The irony of celebrating Magna Carta

I’m a romantic when it comes to Magna Carta. I understand its limitations and how it is largely a document of its time. I recognise that it took long years of struggle to control the King and establish an effective Parliament. Magna Carta was nonetheless an important step on the England’s pioneering journey. England was early to recognise and require equality under the law, fair trials, and controls on the executive power of government. Our belief in this idea of freedom, and our shared passion to ban arbitrary government, limit power and make it accountable were the envy of many around the world.

The irony is that as the 800th anniversary of these important beginnings of our long tradition arrives , we see the consequences of being less vigilant about unaccountable power in recent years in our dealings with the European Union. A country known for its assertion of rights against monarchs, has become known now for its feebleness at withstanding the transfer of powers to a continental bureaucracy. Where is the new Magna Carta to limit the power of Brussels? Where is the once mighty Parliament, famed for facing down various Kings until it controlled the kingdom?

Some will say the modern heirs to our Magana Carta tradition lie in the European Parliament and the European Convention of Human Rights. The problem with this interpretation is that to many UK citizens it does not feel like that. Magna Carta placed the power to control the Crown in the hands of those in our own country able to wield it. Later generations wisely extended the power to all adults living as citizens in our land. Can we say this has now been properly transferred to the EU institutions, or will the UK voters see that to restore the magic of the Magna Carta tradition they need to bring power back from Brussels?

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68 Comments

  1. Richard1
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I think there is a danger that EU Outers imagine a small govt free market nirvana outside the EU, and forget that much of the most ridiculous leftist nonsense is 100% home grown. This morning we read that Alan Milburns ridiculous social mobility quango continues to exist at the public expense more than a month into a Conservative Govt, and is seeking to intervene to prevent private companies ‘excluding’ supposedly disadvantaged candidates. Does ‘Professor’ Les Ebdon’s university social engineering still operate at the public expense? I bet it does. Let’s not forget that the Climate Change Act, which imposes huge and rising costs on citizens and industry in the UK was wholly home-grown. Let’s also remember that in the late 70s and 80s the EEC was supported on the right because it pulled the UK in a more free market direction. Maybe we would be better off out but let’s not blame the EU for everything and overlook all the big govt statist nonsense which is nothing to do with the EU.

    Reply The UK will be a democracy out of the EU, with a balance of policies reflecting the range of views expressed by the UK electorate. It will be better because the majority will be able to form a government which can deal with the main problems as they see them.

    • Hope
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Richard, Cameron appointed Milburn, a former Labour minister, for his social engineering project. He could have chosen a Tory minister! The Tory manifesto States its continued support for the Climate Change Act and Cameron agreed new targets last October when he was trying to con the public about not paying the extra £1.7 billion to the EU for nothing in return while making cuts at home! This was Miliband’s Act. There is no substantive difference between the cartel parties. They all accept rule under the EU and act within the limits that the EU sets.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Cameron did appoint Milburn, but perhaps with LibDem pressure. My point is these quangos which scour the land looking for grievances to air and excuses for more intervention and regulation, shouldn’t exist at all. The point I’m getting at is the one you make – this is all home-grown, like the climate change act. We can’t blame the EU, and getting out of the EU won’t save us from it!

        • Hope
          Posted June 20, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          I disagree, the energy competence was given to the EU. Therefore the purpose of the Climate Achange Act is to act withon the parameters of the EU energy policy. If the UK left the EU it could decide what targets it does or does not want to achieve. Not bargain at an EU summit, like Cameron did last October, then make up a con about not paying extra UK taxes to the EU to disguise what he was really doing. He is one of 28 voices and so can never control what our country wants to achieve. Nor can we hold him to account because he does not decide!

  2. Martin
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you have spent too much time at Euro skeptic meetings and have not noticed the Snoopers Charter so beloved of Mrs May.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      @Martin; Indeed, the eurocrats and MEPs seem to be doing a better job of protecting the our rights within the Magna Carta than many if not most, of our own UK based MPs on the government benches with perhaps quite literally, one or two exceptions.

