Britain – no longer a haven for human rights?

So I intended to mostly focus on US current affairs with this blog, since that’s where i’m living and it felt like I might have a more interesting perspective as a foreigner. However, the announcement by the new Conservative government in the UK last week regarding the potential repealment of the Human Rights Act (HRA) left me speechless. And so ironically I felt compelled to write about it.

When it comes to human rights, as a Brit, there are many events and times in our chequered history that represent, colossal sized blemishes. During the heights of imperialism the way we treated inhabitants of the countries we colonised was nothing less than despicable. While not to excuse any of this behaviour it also has to be understood within the context of its time. The world in general pre-1900s was one of attrition, nationalism, racism, and intolerance. However, in the latter half of the 20th century huge strides have been made towards establishing basic universal human rights and by this time Britain was at the forefront of helping to institute these. After being one of the first countries to stand up to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, in the years ensuing that catastrophic war it was pivotal in the establishment of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR was drafted by the Council of Europe, led by British MP and lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, as a way to prevent the types of atrocities from WWII from ever happening again.

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Reclaiming the American Dream

I never studied American history at school. I suspect this may have been in part due to  the bias of the UK education system towards historical events where Britain came out ‘on top’, whatever that means. But I digress. Anyway, from what I do know, America is a country that was built by immigrants and entrepreneurs. Immigrants it seems have an outsized propensity to become entrepreneurs. This is no doubt due to the fact that there is something innately entrepreneurial about someone that chooses to leave their home to start afresh in a new country. And so it was in America, immigrants came, swiftly became Americans and with this entrepreneurial spirit ensured rapid economic development and significant individual wealth creation. This is the massively condensed version of course. But the ethos of hard work accompanied by a lack of social constructs impeding socio-economic mobility is what became known as the American Dream.

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Starting out

Despite being an avid consumer of content I had never thought of becoming a creator of it myself until now. I had always felt that I had nothing to say of interest to others and that I lacked any area of particular knowledge and most of all I think I saw the practice as being rather “American”. I realise that to generalise (and yes I do intend to use UK spelling throughout) any practice as being common to nearly 320m people of almost every race, religion, and background is misguided in the extreme. However, it is exactly these types of preconceptions, that moving to New York, helped me to cast aside.

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