Archive for May, 2015

Our civil rights
It is July. We are finally beginning to get to grips with the outcome of this General Election. Despite the ‘renewal’ of a Conservative victory, the idea of our political sphere remaining the same is far from correct. The Scottish people have voted in the direction of Nationalism, unity, solidarity and a sense of ‘togetherness’. Or so it would seem. The level of Sectarian violence seems to have decreased. The Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications Act has been initiated. Charges under one of this act indicate that the number of threatening behaviour linked to football matches have fallen from 268 in 2012/2013 to 193 in 2014/2015. The number of charges involving behaviour that was derogatory towards the Roman Catholics was down from 42 to 88.
But this doesn’t tell the full story.

After an 'Old Firm' clash, the Celtic crowd displays a picture of the Four Horsemen (from the Book of Revelations in the Bible) to mock the Rangers Football Team.

After an ‘Old Firm’ clash, the Celtic crowd displays a picture of the Four Horsemen (from the Book of Revelations in the Bible) to mock the Rangers Football Team.

New statistics indicate that 9 out of 10 Scottish people believe that Sectarianism is still a major problem in Scottish society. These problems have been long standing since the National Civil War in 1642 when “‘strange inhumanities’ were practiced by disorderly troops against papists near London, men who were ‘sober, moderate and charitable-minded’ and lived ‘in…love, and credit with their neighbours“. The Grand Opening of the National Civil War Centre only stands to remind us that religious conflict in Britain has always been a historical challenge that we have failed to overcome.
Our current conservative government want to complicate this issue by potentially removing the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights; one of the few laws which entrench our social freedoms. Excerpt: ” the freedom to exercise religion or belief publicly or privately, alone or with others“.  It has also been noted that the Scottish government will be allowed to keep the Human rights act whilst the rest of the UK will reside under different legislation. This will only confuse matters as Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael has noted “the human rights act is hard-wired into the devolution settlements of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” and that those who had campaigned to keep Scotland as part of the UK in the referendum last year “had not envisaged separate human rights laws for different parts of the UK“. To repeal this established law will create legal instability for how our civil liberties are governed.
During the English Civil war Charles I attempted to pressurize the Scottish Church in to adopting his own style of worship. Whilst the conditions are very different this time, one feature remains the same.  That we have a central body that is placing pressure on different regions to change their stance on human rights.
The cost of living has been a main feature of political debate, with austerity challenging many households up and down the nation to make ends meet. But the last thing we need is cultural instability to increase in those areas where division is already rife. Scotland may be on the road of progress when it comes religious unity, but if we are to fully succeed we must face the issue together as part of a ‘family of nations’. It is no good being called the United Kingdom when we don’t even share the same attitude to civil liberties.
If we radically dismantle our human rights system we will add fire to the violent radical forces that are existent today.