Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in legal history, and one of the foundations of "British liberty". Back in 1215 - practically the dark ages - it affirmed rights such as due process and freedom of travel, as well as the founding principle of the Westminister system of Parliamentary government: that there shall be no taxation without the consent of Parliament. From their anti-terrorism policies of control orders and arbitrary detention, it is clear that Tony Blair's government hates it. It's ironic, then, that respondents in a BBC poll on candidates for a new UK public holiday preferred celebrating its signing to any of the other options. And if Tony Blair succeeds in his most urgent policy task of gutting the (UK) Human Rights Act and removing or limiting those ancient liberties, then the irony will be inescapable...

Updated: - fixed date.


1215 - still dark, but not quite as dark as 125 perhaps.

Posted by dc_red : 5/31/2006 10:25:00 AM

On the topic of the Magna Carta, I'd be quite curious to hear which law repealed the notion in the magna carta which states that "all punishment must be in accordance with the severity of the crime".

After all, even if a new law comes in to set an arbitrary sentence for a particular crime, surely it would be bound by the limits stipulated in the Magna Carta - unless that provision was specifically repealed.

Similarly with the bits in it about "customary ways of life" being protected.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2006 02:09:00 PM

Magna Carta has no special legal status. Its provisions can be and have been, frequently over the centuries, amended by ordinary statutes.

Am I alone in thinking it is very strange to consider making the anniversary of an English event, the national day for the British state. I imagine the Scottish part of the United Kingdom's population might have some problem with that.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2006 07:29:00 PM