Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Constitution of the United Kingdom

Democracy takes many forms, from the oldest parliamentary system in the world, Switzerland, to the so called Mother of Parliaments, the UK.


Across the centuries both have been inspirational in the founding principles of other nations, being a beacon and guiding light for the constitutions that they have produced guaranteeing the freedoms and rights of their citizens, including the USA.


Today we find the democratic world under attack, not from the clearly defined enemies of the past, but from within, from the socialist, the communist, the communitarian who now stalks and controls the halls of power whilst pretending democracy.


We have seen very clearly that pretend in action, with the removal of democratically elected governments in both Greece and Italy, replaced by Eurocrats, who even today are reneging on the promises of new elections.


Today, in our own parliament, those in power try to convince us that we do not have a constitution of our own, yet ignore those constitutional documents that have for so long preserved your own rights and freedoms. They want to foist upon you a new Bill of Rights based upon communitarian values and ignore the Bill of Rights that we already have, knowing that most of you do not even know of its existence, with the teaching of our constitution and its attendant documents having been removed from our Schools and Legal colleges.


This must change if we are to survive as a free people. We must again bring our scattered constitutional documents to the fore and work towards producing a Codified Constitution based upon our ancient rights before a new communitarian world thrusts one upon us.


As our own government loses sight of its reason and purpose, perhaps it is now time for the British people to bring back some of those founding principles that we gave the free world, and re-invest them in our own future.



http://talkconstitution.net


As such I am proud to host a new pressure group called Talk Constitution has been put together by David Phipps (Witterings from Witney) and a few others, its clear aim is to produce 3 documents.
1. A Codified Constitution for the UK, based upon the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, and other documents that you can see listed at the bottom (from Wikipedia).


2. To clearly define the limitations of Government.


3. To set out an Operating Convention for Government, based upon the Swiss model, including referism and localism. A model of government where decisions are taken at the lowest possible level and fed up, rather than from the center and fed down. This will also encourage the rise of independent representatives as the party system looses both its power and influence, as that power is reclaimed by the people to whom it belongs, the public.


As you will see over the coming weeks and months this is a most emotive subject, but one that must be tackled head on. It is not the kind of subject that should be conducted by politicians, as the outcome will always be in the politicians interests, nor by the legal establishment who have maintained the legal fiction supporting the political for too long. That is why the decision has been taken that political organisations will be excluded from the discussion board, as the objective is to arrive at the best possible solutions, in favour of the public, decided by the public and approved by the public, or those who wish to participate at least. 


I am sure the discussion board would welcome the input from individual lawyers and politicians, but only in their capacity as single members of the public, as equal as everyone else.




(from Wikipedia)
Key statutes and conventions
Below are listed some of the statutes that may be considered "constitutional" in nature and some of the more important conventions.


Selected key English statutes

Magna Carta (1215)
Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 (repealed)
Petition of Right (1628)
Instrument of Government {1653} {replaced 1657–1st Constitution of England)
Humble Petition and Advice {1657} {2nd Constitution of England}
Habeas Corpus Act 1679
Bill of Rights 1689
Act of Settlement 1701 (agreed to by Parliament of Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union)
Union with Scotland Act 1706 

Selected key Scottish statutes

Selected key British statutes

Some important conventions

Main article: Constitutional convention (political custom)
Relating to monarchy
The Sovereign shall grant the Royal Assent to all Bills passed by Parliament (the Royal Assent was last refused by Queen Anne in 1708, for the Scottish Militia Bill 1708, on the advice of her ministers).[38]
The monarch will not dissolve Parliament without the advice of the Prime Minister.
The monarch will ask the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons to form a government, and if there is no majority party, the person who appears most likely to command the confidence of the House of Commons to serve as Prime Minister and form a government. [39]
The monarch will ask a member of the House of Commons (rather than the House of Lords or someone outside Parliament) to form a government. It remains possible, however, for a caretaker Prime Minister to be drawn from the House of Lords.
All ministers are to be drawn from the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
The House of Lords will accept any legislation that was in the Government’s manifesto (the ‘Salisbury Convention‘) – in recent years this convention has been broken by the Lords, though the composition of the Lords (which was the justification for the convention) has radically changed since the convention was introduced.
Individual Ministerial Responsibility
Collective Ministerial Responsibility

Please give your support to this discussion by advertising on your blog or publication, and please feel free to take this sidebar logo from this post.

talkconstitution.net


Let the Debate begin




Note (1): This post also appears on IanPJonPolitics and Muffled Vociferation.
Note (2): Whilst the discussion board is open for registrations, said registrations will not be approved until Sunday 8th January.

86 comments:

Paul Wesson said...

The Magna Carta 1215 is an anti-Semitic, sexist document that was never enforced. The Pope agreed with the king that it was nullified as it was signed under duress. The 1215 MC was replaced in 1216 by a document signed by a 9-year old. The only MC in force today is the 1297 document and only with respect to 3 clauses. I don't know why people, mainly on the right, think that MC 1215 is anything whatsoever to do with our constitutional law. They are all wrong to do so.

MC 1215 was signed under duress by a non-English speaking monarch. It was witnessed by senior clergy and peers. The purpose of the document was to protect their interests by giving them power over the monarch and removing named Norman knights from his inner circle. I believe that I am one of a very small minority of people who have ever read MC 1215. Certainly nobody else seems to know of the ant-Semitic clauses or the clauses naming specific knights. I'm sorry, but as someone who's studying a masters in constitutional politics, law and theory, I think this exercise lacks validity as it doesn't deal with the state we're in today, but looks backwards at laws that no longer have relevance.

Anonymous said...

It is not important that a treaty is signed under duress. Consider the Treaty of Versailles; did Germany sign it under duress, or not. Was it valid? Did Germany (at the begining) try to fulfill her part of it, or not.
A treaty which is signed is a valid treaty whether the signature is there by duress or not.
It is the old story of 'history is written by the victors'

JohnM

Stuart said...

Paul,

Can you explain to me what jurisdiction the Pope had in nullifying MC and maybe what jurisiction he had in declaring another English King's crown forfeit? As far as your point about anti-semitism, I guess we have evolved a little since then?

Surely given your knowledge, you understand that a constitution or likewise documents are created to limit the power of a government or ruler. They are never going to openly embrace limits that didn't previously exist, so the duress bit is understandable and tough luck.

I take your point about old documents and law, but lets face the fact that there have been some rather enlightened individuals in the past and disregard all that stuff at your peril. Please be a little more open minded rather than swallowing the establishment line on what is still valid and we don't appreciate negetive comments about validity or relevance but would prefer your positive input. Lastly, we are trying to protect our interests, not for personal profit but to protect our democratic rights for oursleves and future generations.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: Had you read the post you would have seen the object of the exercise is to deal with the present problems and in so doing to suggest a solution!

Tsk, tsk......


Anon: Thanks.

Fausty said...

Good stuff, Mr W.

About the banner - the smaller one's text is illegible. Any chance of modifying it, or making several versions available?

Also, might the banner suggest that the site is a forum, inviting discussion?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

S: thanks for chipping in.....!

Fausty: The smaller one is purely for sidebar use as a link. We kept the same design for reasons of 'continuity'

Stuart said...

Paul,

Sorry to have another go, but if a document seeks to limit or define the powers of a ruler or rulers, it is constitutional.I once read that during the 1960's the government tried to take common law into statute and then repeal it. The question is does a government have the right to repeal the MC or common law? The fact that you used the term "from the right" means you have not yet understood the fact the right and left matter little as the true line of destinction is between the political class and us. It is them who have unaccountable power and also unfettered power to change the limits of their own power. That is not acceptable. I hope you look at your studies from the point of view of us, rather than them.

IanPJ said...

The question is does a government have the right to repeal the MC or common law?

NO, the question is does a government have the ability to repeal the MC or Common Law, and the answer is NO, as both were pre-parliament.

What they can do, and have done, is create Acts of Parliament to cover and hide the existing Common Law, the Treason Act being a good example, and then amend it to lessen its value. However, should the Treason Act ever be repealed in its entirety then the Common Law offence of Treason would appear in its original form, along with its original punishments.

Much of the discussion that must take place is how do we get our Common Law re-established as the primary source of law in the UK.

BJ said...

Thank you David for your efforts in creating this opportunity for learning about and discussing our constitution.

Also welcome is Paul Wesson - I know that over the years Paul has been a willing participant in discussions constitutional - he was always very informative on the British Democracy Forum; the thing is to take the negative with the positive, try and learn from the mistakes, and put together the basic principles of how to improve things.

If it's a choice between State/Corporate and Liberty/Freedom - I'll take the latter.

