The new human rights battle: Scotland v Westminster goes to the Supreme Court

Nicola Surgeon: Official Portrait. Scotland’s Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move was “politically catastrophic and morally repugnant “.

This week the Supreme Court held a ground breaking hearing that could have huge implications for human rights legislation in this country.

The UK government under Boris Johnson took the Scottish government to the Supreme Court to stop them incorporating into Scottish law a United Nations Convention which the UK ratified in 1990 under Mrs Thatcher.

The United Nations The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people (aged 17 and under) a comprehensive set of rights. 

It is one of four UN Conventions – the others cover race equality, the disabled – and of course CEDAW- which covers all forms of discrimination against women.

Boris Johnson: pic credit: UK Parliament Jessica Taylor

Just like CEDAW the UNCRC has not been properly implemented. It covers everything from the age of criminality of children ,detention of children, rights for asylum seekers children, and the ill treatment of children including issues like using solitary confinement.

A scathing report from Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights in 2009 expressed severe disappointment on how little the government had done and how fine words used by ministers were not put into practice. Since then there has been a big drop in the number of children being arrested and detained but a lot of other issues, including raising the age of criminal responsibility have not been implemented. The report can be read here.

Now Scotland’s decision to implement it – passed unanimously by the Holyrood Parliament – with every party backing it, has infuriated Boris Johnson who ordered his aides to block it.

This is what happened this week – and the Scots were joined by the Welsh – in fighting the government.

Scotland’s Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move was “politically catastrophic and morally repugnant “.

Her deputy, John Swinney told MSPs during the final debate on the UN convention bill that the UK government’s request that it be amended amounted to a “orchestrated and sustained assault” on Holyrood’s powers.

Sir James Eadie: now wanting to stop Scotland forcing UK ministers to improve children’s rights

Step forward Sir James Eadie ,the Treasury Devil, who also blocked 50swomen getting any restitution for lost pensions and told the courts that the government was not obliged to tell anybody the value of the state pension.

He has been engaged by Johnson to fight it and it soon emerged why.

He told the court the case concerned “whether the Scottish Parliament has the legislative competence to subject acts of the UK Parliament with the need to comply with the UNCRC and to assign or delegate to the Scottish courts powers to strike down, rewrite or declare incompatible provisions of the acts of the sovereign UK Parliament”.

The UK Government has said their concerns “are not about the substance of the legislation” but whether the Scottish Parliament has the legal ability to pass the bills. In written arguments, Eadie said: “Both bills, [ there was a local government bill as well] in slightly different ways, purport to bestow upon the Scottish courts extensive and, in part, unparalleled powers to interpret and to scrutinise the legality of primary legislation passed by the sovereign UK Parliament at Westminster.”

Don’t give a damn about implementing human rights

It means in slightly less legal language that putting these powerful UN conventions into Scottish law could lead to the Scottish courts striking down unfair and discriminatory laws passed by Westminster – in this case involving the treatment of children. This is precisely why the government fear CEDAW.

So the game is finally up – and it explains why this government is so tardy in putting these conventions into law. They want to bathe in the fine words of these conventions – but really they don’t give a damn for extending human rights to anyone – whether it is a 10 year old child, a 1950s born woman, an asylum seeker, a disabled person or someone who isn’t the same skin colour as the majority of the population.

As MSP Neil Gray warned: “Not only are they threatening the powers of Holyrood but also the rights of Scotland’s children. Scotland’s Parliament has been under sustained attack from the Tories who have been using Brexit, which people in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected, to tighten Westminster control.

“Now they are threatening to strike down legislation that was passed unanimously at Holyrood.”

The all male judges in the Supreme Court who heard the case are reserving judgement.

9 thoughts on “The new human rights battle: Scotland v Westminster goes to the Supreme Court

  1. Who does James eadie think he is, trying to stop Cedaw, and the rights of children in scotland, he should be struck off trying to stop this bill


  2. And you wonder why we Scots crave independence?? The Tory govt are corrupt, liars, only concerned with lining their own pockets and passing contracts to family n friends!! I am a 50’s woman… totally struggling with long 13 hr shifts in care home… let a Tory wife try it???

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you are a 50s woman, you are of retirement age.

      ‘Women born in the 1950s’.

      I think you are confusing being in your 50s, with being born in the 1950s.


  3. A sad reflection on life in England. A government who don’t give a damn about anyone except their own. Rules for the masses ignored by the privileged few. Personally I hope Nicola Sturgeon rams home this bill so it hurts Boris where the sun doesnt shine. Protecting vulnerable children, making life equal for all women and keeping all disadvantaged safe from harm SHOULD be law . James Eadie should “awae and boil his ‘ead”.


  4. Yet again thanks so much for bringing this heinous govts “doings” to light David. So Eadie is bulldozing his way through all British human rights….what worries me is he’s so tenacious that he will win!!
    He truly lives up to his nickname….& quite honestly I wish he had been on our side when B260 were in court. His sledgehammer approach would have given us a totally different result!


  5. I came to the conclusion some time ago that Boris Johnson is a Fascist and now I am starting to see how people in Spain, Portugal & Italy accepted Fascism in the 1920’s and 1930’s as it unfolds itself slowly but at ever growing pace within the UK. It’s time the people woke up to the reality of what is happening in the UK. Media controlled by a few individuals, the growing sense of the creation of the enemy within (those who disagree): the unwritten constitution that is becoming putty in the hands of the fascists. The weakening of the rule of Law, the growth of executive power, the silencing of opposition by Libel Laws. But who are the real backers of Benito Piffle Johnson?


  6. If you know your history, you’ll know that governments always lie to the people.

    …but somewhere overnight in April 2020, we all of a sudden trusted the Scottish government without question, implicitly, and worse still we started to give thanks, love, rainbows, and praise to a broken down NHS that has failed us all for decades.

    What seems like ‘popular’ opinion online in these times, during this ‘event’ is actually just lots of censorship, with paid clickers, followers, and paid influencers, and ring leaders.

    People are brainwashing their own kids with NHS love propaganda!

    The only people who LOVE the NHS, are the wealthy, and well!

    The ill, the sick, the suffering, used to be productive members of society until the NHS got their disgusting pharmaceutical drug hands on them, covering all health concerns with pills, rather than treating the root cause or underlying problems – ask yourself why does Scotland really get FREE drugs?

    The SNP are the only chance we have to wash away the mud from our country.

    That’s why we want independence, because we are SICK OF BEING SICK! …of course the wealthy in their pleasant microcosms all voted CONSERVATIVE, they want to preserve their way of good life (usually they are the very doctors, ‘educated professionals’ that are killing off, causing suffering on the rest of us, GPs better run for the hills, because we are coming for you)


  7. Pingback: The new human rights battle: Scotland v Westminster goes to the Supreme Court | Westminster Confidential | The Press

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