Can the EU protect our fundamental rights?

This is a translation of an article I wrote for the Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La UE pot protegir els nostres drets fonamentals?“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

Two and a half years ago, we Britons voted in the Brexit referendum.

As a democrat, I had always wanted to have the opportunity to vote, the opportunity to decide on our relationship with the European Union. But when this opportunity arrived, I did not know how to vote.

The European Union represents a great co-operation between countries, an economic power in which 28 nations can fight together for their interests, their economies, etc. For its citizens, the possibility of travelling and working in any European country is a right which makes the world – or, at least, the countries of this union – a little smaller and more open. Despite the mottoes of the far-right, were are all one race and we should be brothers and friends. We should live and work together.

At heart, I am a democrat. I believe in the sovereignty of national and regional parliaments. I believe, above all, in democracy. If the European Union wants to represent Europeans, before anything else it has to defend democracy and human rights. It has to defend these parliaments and rights with all of the strength which the member states give it. But it does not.

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Medway Tories rip up Human Rights convention

Bad news for those who support the European Convention on Human Rights in Medway, as this week the Tories wilfully ignored it.

Article 10 states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

However, following the decision of Cllr David Carr, newly-appointed cabinet member for community safety, to use his Article 10 rights to impart his opinion on the much-despised traveller communities, Tory council leader Cllr Rodney Chambers instead decided that, in fact, Cllr Carr had no such rights and suspended him from his cabinet duties – less than two weeks into the job.

In an interview with the Medway Messenger shortly after his appointment, Cllr Carr said:

I would have no hesitation in strategising a solution for travellers if travellers were going to be responsible community inhabitants, but that in itself is questionable against their name – ‘travellers’. If they’re going to travel they can hardly become part of the integrated community.

They move on and turn it into a building site. They crap all over the place, they p*ss over the field, they throw rubbish all over the place.

The majority of comments on the linked article are in Cllr Carr’s favour, leading to speculation once again that the Tory council is out of touch with the ordinary, hardworking Medway taxpayers. Instead, Cllr Chambers has chosen to respond by Labour’s party political hijacking of Cllr Carr’s comments by suspending him and holding a review of the incident before deciding whether to reinstate him or replace him so soon after his initial appointment.

Most people who know me will know that I remain broadly supportive of the local Tory council in many areas, although I would of course campaign and vote for UKIP in a local election, but actions such as these lead me to question whether my trust in the Tories on Medway Council is, instead, entirely misplaced.