The Human Rights Act is set to be a key battleground at next year’s General Election, after Labour made an impassioned defence of the legislation.
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said that the party remained committed to the law, which was brought in during Tony Blair’s first term.
Indeed, speaking at Labour’s annual conference this week, Mr Khan outlined plans to widen the scope of legislation.
This puts the party in direct opposition to the Conservatives, who are expected to announce next week they would scrap the act and consider breaking away from the European Convention on Human Rights.
“They want to strip people of their rights and make our justice system the preserve of the rich,” Mr Khan told a fringe meeting.
“Tories rubbing their hands at the prospect of governments free to ride roughshod over the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable.
“Enlightened Tories who get this, like Dominic Grieve, have been sacked. Forgetting that without enlightened Tories like Winston Churchill, Europe wouldn’t have the human rights we have today.”
Mr Khan acknowledged that the European Court on Human Rights – whose judgements have sometimes caused controversy in Britain – could work better.
But he argued that pulling out altogether would be reckless following a number of scandals about the failure of authorities to investigate widespread sexual abuse in towns such as Rotherham and Rochdale.
Labour also believes that Tory plans to tear up existing laws would leave Britain open to accusations of hypocrisy if it spoke out against human rights violations in other parts of the world.
The Conservatives maintain that introducing a British Bill of Rights is the best option moving forward.