Magna Carta and the Invention of 'British Rights'
Human Rights in the Media: Fear and Fetish edited by Michelle Farrell, Eleanor Drywood and Edel Hughes, ISBN: 978-1138645813, (Routledge, 2018, Forthcoming)
27 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 2018
In this chapter we argue that the antipathy towards human rights, and the Human Rights Act in particular, that is evident in certain sections of the media and political establishment, lies partly in its relationship with the European, and, therefore, foreign or ‘alien’, system of human rights protection. Somewhat paradoxically though, those who are most trenchant in their criticisms of the Human Rights Act nevertheless stress that Britain is a nation founded upon human rights. Through the lens of the Magna Carta we examine the invention of the tradition of British rights and how the Charter has been co-opted by those who seek to foment opposition to the Human Rights Act and, albeit to a lesser extent, by those who seek to defend the Act by demarcating a clear line of history between the Charter and the Act. Both approaches, we suggest, serve to crowd out the space required for a rational critique of rights.
Keywords: Magna Carta, British Bill of Rights, Human Rights Act 1998, human rights in the media
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