      • Hope
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Agreed, while helping the U.S. Snoop further to circumvent the laws in the UK! Brought to you by Cameron while attending a Magna Carter event! You could not make it up. EAW anyone? UK citizens’ Liberty taken without question which allows back water Eastern European justice systems to take the liberty of our citizens to languish in jail for indeterminate periods, brought to you by Cameron! He has no right to speak about Magna Carter after his appalling record in giving away our sovereignty, laws, Liberty, freedoms and our taxes to the EU superstate! Now he is trying to rig the EU referendum by allowing purdah! When Heseltine speaks out in support of Cameron you know JR and his colleagues have hit the nail on the head. Why is the press labelling those opposed to the EU as rebels? This does not appear to be fair or balanced.

        • Alexis
          Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          The EAW is the very antithesis of everything Magna Carta stands for.

          How someone can rush the EAW through parliament – without debate – and then make speeches about the Magna Carta, I am at a loss to comprehend.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            @Hope; @Alexis; The concept of the EAW is good, its implementation has been very poor though, had it used the higher legal tests found in the UK (prosecutors having to prove probably guilt) I doubt many other than staunch europhobes would find it such an obnoxious piece of pan EU legislation.

      • acorn
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        I think I read, of the 63 clauses, only two are still, sort of, operative. A third, “The no free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled … “, has been efficiently subverted by mostly right-wing governments over the last three decades; in the name of the “war on terror” etc, you understand.

        PS. Sorry, I can’t work out the one or two exceptions; give us a clue. 🙂

        • Edward2
          Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Yeah the EU wide European Arrest Warrant has been a real step forward for individuals rights for UK citizens.

          • Hope
            Posted June 20, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            Jerry, the EAW is not good in any respect. You must be deluded to think to think otherwise. Extradition are perfectly accepted methods to ensure proper process is exhausted before citizens of this country are carted off to some back water justice system.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Well indeed, but perhaps we should be admitting that it has largely now dead. There is an excellent article by Stuart Wheeler in this weeks Spectator:- The European Arrest Warrant is incompatible with out traditions of justice.

    Also in the Spectator a good article by Hugo Rifkind:- Why does no one blame Cameron for Libya?

    Well I for one certainly do blame him and the rest of those who supported the bombing.

    • Graham Wood
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic. You beat me to it with your comment: ” The European Arrest Warrant is incompatible with out traditions of justice.”

      Indeed so. The EAW flies directly in the face of the spirit and letter of our MC, and particularly the clause “To no man will we deny justice”. How many Brits and other Europeans have felt the vindictive sting of the EAW and languished
      in prisons for trivial “offences” under EU ‘law’ and were thereby denied basic justice in a fair trial before their peers in a jury?
      More seriously, the whole concept of the ECHR as frequently cited and interpreted in the UK is deeply flawed. However it goes deeper.
      In 1951 our Parliament ratified the ECHR without debate so that any subject of the British Crown corporate or personal could be arraigned and judged before an external and often alien court, which does not recognise our superb and beautifully simple principles of our common law which we passed on to all English speaking peoples, thus ensuring both social and judicial fairness and freedom.
      The essence of that is that all things are permissible as long as no harm is done to others, or does not contravene contract or statute law.
      The EAW alone is sufficient reason to strike down the ECHR, and to leave the EU if we are to take justice seriously.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        As too is the UK–US extradition treaty of 2003.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      More delays on Chilcot, for at least another year it seems. So five year late so far and Sir John is now seventy six.

      • Hope
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        The conclusion needs to be scrapped and an eminent person from an external judiciary, New Zealand, needs to read the evidence write a concluding report making recommendations what should happen. Including bringing Blaire and his close associates to justice.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Let us hope Chilcot’s £790 a day, and the £10M cost so far, proves worth the wait.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      I see that Philea, the comet lander, seems to have woken up and sent a message. Perhaps it was something like:-

      “You have wasted one hell of a lot of money on me for no good reason. I have no useful information whatsoever, but what did you expect? Could you not have used the money on something more sensible such as clean water, basic medical care and nutrition for developing countries? I seem to be on a rock and have nothing useful to tell you about it that you did not really know already”.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Also Dutch society has been influenced in some ways by the 1215 Magna Carta, but also by the 1581 Act of Abjuration, the 1789 French revolution, the 1951 European Convention, and more recently, the charter of fundamental rights.

