So while we’re all talking about whether we should try to leave the EU, reform it, reform the relationship with it, lead from the centre or become the revolutionary vanguard of it, here’s Eric Pickles showing what the fucking problem is:
Britons should be free to wear religious symbols because “faith galvanises our communities”, Eric Pickles will say before a European Court ruling on wearing crosses.
The Communities Secretary will say that liberty has been undermined by the “intolerance of aggressive secularism”.
Later, the European Court of Human Rights will rule on whether people should be allowed to wear crosses to work.
So, duly elected MP, duly appointed Minister, in the democratic government of a nominally Christian country, thinks that those who have a specific religious faith should be allowed to wear symbols of that faith while out and about and earning a living.
And will said MP and Minister actually have a say on whether Christian religious symbols might be allowable in a nominally Christian country?
No, actually he won’t. He has the square root of toss all power to decide or influence the decision one way or another.
That belongs, no, not to the EU, but to the ECHR, which is an offshoot of the Council of Europe. And guess who actually gets to decide this?
Well, actually, it’s judges from such notable exemplars of civil liberty, human rights and democratic governance as Monaco, Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, San Marino, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia.
No, really, this is how it works these days. Whether or not a Christian can wear a cross to work in the United Kingdom is decided by one of Putin’s Placemen.
All Hail human rights, eh?
I’ll admit that I don’t particularly have a dog in this particular fight: the only use I’ve ever had for those little crosses is in identifying the ex-convent girls who would. Very useful they were too.
But the method, the process, by which such a decision is reached does seem to be rather, umm, wrong. Or to be technical about the law, fucking insane.
I would certainly support leaving the Council of Europe. Which, given that you’ve got to be in it to be in the EU means leaving the EU. In fact, I’d actually argue that we should just leave the Council of Europe. At which point the EU has to throw us out. And leaving the CoE is, as with the other CofE, really rather easy.
And seriously, how did we end up with an Azerbaijani ruling on civil liberties in England? Isn’t it about time we told the whole lot of them to go boil their heads?