This could be a first – a blog containing thanks to a Tory. Not just any old Tory, but the shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve.
Mr Grieve debated the future of human rights with former Lord Chancellor Charlie Falconer in front of a room full of human rights lawyers at Doughty Street chambers in London last night.
The event was the idea of what the papers might call my common-law-brother-in-law, Gavin Millar QC, in support of Leukaemia Research’s efforts to raise 50k in memory of Henry Hodge as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations next year, when we want 50 such 50k donations, and ‘in memory of Henry Hodge’ to be one of the first.
We are still counting, and still chasing a few cheques, but the proceeds from last night are well into five figures already, so many thanks to Dominic, Charlie, Gavin, to Polly Toynbee who chaired it, and to all those who paid to hear the debate. There – I’ve said it. Thanks to Dominic. That is me thanking a Tory. Enjoy the moment.
It was great to see Charlie back in action. I always enjoyed working with him, and he was a good brain to have around when difficult questions were being addressed. Last night, with his usual wit and his usual shirt-hanging-out-of-trousers look, he tried to pick up inconsistencies between Mr Grieve’s speech to his party conference – shall we say sceptical on human rights – and the pro human rights speech he made last night to a room full of human rights lawyers.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening came when Charlie said that if the Toies got into power, Dominic was ‘our best hope for human rights … because you should see the rest.’
But as I am being in kindly and grateful mood, I will merely take at face value Mr Grieve’s commitment that a Tory government would operate within the ECHR, his expressions of support for the Human Rights Act, albeit with some criticisms too, and his belief that any changes would be to extend rather than curtail rights.
So thanks again to all of them. If you’d have said to me in the morning that I would enjoy an evening listening to lawyers arguing about human rights, I would have been a bit dubious, what with Champions League being on the telly last night. But I did. So did Henry’s widow Margaret. So will the Leikaemia Research bank manager. And no, not so that he can use it to jack up his bonus.