Confident of victory off the back of large numbers of murdered people changing the media agenda, a triumphalist Theresa May yesterday vowed – contrary to the Tory manifesto – to “rip up” human rights legislation.
This feels to me like it could be Theresa May’s “awright! awright! awright!” moment. Most of my readers will recall the 1992 election, where Neil Kinnock finished with a rally in Sheffield at which his high octane triumphalism was viewed by many of the public as revealing a rather unpleasant character, which possibly helped engender a shock last minute swing which lost him the election.
May’s Slough meeting is very different to that Sheffield rally – for one thing May’s crowd of Tory activists was tiny, and as always that BBC video uses tight focus to hide her lack of enthusiastic support. But what it has in common with Sheffield is hubris. I strongly suspect that ditching human rights is wildly popular among the rabid racist Brexiteers who constitute her core vote. Locking up Muslims without charge and throwing away the key will appeal to them. But a great deal of the rest of the population are bright enough to work out that proposal is likely to cause more, not less, terrorism. They will view May’s performance as presumptive and alarming.
Of course, abandoning human rights would make May’s Saudi friends feel more at home when they come to London to entertain call girls in their penthouses. But I expect May’s declaration may cost the Tories several seats, not least to the Liberals in South West London.
There is one very obvious point that the mainstream media has deliberately avoided. The Tories having made Brexit central to May’s campaign, there is no minister more crucial to the election than David Davis, the Brexit Secretary. Davis is a libertarian with a long and genuinely distinguished record in opposing human rights encroachments made in the name of the War on Terror. There is no way Davis is going to go along with substantial censorship of the internet, increased surveillance powers, and detention without trial. If May pushes ahead with her draconian plans, she will need a new Brexit Secretary.
For this reason, Davis has disappeared from the Tory campaign since the focus was shifted by the mainstream media to those conveniently timed terror attacks. They were especially conveniently timed for the Saudi sponsors of terror, as a Labour government would be committed to ending arms exports to Saudi, and would not support bombing Assad forces in support of jihadists in Syria.
Why has nobody in the mainstream media pointed out that Davis will not support May’s new anti-human rights proposals? Why have they not attempted to interview him on the subject?
Mainstream media spend thousands of hours probing differences within Labour. Yet this massive disagreement on what the media themselves have described as the main issue of the election, between the two major figures of the Conservative campaign, goes completely unremarked. Media silence. We must not question our masters.