Jack Straw on Rights and Responsibilities.

Hmm. Looks like they\’re actually serious about this:

Yesterday, we announced plans for a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities which will build on the Human Rights Act (HRA), with a clearer description of our responsibilities.

Err, whose responsibilities is that my dear Lord Chancellor? Do you mean your responsibilities to us? Or, as I suspect, our responsibilities to you? The latteris, I\’m afraid, bollocks.

You see, a Bill of Rights is not about what we must do for you, it\’s about what you, the Government, the State, may not do to us, the citizenry. As the history of the 20th century shows us, the greatest danger to the pursuit of happiness, to life and liberty, is the State. As indeed it was before that, which is why ou forefathers spend so much time and effort it limiting the things it could do to those who constitute it.

So can we please get this very straight, right now? We owe you no duties. You are our servants, hired for a limited time to do what must be done collectively and with the power of compulsion that only the State has. The obvious temptations of the joy of exercising that power of compulsion mean that what you may do to us is limited by a Bill of Rights. Stick with that and we\’ll be fine. But it is you that owes us the duty, not us you.

9 comments on “Jack Straw on Rights and Responsibilities.

  1. All this is just another monumental distraction from concerns about the government’s failing management of the NHS and schooling:

    “The financial health of the NHS has improved, but about a third of trusts are still failing to meet targets, the Audit Commission has found. The NHS ended 2005-06 £547 million in deficit, but made a surplus in 2006-07 of £515 million, after a drive to get the NHS into the black.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2719605.ece

    “Joseph Nixon was one of hundreds of patients who pleaded to be freed from the horror of Maidstone hospital. As he sat day after day in his own excrement, surrounded by a sea of similar filth, he became weak, listless and confused.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article2652921.ece

    “The Government target of getting half of teenagers to obtain five good GCSEs including English and maths has been missed, new figures show.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/18/ngcse118.xml

    Concerning declarations of war, least we ever forget:

    “more than 700 hours of parliamentary time were devoted to the hunting ban, as against seven hours spent on the decision to invade Iraq, a comparison that sums up the way we are governed.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1412158,00.html

    “The Labour Larty is like a stage-coach. If you rattle along at great speed everybody inside is too exhilarated or too seasick to cause any trouble. But if you stop everybody gets out and argues about where to go next.”
    Harold Wislon

  2. Responsibilities are simply the rights of other people. Any “responsibility” you can dream up to place on a citizen actually flows from the rights of other citizens. So having a bill of rights and responsibilities is not only offensive, it’s also retarded.

  3. Bob B:

    I know people who know people at the Audit Commission. Bottom line is that their numbers are untrustworthy because they massage the figures to make themselves look less stupid (ie. covering up for previous errors) and so that no-one gets a particularly good or bad report card (so no-one has to ‘lose out’).

  4. sanbikinoraion,

    Re your comments about the Audit Commission, I find the published annual appraisals of the NHS and the reported realities in the NHS worrying enough. After 10 years of New Labour government elected on the promise to save the NHS, why are these new initiatives necessary:

    (a) “NHS hospitals are to be ordered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to conduct a ‘deep clean’ to tackle the spread of infections such as ‘superbug’ MRSA. He wants the cleaning to be pre-emptive rather than a reaction to outbreaks. . .

    “Roy Lilley, a former NHS trust chairman and the author of a book on healthcare management, told the BBC he thought the ‘deep cleaning’ idea was ‘irritatingly populist’.

    “He said: ‘This will get a huge round of applause from the Labour Party conference floor and everyone will say ‘yes, he’s the man that’s cleaning up the hospitals’.

    “But at the end of the day, the infection control systems are about handwashing; it’s about clinical discipline and it’s about screening people before they come in.

    “You can clean a hospital on Monday and on Wednesday, you’ll be back where you started.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7008775.stm

    (b) “A new health watchdog is to be set up by the government with wide-ranging powers to tackle hospital bugs. . .

    “Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, said: ‘While we recognise some of the arguments for rationalising the process of regulation, the BMA is concerned that, only a few years after the Healthcare Commission was set up, it is about to be abolished to make way for yet another, new regulatory body.

    “‘The NHS has been suffering from too much reorganisation and, it appears that, as soon as doctors and managers start getting used to one system, it’s all change.'”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7060348.stm

    Deckchairs and Titanic come to mind.

    Btw Sorry about the diversion from Straw on Rights and Responsibilities.

  5. “Yeah but Bob, Sanbikinoraion knows somebody who knows somebody”

    Yeah, but at least there wasn’t a dog in the middle. Besides, speaking of Rights and Responsibilities, as for the National Audit Office:

    “The man who was virtually impossible to sack finally agreed to retire yesterday, after a furore over the six-figure taxpayer-funded expenses bill he racked up travelling the world, often with his wife.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/26/nbourne126.xml

    In today’s news:

    “A Labour peer has admitted taking money to introduce an arms company lobbyist to the government minister in charge of weapons purchases. The case of ‘cash for access’ in the House of Lords is likely to ignite fresh concern about ethical standards in parliament.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,2199619,00.html

    But this is what happens to parliamentary sleaze watchdogs who become “over-zealous” in their investigations:

    “The parliamentary sleaze watchdog Elizabeth Filkin, who investigates allegations of misconduct against MPs, has not been re-appointed for a second term in the post.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1607254.stm

    “Parliament’s standards watchdog, Elizabeth Filkin, has accused Commons Speaker Michael Martin of undermining her role and attacked MPs for applying ‘quite remarkable’ pressure against her.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1692298.stm

  6. sanbik: Responsibilities are simply the rights of other people. Any “responsibility” you can dream up to place on a citizen actually flows from the rights of other citizens. So having a bill of rights and responsibilities is not only offensive, it’s also retarded.

    Er, not quite. Rights of one are obligations upon another. Freedom for one is a responsibility of that same person.

    Big difference.

    Jack Straw should have called it “Bill of Obligations”.

    If you have a right to a house, it is an obligation for another to fund it.
    If you have the freedom to live where you want, you have a responsibility to find it, pay for it and look after it and also the responsibility not to live where the rightful owners of house/land do not wish you to. Freedoms mean a responsibility to look after yourself and to not impinge on the superior freedoms and property of others. Rights are often a zero sum game.

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