Good Luck David

IanPJ said...

Paul Wesson,
Such documents are more widely read than I think you give others credit for, so you are hardly unique in your reading material.

You also fall into the common trap of believing that by producing a document of the same name it somehow repeals the former, it does not.

Constitutional documents may not be impliedly repealed, by a pope or any other, only explicitly so, and none of the later MC documents explicitly repeal any of the former.

Whilst there is much in the language of those early documents which we may find unacceptable today, be very careful about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The tidying up of the language in a Codified Constitution would be part of that exercise without necessarily loosing any of the veracity of the meaning or rights implied.

In terms of its age, I would say this about old documents. Would you consider dismissing or excluding parts of the Bible, Tora or Koran because of their age?

Paul Wesson said...

MC 1215 was never enforced. It is not now, nor ever was, the law of the land. It didn't even apply to Wales, Cheshire, Northumberland, Cumberland, Scotland or Ireland. It is not in force and people should not start from the position that it is. Only the 1297 MC applies today, but most of that has been repealed.

Treason Act?????? Which one? There have been loads and most have been repealed. Only a nutter thinks that somebody should be hung for rogering Princess Diana!

I cannot believe anyone seriously thinks that MC 1215 is relevant today.

Duress is, however, relevant. See Oldcastle's Case; one of the earliest common law judgements. You can still plead duress in certain circumstances.

I come at this from the position of someone who is currently studying his third degree in law. I've just submitted a 4000+ word essay on the Bill of Rights and will be working on a dissertation of 10000 words on the implementation of a particular international treaty.

I think some people misunderstand the nature of common law. Parliament is sovereign - that is a doctrine of our common law. It is one to which we should all subscribe.

Constitutional documents may be impliedly repealed by a sovereign Parliament. Prior to Parliament the King was sovereign and could make, or unmake, any laws. This was reaffirmed in Godden v Hales, which is why we now have the Bill of Rights, which formally abolished non obstante.

Anonymous said...

Ian PJ, documents don't fall into desuetude because of age. That's not really the point. There are a lot of old laws that people want to discuss, but they really aren't relevant. Even the Bill of Rights has been amended, despite Betty Boothroyd's assertion to the contrary (Jury Act 1828 etc).

A list of repealed or out of date documents does not a constitution make.

I would consider dismissing parts of the Bible, Koran or Torah, but not because of age, but because of my own religious beliefs.

IanPJ said...

A good mix of view here already, I can see the new forum will be a lively place to discuss the ins and out, rights and wrongs, and most importantly, where we want to end up.

Stuart said...

Paul,

"Constitutional documents may be impliedly repealed by a sovereign Parliament". That appears to be at odds with Lord Justice Laws judgement when deliberating the metric martyrs case.

I come at this from a point of view that we should be able to do anything we like unless it is forbidden by law and our representatives and government should serve us, not rule us.I respect the studying that you have done and lets face it there are a good many Eurocrats that have doctorates and have written many times what you have. But they do not necessarily believe in democracy or accountability. They have the power and want to use it to their advantage. It appears that you already feel like you know what's best, so I shudder that you ever gain any power. Keep the debate going though please. Your input is very welcome.

Sue said...

1. Treaties are always signed under duress.

2. Whether any of the documents above are still relevant, legal or void is irrelevant.

The people should be making the laws, guided by historical documents, not the politicians nor the federal EU.

This is OUR COUNTRY, WE WILL TAKE IT BACK ON OUR TERMS.

Paul Wesson said...

Laws LJ was wrong and the case should have been appealed. A supreme Court/HoL ruling would have been different.

Sue, how will the 'people' make the laws? At present they have the opportunity to elect a Parliament that does that job. There are 44 million electors or thereabouts. There is no opportunity for them to vote on every law - do you realise how many statutes are passed into law each year? Most of us don't have time to read them all, let alone do the research necessary to decide whether we agree with every section. Most MPs don't read every section of every law, but go with the principles. They have paid staff to do the donkey work. Some laws are. of necessity, complex and take time to understand.

Treaties are different to laws. Under our system Parliament still votes treaties into law (or at least has done since 1689).

MC 1215 was not a treaty in any event.

I agree that our representatives and government should serve us, but the public vote for the choices put to them. We have the results of an imperfect democracy, but that is the best we can hope for. Unless we get elected we will not change the law and nothing said or done here will change that fact.

Even if we lobby, we have to get the ear of those who have been elected. We need therefore to be credible in their eyes. Most MPs have their correspondence filtered by their staff and it is their researchers and secretaries that draft their replies. People sending identical correspondence will get a standard reply. An MP has no obligation to reply to someone who is not his constituent. Ministers don't draft their replies; that's what civil servants are for. Changing the law replies a lot of effort if you are not elected yourself. You need a proper lobbying organisation and you must not write stuff that is easy to reject. You need to meet your MP and get to know him if he is to trust your opinions.

Debating from false premises will get you nowhere. Most MPs are not interested in repealed laws from last year let alone several hundred years ago and will not read them. Even if you send a large bundle of documents to them, their researchers will reduce it to one page with 7 bullet points maximum. Therefore you might as well write a one page summary with 7 bullet points.

I've just written over 4000 words on the Bill of Rights, because that will get marked, but if I had to summarise it for a non-learned journal I would get it down to 500 words and not bother to prove the points I make (although I could back them all up).

graham wood said...

Paul. You stated:
"Parliament is sovereign - that is a doctrine of our common law. It is one to which we should all subscribe.

I know we must not get bogged down on irrelevant data on our existing Constitution, but I disagree fundamentally with your statement above - albeit a common misunderstanding.

The Queen in Parliament (not Parliament alone and certainly not the House of Commons and Executive)is of course the sole supreme law making body in England historically.
But IMO Parliament is not "sovereign" in the sense that it's powers are limited by law and the current Constitution.
There is no enabling constitutional authority given to Parliament to destroy or DIMINISH the Constitution which is the source and foundation of its authority. Otherwise we would have, in effect what we have now, the "sovereign" and arbitrary 'Divine Right of politicians' - i.e. replacing the theory of the Divine Right of Kings of Tudor and Stuart times.
Our Constitution is designed to LIMIT the power of the State - permanently. That is what 'the rule of law' means - i.e. Parliament's legal subservience to the Law and Constitution.
But of course it is systematically and deliberately ignored by this and previous governments.

Anonymous said...

The admin people are very slow in approving accounts.

TomTom said...

to the so called Mother of Parliaments, the UK.

Sorry to rain on your parade but it is WESTMINSTER that is "the Mother of Parliaments" although John Bright did say in 1865 ENGLAND was the Mother of Parliaments NOT The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland

IanPJ said...

Anonymous said...

The admin people are very slow in approving accounts.

Did you not read the bit at the end of this post?

Note (2): Whilst the discussion board is open for registrations, said registrations will not be approved until Sunday 8th January.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: " There is no opportunity for them to vote on every law - do you realise how many statutes are passed into law each year?"

Oddly enough, yes as I blogged on it.

Who said people have to vote on every law? I didn't. Methinks that a little more attention to what is written and responding on that instead of attempting to mount a hobby horse. Ok, so you're on your third law degree - does that make you the ultimate voice of what is and what isn't law?

The choices put to the public are not always the choices the public would like!

If you are prepared to settle for an imperfect system of democracy, there are others like me who are not!

"We need therefore to be credible in their eyes." No Paul, they need to be credible in our eyes - something they most certainly are not!

I am well aware how mPs work and need no lessons thanks. Debating from a false premise won't get you anywhere is agreed - which is probably why you are not getting anywhere on this comment thread.

Oh and how many times do we need to be told you have just written a 4000+ words - I think we have got the message now.........


IPJ: It seems there's now two people who haven't actually read the damn post!

Paul Wesson said...

David, I wasn't actually responding to the point you make about direct democracy, but Sue's comment about the people making the law. her statement implied a lack of understanding of the system.

If the choices put to the public are not those they would like then they need to get up and offer more choices. I would never tell people that they have to offer me a choice; I get up and offer an alternative (at great personal expense). Nobody has the right to complain at election time that there is insufficient choice. They only have to get 10 signatures and £500 to be a Parliamentary candidate (the only option for change available). I've been on 10 ballots and the public have even elected me as an Independent; if I can do it then anybody can do it (and I give you credit, Dave, for standing yourself). If, however, there is anybody debating who is unhappy with the choice AND has never stood for election, then you are entirely to blame.

If we don't vote on every law, then we have to have a clear idea of which laws should be voted on. That I presume is where you might be coming from.

