The debate about human rights in the UK has become narrow, divisive and political. But public scepticism towards human rights relates to their application rather than the principles behind them. For centuries, protecting individual liberty has been seen as an important conservative principle. As Margaret Thatcher put it, “human rights did not begin with the French Revolution...England had 1688, our quiet revolution”.

This project will explore how conservatives can think about human rights in a positive way that draws on conservative traditions of individual freedom and empowerment. It will also evaluate what the Conservative Government has done on human rights, and explore new narratives and policies, which ensure that human rights are strengthened both in the UK and abroad.

The project will explore three key areas:

  • Ensuring the new British Bill of Rights strengthens human rights and is compatible with being a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Advancing human rights in British foreign policy
  • Tackling discrimination - including gender, sexual, religious, disability and racial discrimination


Labour Party Conference 2016

Closing the disability employment gap

Tuesday 27th September 2016
12:30-14:00 | Meeting Room 6, Hilton Liverpool City Centre

The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP
Afua Hirsch Social Affairs & Education Editor, Sky News
Kirsty McHugh Chief Executive, ERSA
Roy O'Shaughnessy Chief Executive Officer, Shaw Trust
Ryan Shorthouse Director, Bright Blue (Chair)  

Conservative Party Conference 2016

Responding to the refugee crisis

Sunday 2nd October 2016
12:45-14:00 | Lismore, Hilton Garden Inn, Birmingham

Pauline Latham OBE MP Member, International Development Select Committee   
Kevin Watkin CEO, Save the Children
Tim Stanley Columnist, The Daily Telegraph
Owen Jones Columnist, The Guardian
Ahmad al-Rashid Refugee, and former aid worker for UNICEF
Julia Onslow-Cole Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Kate Maltby Associate Fellow,Bright Blue (Chair)   

Improving life chances 

Monday 3rd October 2016
15:00-16:15 | Lismore, Hilton Garden Inn, Birmingham 

John Glen MP PPS to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
Baroness Stroud Executive Chair, Centre for Social Justice
Philip Collins Columnist, The Times
Danny Kruger Chief Executive, West London Zone
Alison Garnham Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
Diane Banks Non-Exec Director, Bright Blue (Chair) 

Working women: is gender equality beyond reach?

Monday 3rd October 2016
15:00-16:15 | Work + Play 1, Malmaison, Birmingham

The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP Former Minister for Women & Equalities    
Rachel Johnson Columnist, Mail on Sunday 
Mike Thompson Director for Early Careers, Barclays
Sam Smethers Chief Executive, The Fawcett Society
Dr Carole Easton Chief Executive, Young Women's Trust
Kate Maltby Associate Fellow, Bright Blue (Chair)  

Closing the disability employment gap

Monday 3rd October 2016
17:45-19:00 | Dolce, Hyatt Regency, Birmingham

Penny Mordaunt MP Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work (invited) 
James Moore Deputy Business Editor, The Independent
Seamus Nevin Head of Employment & Skills Policy, Institute of Directors
Roy O'Shaughnessy Chief Executive, Shaw Trust
Laura Round Communications Manager, Bright Blue (Chair)  

Responding to the refugee crisis

Monday 3rd October 2016
21:00-23:00 | This event is by invitation only - please contact 

David Burrowes MP Member, Home Affairs Committee
David Goodhart Head of Integration, Policy Exchange   
Dan Hodges Columnist, The Daily Telegraph   
Mark Goldring CEO, Oxfam   
Ryan Shorthouse Director, Bright Blue (Chair)   

Social justice for disabled people

Tuesday 4th October 2016
10:30-11:45 | This event is by invitation only - please 

George Freeman MP Chair, Prime Minister's Policy Board  
Jessica Elgot Political Reporter, The Guardian
Mark Atkinson CEO, Scope
Ryan Shorthouse Director, Bright Blue (Chair) 

Conservatives, social mobility and the world of work 

Tuesday 4th October 2016
12:45-14:00 | Lismore, Hilton Garden Inn, Birmingham 

The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP Minister of State for Digital and Culture  
Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue  
Frances O'Grady
General Secretary, TUC
Rachel Sylvester Columnist, The Times (Chair)

Is our immigration system working for British businesses?

Tuesday 4th October 2016
15:45-17:00 | Exec Room 1, ICC, Birmingham

The Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP    
Alp Mehmet MVO Vice Chair, Migration Watch  
Professor Ian Preston Professor of Economics, University College London
Janet Daley Columnist, The Sunday Telegraph
Julia Onslow-Cole Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Alexandra Jezeph Non-Exec Director, Bright Blue (Chair)  

Human Rights & Conservative Government 

Tuesday 4th October 2016
19:30-21:00 | Hall 9, ICC, Birmingham 

The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee 
The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
Chair, Women and Equalities Select Committee 
Crispin Blunt MP
Chair, Foreign Affairs Select Committee 
Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue
Martha Spurrier Director, Liberty
Fatima Manji Correspondent, Channel 4 News (Chair)

Conservatism and human rights conference
Tuesday 22nd March 2016| 8.45 - 13.30
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

To launch our Conservatism and human rights essay collection, Bright Blue hosted an agenda-setting half-day conference with a keynote speech from the Former Attorney General, The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP.

Contributors to our essay collection and speakers at our conference included:

-    Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC (Former Foreign Secretary)
-    Trevor Phillips OBE (Former Chair, Equalities & Human Rights Commission)
-    Justin Forsyth (Former CEO, Save the Children)
-    The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (Chair, Women & Equalities Select Committee)
-    Professor Sir Paul Collier (Professor of Economics & Public Policy, University of Oxford)
-    Crispin Blunt MP (Chair, Foreign Affairs Select Committee)
-    Timothy Stanley (Columnist, The Daily Telegraph)


08.45 - Registration

09.00 - Panel discussion - Tackling discrimination

Speakers: Suella Fernandes MP, Sunder Katwala (Director, British Future), Benjamin Cohen (CEO, PinkNews), Samantha Smethers (Chief Executive, Fawcett Society)

Chair: Ryan Shorthouse (Director, Bright Blue)

10.00 - Keynote speech with the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP

11.00 - Coffee break

11.30 - Panel discussion - Strengthening human rights in the UK and abroad

Speakers: Shami Chakribarti (Director, Liberty), Peter Tatchell (Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation), Kate Allen (Director, Amnesty International UK), Benedict Rogers (East Asia Team Leader, Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

Chair: Rupert Myers (Associate Fellow, Bright Blue)

12.30 - Networking lunch in the Mall room

13.30 - Finish

The conference was kindly supported by The Thomas Paine Initiative.




The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
Chair, Women and Equalities Select Committee


The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP
Second Estates Church Commissioner


The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
Former Attorney General for England and Wales

Ben Rogers

Benedict Rogers
Writer and human rights activist

Matthew d'Ancona
Political Columnist, The Guardian

Lord Daniel Finkelstein
Political Columnist, The Times

About the commission

Our commission will be led by a group of high-profile conservative decision makers and opinion formers. It will be year-long inquiry assessing a conservative approach to human rights across three key policy areas: tackling discrimination; the British Bill of Rights; and British foreign policy.

The commission will include an all-day oral evidence session with invited experts and a call of written evidence. The commission will conclude with a final report with policy recommendations.

Conservatism and human rights:
essay collection

The collection, published by Bright Blue, brings together leading thinkers, decision makers and public figures to discuss three key themes in the debate around human rights: tackling discrimination; the role of human rights in British foreign policy; and ensuring the new British Bill of Rights strengthens human rights. 

Contributors include: 

The Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Former Minister for Immigration) on what should be in the British Bill of Rights

The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (Chair, Women and Equalities Select Committee) on tackling gender discrimination

The Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC (Former Foreign Secretary) on the balance between individual freedom and state security

Crispin Blunt MP (Chair, Foreign Affairs Select Committee) on human rights with global players

Trevor Phillips OBE (Former Chair, Equality and Human Rights Commission) on tackling racial discrimination

Professor Sir Paul Collier (Director, International Growth Centre) on ending extreme poverty