    In the past, when walls around towns came down, they weren’t resurrected later on, but still, power can return to local level. You have e.g. discussions to return more local power to towns like Manchester, and a good balance would be sought. While the UK has found its “balance of competences” with the EU roughly okay (but has subsequently hidden it), the Dutch government has published a list of 52 areas where it needs some more subsidiarity (power decentralisation). The way to go (IMHO) is not to build walls against the European Convention or European Union, but to engage and invest in its further reform, something that you cannot achieve alone and where you cannot expect to always immediately get what you want

    Reply Some of us do not want more scraps of power from an EU sovereign but wish to return sovereignty to the UK people.

    • Richard1
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Surely the greatest episode in the history of the Netherlands in the last 1000 years was the C16th revolt against the Habsburg tyranny, and its attempt to impose pan-European fanatical religious conformity?

      • Hope
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Absolutely not PVL. No more dissolution of England to carve it up for the EU project. Manchester or anywhere else. More Tory MPs should be challenging the govt about this. If Heseltine is involved there is usually an EU theme behind it. EVEL or nothing. EVEN is a Cameron con and not what he promised on the steps of Downing Street. It really is about time the Tory party held Cameron to account for his broken promises.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        @Richard1: Probably, but I focused on the rights of ordinary people. The 1581 Act of Abjuration makes statements to the affect that a king who fails to serve his people (as God would want him to) forfeited his right to be their king. This revolt (against Philip II of Spain, of the House of Habsburg) is often seen as the beginning of the Netherlands.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          We shall always be grateful for the availability of William of Orange when we got rid of James II.

    • Backofanenvelope
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      I would have thought that one of biggest factors affecting present day Holland was the fact that you were liberated by the Western allies in 1945. Rather than remaining in the hands of the Germans or being liberated by the Russians.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        @Backofanenvelope: I was focusing here on the rights of ordinary people.
        P.S. I doubt that without the Russian sacrifice, Hitler would have been defeated.

        • Richard1
          Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          Well he would have been not least because atomic weapons would have been used eventually.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Although I respect that, it may be that the EU influence has been grossly exaggerated.
      Your own H.o.C. library just found that a mere 13% of UK legislation “comes from Brussels” (which means has been drafted or amended by UK representatives together with those of other EU member states). Not the 80% which some eurosceptics and tabloids tried to make us believe.
      source: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN07092#fullreport

      • Hope
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        PVL be realistic this has already been proven to be rubbish because it does not account for EU directives and regulations introduced by very expensive quangos, that e UK cannot afford, through delegated legislation. This was another underhand way for the EU’s tentacles to invade our beautiful country.

      • a-tracy
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        A quick google search shows an article in the Daily Mail (ooo)
        “Since 1997, an average of 2,685 laws have been passed every year – a 22 per cent rise on the previous decade. They have covered subjects ranging from the importing of bed linen to the evaluation of statistics on labour costs. The figure does not include European Union laws which also affect Britain – last year, 2,100 of those were passed, bringing the total to 4,785 or 13 every day, according to legal publishers Sweet & Maxwell.

        Statistics can be made to show anything, if UK laws were on say the depth of potholes and the EU law was the social chapter there is a massive difference in power and consequences.

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-459698/The-Blair-years-new-law-passed-hours.html#ixzz3d88WBviN
        Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

      • matthu
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        It really does depend on what you count as one piece of legislation, doesn’t it? You can’t rally equate one bit of legislation with another without considering the relative importance.

        Far better to consider what proportion of the regulatory costs being faced by individuals and businesses stem from EU legislation and you will recognise that the impact is closer to 60%.

      • acorn
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Look ‘ere you Dutch person. Just because you have a 10.3% current account surplus to our minus 5.5%. Just because your GDP per Capita is 20% higher than ours. All, mind you, despite your corporate tax rate; personal income tax rate and sales tax rate, being higher than ours. Does not mean you can come over ‘ere, blogging on our websites; picking holes in out knackered old Victorian non-democracy, that was out of date a century back!

        Our democracy is government of the 99% by the 1%, for the 0.1%; and don’t you forget it! (numbers may not add due to rounding).

        PS. Peter, I met a great Dutch guy at the last Classic Le Mans. He drives what is probably, the fastest VW Golf in Europe. Bright blue with a white stripe front to back. If you see him, give him my absolute best. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • David Price
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        The 13% is the annualized average for the period 1993 to 2014.

        In fact, from 2011 at least 40% acts each year concern the implementation of EU obligations. Hardly 13%.

        Also, I suggest you not confuse quantity and quality. EAW may be a single act but marks a significant erosion of our sovereignty.

        The issue is simple, who governs our country? I believe I should be able to vote for the people who govern and represent my country. The EU is not my country, is not democratic and has no place in our givernment. Where we need to agree international treaties then I believe we don’t need the EU as middle man either, there is already the UN, ISO, IATA, WTO and many other bodies and agencies that operate at world level.

    • stred
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Peter. Re you comment about power to towns like Manchester, our two friends living in Downing Street have decided that the burghers of Manchester are going to become a Greater Manchester and not going to force it on them- but have just done so anyway- despite the burghers have decided otherwise not long ago. Is it EU policy to require politicians to ask for approval or not?

      On 11.6 you said you were surprised that I didn’t know that the President of the EU Parliament was not elected. I don’t remember Herr Shultz being on the electoral form last time. Is it other politicians that elect him? In the UK we don’t have a President for the HOC, so why does the EU Parliament have one, and why can he decide to stop a vote when things are not going his way?

      He also seems, for his E300k+ to have been trying to get the other President of the Commission job too last time. Can they just switch from head of parliament to head of the civil service? Fortunately his campaign bombed when Junkers came over, who did the Dutch support?

      He also initiated of a commission to the Ukraine in 2013. (re Wiki). How did that go, and do the EU expansionists still look forward to extending to the Urals? Perhaps the EU will extend the high speed train map in that direction, …………………… It might link up with the one the Chinese are planning.

    • acorn
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      JR, your reply to PvL above. Does this mean that you are now an “out”, regardless of any renegotiation scoreboard result. That is a significant change in your previous stance.

      Are the Eurosceptics – 112 and counting – sufficiently testicularly fortified, to form a breakaway. Please explain. Have you any idea how this could impact on the referendum betting odds???!!!

  5. agricola
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Magna Carta was the first of many building blocks that resulted in our sovereignty as a nation. Much blood has been spilt in support of the principal of our sovereignty.

    Until the advent of the EU in various guises after WW2 we have retained that sovereignty, honing and developing it as we went. A succession of UK prime Ministers, Wilson, Heath, Mc Millan , to begin with, laid the notion that the EU was only a trade arrangement, in the full knowledge that it was the beginning of a political drive to create a United States of Europe. The end game was deliberately kept from the UK population. They lied, at best by omission.

    With the possible exception of Margaret Thatcher, succeeding Prime Ministers have acquiesced in the fraud of a trade only arrangement. Now we have a Tory Prime Minister doing everything to ensure that we stay in this rotten marriage. He has even been prepared to give up the notion of innocence until proved guilty, and the right of Habeus Corpus via the European Arrest Warrant. One could argue that his inclinations are more akin to King John.

    Yes he has made gestures in the direction of taking the UK population with him via a referendum, but is doing his damnedest to ensure that said referendum is skewed in favour of our total loss of sovereignty in the failed maw of the EU. We owe it to ourselves and the people of Europe to demonstrate that there is a better way for mankind to progress than the totalitarian, undemocratic path that the EU is on.

  6. APL
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    We are in a day and age when government are little more than a mob with the biggest guns; police, army, secret service, including GCHQ snoopers.

    So, it’s little wonder that the few constitutional restraints that were once observed are observed no longer.

    • stred
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Yes, it seems ironic that the Queen, PM and Mrs May are down at Runnymead monument, having handed us all over for extradition to any ex USSR state in the EUSSR, with courts and much property in the same hands, and when we can also be shipped off to a dreadful US prison, on the say so of a US court.

      The monument was built for us by US citizens that valued their constitution, which was based on Magna Carta. Many in the US were surprised to find that they were being spied on universally, by the State and had been lied to about the existence of this vast system. I recently read Glen Greenwald’s well written book about the subject and was amazed thow far this had gone and that GCHQ were equal partners. Even Skype messages and conferencing can be accessed and commercially sensitive messages are not safe. The identity of everyone on this blog will be known. If this had not been done without public knowledge, any loss of information to other governments would not have occurred. Yet they still pursue whistleblowers and the elite attend secret meetings, while making decisions behind our backs and plan to make us pay for their mistakes by increasing taxes. Not much different from the goings on before Magna Carta.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        It is indeed very ironic – but then we even had Blair as a Middle East peace envoy!

      • Mitchel
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Well ,@strd,there was a slight difference post Magna Carta in that power began to move from an absolutist king to oligarchs where it has stayed even if the nature of the oligarchs has changed over the centuries-Aristocrats,Press Barons,Trade Union Barons,Quangocrats,etc.Back in the 18th Century Rousseau said ” the English think they are free but they are free only when electing Members of Parliament”.That observation still stands despite the widening of suffrage.

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Simply look at whats happening to Greece. And numbers swelling by the day with Brussels letting them all stew. The BBC continues to pump up the EU regularly. R4 this morning on the wonders of technology in London and needing computer scientists…from the EU it seems. Most of the babble talk out of a college/uni text book…recommended. Will be climate change tomorrow…unchallenged!

    The stupid purdah business. Farage did inform us prior to the last election that the process should be free and fair. Slim chance by the look of it. 50 countered by the 50 odd from the North?

    Reply If by 50 you mean members of Conservatives for Britain we now number 112 I hear.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      112 members of Conservatives for Britain? About a third of the Tory MP’s, well it is improving.

      • zorro
        Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        LOL… I was watching Andrew Marr on Sunday and none other than Michael Heseltine was saying that he would join a ‘Conservatives For Britain’ saying who wouldn’t. How does it feel to potentially have Mr Heseltine at your side John 🙂 ?

        zorro

    • Ex-expat Colin
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      “Things can only get better”. As sung is familiar?

  8. Jerry
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    “Later generations wisely extended the power to all adults living as citizens in our land.

    Over how many years did this take place though?

    Can we say this has now been properly transferred to the EU institutions, or will the UK voters see that to restore the magic of the Magna Carta tradition they need to bring power back from Brussels?

    Well it most certainly has not been properly transferred to the EU institutions because many have kicked up such a stink about doing just that, starting with that No! No! No! speech from a certain Lady at the dispatch Box! Would we be celebrating the Magna Carta in such style if those later changes to the meaning of the document had not been made, had our forebears said No! No! No! too… As for bring back powers from Brussels, great, if that is what the electorate freely wants, sorry to say but I suspect that they will be given a “Hobsons choice” in effect. Either choice might in effect be like accepting the original Magna Carta sans any of the later amendments that make the document both workable and what we celibate this year.

  9. eeyore
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The English have two mighty freedoms even older and greater than those in Magna Carta – they pay no taxes, and obey no laws, to which they have not consented. These freedoms have existed “time out of mind”, by which, I gather, lawyers mean from before 1189. All English liberties follow from these, including those in Magna Carta. Taken together, they embody all the political freedom any nation could want or need.

    Ch. 39 of the Charter – guaranteeing rule of law to individuals – is a restatement of an existing position, not a new one. Ch. 40 – “to none will we delay, to none deny, justice or right” – was, is and always will be a resounding humbug. Only once in the last thousand years has there been no delays in the courts, when Sir Thomas More was Lord Chancellor and called for the next case, only to be told, “My lord, there is no next case.”

    I have not read of a single instance of anyone challenging delays in the courts by citing Magna Carta. One can imagine the reaction of the judges if they did.

    Apart from Ch.63, on the freedom of the English church, no other chapter of Magna Carta remains in force. It is not law, nor even the ghost of law, but the memory of a ghost, to which we this week pay grave homage. And so long as we continue to defend our real freedoms, it hardly matters either.

  10. tomo
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    A document of it’s time for sure – and the present mostly toe-curling municipal hoopla around the place trivialises the essence of what went down – and tries to swerve any real relevance to the present day.

    John was truly v.nasty and out of control – even compared to other despots around at that time. “The people” were mostly slaves with not even the Roman Saturnalia to take the sting out of it. That said – it is clear that some Imperial ambition is rising in Europe away from the demos (Greek allusion entirely intended) – and it is to be resisted.

    Greece is important since Imperial corruption, hubris and miscalculation is what precipitated the present crisis and it would seem we have applied little of what we should have learnt about human structures of governance.

    Enjoy the day with fluttering banners and fibreglass munchkin knights but look closer and be absolutely clear that this is about understanding and engagement – because there are those who would revel in the return of “droit de seigneur”…..

  11. DaveM
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    For once I’m not going to blame the ills of the nation on the EU or the ECHR – those 2 entities happen to exist, and the UK government signed up to them without the full consent of the British people. The EU and the European Courts never forced the govt to do that. What’s ironic, John, is the fact that the people who devised the Magna Carta – ie the anglo-normans – have less representation than anyone else. No First Minister, no SoS, no parliament; in short they exist to elect a govt which doesn’t represent them. Your party was elected, amongst other things, to hold a democratic referendum on the EU, instigate EVEL, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. So stop fannying around and get on with it.

    • mitchel
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.The totalitarian instinct is,I fear,much closer to home.George Orwell made an interesting observation back in May 1946 (Polemics):-

      “If one examines the people who,having some idea of what the Russian regime is like,are strongly Russophile one finds that,on the whole,they belong to the “managerial class”….that is,they are not managers in the narrow sense but scientists,technicians,teachers,journalists,broadcasters,bureaucrats,professional politicians;in general middling people who feel themselves cramped by a system that is still partly aristocratic and are hungry for more power and prestige.These people look to the USSR and see in it,or think they see,a system which eliminates the upper class,keeps the working class in its place,and hands unlimited power to people very similar to themselves.It was only after the Soviet regime became unmistakeably totalitarian that English intellectuals in large numbers began to show an interest in it.”

  12. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The EU is fundamentally and inherently undemocratic because there is no EU demos.

    For instance, if the whole of the UK electorate decided that they did no want the European Arrest Warrant there is nothing they can do about it because the UK Parliament gave away its right to control the law in this area. And there is no practical way a “Get Rid of the European Arrest Warrant” movement started in the UK can change the minds of the electorates in 27 other countries.

    An inability to control our borders with respect to EU citizens is not the problem, it is a symptom, one of many, of a far bigger and far more fundamental problem, a loss of UK sovereignty to the EU Autocracy.

  13. Liz
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    It is a pity that so many of those in power whether in Parliament or outside do not seem to understand this fundamental objection to the EU. None of them is ever asked to explain why they do not think democratic accountability is right and the lack it of the main criticism of the EU, let alone give a rational answer.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Liz – that is because our so called UK democracy is little more than a sham. It seems preposterous to query the democratic worthiness of others when here in the UK the democracy is laughably flawed. 4 million UKIP voters and one MP? 1 million green voters and 1 MP?

      UK democracy is risible.

    • Alexis
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      You are right, Liz.

      We hear nothing but ‘trade, jobs, jobs-n-growth’, in this argument – as if the economy would collapse without the EU (which it certainly wouldn’t).

      However, democratic accountability? …..there, you hear a deafening silence.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Why do so many Parliamentarians stand for election but are quite happy, if not determined, to yield supremacy to an unelected foreign organisation? By what right did they hand over powers, temporarily vested to them by the people, to that organisation without the consent of the people? Our sovereignty ought not to be negotiable.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      It is a good question. For Labour politicians it is so they can lock-in socialist EU policies even for those periods when they are out of office in UK. Why the likes of Cameron (and Ted Heath, John Major etc. before) should be so keen on it is very perplexing indeed. Ego ? I’m sure they all rather sit in meetings with their fellow heads of state than with their own backbenchers.

  15. Arthur Ainslie
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Britain’s industry is hamstrung by EU and indeed UN Climate regulations forced upon us by Brussels, and the ludicrous Climate Act forced upon us by Ed Miliband, under Gor-doom Brown as PM, in the dying days of the Socialist Nightmare. Now at last a Real Man of The People spoke out. We must get rid of the need to comply with these EU Laws and Regulations, which the British People NEVER signed up to, which run a coach and horses through The Magna Carta, and The Bill of Rights, and the Claim of Succession, and indeed our National Sovereignty.

    Truth About Climate Change – British MP Exposes Government Sophistry

    British Government Member of Parliament, David “Top Cat” Davies, who is a former Soldier and Policeman, Exposes the False Agenda in the Climate Change Laws of the United Kingdom and Europe.

