Beliefs about the European Court of Human Rights in the UK Parliament

Following the recent election of a majority Conservative government in the UK, there is a strong potential for significant changes to be made to the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights. Such change may take the form of incremental attempts to limit various aspects of the Court's jurisdiction, or it may take the form of the UK withdrawing from the Convention system altogether.

The Conservative Party's ambitions for change draw upon (and encourage) widespread and growing mistrust of the Court in the UK. In response to what can be seen as the progressive ‘folk deviling’ of the ECtHR in the UK, I have made available on SSRN a forthcoming chapter that explores how beliefs about the ECtHR are created and sustained. 

The chapter focuses attention on beliefs about the ECtHR that are expressed by members of the UK Parliament. Through an analysis of parliamentary debates, the chapter examines how parliamentarians discursively represent their beliefs about the ECtHR and how these beliefs come to achieve degrees of collective acceptance among MPs and Lords. As the analysis of parliamentary debates shows, the ECtHR is often depicted as a biased institution that poses a risk to the human rights of large sections of the UK population. 

If it is accepted that parliamentary discourse has an influence on wider public perceptions and opinions, then the beliefs expressed by parliamentarians that are outlined in the chapter should be of concern to anyone with an interest in encouraging a balanced and informed understanding of the ECtHR among the population of the UK.

The chapter can be accessed here: