Respecting the dignity, preserving trust: reflections on the judicial construction of democracy and the rule of law in the UK

This paper will examine the way in which UK judges have relied on human dignity to structure the political relationship between the individual and state, with a particular focus on the place of trust in establishing a respectful relationship. In several key judicial decisions, it has been highlighted that the denial of equal dignity can lead to a loss of self-esteem and a sense of alienation from society. This sense of alienation is seen as capable of undermining the trust of the citizen in state institutions and government. That mistrust is further related to a loss of social cohesion and cooperation that are essential to a democracy. It has thus been recognised that a denial of equal dignity may undermine the social fabric that is vital to sustaining a democratic society.