry it resembles very closely the madness seen i
n Europe during the interwar years. It was not long after the imposition of the
Treaty of Versailles in 1919 that people began to realise they had made a mistak
e in shackling Germany to such punitive reparations and loss of sovereignty.
The Germans, naturally, hated it from the beginning - they rightly contested the
absurdity that they should be held entirely responsible for the war, both in mo
ral and monetary terms. They also opposed the limits on their armed forces as an
infringement of their sovereignty and deeply hurtful to German national pride.
The Treaty was very unpopular with British politicians and voters and, by the 19
20s, the revanchist French were about the only people supporting it.
Despite this, the very simple solution of unilaterally abandoning a treaty that
everybody believed to be punitive, unfair and self-defeating was seen as impossi
ble. As it was beyond discussion and beyond negotiation, the cause was left to t
he lunatic fringe. As it turned out, repeal of the Treaty of Versailles became t
he Nazi party's most effective recruitment tool and vote winner.
The silencing of any debate on immigration and the EU are today what Versailles
was in the 1920s. The BNP are entirely aware of this and will exploit it in ever
y way possible to attain power. They will do so not to protect democracy, but to
destroy it. If David Cameron is serious about democracy and popular sovereignty
, his government will grow some balls, leave the European Convention on Human Ri
ghts and hold a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU. It troub
les me to say this but I shan't be holding my breath.