Philip Lee and human rights

Notes on a speech by Dr Philip Lee, the Human Rights minister in the Lord Chancellor's office. Given to Bright Blue, 9.15 on 12 June 2018.

"Recognition of human rights is what true conservatism is all about." Dr. Lee began his speech with a tour of the history of social reformers within the Coservative party. Peel, Disraeli, Shaftsbury, Emmeline Pankhurst, Churchill. The Conservatives have a long history of social progress, and are perhaps a little shy of trumpeting their past achievements.

His speech then harked back to the speech Foxface gave when assuming office in July 2016. The one about not being held back, about building a great meritocratic society. The question he left hanging: What's she done about these problems in the years since? How is Foxface following in the tradition of Peel, Disraeli, etc?

There has been an absence of hope, a failure of integration. Society is not taking responsibility for itself. Seeing what's happened in Syria, Dr. Lee was worried that extremist elements might worm their way into the social fabric. Some of us might argue that they already have a platform on LBC.

Dr. Lee did not mince his words about the far-right headbangers who would roll back the ECHR. "Those colleagues are wrong. It is them who would turn back the tide of history."

Dr. Lee saw a need to recalibrate society. He saw it was necessary to regulate markets – the question was not if markets were regulated, but how this should best be done.

"Markets have their place, but they must work for humanity and dignity. Too often, people are sacrificed for the market." He compared this task with ending child labour in the 19th century – it was not done because it was profitable, but because it was right.

(More: On the need for a civic society, and meaningful discussions)

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