The reason I am getting nowhere is that I don't really see the point of trying. As always I am accused of being pro-establishment if I don't buy the utter drivel that MC 1215 is the law of the land. Every time someone makes that statement i feel almost morally obliged to intervene. It is hard enough to succeed in our imperfect democracy without spouting utter tosh. Fore the record, and I will shout, MC 1215 IS NOT LAW NOW AND NEVER HAS BEEN!!!!!! How thick do people have to be to understand that basic proposition.

Treason? There is no crime in repealing treason laws; most have been repealed. The laws are outdated in any event.

I have been accused on other threads of being brainwashed because I won't accept bollocks. I am not brainwashed, I just know what the reality is.

If MC 1215 is the law, how come there is not one successful common law case recorded where someone brought an action based on it (I don't even know of a single case)? You would have thought that in nearly 800 years there would have been one person in the whole kingdom who had tried to enforce the law.

You can abuse MPs and governments as much as you like and say they need to be credible in your eyes, but the reality is they are elected and we are not. If you are to influence people for the better then you need to come to them in a way that will get their attention. telling them that you don't like them, nor trust them and that you despise them is not going to win friends and influence people.

The point I make about my qualifications is always lost on those who debate law without fully understanding what they are discussing. We only have to look at Albert Burgess' drivel to realise that he has yet to address the issue of the time limit in treason, the issues of mens rea and actus reus, the elements of the crime of treason etc. I get angry when I see people like Burgess or Barnby, who can barely use English grammar, spouting the rubbish they spout. Because they are linked to UKIP, a party was once a Parliamentary candidate for, people associate me with them and I really can't cope with that.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: I find no fault with the comment from Sue. Where she says it should be the people making the law I think you will find she means that they should have the final say, if that is what they wish.

"If we don't vote on every law, then we have to have a clear idea of which laws should be voted on"

o, that is not the idea. If MPs propose a law, any law, and sufficient people sign, a referendum is then held and it is either accepted or rejected. People will not query every law, only those they feel particularly concerned about.

Whether MC1215 is law or not we could ddebate ad infinitum. What we are saying is that our constitution has to be codified using points extracted from MC1215 and later, Bills of Right etc. One article that will be in any new suggested constitution will be that no changes to what is agreed can be made without the agreement of the peple. Likewise no treaties will be signed without the agreement of the people. Again not every treaty would be questioned, but one thing is certain - if that 'right' had been in existence it is fairly certain the ToL would not have been agreed.

No one has ever, to my knowledge, question representative democracy, yet it is in reality a democratised dictatorship in that during any 5 year period 'govt can pass any damn law it likes and the people can do bugger all to stop it. That is not democracy, that is democratised dicatorship!

Methinks you need to register Paul, see how the discussions progress and argue your case on the forum?

Paul Wesson said...

Graham Wood, I believe that Parliament can make or unmake laws. The body of constitutional law we have is susceptible to change and none of it is immutable.

The Bill of Rights itself has been changed - the emancipation of Catholics in 1828 effectively put paid to the oath of supremacy, a part of the Bill which was not intended to be law, but was the wording of the oath taken by people who accepted public office (all this stuff about foreign princes and prelates etc). The oath of supremacy was changed by the Bill of Rights to allow all non-RC Christians to be able to take public office; the previous wording had excluded Dissenters. People need to look at the Acts of Supremacy 1534 and 1558/9.

The oath of 1559 was originally as follows:

I, A. B., do utterly testify and declare in my conscience that the Queen's Highness is the only supreme governor of this realm, and of all other her Highness's dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes, as temporal, and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm; and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities and authorities, and do promise that from henceforth I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the Queen's Highness, her heirs and lawful successors, and to my power shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, privileges and authorities granted or belonging to the Queen's Highness, her heirs or successors, or united or annexed to the imperial crown of this realm. So help me God, and by the contents of this Book.

It was never intended to be law, but was for people taking public or church office. It was extended to cover MPs, university students and others. You will see it was changed by the Bill of Rights, yet the Acts of Supremacy are clearly constitutional laws.

Paul Wesson said...

The Bill of Rights, incidentally, was passed by the Convention Parliament, which was not called by a reigning monarch. There are constitutional questions as to whether any act passed since then has been truly lawful, but I don't think we should go there.

Here is the invite and notice of election; note the decision was made by the last Parliament of Charles II:

http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=28736

Here is the first meeting of the Convention Parliament:

http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=28736

You should all like this. This includes the votes on parts of the Bill of Rights:

http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=28745

You can follow the other records of the Parliament and find William asking for the oaths to allow Dissenters.

The point is that Parliament, however convened, was acting as a sovereign body when replacing the prerogative rulings of James II. Parliament here was clearly the King working with the Lords and Commons. Parliament voted on the contents of the Bill of Rights (Somers/Sommers drafted the final copy).

Here is the case of Godden v Hales, the last attempt at justification of divine right:

http://www.jacobite.ca/documents/1686godden.htm

Here is the Bill of Rights as passed:

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

Here is the entry page on the government legislation website:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/contents

In order to produce a 4000+ word essay I read 500,000 words. These links are purely a sample. When querying whether I am an expert on the law, in this area I am currently one of the most well read, although I can name others who are more informed (I emphasise currently). I hope you find these links helpful. After my essay is marked I will share it as I believe the copyright remains with me and not London University.

Read up also, if you're interested in constitutional laws that have been repealed, the Test Acts and the Clarendon Convention. We will not be reverting to those laws in a hurry.

Paul Wesson said...

David, We cannot discuss ad infinitum whether MC 1215 is the law. That's why I get upset. People don't know history and don't understand the law, nor our uncodified body of constitutional laws. There is little of merit in MC 1215 and most of it is totally irrelevant in our advanced society. everything of import has been restated in other statutes over nearly 800 years. MC 1215 was not the law of the land. All historians of the period agree and all lawyers since then agree that it never came into force. There are no constitutionalists with a legal training who are even debating the point.

If you want to change the system, and you know I think it needs changing, you have to start from a credible position and accept the current position de facto and de jure. We are where we are and we should be looking to change things using current legal and political theories. I would be willing to help, but I don't want to waste my time going over old ground. I'm not interested in people telling me that laws they haven't had the courtesy to read apply today.

One of the reasons for embarking on the only masters course in constitutional politics, law and theory being taught today (AFAIK) was to widen my knowledge and to go to the source material. You know this area has interested me for some time. I am learning a lot of good stuff that allows me to be of assistance, but it frustrates me that people with no qualifications or experience whatsoever diss me. I get really angry when people give Burgess or Mote or Barnby credibility, but think that all lawyers are corrupt or traitors or have missed key points of law in careers spanning decades. Ask yourself why 35,000+ practising lawyers with an average of 20 years experience (some 700,000 years of combined legal knowledge) have managed to miss points of law that have been identified by semi-literate numpties after the reading of a couple of out of date law textbooks. Nobody ever questions why the people who produce the law textbooks haven't asked Burgess or Barnby to write a few chapters (if you see Burgess' joke book on the English Constitution you'll understand why).

IanPJ said...

PW,
I think you miss the entire point of the TalkConstitution.net forum.

It is not about determining what is or is not law today, it is not about turning back the clock to revive old laws or determining their validity.

It does not matter that these constitutional documents are old, it does not matter that some of them are void, that clauses have been repealed
or are no longer valid.

We must use these documents as guides rather than absolutes to produce a Codified Constitution that protects the
people, that is relevant to us the people today, and tomorrow, but never
forgetting the sacrifices that were made yesterday to enable these old
documents and the rights and freedoms contained within them.

In other words, it does not matter how clever one is, how well read one is or how steeped in the law one is, it is about thinking outside of the box to create, not to maintain the status quo.

Anyone can criticise, anyone can destroy, but how many are capable of creation in this sense?

Paul Wesson said...

Ian, Then if we are looking to the future we should also look at the constitutions of other countries. With the exceptions of Louisiana (purchase arrangement) and New Zealand (treaty) we are the only country that doesn't have a codified constitution.

One of my jobs is to visit other countries and assess the performance of their elections against international standards, their constitutions and election laws. In that role I have read widely of other constitutions and actually have one or 2 at home with me. I'm off to Kazakhstan on Monday to observe their elections.

On my return I will be studying i/ the EU Constitution, ii/ constitutions of USA, Colombia and Mexico, iii/Russian Constitution, iv/ Canadian constitution, v/Israeli constitution, vi/South African constitution, vii/Italian constitution, viii/Australian constitution.

The mixture reflects the different types of constitution. Some of our lecturers actually contributed to the constitutions in question; indeed after election observations as a long-term observer I have made recommendations for changes in the host countries' constitutions (with 25 election observations across 3 continents I am an expert in the field).

