UK election: 100 days to go
And so it begins. In 100 days the country will go to the polls and decide who will govern the UK for the next five years.
The main thing I hear people talking about is uncertainty about the result. Even my friends who normally confidently predict the election (not always correctly) won’t be tied down.
Will there be four, five or maybe six main players thrashing out a coalition agreement? Who will walk into the rose garden and announce a new five-year partnership, or will one party win outright? If so which? And on, and on…
The question that is not being asked is: what will the next government (whoever they may be) do about protecting human rights in the UK and abroad?
Human rights under attack
As we get carried away with speculation about empty chairs in debates, our rights are under attack.
Threats to the Human Right Act in the UK, and systemic use of torture across the world are just two of the most pressing current threats to our fundamental freedoms. The next government must be consistent in its approach to human rights, but this is a trait that is too often lacking.
Think of the recent global outrage recently as the world protested the 1,000 lashes and 10-year prison sentence that Raif Badawi faces at the hands of the Saudi government.
His crime? Setting up an online forum and blogging about free speech.
Yet when the King of Saudi Arabia died last week, the UK put flags at half-mast in a sign of respect for a leader who died overseeing the regime that imprisoned Raif and still doesn’t allow women to drive or open a bank account without male approval.
The uncertainty will give the political geeks hours of entertainment analysing polls and speculating on the results and I can’t pretend I won’t be one of them (I love an opinion poll). But the uncertainty of people around the world who see the world’s oldest democracy throwing away hard fought for rights is the uncertainty that will stay with me long after the swing-o-meter has been packed away.
It is the uncertainty for the human rights defender facing down the state every day and risking their life to defend the rights of others, who sees their government erode human rights further as other states have done it.
It is the uncertainty of the prisoner in a country where torture in prison is rife who feels less protection as their government is turning a blind eye more and more as they don’t face international condemnation.
It’s the uncertainty of a couple who have been together for 64 years who are facing separation as the care home will only take one of them, who could no longer have the Human Rights Act to fight to stay together.
I will still be enjoying the opinion polls and endless talking heads but in this election I will use my voice as well as my vote to call on politicians to prioritise protecting human rights for us all.
Will you join me?
Take the Fight for Rights pledge and ask your prospective parliamentary candidates what will they stand for.
This blog was written by Laura Trevelyan, Amnesty's Advocacy Coordinator - Outreach.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.