On the Slippery Slope to a ,People’s Court‘

Writes Matej Avbelj in High time for popular constitutionalism!, ‘The majority in our societies seems to be increasingly disconnected with the liberal values that especially the legal academia, but also the ruling political class – at least on a declaratory level – have taken for granted…’

Living as I do in the country in which one sees an increasing distaste for the European Convention of Human Rights and regular media criticism of the ‘unelected judges’ in Strasbourg – and that despite the fact that the judges of the Court are, in fact, elected from a slate of three by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – I cannot help wondering whether the disconnect is anything very new.

I spent thirty-six years working in the administration of the House of Commons, and if that experience taught me nothing else it taught me this: that, on the whole, UK politicians – whatever their protestations to the contrary – give a very strong impression of not liking foreigners very much. Witness our lukewarm membership of the EU: the UK never bought into the European Idea, and much of our history since 1973 has been unwilling co-operation with what many UK politicians of almost all persuasions have seen as an over-mighty institution. The cry has constantly been, ‘We joined a Common Market: we never signed up for a European super-state’. The continuing refusal to accept the judgment of the ECtHR (which people who really should know better nevertheless confuse with the CJEU) on votes for prisoners in Hirst v The United Kingdom (No 2) ­– now twelve years old – is just another symptom of the disease.

Nor did the recent Brexit debate do much to dispel that notion: at least some of the argument on the Remain side seemed half-hearted, presumably because at least some of the Remainers merely wanted to stay in the EU faute de mieux, rather than because of any positive, principled commitment to a wider Europe ...

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