In terms of 'creation' I am very capable. My first constitutional lecturer, when I did my first degree, wrote the constitutions of Bangla Desh and Pakistan. I am being taught by and debating with the best. My thesis will relate to the constitutions of Kazakhstan and Macedonia.

My problem is that I don't have the time to waste looking at things that can add nothing to any future document. I've looked at many of the laws listed above and can safely say that they really are not pertinent to any future constitution.

Paul Wesson said...

Here are some of the key books I will be reading this term:

1. Goldsworthy, Jeffrey Interpreting Constitutions: A Comparative Study (Oxford University Press, 2006).

2. D. Franklin and M. Baun, Political Culture and Constitutionalism: A Comparative Approach, (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1995).

3. N. Dorsen et al, Comparative Constitutionalism: Cases and Materials, (St Paul: West Publishing, 2003).

4. M. Rosenfeld (ed.) Constitutionalism, Identity, Difference, and Legitimacy: Theoretical Perspectives. (Duke University Press, 1994).

5. Hirschl, Ran Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press, 2004)

6. Tim Koopmans, Courts and Political Institutions. A Comparative View (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2003).

7. Pierre Legrand and Roderick Munday (eds) Comparative Legal Studies: Traditions and Transitions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

I reckon others might wish to do the same.

Paul Wesson said...

here are some other sources of good stuff:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/world/

http://www.servat.unibe.ch/law/icl/index.html

http://comparativelawblog.blogspot.com/

http://www.constitutionmaking.org/default.html

Paul Wesson said...

If those who are genuinely interested read all of the material above you will become more knowledgeable than most experts in the field. There is a lot out there, but people writing constitutions don't look to the past.

IanPJ said...

PW,
"I've looked at many of the laws listed above and can safely say that they really are not pertinent to any future constitution".

In your opinion! Only in your opinion. That's why we have created a forum, that's why we will be having discussions rather than lectures.

"There is a lot out there, but people writing constitutions don't look to the past".

..and those who never look to the past are doomed to make the same mistakes..

I have to say that what is coming across here is that your self belief that only you are right, to the exclusion of all other views, is indicative of one of the primary reasons why we see the failings of government, state establishments & NGOs around us today.

That they no longer serve the people is clear, and as such change is necessary.

To simply dismiss, to listen to or debate the views of others is a failure in itself.

There is a wealth of opinion and ideas out there, and we will be listening to as many as wish to contribute.

Paul Wesson said...

Ian,

I remain concerned that people will not debate from a position of knowledge, but working from certain assumptions. I am entitled to my opinion as you are entitled to yours. I am also concerned that there are people, largely associated with UKIP and other groups of the 'right', who come at this from the position that they know everything. For some reason people are obsessed with the idea that MC 1215 is in force and that they can use it to change the position we find ourselves in today, yet a quick read will show that it is irrelevant.

I have provided masses of links that are pertinent. If you are going to discuss a constitution you should look at modern constitutional theory. Study history by all means, but our salvation is not in a lot of dated legislation. The books and links I have listed are important - one of them leads to English language translations of all extant constitutions in the world. I would have thought that that would have been a good place to start.

I'm sorry if I come over as lecturing, but I've been asked to make recommendations for changes to the laws and constitutions of several other countries. Have you?

This discussion forum will only be relevant if it has, at the end of it, a document that moves us forward. To achieve that you have to get the populace onside. Looking to the constitution that gave Cromwell supreme executive power is not going to achieve anything.

I am not simply dismissing the opinions of others, I have encountered them in other fora and found them to be wanting. I don't want to even get involved with the likes of Burgess (illiterate who thinks he knows more about the law of treason than anybody else - the quote is on BDF), Barnby (a person who twists things and misinterprets simple English to achieve the object he wants), Mote (a convicted criminal with a walter Mitty character - a Crown Court judge said so). I want nothing to do with Harris or anybody who calls themselves a 'freeman' based on a total misinterpretation of c61, MC 1215 - a clause which never came into force. I don't want to make a prat of myself outside courts whilst people try to evade the taxes I pay. I don't want to walk into a police station and ask the desk sergeant to investigate a matter that belongs to the Attorney General. The people who have been doing those things are stupid (yes it is my opinion, but it ias based on fact).

I want to be inolved in helping change the laws of this country. To do that I have to mix with and work with the people who can do that.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: Methinks you still do not understand the aims of this forum. Yes it is agreed you are entitled to your opinions, as is anyone, however unfortunately it still appears that we are in receipt of a lecture. Whether any of us have been asked to make recommendations for changes to the laws and constitutions of other countries matters not. What you are implying is that if not then we have to accept without question what we are told by those who have. Hardly democratic, is it?

You seem to believe that it is our intention to import clauses from MC1215 and other legislation into any new constitution. I repeat such legislation contains ideas, ideas which can be used. To dismiss old documents as 'history' means that you are not prepared to learn from history.

You state that to change the laws of this country you have to mix with and work with people who can do that - but are not 'these people' exactly those who wish to preserve the 'status quo', one that leaves them in power? Do turkeys vote for christmas?

I repeat an earlier assertion, I am not interested in politicians offering to change their ways, I will ensure politicians change their ways.

You wish to live under a dictatorship (elected or otherwise) Paul, the fine - I don't!

Paul Wesson said...

Apologies, I said Laws LJ was wrong and that he could have been appealed. I forgot that what he said was obiter dicta and not part of the ratio of the case. As it was in passing there are no grounds for an appeal; it is not binding.

Paul Wesson said...

David, You make the assumption that the people I would work with don't want to change our constitutional laws. In fact there are many people who are campaigning and working to change things. The AV vote, which was lost, was an attempt by some to change the order of things. There are fresh discussions on the future of the House of Lords. There is, at last, a groundswell against the EU; this is ensuring that even DC has to bend slightly. The Protection of Freedoms Bill is in its final stages; that is good.

In wanting to get involved with those who would change the law I am dealing with the art of the achievable. Your discussion forum has a long way to go and might attract some good ideas. I've been positive and given you a list of books to read and some good websites to go to.

I do learn from history. I've provided you with links to historic documents now placed online. I've read them and many, many others. I continue to read on constitutional and political history. I'm taking Bagehot as my in flight/bedside reading in Kazakhstan next week.

You will not, unfortunately, ensure politicians change their ways. We've both tried that already and you and I both know how difficult it can be on the streets.

I don't want to live under a dictatorship (check meaning), but we have to work with what we have. There isn't going to be a revolution led by BCG, or Brian Gerrish or Albert Burgess or Nigel Farage. I have decided that I can only achieve things by working with people and persuading them. In this I have to avoid coming across as a fruitcake, loony or closet racist.

I could help, but am sick of the anti-intellectualism I encounter on the right. The fringes of UKIP are the place for intelligent people to go if they want to be abused for getting qualifications. If we were discussing medicine and I was a doctor I would expect people to listen to my advice. Since we're discussing constitutional law which is my professional calling all I am getting is a hard time.

Nobody has thanked me for providing access/links to some of the documents I have used or am using for research. Perish the thought that those who ask me to listen to them and think outside the box would ever do so themselves. It is clear from some of the comments that those arguing with me are not interested in knowledge of constitutional law per se, but just want to prove they're right.

TomTom said...

This is an interesting debate and Paul Wesson adds quite a few ideas, but I suspect the list of precedents from Magna Carta are less to do with textual analysis and more to do with "Culture" to be embodied into any future Constitution.

I am particularly interested in Germany NOT having a Constitution but a Basic Law imposed by the Allies in 1949 with Article 146 pledging the German People a free vote to implement their own Constitution in some future.

Well that future came in 1990 with the collapse of the GDR, but Germans did not get a New Constitution for United Germany but Art 23 instead simply continuing the Temporary Basic Law.

Now that the EU debacle has hit the limits of German Constitutionality according to the Head of the Constitutional Court, Germany needs a new Constitution; it also has a Presidential Crisis, and the need to eradicate some Federal States as unviable......so even with a Written Basic Law, Germany has reached the end of the road with its current Republic.

It may be that a free vote might see the German Voters rejecting the EU and wishing a greater national identity in place of the emasculated sovereignty imposed in 1949. In short, it is not just Britain that is approaching the problem of political legitimacy

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: They don't want to change constitutional law - unless it is on their terms and continues their power. The Av vote would have brought what change to our democracy? Those elected under such a system would still have had dictatorial powers to introduce what damn law they liked and the public could do what, exactly?

Just who is having discussions on reform of the House of Lords? The political elite and those within the 'Westminster Bubble'. As with the Localism Act and the Recall Bill, the final decision rests with the elected - LAs can ignore any referendum if they wish to and any recall is still at the whim of 'them - so what hope for any reform of the HoL?

