Je suis (parts of) Magna Carta

On Thursday afternoon I visited the exhibition of the four remaining copies of Magna Carta in the House of Lords. There was a sense of reverence in the Robing Room as we peered through the glass cabinets at the small and powerful writing of the scribes 800 years before. I felt pride that our country had expressed and fought over such powerful ideas of liberty so long ago. I also felt a sense of how fragile freedom and honest government can be, recalling the many arguments, Parliamentary battles and wars that were fought in the centuries that followed to develop and cherish some of the ideals embodied in the Charter. King John, after all, overthrew Magna Carta not long after signing it.

The most enduring core of Magna Carta revolves around two big ideas. The first was that those who paid the taxes had the right to be consulted and have their grievances taken seriously before approving a new tax levy.

* (12) No ‘scutage’ or ‘aid’ may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable ‘aid’ may be levied. ‘Aids’ from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

* (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an ‘aid’ – except in the three cases specified above – or a ‘scutage’, we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. etc

This fundamental principle was taken up by successive Parliaments, which prized highly their right to be consulted, and later their right to decide, what taxes would be levied.

The second big idea was that everyone should be free of guilt and free from arrest or detention by government, unless good reason was shown and they were afforded a fair trial of their case. People today mainly praise clauses 39 and 40, but 38 is also central.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice. -( See more at: http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation)

Today the threat to our ancient liberties comes not from a tyrannical monarch or even from a power hungry UK government, but from our entanglements with the EU. The principle that we have redress before approving taxes is damaged or broken by the levies made on us by the EU. These are often retrospective and are required whether we are happy or not with EU policy. No change of government can unilaterally abate the EU taxes.

The principle that people cannot be detained without trial could also be damaged by the different justice systems of parts of the EU, where innocent UK citizens could be detained under a European Arrest Warrant and not treated as the heirs to Magna Carta would expect.

In these respects Je suis Magna Carta.

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58 Comments

  1. petermartin2001
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    There’s a certain political myth attached to Magna Carta which many English nationalists find hard to resist. I’d even include Tony Benn. He often would allege some judicial ruling, or new law, of which he disapproved, infringed some clause in the Magna Carta. There is, even now, a kind of popular feeling that England before the Norman conquest was, somehow, a land of relative liberty and that the history of the next few hundred years was an struggle by the native English to restore that. Even the legend of Robin Hood plays into that narrative. Although quite how an allegiance to an absentee French speaking king , Richard, who showed very little interest in his family’s English possessions, doesn’t seem to fit in at all well. Still, when wishful thinking is the driving force, not all the details have to fit.

    Magna Carta was essentially a peace treaty between King John and the feudal barons, which was later annulled by papal decree, but then re-issued in various reworded forms by later Kings. The idea was not at all that “all men are created equal”. The barons would have would some concessions from the king about their rights as tax payers. But what about those who paid their dues to the barons? Did they have the same rights?

    I notice that in clause (39) the phrase is ” No free man shall be seized or imprisoned” but in clause (38) it is “In future no official shall place a man on trial ..” The word “free” is there in (39) but not in (38). So what about those who weren’t “free” ? Did Magna Carta have any real benefit for them?

    Magna Carta is not a timeless document setting out our liberties in a way which we can never amend. Magna Carta was a first step on a long journey to universal suffrage . It was a step curbing the power of the Crown, but it can tell us nothing about our present rights. I think John said as much in his previous posting. Still, I think John suffers from some wishful thinking about Magna Carta too!

  2. David Price
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I had cause to do some research on Magna Carta in 2009 and from the OPSI Statute Law Database at that time very few parts remained in effect. Your clause 39 remained but clauses 38 and 40 had appeared to have been repealed by the Revision Acts of 1863. This was disappointing because clause 40 was the one I was interested in at the time concerning the denial and delaying of a legal process not to mention the high costs of pursuing an action involving officers of the court.

    While sorting out an English Parliament it wouldn’t hurt to also establish a new constitution that preserves the protections and duties of Magna Carta while accommodating the modern world and best democratic practice.

    We need something that everyone can be held answerable to.