  16. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Signed 22 years after the death of Saladin. Then, not one of all the kings horses and all the kings men were likely or capable of having and living within what pedants call ” a different narrative ” in these islands.

    If you went to fight in the Middle East for example you naturally wore a red cross on a white background.How could one fight under any other colours?

    One may understand and appreciate the significance of, even the irony of, the Magna Carta but how many in this Realm feel it and how many, importantly, cannot?

  17. Barbara
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    ‘Some will say the modern heirs to our Magana Carta tradition lie in the European Parliament and the European Convention of Human Rights. The problem with this interpretation is that to many UK citizens it does feel like that’

    I think there is a ‘not’ missing.

  18. ian wragg
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Your leader signed up to the EAW which is a travesty and now he tries to rig a referendum on EU membership. He then proposes to resign and probably take up a position as commissioner in Brussels. This is the type of behaviour we would expect from Liebor or the Limp Dumbs.

    • willH
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Well he`s a Liberal as everyone knows, he`s in the wrong party.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Or Ted Heath or John Major or indeed about half of the current Tory party – the Ken Clark wing.

  19. Bert Young
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    It is very apt that today , when we celebrate Magna Carta , we can also congratulate John Redwood and wish him the very best on his birthday .

    It is good to know that there are now over 100 Conservative MPs who are signed up for this country ; they have a tricky road ahead in the run up to the referendum and will need all the determination and resolve to win the day . They have my full support .

  20. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I think we ought to do what other organisations have done in the past and only propose a few Europhiles and many Eurosceptics to stand for local Conservative election( and Labour for that matter) so we get an accurate balance!

    So, who wears the sovereign crown in Europe. I find that I cannot be romantic at all about grey modern Europe , however there are still traditions of other nations which appeal to the emotions, the French wine and feminine centred outlook, the Spanish dancing, tappas and night life , the dutch clogs and windmills . Where did our Picnic baskets,local pubs, folksingers and morris dancers go?

    The cricket and tennis persist( please don’t ever let the competitors wear anything other than white, Wimbledon) .Romantic about the Great Charter? surely you mean a pensive remembrance of power.

  21. Vanessa
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not forget who took us into the EEC – the Tory govt of Heath actually signed us in and was very, very keen on giving away our sovereignty and control. He knew exactly what he has doing and had been warned by many of his colleagues and also all the original documents stated categorically that the idea was to create a new “country” with an identity of its own – NOT just a trade agreement. Then, of course, there was the Major govt. who despite being warned (again) signed the Maastrich Treaty. Some history the tories have.

    If that is not hoodwinking the British public, I don’t know what is.

  22. Terry
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Alas, Magna Carta is an irrelevance, isn’t it? Is it legally binding on anyone, today? It is just like the highway code – a list of recommendations but none subject to legal challenge in a British court. We have dubious independence from foreign made laws.

    Personally, I am sickened with Brussels for the main reason that the Commissioners are responsible to no one. Just who do they answer to? Where does Magna Carta help us with them? And who actually elects these people as the totalitarian European Heads of State? Where do they get their mandate? Not from the public citizens across Europe, that is very clear. No elections have been held for the people to decide who Governs them, so they are, in fact, Dictators.

    That is not democratic and together with the 19 successive years of Financial Audit failures, (due to suspected corruption and the misappropriation of tax payers funds), are reasons enough why we must withdraw.

    etc ed

  23. yosarion
    Posted June 15, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it was old English it was written in.

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    The power of Brussels has come about because we the British legislated for it in our Acts of Accession to various Federalist treaties. Only by repealing those acts can we regain our freedom. We have no-one to blame but ourselves, the key error being to accept that some treaties can be for ever.

  25. Stuart B
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    The importance of Magan Carta is philosophical, and directly related to the EU referendum.

    It established the right to differ from a ruler; it paradoxically created the very concept of absolute power, and simultaneously established for all time, the debatability of that power.

    Its relationship to the EU referendum is that it underpins the same ‘right to differ from a ruler’. It legitimises an alternative perspective as both logically possible and possibly logical.

    Magna Carta flushes out tyranny by exposing it as only one of a number of possibilities. As far as the referendum goes, ‘NO’ cannot be dismissed out of hand, as lunacy, irresponsibility or mere drivel, as some in the ‘YES’ camp are attempting.

  • 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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