So you wish to achieve the achievable by seeking change from within? What, like Hague and Cameron with the EU? We all know that works - not!

I am only too aware that I will not get politicians to change their ways as I recognise I will not get you to change your ways and broaden your mind. You are thinking as one of them.

You state re dictatorship - check meaning. Any system of government in which those in power can make law and the people have no immediate check on the imposition of said law is a dictatorship - check meaning?

We, the people, do not have to work with what we have - we can and must change that with which we have to work. It is presumed by your statement that innovation and thought are not permitted - in which case had that been the case we would all be living in caves still!

On one point you are correct - NF will not lead any revolution because he is living on another planet especially where the direction he is taking his party is concerned.

What you call anti-intellectualism I call thought, ideas - they may not be totally correct in what they seek but from them come ideas - and it is ideas that have shaped our world, our knowledge, our history and as a result our present.

One final thought: is not debate an attempt, a process, to prove you're right? You may not like the arguments against you Paul, but don't you dare accuse us of being disinterested, or as you imply fruitcakes, loonies or closet racists. Just dont!

Paul Wesson said...

Tom Tom, the poor old Germans had an imposed arrangement in 1919 that led, in part, to WWII. The Weimar Constitution was very democratic, but the power to suspend certain articles allowed it to be violated in the extreme. The Basic Law is an interesting concept. As the German jurist Schmitt tried to justify Hitler as a constitutional exception so Hans Kelsen pushed the Gruendnorm, the law from which all others emanate (Schmitt, when in the Nazi party was responsible for getting Kelsen removed from Koeln university). Kelsen's theories were popular - he was a positivist, something that sits well with the German way of doing things. It will be interesting to see where Germany goes; a number of their academics are anti-EU constitutional involvement, something that is uncommon in our country where the left dominate academia (boy am I getting into some good debates).

graham wood said...

Paul. I'm sure as a student of constitutional law you will have much to bring to such a discussion.
However, at this particular time in our history we have neither the time, and for many of us not the inclination to discuss much by way of the theoretical nuances of many of our, or other countries past constitutional documents.
As Ian P J has I think succinctly put it:
"We must use these documents as guides rather than absolutes to produce a Codified Constitution that protects the people, that is relevant to us the people today, and tomorrow, but never
forgetting the sacrifices that were made yesterday to enable these old documents and the rights and freedoms contained within them."
That's right! Lets use such documents, cull from them that which is of permanent value to express principles of liberty and real representative government, and attempt to work out together where we are going for an alternative form of democracy.
Long discussion of mere academic interest may have its place in the law schools - but not here right now I suggest!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

gw: Brilliant riposte! Now why could I not have thought to say that/

*Bangs head against wall*.....

Paul Wesson said...

Thanks for that Graham.

Collectively, you have all of the time in the world to prepare yourself for the debate. Obviously I've missed something. I thought that prior preparation would allow you to come to this from a position of strength. If your debate is going to concentrate on our old laws then so be it. I'd be interested to see the final result of your efforts.

It's clear that my contribution is not welcome. I am only seeking to be an expert in the field and hope to go onto a doctorate. I'll stop by in a few years time and see how far you've progressed in getting your constitution past Parliament. There's no election before 2015 so you should have something perfected by then and you can take it to the people at that time.

TomTom said...

The Weimar Constitution was very democratic, but the power to suspend certain articles allowed it to be violated in the extreme

Not as democratic as the Basic Law and Art 48 looks like it was modelled on SPQR in Rome. There are several Weimar Articles explicitly carried into the Basic Law. However, Hitler did not start rearmament, that began in 1919. It was Bruening who ruled via Emergency Decree, and it was Ebert who used powers to suppress the Spartakists.

Hitler's Enabling Act is not so different from Secondary Legislation and The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 does not make our "Constitution" so different.

Just what Defence of the Realm Act or expropriation of Imber and Tyneham villages in perpetuity reveal is that a Hitler is an exception which blinds too many people to the reality of political power in their own backyard.

right_writes said...

This Paul Wesson bloke seems to have caused a lot of discussion on this site, and I could be wrong, but I don't recollect seeing that name here even... It just demonstrates what an accommodating chap WfW is and all of his commenter chums too....

Anyway, I agree with all of the refutations of his supposed learned initial comment, and would just add that his contention that MC1215 was anti Semite was not true either...

It was seeking to bring usury under control, and the Jews were the only community that were allowed to engage in that activity... So everywhere that one reads 'Jew' in that document, substitute the word 'banker' and it makes a great deal of sense.

Paul Wesson said...

Tom Tom, you are correct. People forget that throughout much of the Weimar era the constitution was partially suspended. Hitler was only following the example of others.

Paul Wesson said...

right_writes,

The writers of MC, clerics all, knew what they were saying when they had a go at the Jews. In fact they also tagged on a litttle bit about other usurers being treated the same. The MC was anti-Semitic and no amount of sophistry changes the fact.

You might agree with the other 'refutations' couched as they are in general terms, with no use of specifics. The idea that you're all too busy and the matter is too urgent that you can't take a few days to read background material sums it all up.

Your comment sums up nearly all of you. You're not interested in 'debate' per se, but in doing your own little thing. You're not interested in academic arguments nor even going so far as to look at the contitutions of other countries. I don't like to insult people and so I won't, but I think it fair to say that everyone who thinks MC 1215 is in force is a fruitcake and loony, no exceptions, bonkers to the core.

I could help, but you don't want someone who has read several constitutions and is going to read several more. What would be the point; I could provide information that is too complicated by far.

You also don't want to be associated with someone who has read the law. I might say things that you disagree with or tell you of the Treason Act 1695 or of other laws that are in force.

You talk of the Common Law, but not of the CL convention that Parliament is sovereign.

You cannot find a constitutional law book that disagrees with me on that, so the solution is not to read any constitutional law books?

'Refute' my learned comments by all means, but you are the worse for it.

What are you actually hoping to achieve if you won't allow people who know more than you (a hell of a lot more as it turns out) to discuss with your little clique?


right_write, You might not know my name, although I have posted here once or twice before IIRC, but that is hardly a qualification that excludes me. You won't know the names of my constitutional law professors, but many of them have been consulted on and written parts of other people's constitutions (even I've snuck a couple of words into a former Soviet states' constitution).

Reject experience and knowledge by all means. I will focus on my studies and my specialist papers, whilst you talk drivel about long dead laws.

right_writes said...

Paul Wesson... Lovely comments... Gloves off what!

In my book though, when it comes to real people vs dusty books and 'experts'... People win every time.

In your first comment, you question MC's relevance, since it was struck down within days, by such luminaries as the Pope and the king who signed it on the basis that the treaty was assented to under duress... Just about everyone else criticised this (as I do) because most (if not all) treaties are in one way or another signed under duress.

More power to WfW's elbow.

graham wood said...

Paul wrote:
Your comment sums up nearly all of you are not interested in academic arguments nor even going so far as to look at the contitutions of other countries..... and

"but I think it fair to say that everyone who thinks MC 1215 is in force is a fruitcake and loony, no exceptions, bonkers to the core."

Paul. Two responses to your comments above.
Firstly, I'm sure bloggers here are open to reading material from any Constitution which may further the objective of finding a workable new British Constitution - but it is a question of priorities and time.
Both Ian P J and I point out that such documents may contain important principles upn which we can draw, not woodenly copy !

Second. It would be irrelevant and obscurantist to attempt reproduce say, MC, or 17th century English Constitutional documents (including the B of R) for our purposes today.
Obviously they are dated and set in the historical context of their day.
But we CAN and ought to draw on these where they express permanent principles of liberty, justice and right governance.
For example, just two supremely important clauses in the MC:
"To no one will we deny or delay justice".
Or, No free man shall be taken or imprisoned....... judgment of his peers.
Both of these were the earliest expressions of rejection of tyranny and Statism which need to be re-asserted in our own day as I'm sure you agree?

Likewise the preamble to the 1688 Declaration of Rights also contains a similar principle, ironically hugely relevant for us today under EU hegemony, namely,

"That the pretended power of dispensing of laws...... is illegal" & etc.
Also, "No foreign power, Prince, person, prelate....... shall have any jurisdiction.... in this realm" etc.

You say:
"It's clear that my contribution is not welcome."
Not so. Stay on board and offer the forum succinct contributions to the construction of a new (and simply worded) Constitution for our time.
That will engage all your constitutional expertise and ours collectively!