  3. Gary
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    ” The principle that
    people cannot be
    detained without trial
    could also be damaged
    by the different justice
    systems of parts of the
    EU, where innocent UK
    citizens could be
    detained under a
    European Arrest
    Warrant and not treated
    as the heirs to Magna
    Carta would expect.”

    so, the fact that we in this country can bang people up for up to 28 days without charge, trial, or legal representation of their own choice is the fault of the EU! ?

    I bet the euroskeptics will love that explanation. Like I said, the UK politicians, and the unthinking Pavlovian sycophants will be sorry when the EU dog can no longer be kicked.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      The blame will then fall on the population and their saboteurs, refusing a race to the the bottom fuelled by the right and their capos. It always follows this line.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        You seem rather ‎obsessed with “racing to the bottom” – for some odd reason. Generally if people are left alone by governments (beyond defence, protection of private property and law and order) and do not have nearly all their money taken off them they tend to race to the top not the bottom. Only the very stupid ones would want to head for the bottom.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 8, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          Really? This applies to the average taxpayer? Apologist nonsense that needs little defence.

  4. Mondeo Man
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    How long before internet ‘crime’ is enough to have one of our citizens arrested and taken to the East of Europe ?

    This could even happen without ever having set foot in another country ! And we all know how easy it must be to plant internet evidence against someone.

    After hundreds of years of hard won battles for freedom can anyone tell my why outsourcing democracy to the EU is a good thing for us ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it will happen, if it has not already.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      They already have been extradited to the USA, but that is not Europe is it. So how do you fit that in?

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    An interesting staging post in history but of little relevance today. The threat now comes from dishonest, professional, self interested career politicians, the EU, self interested bureaucrats, the broken democratic system and its distortion by uneven devolution and the antidemocratic EU. Also from the huge degree of over taxation, over complex taxation and top down government that attempts to control almost aspect of life.

    That and the endless misinformation and propaganda from the EU, the BBC and the government dripped on the voters at voters expense.

    Talking of top down government (and control of almost every aspect of life) we have one thousand people dying every month needlessly due to NHS staff blunders meanwhile whistle blowers trying to improve things are hounded mercilessly and endless cover ups are arranged. At least Jeremy Hunt seems to be trying to do something finally.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11398206/Hunt-Sweeping-reforms-to-end-NHS-cover-up-culture.html

  6. stred
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Presumably, there is a clause, as stated by David Starkey in his excellent programme, which forbids the taking of a citizen’s savings or working balance, straight out of their bank account, just on the opinion of HMG’s unaccountable clerks. This was not done because Messrs Osborne and Cameron were following EU orders was it?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      More likely one that forbids the citizen from taking any steps at all to protect their earnings from state pilfering.

  7. stred
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    The election is imminent, but blaming everything on the EU, when many of the problems are caused by your glorious leadership is becoming a bit disappointing.

    Have the Whips Office been issued with tasers?

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Off topic, Christopher Booker today illustrates how extensive is the fiddling, by “scientists” of official temperature records – this just to keep the global warming “catastrophe” exaggeration, and thus absurd greencrap tax payer funded subsidies and green exaggeration religion on the road.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html

    • Bazman
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      You have found someone who agrees with your deluded ideas and religious beliefs have you?
      Well you can have this and where is your reply on KW’s and a retraction that solar panels have not got more efficient. Simple idea that you fail to grasp or fail to acknowledge You seem to think you own the facts. Like Chris does, even when the people he cites as his sources (the health and safety executive in the case of asbestos) try to correct him, he keeps repeating the myth.
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/oct/13/christopher-booker
      Write some sense that you can defend. Just the once please Rigsby. Try Google.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        I agree with what he says on this issue today not everything Booker has ever said!

        You have to be a bit desperate to bring in Monbiot with his past record there to amuse all who look.

        Still at least the man has finally come round to some reality on Nuclear Power. So there is some hope for him I suppose.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      You will also notice from this article that Booker has the same problems with Kw as you do. Funny that…

    • stred
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Last,on the Delingploe blog, I found a comment on why CO2 was not responding to the increased concentration, by warming as planned. The expert showed how even at low levels, too low for plant life, most of the warning took place at a particular IR frequency. Any increase therefore produced diminshing returns. There was slight warming at the edge frequencies. He then refered us to a lecture given late last year by Dr William Happer at the George Marshall Institute in Washington titled The Myth of Carbon Pollution. They had recorded it unofficially and borrowed his slides, then put it on U tube.

