UK Election: The MPs Who Care About Human Rights


The Statue of Justice on the Old BaileyFor anyone wondering how to vote in the General Election today, who may have noticed the resounding silence on the election trail regarding Britain’s commitment to human rights since the 9/11 attacks, I’ve compiled the following list of 149 MPs (out of 650 in total), who have signed up to two important Early Day Motions in the last 12 months.

The first is Diane Abbott’s EDM 1308 (signed by 93 MPs), opposing the use of secret evidence in UK courts, which has been used, in particular, in the cases of terror suspects (both British and foreign nationals), as a pretext to hold them under control orders (a form of house arrest) or in prison pending deportation, or on deportation bail (again, a form of house arrest), without them being formally charged or tried.

The second is Martin Linton’s EDM 547 (signed by 101 MPs), calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was cleared for release by the US authorities in 2007, but has still not been reunited with his British wife and four British children, despite claims by the government that it has been doing all in its power to secure his release since August 2007.

Diane Abbott’s EDM states:

That this House believes the use of secret evidence in UK courts is fundamentally wrong; notes that secret evidence is evidence held by the Home Office against an individual that neither the individual, nor their legal representation, may see; further notes that in recent cases secret evidence has been used to detain individuals in prison for up to three years without charge or trial; further notes that these individuals may also be put under a control order or severe bail conditions, greatly limiting their movements and ability to lead a healthy life; further believes that the use of secret evidence by the state against individuals runs entirely contrary to Habeas Corpus; recognises the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that detaining individuals on the basis of secret evidence is unlawful because detainees had not been able to effectively challenge the allegations against them; and calls on the Government to begin an immediate independent review into the use of evidence that is not ever heard by the defendant or their lawyer but which is used to justify indefinite detention, severe bail conditions or control orders.

Martin Linton’s EDM states:

That this House welcomes President Obama’s commitment to close Guantánamo and his appeal to European countries to take in released detainees; supports the representations by the Government for the release and return of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo; notes that Mr Aamer has been detained for nearly eight years without trial or charge; further notes that he was a UK resident before his detention and that his wife and children have always lived in this country; and urges the Government to make renewed representations to the US to secure his release and return to this country.

To remind potential voters of the main parties’ general commitment to human rights, it should also be noted that:

  • Just three Conservative MPs out of 209 in total supported one or both of these EDMs (less than 2 percent of the total number of Conservative MPs);
  • 89 out of 349 Labour MPs supported one or both EDMs (just under 26 percent of the total number of MPs);
  • 43 out of 62 Liberal Democrat MPs supported one or both EDMs (just under 70 percent of the total number of MPs);
  • The list also includes 14 independents, or members of other parties.

Please also note that ministers and members of Parliamentary Committees are not allowed to add their names to EDMs, even though one MP in particular — the Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie — deserves recognition as the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, which he established in December 2005.

In addition, this list does not even begin to address the pro-human rights credentials of numerous candidates contesting seats today, especially Green Party candidates across the country, other Liberal Democrats, some Labour and Conservative candidates, and other representatives of smaller parties, including Respect. A useful introduction to some worthy candidates has been produced by the British Muslim Initiative, and can be found here, although it seems apparent to me that it does not include enough Green or Liberal Democrat candidates.

The 149 MPs who supported human rights in the last year

Note: In the list, SA refers to the Shaker Aamer EDM, SE refers to the secret evidence EDM.

Conservatives (3)

Bottomley, Peter (SA, SE)
Davis, David (SA, SE)
Wilshire, David (SE)

Labour (89)

