RoboCorb or TerMaynator: Judgement Day
In a fictional futuristic Detroit, RoboCop fights an evil corporation which plans to privatise the police force by creating cyborgs, while in the Terminator universe, a cyborg assassin comes back from the future to terminate the threat of the resistance’s leader John Connor, by making sure he is never born. Both films encapsulate, roughly, the universe of the UK’s general elections where Labour’s RoboCorb, a commoner known as Jeremy Corbyn, and, TerMaynator, the Conservative’s strong and stable Theresa May, will come face to face on 8 June, in what might be described as Judgement Day.
But, as Roger Cohen in the New York Times said, “Elections take place in the real world” and “they often involve unpleasant choices.” Many of us would have to choose a candidate we aren’t very happy with, while others have already made up their mind.
What’s happening today?
May who has been described as “robotic” by voters and the European press, and Corbyn as “principled,” according to the Guardian, are travelling today across the UK in their final attempt to gain votes before the election tomorrow. The PM will be in the south-east, eastern England and the Midlands, while Corbyn travels to Glasgow and back to London.
Behind the glistening electronics, the warm face of humanity
Theresa May has been criticised for being robotic, or for repeating automatically a series of slogans, from “Brexit means Brexit,” to “strong and stable,” or “enough is enough,” but she has tried hard to shake off this image by showing her human side. She did this by recalling a childhood memory when she was asked about the naughtiest thing she had ever done. Speaking to Julie Etchingham on ITV’s Tonight programme, Theresa May confessed that when she was a child, she used to trample fields of wheat with a friend, and that, “The farmers weren’t too pleased about that,” she added. On the one hand, Theresa May tried to sound as human as possible, but, on the other hand, she has “vowed to tear up human rights laws if they ‘stop us’ from fighting terrorism.”
Terrorism and human rights
May has been under pressure due to police cuts and intelligence failure after the London Bridge, Manchester and Westminster terror attacks. But the PM came under attack when she shifted attention towards restrictions on terror suspects and ripping up human rights laws.
In an interview with the Sun, Theresa May vowed to end terror by increasing powers for the police and the security service, changing the Human Rights Act and detaining suspected terrorists for an extended 28 days. May told The Sun: “When we reduced it to 14 days, we actually allowed for legislation to enable it to be at 28 days. We said there may be circumstances where it is necessary to do this. I will listen to what they think is necessary for us to do.”
She has promised to restrict the movements of terror suspects and harden deportation rules so terror suspects are returned to their countries, and, “if human rights laws get in the way of doing these things,” she will change certain elements of the Human Rights Act.
She talked about state bodies and the public sector, in particular universities, and the possibility of the radicalisation of young students. She said: “If a student is being radicalised on campus, I think a university ought to be worried about that, and not just say this is freedom of speech. Of course, we value freedom of speech in this country, it underpins our democracy. But radicalisation that can lead to somebody blowing themselves and other innocent people up, or attacking innocent people as we saw on Saturday night, we have to worry about this radicalisation and confront it.”
The Lib Dem leader stressed that security services need more resources and not more power: “We have been here before – a kind of nuclear arms race in terror laws might give the appearance of action, but what the security services lack is not more power, but more resources.” Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti told BBC Newsnight that new powers can be given to security services as long as they are compatible with the human rights framework and the law.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said that the human rights law doesn’t deter the police or security services from prosecuting or capturing terrorists, reminding Theresa May and the Conservatives that freedoms shouldn’t be sold off for no reason. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programmed that there isn’t any “incompatibility between protecting human rights and taking effective action against terrorists.” “If we start throwing away our adherence to human rights in response to what has happened in the last three months, we are throwing away the values at the heart of the democracy, everything that we say we believe in,” Starmer said.
Starmer stressed that he empathises with terror victims and that action needs to be taken, but action that is “effective,” adding that he was against introducing a state of emergency similar to that in France because it will allow the state new powers: “I don’t think we should introduce a state of emergency … we have to keep our feet on the ground. The question is that these suspects are not being identified early enough in the process for us to take effective action. What people want I think is preventative action and that’s why, in fairness to everyone this has affected, let’s concentrate on the issue at hand.”
Corbyn also talked about the protection of our basic freedoms and human rights saying that, “We are signed up to the European convention on human rights. Our Human Rights Act protects our rights.”
If Theresa May wants to amend the Human Rights Act—passed in 1998, it is UK law that compels public organisations, from the Government to the police and local courts to treat everyone equally with fairness, dignity and respect—before Brexit, this will demand a derogation under the European convention on human rights. This means that a technical state of emergency will be declared, which will give the government the right to suspend or change laws. This opposes the promises in the Conservative Manifesto where it is stated that “We will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway but we will consider our human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes. We will remain signatories to the European convention on human rights for the duration of the next parliament.”
But, for Theresa May, when situations call for action, certain laws can be adjusted so that terrorists are deported and security strengthened. According to May, tomorrow’s choice would also be “a very clear choice,” between “somebody who has protected national security or somebody who's voted against it.”
If you remain undecided this might change your mind.