      The presentation is a bit shambolic, with Dr Happer having to borrow an umbrella as a pointer but he is a very experienced and senior expert and his talk is a must for anyone interested. So far the adverse comments that I have seen are ad hominem about him and viewers, so he must be right.

      His words on the problems involved in measuring sea level and temperature to very small accuracy with levels rising, but falling and changing by large amounts, are interesting. All three warmist institutes, by the way, have come up with the same figure for sea level rise- 3mm/year despite large numbers of very contrived adjustments. Then someone multiplied it to 10m a century, or is it 3m, or 0.9m. Take your choice.

      The lecture and questions last about an hour.

      • stred
        Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Oops. Small accuracy should have been high- ie to a small figure such as 3mm.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Its been known for years now that there has been some “smoothing” of data going on.
      All smoothed to show increases of course.
      But even with this statistical technique being used to advantage the data still shows less than one degree of rise since 1900.
      There has been a surprise pause since 2000 which is contrary to their predictions.

      Have a look at the excellent website “wood for the trees” and the graph plotting temperature data since 2000 for those who may need confirmation.

      The recent headline about one recent year being the hottest was, if you looked at the data, based on a change of two hundreths of one degree.
      This is five times the accepted statistical error range of 0.1 in IPPC reports.
      Therefore the press release was based on figures outside their own rules yet it still got swallowed by the media and resulted in yet another alarmist headline without foundation in my opinion.
      As an engineer for decades I was taught about looking carefully at data and the importance of having a “factual decision making process”
      The more I look at the raw data behind the headlines in this area the more I am astonished at how unscientific it is.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Wood for the trees is a tool for tools to come to their own deluded conclusions and he even says why in ‘Referencing this site’
        I am not an academic researcher and hence have no need for formal references. The algorithms used on this site have not been formally peer reviewed and hence should not be used unverified for academic publication (and certainly not for policy- making!). This site is only intended to help find interesting directions for further research to be carried out more formally.
        I hope I’m not affected by you ‘engineering’ of facts.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 12:37 am | Permalink

          Complete nonsense as usual.
          He is a statistician with high level computer skills and has no particular views on the warming debate as he also says on the site.
          If you look at the sources for his graphs they are directly from the four main global temperature gathering agencies in the world.
          Exactly the same ones used by the IPCC.
          Did you not get that far?

          Unmolested data and graphs, just clearly presented.
          Like the one that shows the annual averages each year from 2000

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          You just grasp at any straws don’t you edward? Any crackpot site suffices and all of these are just that. Much of this has been ripped to shreds, but like others on here you self censor and are unable to use the internet. Dave Cameron should try to ban that, not just encryption. People are able to look at not just facts, but the big picture.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:11 am | Permalink

            Calling wood for trees a crackpot site is a terrible comment Baz.
            How is simply taking data from the 4 main climate sites and without ateration, putting that data into graph form, “crackpot”.

            In fact there is nothing on the site which is in disagreement with standard views of the IPPC.

            Odd you should get so uppity about it all.

            Who has ripped it to shreds?
            Any peer reviewed links?

          • Bazman
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            It a crackpot site in the sense that you are taking data and interpreting yourself. You are able to do this? Really?
            The idea is to allow you to go to the source data and look for answers to questions and as you have decided that there is no global warming or just a little that makes no difference.
            Now whatever is there crackpots will see it as proof as they are right. If the site was from the met office they would say it is all lies.
            All from people who have no basic belief in science.
            The site show a overall rise in temperature with trend showing cooling. Like the met office does.

  9. zorro
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Tout à fait d’accord …. En plus, I think our ancient liberties are being attacked by our government slowly but surely, or even DRIP by DRIP…. As a former PM said….. ‘Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves’…..

    A lot of these alleged terrorist incidents are being jumped upon to impose these restrictions on EVERYONE….. All very convenient.

    zorro

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Indeed in the UK we have perhaps 900,000 people dying every year (perhaps 20,000 in the NHS due to incompetence) yet the government are mainly concerned with the tiny, tiny few that are killed by terrorism.

      Strangely they are not sufficiently concerned that they actually address the cleavages in society caused by religious segregation in state funded schools. Or the “influencing” of these young immature minds.

  10. Tad Davison
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Oh how we need a proper written, unassailable constitution and an inviolable bill of rights. Mind you, I fancy the state will find ways around those statutes and ignore the parts the want to, just as they do in the USA, for government in the UK is getting to be just as bad. Let’s hope we can finally purge ourselves of such people at the coming General Election for the sake and the good of everyone.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  11. alan jutson
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I often wonder why our politicians think they can turn/force Countries with opposing tribal, religious factions, and dictatorships, into democracies within just a few years, when history shows that we ourselves took centuries.

    Indeed one could argue that we still do not have a proper system with a full democracy here at the moment.

    Perhaps some of us also think we are slowly going backwards from the original ideals.

    Agree that Magna Carter was a good start, but clearly it has to change/further evolve as the World changes around us.

  12. agricola
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It would be unrealistic to expect Magna Carta to remain in force after 800 years. However it did lay out some principals that are as good today as they were at it’s inception. They just need to be linked to life as it is today.

    One of the great mistakes we are currently making is to impose the laws and supposed morals of today on the misbehaviour of people forty years ago. We are also allowing an unfair balance in allowing the anonymity of the accuser but not of the accused in some areas of relationship law.

    For all his fine talk, your leader sees nothing ironic in praising Magna Carta but in the same breath allowing the European Arrest Warrant to operate in the UK.

    He should also remember “No taxation without representation” or how we lost our American colony. Within Brussels there is no representation of the people. The farce of a European Parliament is an emasculated talking shop. Despite this, and after a load of meaningless rhetoric, your leader is only too happy to cough up whatever they demand whenever they demand it. This is the hard earned money of the British people he is happily handing over. We , wherever we are in Europe, have no democratic control of what Brussels chooses to spend or demand of us in support of their accounting, which has never stood up to audit.

    The EU’s handing out seventy per cent of our laws and using Parliament as a rubber stamp has destroyed democracy in the UK and accounts in large for voter apathy at election time. What is the point in voting for three apples of different colour that all taste the same. Parliament was evolved to carry out the principals of Magna Carta but is now reduced to a branch office of Brussels, where those principals never existed.

    I felt the gibe about UKIP demeaned your piece, they are closer to the principals of Magna Carta than any other party in Westminster. I have never heard anything anti Europe as a place or it’s people in their utterances, just the opposite, in fact considerable sympathy for both. In all it was welcome Sunday reading to which I would respond “Me tambien”.

  13. M Davis
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Je suis Magna Carta. I like it, it could take on!

    • DaveM
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      A bit ambiguous for many people. However;

      “Je suis Angleterre/France/Allemagne…etc” could quite easily catch on throughout Europe!

      There is no appetite for any kind of hostility amongst the people of Europe – in fact, we’ve never been so friendly with our European neighbours. How fantastic would it be to see 500+ million people join together with a common will to restore their national sovereignty and overthrow the EU?!! One can but dream.

      I’m more interested in the French GE in 2017 than I am in this year’s circus in this country – 2017 could be a good year for Europe. Fingers crossed.

  14. acorn
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The British Library has a brilliant Magna Carta website, it should be a compulsory lesson(s) in all our schools http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation

    It is interesting to see how many of the virtual 63 clauses, made it into the 1225 document and those that are still considered valid today; great stuff.

  15. Javelin
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    So how does this sit with the front page of the telegraph with a anti British terrorist receiving £1 million and our soldiers giving up their compensation to pay for social care.

    Something is clearly missing.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    “If only”. Magna Carta has been the embodiment of our civil and legal rights centuries before many of the European countries came into being . To have our present situation “reversed” by an upstart bureaucratic regime beggars belief . The principle of consulting the people first should have been applied when our relationship with Europe changed from that of trading to politico/economic . We must enforce our rights in no uncertain terms again ; those who represent us are bound by the terms of their office to act according to this condition and NOT to act according to their own . ” Je suis Magna Carta ” should ring loud and clear.