Paul Wesson said...

right_writes, You are kidding aren't you? There are 23,000 treaties in force across the world today, almost all of them were signed voluntarily. The default position on treaties is consensual behaviour. All of the EEC/EU treaties were volunteary between the governments. All of the UN treaties are voluntary. You see this is where book learning (facts) beats people (rumour, speculation and bullshit).

Treaties made after wars, where there is a winner and loser, are not entirely consensual, although the loser has usually formally surrendered and comes to the table with the ability to haggle a bit.

MC 1215 was not a treaty in any event and the world was entirely different.

It is clear from some of the comments about the role of the Pope, that many people are unaware of the status of kings prior to the Reformation. Kings repoorted to the Pope and the annointing of kings was done by the church (first king to get annointed was Charlemagne).

Look at any UK coin and you will see that the Queen is given the honorific F.D. This was originally granted to Henry VIII by the Pope Leo X. The RC church is embedded in our history and every single church built prior to 1533 was built by it.

Look at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/1533

There you will find 3 acts still partially in force which were part of the break with Rome.

MC 1215 was written for the barons by Roman Catholic clergy who signed the document. The Pope was within his rights, as spiritual ruler of England, to cancel their efforts if he so wished.

Sovereign nation states as we understand them today didn't exist. All of western christendom looked to the Pope in Rome.

MC 1215, therefore, has no validity. It was never in force. Had John not died he was going to get an army together and duff up the barons good and proper.

Why does anybody believe that a group of non-English speaking, largely illiterate, knights should have a perpetual say in the governance of our country? MC wasn't even translated into English at the time; everybody of import spoke latin and/or Norman French.

IanPJ said...

PW,
MC 1215, therefore, has no validity. It was never in force.

I don't like repetition, but I think I must, because I think you are still missing the entire point of the alkConstitution.net forum.

It is not about determining what is or is not law today, it is not about turning back the clock to revive old laws or determining their validity.

It does not matter that these constitutional documents are old, it does not matter that some of them are void, that clauses have been repealed
or are no longer valid.

We should use these documents as guides rather than absolutes to produce a Codified Constitution that protects the
people.

I care not whether subject matter was written by an academic or illiterate knights, where content is relevant we should consider using it if it fulfils the aims of arriving at a document that protects the people from the State.

Paul Wesson said...

Graham, sorry for the delay in replying, but I've fed the ducks at Burford, been to McDonald's at Witney, wandered round the Asmolean and seen a panto in Oxford (all with my grandson in tow).

You cite MC 1297, the link to which is here:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw1cc1929/25/9/contents

Clauses I, IX and XXIX are all that remain. They have not been improved upon. All other clauses have been repealed along with all other MCs.

The BoR, from which you have drawn, is interesting.

The clause about the pretended power of dispensing of laws takes us back to Godden v Hales, which I've already cited. It was supplemented by Part II BoR, the abolition of non obstante. It relates to the claim by James II to use the Royal Prerogative and has to be read in context with the rest of the Bill. I don't think anybody has formally sought to dispense with laws by prerogative since. It doesn't apply to the present, unless the Queen were to do so.

Paul Wesson said...

Graham,

You also quote from the Oath of Supremacy. That was never the law de facto or de jure. I earlier cited the Acts of Supremacy. This is about the oaths taken by people in public office. The oaths of allegiance and supremacy included in the Bill of Rights are draft proformae for people taking oaths under the Test Acts. I did point people towards the reports of the Convention Parliament where it is clear that William asked for the former oath of supremacy to be rewritten to allow Dissenters to take it. That is why the oaths are in the BoR. They are not there as law, but are there so that the Test Acts could be applied differently. The oath was designed to exclude Roman Catholics from public office. The foreign prince or prelate is the Pope and it only refers to powers spiritual or ecclesiastical. It is nothing to do with the EU and is no longer taken since the Emancipation of Catholice in 1828. Originally people who held public office also had to take communion in the CofE within 12 months and get a certificate to that effect. William was undermining the power of the CofE as well as excluding RCs. Note the BoR allowed Protestants to bear arms, but not RCs. You have to understand the period leading up to the passing of the BoR in order to understand why it was written as it was.

Few people take the oath of allegiance these days - Parliamentarians and military personnel being the obvious exceptions. As a reserve officer in the Royal Air Force my oath of allegiance still binds me. The oath uses different words

Unfortunately 2 senior politicians have given credence to the view that the BoR is unamended - Ken Clarke and Betty Boothroyd, when Speaker. Both are wrong as you will see if you look at my earlier URLS. The BoR has been amended, because it is susceptible to amendment. The oath of supremacy has fallen into desuetude and is not relevant; it never will be again.

Paul Wesson said...

Ian PJ, I do understand where you are coming from, but frankly you would learn more of relevance in the future from the Swiss constitution than MC 1215. The principles that underlie MC 1215 aren't relevant.

Please, as it's so important, show me a clause of MC 1215 that has any relevance to today. The caveat being tht the clause must not already exist in any other UK law.

Looking at historic documents is also pointless if you don't understand the background to them.

For instance Stuart asks what right the Pope had to set aside MC 1215, but every schoolboy knows that before the Reformation the Pope had a lot of influence in our country. It is recorded historical fact.

Likewise Graham raises the wording of the oath of supremacy as if it were law. It never was. To understand why it is there and counched in the way it is you have to kow the background to the Gloriuos Revolution and to know of the Acts of Supremacy, the Test Acts and the Clarendon Code. You aldo have to know about the Emancipation of the Catholics and the end of those stautes and the oath.

You might not be aware, but the Pope has divided our country into Roman Catholic sees and the Archbishop of Westminster is appointed by him. That is in contravention of the direct wording of the oath. The Pope, foreign prince and prelate, has power, both spiritual and ecclesiastical, in this country and has done so since 1829.

That was a decision of Parliament, which remains sovereign.

Since you have all rejected the historical facts of the law and seem not to know anything about English history, I don't see where you think you are going with this.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW You seem fixated with the idea that we intend to refer to clauses in old documents. Far from it - if there are some acceptable ideas in those documents, why can they not be included in a new codified constitution?

In a later comment you cite the oath of allegiance - your point is? If the new constitution wishes to include one, or a variation of one, why can't it? Whether it was law or not doesn't matter - it would be.

Do you not understand that what is being planned here is, in a way, a revolution - and to the victor go the spoils?

Edward Spalton said...

MAGNA CARTA AND ALL THAT

Successive generations have appealed to Magna Carta although most of its provisions to do with things like wardships, exchanges of hostages with the Scots and Welsh and fishing weirs have long ceased to be of interest. It laid down some principles of justice and of government being "under the law" , often more honoured in the breach than the observance, to which the Roundheads, Whigs, American revolutionaries and Chartists all appealed, applying their idea of it to their own particular concerns. The expression "a free man" meant something entirely different in 1215 to what it meant in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In practice Magna Carta never was superior to statute. It was - and is - a useful rallying cry because of the principles it established.

By coincidence a book is reviewed in this week's Spectator, called "Blood cries afar: the forgotten invasion of England 1216" by Sean McGlynn. People who mattered (that is barons and above) were so thoroughly cheesed off with King John that they invited Louis the Lion, son of the French King Philip Augustus to take the throne - rather as later malcontented noblemen in 1688 (or heroic revolutionaries if you prefer), aided by the timely treachery of John Churchill, invited in William of Orange and were content to see London under martial law, enforced by Dutch troops.

The reviewer, Dan Jones, commenting on 1216 writes " The question that is only partially answered however ,is why John's reign ended in such disaster. How did he ...rile the English barons so badly that they would rather be ruled by a Capetian than by himself? The answer... is simple, John was a shit" He also elaborates "John's presence at the head of this system which deepened royal power PARTICULARLY THROUGH COMMON LAW PROCESSES (my emphasis) AND EXCHEQUER FINANCE, was undoubtedly obnoxious...the protests that spiralled into civil war in 1216 were about more than John alone".

Paul wesson said...

Edward, I think John was perceived as a shit because he invited Jews into the country (as he needed usury to run his exchequer) and he was dismissive of a lot of senior churchmen. Basically John didn't lick up to the chroniclers, neraly all of whom were churchmen at the time.

When people appealed to Magna Carta in times past they were referring to the 1297 version, many clauses of which were in force until relatively recently. For instance Clause X was only repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1945. If you go to the URL I provided earlier:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw1cc1929/25/9/contents

you can click on each of the repealed clauses and it will tell you when and by what statute they were repealed. This puts appeals to MC 1297, a valid law, in context. It is only relatively recently that people have started believing that MC 1215 was in force (Coke and Bracton knew it wasn't). There is no statute citator in any century that records the document as having force of law.

Paul Wesson said...