Abbott, Diane (SA, SE)
Anderson, David (SA)
Austin, John (SA, SE)
Barlow, Celia (SA)
Bayley, Hugh (SA)
Berry, Roger (SA)
Betts, Clive (SA)
Buck, Karen (SA)
Burgon, Colin (SA)
Campbell, Ronnie (SA)
Caton, Martin (SA, SE)
Challen, Colin (SE)
Chaytor, David (SE)
Clapham, Michael (SA, SE)
Clark, Katy (SA, SE)
Clwyd, Ann (SA)
Cohen, Harry (SA, SE)
Connarty, Michael (SA)
Cook, Frank (SA, SE)
Corbyn, Jeremy (SA, SE)
Crausby, David (SA)
Cruddas, Jon (SA)
Cryer, Ann (SA, SE)
Dean, Janet (SA)
Devine, Jim (SE)
Dismore, Andrew (SA, SE)
Dobson, Frank (SA)
Dowd, Jim (SA, SE)
Drew, David (SA, SE)
Etherington, Bill (SA, SE)
Flello, Robert (SA)
Flynn, Paul (SA, SE)
Francis, Hywel (SA)
Gerrard, Neil (SA, SE)
Gibson, Ian (SE)
Hall, Patrick (SE)
Havard, Dai (SA, SE)
Heyes, David (SE)
Hoey, Kate (SE)
Hopkins, Kelvin (SA, SE)
Hoyle, Lindsay (SE)
Iddon, Brian (SA)
Illsley, Eric (SA, SE)
Jackson, Glenda (SA, SE)
Jones, Lynne (SA, SE)
Lazarowicz, Mark (SA, SE)
Lepper, David (SA, SE)
Linton, Martin (SA)
Mackinlay, Andrew (SA, SE)
Mallaber, Judy (SA)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert (SE)
McCafferty, Chris (SE)
McDonnell, John (SA, SE)
McIsaac, Shona (SA)
Mitchell, Austin (SA)
Morgan, Julie (SE)
Mullin, Chris (SA)
Naysmith, Doug (SE)
Olner, Bill (SE)
Prosser, Gwyn (SA)
Riordan, Linda (SE)
Sarwar, Mohammad (SE)
Simpson, Alan (SA, SE)
Singh, Marsha (SA)
Skinner, Dennis (SA)
Slaughter, Andy (SA)
Stewart, Ian (SA)
Strang, Gavin (SA, SE)
Taylor, David (SE)
Thornberry, Emily (SA)
Truswell, Paul (SE)
Turner, Desmond (SA, SE)
Vaz, Keith (SA)
Vis, Rudi (SA, SE)
Wareing, Robert N (SA, SE)
Williams, Betty (SA)
Wood, Mike (SA)
Wright, Anthony D (SA)
Wyatt, Derek (SA)

Liberal Democrats (43)

Baker, Norman (SA, SE)
Brake, Tom (SA, SE)
Breed, Colin (SE)
Bruce, Malcolm (SA)
Burt, Lorely (SE)
Cable, Vincent (SA, SE)
Campbell, Menzies (SA)
Davey, Edward (SA)
Featherstone, Lynne (SA, SE)
Foster, Don (SA, SE)
George, Andrew (SA, SE)
Gidley, Sandra (SA)
Goldsworthy, Julia (SE)
Hancock, Mike (SA, SE)
Harvey, Nick (SA, SE)
Hemming, John (SA, SE)
Holmes, Paul (SA, SE)
Horwood, Martin (SA, SE)
Howarth, David (SA, SE)
Hughes, Simon (SE)
Huhne, Chris (SE)
Hunter, Mark (SA)
Keetch, Paul (SA, SE)
Kennedy, Charles (SA)
Kramer, Susan (SA, SE)
Lamb, Norman (SA, SE)
Leech, John (SA, SE)
Moore, Michael (SA)
Mulholland, Greg (SE)
Oaten, Mark (SA)
Opik, Lembit (SA)
Rennie, Willie (SA, SE)
Rogerson, Daniel (SE)
Rowen, Paul (SE)
Stunell, Andrew (SA, SE)
Swinson, Jo (SE)
Taylor, Matthew (SE)
Teather, Sarah (SA, SE)
Williams, Mark (SA)
Williams, Roger (SA)
Williams, Stephen (SE)
Willis, Phil (SA)
Willott, Jenny (SA, SE)

Independent (3)

Davies, Dai (SA, SE)
Pelling, Andrew (SA)
Taylor, Richard (SE)

Independent Labour (1)

Short, Clare (SA, SE)

Plaid Cymru (1)

Llwyd, Elfyn (SE)

Respect (1)

Galloway, George (SA, SE)

Scottish National Party (6)

Hosie, Stewart (SE)
MacNeil, Angus (SE)
Mason, John (SE)
Robertson, Angus (SE)
Weir, Mike (SE)
Wishart, Pete (SE)

Social Democratic and Labour Party (2)

Durkan, Mark (SA, SE)
McDonnell, Alasdair (SE)

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

4 Responses

  1. Jamblichus says...

    Andy, heard you talk in Bham last night. Inspiring to see a campaigning investigative journalist of the old school working so hard to keep this monstrosity of an issue in the public eye. Best regards,
    J. p.s. Disturbing to see a mere three Tory MPs above…

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, J. Much appreciated.
    And yes, it’s not coincidental, I think, that just three Tories – plus Andrew Tyrie – have been supporting human rights in the “War on Terror.”

  3. Two Pints Of Lager & Some Eco-Socialism With Human Rights Please « Ten Percent says...

    […] Andy Worthington let me know he has put together a list of 149 MPs who supported human rights in the last year and he noted 2% of Tories supported the EDMs, 26% of Labour MPs and 70% of Lib Dems. So click the […]

  4. Home in England « Jamblichus's Weblog says...

    […] and deeply disturbing. Andy Worthington lists on his blog here the MPs who have signed up to early day motions opposing the use of secret evidence in UK courts […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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