  17. Jerry
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “People today mainly praise clauses 39 and 40, but 38 is also central.

    (38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.”

    Indeed, and if anything 38 is critical for without it neither 39 and 40 can be complied with, so why is it that -with their political masters contriving- the CPS (and their underlings, handing out fixed penalties etc.) ignore the fact that it is for them to prove guilt in all cases and not for the defendant to prove their innocence.

    “Today the threat to our ancient liberties comes not from a tyrannical monarch or even from a power hungry UK government, but from our entanglements with the EU.”

    Rubbish, the biggest risk comes from the UK parliament/government, otherwise why have we not had that referendum, never mind saying No! to the EU more than occasionally.

    “In these respects Je suis Magna Carta.”

    With certain notable exceptions, no politician in the last 35 plus years can hold their heads high when faced with the Magna Carta and they are most certainly not Je suis Magna Carta, in fact they have been the exact opposite.

  18. Ian wragg
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I suspect your boss has not read the Magna Carta as he was in such a hurry to sign up to the EAW. When history is written will we find out who is pulling the strings of the Liblabcon which is so enthralled with our continued subjugation by Brussels.
    We now have UK foreign policy decided in secret by Hollande and his new mate Angela.

    • Hefner
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Oh come on, can you not really see who is pulling the strings of the LibLabCon? And I would think that even when the UK is out of the EU, this state of things will continue, maybe even worse.

  19. Sandra Cox
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    John, thank you for setting out the fundamental reason for leaving the European Union. It is now an urgent matter of survival in order to preserve our own (albeit struggling) Union!

    We can not allow the malignant, non democratic EU dictatorship to continue to destroy our nation – sadly, with the sly collaboration of our own dictatorship residing at the Palace of Westminster.

    We are teetering on the edge of chaos! The world and his wife – with little or no responsibility, or respect or love for our country and its citizens – have been invited to reside here by the EU, the UN and our own useful idiots – all in the name of diversity!

    It is clear that we can not trust the majority of our parliamentary representatives. Therefore, it is up to us, the patriotic people of these Isles (including likeminded immigrants who truly wish to embrace our country and its culture and freedoms), to stick like glue to traditional British values like those that came from Magna Carta, from which sprung Democracy!

    Yes, an updated version is required. Be warned – it would be contested on every level by those, in our very midst, who are too busy dismantling what little freedoms we have left!

  20. Hefner
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Magna Carta celebrations and bla bla, on a day when we are told that next protests/demonstrations will have to hire a private company to oversee them, as the Metropolitan police, the Greater London Authority and Westminster
    City council have arranged for the police not to “facilitate” such demonstrations. So much for the right to question our government’s decisions.
    Even in the context of a “diminishing” state, I would have thought that police duties were not to be given to the private sector.
    On a somewhat loosely related topics, even without TTIP, we have Americans aiming at modifying one traditional English beer (note, not the EU).
    So is “Magna Carta” or it’s more modern incarnations to be thrown to the “dustbin of history” for the benefit of G4S or similar?

    • Rita Webb
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      EU a threat to basic civil rights eh? Where is their gulag? Its the Americans that seem to trample over my Magna Carta rights at the moment. Where was the protection of the Magna Carta for those British citizens/residents who ended up in Guantanemo? You do not even have to be accused of terrorism either, just look what happened to the Natwest Three. While Anglo-Saxon “five eyes” (GCHQ in the UK) like to have the right to poke their nose in your private affairs.

  21. Sue Doughty
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Jai aussis Magna Carta.
    Thank you this.
    I was always told it is the duty of all Englishmen (and women we presume) to make sure all copies of the Magna Carta are never in the same city so that they cannot all be destroyed and its laws and protections removed from us. I see on TV they are not touching each other and are under excellent protection but please make sure this never happens again?

    Reply There are plenty of later copies of Magna Carta, with text and translation on the internet. Most of Magna Carta has been repealed or superceded by subsequent legislation.