David,

To the victor will, indeed, go the spoils. Sadly you have to convince 50%+ 1 of the electorate to accept what you offer in a referndum (you're not going to convince many MPs). On present form that will not happen.

In order to convince 50%+1 of the revolutionary nature of your document you have to debate in the press and on TV. You might get an early decent start if you have a good launch, but rest assured that the people you encounter at your first press conference will be the legal correspondents of the national media. They are all Barristers or solicitors or people with qualifications in law. They will dissect your document. They will ask for your authorities for certain propositions. Your list of potential authorities will be laughed out of court, literally.

The fact that your supporters don't feel that reading current constitutional theory or other constitutions is more important than looking at the principles, if any, behind mediaeval laws, will be picked up on. If you think I'm being negative, wait until the constitutional lawyers at the top universities lay into you. Many of them have more than one constitution under their belts and have read more widely on constitutional law than any one of us.

If you want to succeed you have to be credible to those who you widh to support you (probably 15-20 million electors). The way the debate is going so far, with its rampant anti-intellectualism and unreasoned partisanship is appalling. People think that ignorance of the law is good and knowledge of the law is bad.

Look at the posts and see how many direct references to documents have been put on the blog. i'm the only person to post any URLs or direct anybody to documents and books. None of those who has 'refuted' me has been able to cite a single URL or book that supports their position. Only a couple of guys have made any constructive comments.

Do you seriously think that the public will vote for a document produced by people who have pretty well zero knowledge of their subject?

WRT to the oath of supremacy, you haven't read a single reference I've given you. There won't be an oath of supremacy in any new constitution. The reason I referred to it, which you clearly missed, was that I was responding to Graham's citation of certain words out of context. Lots of people keep citing the oath of supremacy out of context - Barnby, Burgess, Tolstoy etc It's an oath. It relates to people taking public appointments and ensures no RCs would be recruited (oaths used to be important and people thought they would spend an eternity in hell if they lied on oath). This stuff about 'no foreign prince or prelate' etc IS NOT THE FUCKING LAW, NEVER HAS BEEN, AND NEVER WILL BE. ONLY A SEMI-LITERATE MORON WOULD BE SO STUPID AS TO BELIEVE THAT A PROFORMA FOR AN OATH IS BINDING LAW. READ THE CITATIONS I GAVE YOU, READ THE BILL OF RIGHTS, READ THE ACTS OF SUPREMACY. You are coming over as bonkers here.

I'm sorry to get angry, but this is why I will not join your group. I cannot be associated with people who can barely read nor write the English language and struggle with, frankly, simple concepts.

If you cannot understand the Bill of Rights, one of the simplest legal documents, how will you cope with the difficult stuff?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: Until it is put to the electorate any result is unknown, even by you who seem to have the ability to foretell the future. I don't have to convince MPs and the fact you think I do shows you haven't the faintest idea of what dirct democracy is - MPs opinions dont matter, they are of no consequence!

Paul, you read all the constitutional theory you like, the people will have chosen a new constitution - so your little group of Barristers, solicitors and those with legal qualifications number, what? 2million? So those 2 million have the right to dictate to, what twenty times their number? For the same reason that 650 should not dictate to 60 million, neither should your 2million (rough estimate admittedly) be able to do likewise.

You may consider those like me to be anti-intellectualistic and unreasoned. Let me tell you that once the people realise how they have been taken for fools and that there is another option, you and those who think like you will be toast!

Re Barby. Burgess and Tolstoy: It might have been better had you paid attention to the requirements of this blog when posting - I do not accept bad language of any sort. But then, as you have demonstrated in your comments and replies to IPJ and others, you don't read very well do you?

Of course, only a semi-literate moron would be so stupid as not to read any conditions stipulated and would have to be blind as the proverbial bat to have missed them.

Paul Wesson said...

David, I do apologise for my anger, but it is truly frustrating when I debate citing authorities to support my propositions and other people don't even have any authority for what they say. You haven't even read the statutes you list at the beginning of the post.

How will the people choose a constitution without a vote?

If there is a vote who will be voting?

Will it be everyone on the electorsl roll?

Will you exclude the EU citizens, who can vote in every election other than the general?

How will you communicate to the 44 million or more electors?

How will you convince them that your constitution is the best option?

You assume only 2 million people are educated enough to disagree with you, but you will find that you are wrong. If the debate starts then you will have to convince people that you have covered all options. You will not be able, as on this blog, to gang up on one person and rely on force of numbers rather than proper arguments. There will be hundreds of thousands lined up to argue against you and you really have to cover all bases. Once the press get wind of the fact that you don't want educated or informed people to contribute then you are doomed.

If you are not prepared to take positive suggestions - read some of the current thinking on constitutions, read other countries constitutions, read some of the documents you purport to be going to investigate and accept that if someone tells you a fact in good faith that it might be a fact even if you don't want to believe it is so - then I don't see how you can convince 20-30 million people to support your proposition.

Thus far only one or 2 people have responded positively to some of the help I could offer. It is not a response to say you haven't got time to read the books; you have to find time.

This matter might be urgent to you, but most of the populace don't seem to care. Look at the results of the Euro elections and local council elections and you'll see how much farther you have to go.

Your group don't speak for the people and never will do. The people are not as gullible as you believe and will expect, if a new constitution is offered, to be able to discuss things with people who do more than deal in rumours, distortions, misreadings and misinterpretations.

You're all happy to attack me, but only a couple have sought to provide real facts (Weimar, excerpts from MC 1297 and BoR). What sort of debate are you going to have when nobody knows how to cite facts to support their arguments?

Anonymous said...

What a self important prick Paul Wesson is.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: Paul, I care not one jot how frustrated you feel, it is in black and white just above this box tha t language moderation is requested. Do I actually neet to state no swearing, no blasphemy for the illiterate?

You are descending into the realms of stupitidy with your questions, really. Of course there will be a vote, in fact it would be put to a referendum to everyone on the electoral roll. Yes EU citizens will be excluded - as with a general election, it affects British people, no one else. When considering what is being offered and the persecution, social engineering and control that they experience at present, I do not forsee them having much of a decision to make.

No-one is 'ganging up on you' - surely it is obvious to one who professes to be well educated that you are in a minority.

There may well be hundreds of thousands lined up against us but who is to say there won't be millions lined up against them? You?

I probably speak for a number of those commenting that your input would be more than welcome and valuable. I haven't said I don't have time to read - have I? Don't lump me in with one or two others!

The fact that most of the populace don't seem to care is because when has anyone brought to their attention the deficits in representative democracy as against the benefits of direct democracy? When has anyone actually asked the people, or spoken to them about it? When? Ok, so Hannan and Carswell published The Plan and had it serialised in the Telegraph. When did any in the MSM pick up on this and actually write about it and what benefits may accrue? If it has not been brought to their attention how, pray, can the populace care?

Who, exactly, are you to say that my 'group' don't speak for the people and never will? Who appointed you the sage of the people?

Finally I take exception to being classified as one who deals in rumours, distortions, misreadings and misinterpretations. You seem to believe that all the legal brains in the country are against what is proposed - care to put money on that?

If the people speak and get what they want, which as I have stated previously is a revolution - a complete change, you believe there wont be one member of the legal profession that won't step forward?

You talk about the public and gullibility - if the public can be made to believe the rubbish in political manifestos which aren't worth the paper on which they are written, then I reckon we stand a pretty good chance of being believed!

Now who is living in cloud cuckoo land?

Remember Paul what I said, you would be welcome - but please stop lecturing us, stop relying on what has happened in the past, we are looking to the future. If you don't wish to help fashion the future then by all means stay away - and stop commenting!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Anon: No further comment from me, I think my responses leave you knowing exactly where I stand.

Gentle reminder: language? Thanks.

Paul Wesson said...

Anonymous, I may well be a self important prick, but apart from one early post where I hit the wrong button, all of my posts are under my own name.

What have you contributed?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: You may not have noticed, bearing in mind your ability to not read what has gone before - however Anon was given a reminder regarding language.

You have already had that reminder - need I say more?

Paul Wesson said...

David, I do expect lawyers to step forward and discuss direct democracy. Plenty already do. Some of the modern thinking covers the point and the Swiss are famed for it. Lawyers do, however, not expect to be abused and attacked when they state facts. Some of the people posting here don't want to debate at a sensible level and are happy to distort things.

1.MC 1215 was never enforced and it is a lie and distortion to state otherwise.

2.Many people keep citing the oath of supremacy as if it is law; it is a distortion and complete misreading of the BoR to state that, yet even Tolstoy cited it (he was also going to fight the GE on the basis of the statute of Praemunire (repealed) and a non-existent Treason Act.

