Look, on the one hand, there are people out there who think that the State has no role whatsoever in family life. Some of them choose to live in bunkers, and I am sure there are literal and metaphorical bunkers in Scotland. Self-styled Freemen on the Land are an example of a group with no respect for the Rule of Law, and who do not recognise the role of the State. Some of them harm their children too.
On the other hand, are those who are inherently distrustful of family life. Some of them would like to keep universal databases, and the whole of the population under surveillance. Some of them point to when things go wrong in families, others dislike the family model, because they dislike the philosophical convictions of some people who live in families. Some have a commercial interest in the database and surveillance industries.
Back in 2013, I was asked by the Scottish home education charity Schoolhouse HEA to provide a legal opinion on the proposed scheme to appoint so-called “named persons” to every child in Scotland. I was asked specifically to comment upon its compatibility with EU and human rights law. My opinion was that it was incompatible with both. That opinion can be read on the website of the Scottish Parliament here, and with an attractive full-colour cover on Schoolhouse’s website here.
Meanwhile, children’s rights have been receiving attention in a different way, in recent online exchanges over the last couple of days concerning the Children and Social Work Bill. Specifically,
various social work luminaries wrote a joint letter about the Bill, published in the Guardian, which expressed concern among other things that clause 15 “fundamentally undermines a rights-based approach to meeting children’s needs”;
I heard Lord Lawson of Blaby last night, speaking on the ‘Outcome of the European Union Referendum’. I was very struck by the similarity of the language he used to language used by David Maxwell-Fyfe at the time of the genesis of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950. (David Maxwell-Fyfe was the U.K.’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, and a key negotiator in the Council of Europe after the Second World War, and spoke for the U.K. at the signing ceremony). I wondered whether Lord Lawson was aware of the similarity of language and was deliberately evoking it; but what struck me equally forcefully was how the contexts were almost polar opposites. Continue reading Brexit and Beacons→
“The people have spoken, and their wishes must be respected.” We have been hearing a lot of this recently, and not only from the majority who want to see what they voted for realised. There seems to be a broad acceptance of the proposition by the minority also.
I do not want to question democracy itself – as Churchill once famously observed,
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…
But I do want to cast the spotlight on this curious understanding of what democracy means: that a bare majority of those voted on a particular day must prevail in the argument.
As an understanding of democracy, I think this is both reductive and insular. Reductive, because it is just not as simple as that in a modern social democracy. Insular, because it is not like that in many other modern social democracies. Somehow, it seems that winners and losers alike have caught onto a notion that the bare majority of those who voted on a particular day must prevail; seemingly unaware of the counter-arguments that regularly prevail elsewhere. Continue reading Brexit and the misunderstanding of Democracy→
Deprivation of Liberty seems to be an issue which is putting the doctrine of judicial precedent – where lower court judges have to follow the reasoning and decisions of higher court judges – under considerable strain.
Here, I document – mainly to collate the resources into one place – two recent instances of where the lower courts have been questioning the higher courts.
‘Age assessment’ is the misnomer commonly used for a process whereby social workers allocate a date of birth to potential service users. BASW has last week published a position statement which questions the use of the term, but more importantly warns against social workers undertaking the exercise alone.
It seems to be a recurring theme of this election that we are being asked to vote tactically. We are being told how important it is to keep out parties we don’t want. We are being asked to look ahead and second-guess post-election coalition talks: “vote this colour, and you’ll get that colour”. We are not only told it nationally, we are also told it locally: “in this constituency, the only person who can beat the incumbent is so-and-so”. We are told that a vote for a party that won’t win is a wasted vote.
I’m flagging up here a couple of posts by others, a couple of posts which I’m linking together as highlighting benefits of the Human Rights Act. Both are from bloggers I’d highly recommend following anyway – @DrMarkElliott‘s Public Law for Everyone and @SteveBroach‘s Rights in Reality. Both are about recent decisions of the Supreme Court. But since they’re both legal blogs, I hope the authors won’t mind if I go back a couple of steps for a non-legal audience.