So much for the oft-repeated claim that the European Court of Human Rights routinely tramples on good old-fashioned common sense. Indeed, even the Strasbourg court’s most ardent critics must acknowledge that its most recent verdict deserves a round of applause.
After all, an animal rights campaign group was claiming that Britain’s blanket ban on political advertising constitutes a denial of free speech (out of pique at being blocked from screening a TV ad). Had the case been upheld, the consequences would not have been pretty. Britain would, in all likelihood, have become another America, swamped by prime-time political lobbying, our air waves held hostage by those with the deepest pockets. Animal Defenders International’s self-serving claim that yesterday was “a profoundly sad day for democracy” could hardly be more wrong. It was, in fact, quite the reverse.