  22. Bazman
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    We needed a series of civil wars to get to the position we are today. Magna Carta was agreement between the Barons and the King after the King got himself backfooted by debts caused by wars in France. Not some great democratic breakthrough.

  23. Michael Cawood
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me, from the Magna Carta, that our membership of the European Union is in fact illegal.

  24. Antisthenes
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    As a keen week-end reader of this blog, I am often flabbergasted at the stridency of the opinions as well as at the weakness of the arguments of some regular contributors. I cannot help get the feeling that those people have never considered how a valid, logic and clear argument can be put. When referencing an external source, you would think that people had wondered about some basic questions: Who, Where, What, How?

    Authorship: Who says so?
    Provenance: Is this a primary or a secondary source?
    Nature: Is it based on facts or opinions?
    Authority: Who is he/she? Are his/her views shared? By whom?
    Accuracy: Is it accurate or not?
    Context: When was it reported? Is it focused? Is it representative?
    And finally, Evaluating the evidence, its credibility and relevance.

    Another grid to evaluate arguments could be:
    Structure: Evidence, discussion, conclusion?
    Clarity: Is it vague, confused, are there underlying or non-defined assumptions?
    Evidence: what is the credibility, the relevance of the statement?
    Logic: Does the argument include fallacy, either formal or informal (depending on context)? Is it a false dilemma (with only two alternatives, when other possibilities exist)? Is there a correlation equal to causation? Is there cherry-picking in the argument? Ad hominem attack? Appeal to motive, appeal to emotions, a straw man-type argument?

    Whatever grid you try to apply to the original posts and subsequent contributors’ reactions, it is, at least for me, unfortunately a fact that on most days, there are only a very few meaningful contributions!

    • Terry
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  25. Edward2
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Its not just Europe you can be taken to and kept in prison whilst awaiting trial but you can be taken from this country to the USA as well.
    With no proper legal hearing in this country first.
    On charges that may well not be a crime here.
    With little hope of legal aid.
    And face the pressure of plea bargaining forcing you to plead guilty to gain your release and save you from a longer sentence and probable financial ruin.

    Both extradition treaties are an outrage to our human rights.

  26. Gumpy Goat
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Sadly it needs strengthening and re written in days of mass internet surveillance by government and a ploy against the dictatorship of parliament

  27. Freeborn John
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem right now is that no prospective leader of the party appears to be euro-sceptic in the sense of being willing to take the country out of the EU. I would say the Tories are on course to lose not just in 2015 but also in the 2020 general election.

  28. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes it was a great charter and we are all a part of that heritage,so here we go , Nous Sommes Magna Carta:: parts of .

  29. majorfrustration
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Of possible interest is an article in the Spec as to whether Britain is governable after the next election – possibly not if those that get elected do not follow the feelings and views of the voters. If we elect people that fail to represent us then those MPs only have themselves to blame. Being over 70 I have nothing to lose if I make my views know in a very direct way and I doubt if I am the only one.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      @majorfrustration; “Of possible interest is an article in the Spec as to whether Britain is governable after the next election”

      Of course it will be, the real question is if the parties involved will be re-electable in another five years, but than that is very real question that some are being faced with in the coming months.

      “Being over 70 I have nothing to lose if I make my views know in a very direct way and I doubt if I am the only one.”

      Puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “(Grand)Dads Army”, although I doubt they will gain quite the same respect…

  30. Terry
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Alas, Magna Carta is meaningless in 2015.
    Where is that Bill of Rights we were promised by Mr Cameron in the run up to the 2010 Election?
    If he is going to get my vote he MUST declare that in the next Parliament, he will end PC and promise to shut down the behemoth Quango, the Health And Safety Executive within the first 30 days of the new Parliament.
    And last but not least, bring the EU Referendum forward to be carried out by the end of THIS year. Better still, have it at the same time as the General Election and make it mandatory. That would be starters for the neo-Magna Carta.

  31. Martin
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    In addition to my comments on your previous Magna Carta postings I’d like to add a Police Force snooping on what people buy in the newsagents to my list!

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/feb/10/police-several-forces-seek-details-charlie-hebdo-readers

    Clearly some savings available from Mrs May’s budget!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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