Theresa May's plan to scrap human rights is a distraction turned dangerous – she knows it won't make us any safer

Without human rights, ordinary people – like the Hillsborough families and countless people with disabilities – would have no means of exposing wrongdoing and achieving justice. Our ability to protest, our guarantee of a fair trial, and the freedom of our press to hold the powerful to account would fall away

Caroline Lucas
Wednesday 07 June 2017 14:04
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An advertisement run by Amnesty International to save the Human Rights Act, 15 November, 2016
An advertisement run by Amnesty International to save the Human Rights Act, 15 November, 2016

We've come to expect this. In the shell-shocked days after a terror attack, undermining the very freedoms these brutal criminals seek to destroy has become routine.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister offered warm words about defending our democracy. But last night, she spouted the worst kind of rhetoric – handing violent extremists what they want on a platter. She threatened to rip up our human rights.

This is a distraction tactic turned dangerous. Theresa May spent five of the last six years as Home Secretary – cutting the police, extending the divisive Prevent programme, and writing the most authoritarian surveillance laws the UK has ever seen.

Over the past two decades we've seen a string of counter-terror measures, many of them treading on the toes of our freedoms. We were told they were a necessary evil, to keep us safe.

But as we mourn the victims of three appalling attacks in as many months, those words ring hollow.

Theresa May: We do need to have international regulations in cyber space to stop terrorism

As Theresa May's weak and chaotic leadership is laid bare in the final days of the election campaign, she's launching a desperate last-ditch attempt to claw back some semblance of authority. But we aren't falling for it.

Our intelligence services have some of the most intrusive powers in the world to track our every click, call and message – yet they failed to keep tabs on someone who declared their loyalty to Isis on national TV.

The police already have the power to restrict the movements and actions of terror suspects before they even have enough evidence to charge them, though these measures are hardly being used.

We have a counter-terror hotline and a Prevent programme designed to intervene before people turn to violence – yet reports of concerns from local communities have gone ignored.

Now is not the time for yet more legislation. There is no evidence the Tories' plans will do anything to keep us safe – but we can be certain they will damage our society.

Without human rights, ordinary people – like the Hillsborough families and countless people with disabilities – would have no means of exposing wrongdoing and achieving justice.

In 2015 Corbyn was mocked for reading aloud a taxpayer's question on police cuts and preventing terror attacks

Our ability to protest, our guarantee of a fair trial, and the freedom of our press to hold the powerful to account would fall away – or at very least be granted only to those 'deserving' of them.

It's a chilling vision of a cruel Britain – but tomorrow we have a chance to reject it.

Tomorrow we vote for the country we want to be five years' time.

If you elect Green MPs, we will stand united against the Conservatives' warped priorities. Instead of slashing at our fundamental freedoms in a desperate effort to be seen as doing “something”, we'll take a step back and examine what has gone so cataclysmically wrong in the past three months.

We would end mass surveillance – freeing up intelligence workers' resources so they can monitor those 23,000 suspected extremists more closely, without being distracted by innocent messages about your dinner plans.

We would stop the senseless cuts to police that have stretched those on the front line of security to breaking point. We would listen to their advice and provide the resources they need.

We would commission an independent review of the toxic Prevent programme that has placed every Muslim under suspicion and seen young children questioned as possible terrorists. An approach working closely with grassroots organisations could transform communities and turn lives around.

We would hold an honest conversation about the UK's links with countries like Saudi Arabia – ending sales of weapons to human rights-abusing regimes and opening our eyes to the real impact of our foreign policy in the Middle East.

Instead of insulting our closest allies, we would collaborate with our European neighbours to make sure intelligence and best practice is shared.

And we'd take effective action against perhaps the gravest threat to our security – climate change.

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Green MPs would hold Labour's feet to the fire – preventing them from returning to Blair’s crackdown on civil liberties – while fighting the Tories' crusade against human rights.

It's time to end the assumption that we cannot be safe if we are free. Tomorrow, you have the chance to vote for something different. Vote in defiance of terror, vote in defence of our democracy, vote for the future you want to see.

Caroline Lucas is co-leader of the Green Party

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