3. People waste their time talking about THE Treason Act (cited incorrectly once thus far). There have been several Treason Acts; they had different purposes at different times in our history. There are odd sections of 8 acts with treason in the title still in force. Three acts were repealed in 1998. Thus far those who think treason was committed when we joined the EU have yet to provide even the section they think was breached (treason is no longer an offence at common law).

4. Common law means many things to many people. People talk about common law as if it can't be repealed - it can. They think if we repeal a stack of ststutes that we will revert to CL, but that can't happen. Repeal of a statute doesn't automatically return us to the status quo ante.

5. There is no such thing as a freeman under C.61 MC 1215. Firstly MC 1215 was never enforced and secondly the term is not used in the clause in question. There is no such thing as lawful rebellion.

6. Parliament is sovereign. This doctrine is well established and conditions every statute which is passed. It is a gross distortion to state otherwise.

7. You do have to pay council tax. It is a lie to state otherwise. Hayes is bankrupt.

8. Parking tickets are lawful, it's a big fib to state otherwise. de Crittenden lost in court.

9. You do have to state the name of the driver of a car if you get an electronic ticket. It is a big fib to state otherwise. Idris Francis lost in court.

If the issues I have highlighted are not dealt with then lawyers will avoid you. I can't speak for all lawyers, but I suspect, having met hundreds, that they will not want to become involved with those who subscribe to some of the more absurd ideas.

If you want to win then you have to exclude a lot of the dedicated losers. Put Burgess, Barnby, Tolstoy, Harris, Hayes et al in front of the general public and you will lose. Badly.

Paul Wesson said...

Dave, I thought you had stopped posting ;-) I was agreeing with Anonymous. Sticks and stones and all that.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: When have I abused any member of the legal profession - come to that when has anyone else? Some may consider those in the legal profession idiots at times, but if the addressee considers that an insult then methinks, to coin a phrase, they need to grow up.

Whether MC1215 or the oath of supremacy was or was not enforced, was a law or not, is neither here nor there - if it is decided by the people that some ideas from MC1215 and an oath of supremacy is wanted then so be it - that is what will happen. The people will have spoken - or do you to believe the people should be ignored?

Treason is an emotive subject - like many I consider that those who voted for the LT committed a treasonous act in that they compromised the sovereignty of our nation without actually asking the people. That is not in their remit and will not be. Actually I could not care less whether any Act is in force or not - they committed 'treason' in my eyes.

You state Common Law has been repealed - sorry CL has been 'overwritten' by SIs - repeal the SIs and CL returns by default. Why not?

You ridicule freemen and lawful rebellion - odd that there are cases where the judiciary and police have had no response to those who have claimed it. I know of one person who is still waiting 18 months later for his case to be resumed.

Parliament is only sovereign because it is said to be so. Actually how, bearing in mind the definition of sovereignty, is Parliament sovereign at the moment? The minute a nation foregoes any aspect of the right to self-government it is no longer sovereign.

You introduce the matter of council tax, parking tickets, etc - and who 'writes' the laws? If the people decide that a new constitution is in force, that they do not respect any 'old law' and the 650 attempt to ignore the people, guess what the outcome will be.....

The fact that the people have decided that change must happen then who are lawyers, or you, to describe them as absurd? Who annointed those lawyers and you as supreme ruler?

Since when have I included the likes of Barnby, Burgess, Tolstoy amongst my 'group' - you of all people should know my opinion of Tolstoy, surely?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

PW: Sticks and stones be damned - I have rules and they will be adhered to or those defying will be banned, whoever they are. Is that understood?

Anyway, you of all people should know that resorting to bad language only lessens your arguement.......

Edward Spalton said...

I am afraid this is going the way of many blogs.

The American founding fathers probably had the right idea when they selected men of national reputation who conducted their discussions in strict confidence, not presenting the constitution until they had agreed it.


You cannot make a constitution by megaphone, any more than you can persuade anybody to anything at all that way.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

ES: If you are referring to the 'discussion' I am having with Wesson then fear not as the discussion will take place on the forum - not here.

Unfortunately, he is 'blinkered' in that he does not read that in front of him, he believes that only he is right, he believes the system can be changed frm within.

How about you registering and bringing your wisdom with you to the forum? I rpt, that is where the discussion will take place.

IanPJ said...

PW, Ahhh now I see the puppet before me. Now I see why you attempt to disrupt this from the very beginning.

"If the issues I have highlighted are not dealt with then lawyers will avoid you. I can't speak for all lawyers, but I suspect, having met hundreds, that they will not want to become involved with those who subscribe to some of the more absurd ideas.

If you want to win then you have to exclude a lot of the dedicated losers. Put Burgess, Barnby, Tolstoy, Harris, Hayes et al in front of the general public and you will lose. Badly."

You move from lectures to threats. If we do not denounce those who would challenge or question the legal profession and their lucrative tenures.... crude, very very crude Mr Wesson.

Well guess what, I don't like being threatened, and I do not give in to any form of intimidation.

This crude threat of yours has only served to reinforce my own opinion, that perhaps these people are in fact closer to the truth than you, and many others, would like.

So I am going to dig even deeper, look closer, question everything when we look at how the system currently works, and how we the people may want or prefer it to work in the future.

Perhaps Mr Spalton may be right.

TomTom said...

Just one question. Does anyone know how many Constitutions have actually been ratified under One-Man-One-Vote democratic systems as opposed to being imposed by an elite ?

Paul Wesson said...

Tom Tom, it's in the books and links I provided, but I haven't examined all of the stuff myself.

I have observed a referendum on constitutional change in Macedonia. The changes gave rights to the minority ethnic Albanian community and so it was boycotted by the ethnic Macedonians (Bulgarians really). I spent a day wandering around nearly empty polling stations in an area that was 98% Macedonian, but at least the count didn't take long!

A lot of the former Yugoslav and former Soviet countries have had referenda, but you will have also seen the responses of minorities (and majorities) to the process. There has been massive ethnic cleansing to ensure that certain groups don't get to vote or retain influence in the new order, in some cases, like the Ashkali in Kosovo, the ethnic cleansing has been 100%.

I think a minority of constitutions have been voted on, but I can be corrected. A lot of older constitutions were voted on by men only and so, if we were to use universal suffrage as a reference point, they are imposed by an elite (male, over 21).

More recently, constitutional amendments have been voted on - women's rights stuff in Ireland and Italy for instance.

South Sudan voted for independence last year. The electoral system was the same as the one imposed across the whole of Sudan for the elections in 2010 (I have all the papers on that somewhere in the house as I observed the elections in Khartoum). The vote for independence would have had constitutional implications, but the tribalism in South Sudan makes written constitutions pointless as ethnic massacres take place regularly (there is one going on in Pibor as we write).

Hungary got a new constitution the other day and there have been mass demonstrations against it. It's on the Cornell University URL.

Why did nobody thank me for providing a link to English translations of all written constitutions in the world? The answers are there if you have the patience to look.

Paul Wesson said...

Dave, I don't know where to start.

Once CL has been legislated away it cannot automatically return if the legislation is removed. What some people see as common law was the result of a feudal system which has gone. Common law is a legal fiction in itself since it is arguable that it was really judge made law (see Denning on this). The common law is 'discovered' by judges when 2 people come before them for a decision on a matter of a type that has not been previously decided. It is precedent based. The meaning of common law is 'that which is common' as opposed to London law or Norwich law, in the same way that the Book of Common Prayer is universal as opposed to diocesan prayer books. which brings us conveniently to the point that in our original CL jurisdiction the church had a much greater say as did the lords of the manor (frequently the same people) and people might not be so keen to be publicly paraded half naked through the streets with the church choir singing psalms behind them (cf Jane Shore) or whipped or pilloried for publishing dissident tracts. Be careful what you wish for.

Despite everything, most people were rather come before a judge who is legally trained than a lay person when a point of law is to be decided. Being involved in this debate only confirms why I would not want to be exposed to the prejudices of some of the lay people.

I come from the position of someone who sits as a lay person on a tribunal that decides points of fact (points of law are for the clerk).

I like being a subject in a CL country, having sat through some pretty naff tribunals in other countries and dealt with judges in the former Soviet Union. I do, however, think that people claim to want a return to something that didn't really exist.

Paul Wesson said...

David, with regard to what the people want, there is talk of consensus; this is also the talk of the Occupy Movement who claim to be the 99%. I have watched a 30 strong rally of the 99% and tried to ask them questions (they suddenly found they had to be in lectures). I also walked past St Paul's last week and was suitably unimpressed with the 99& who were actually 50 strong (there were a lot more tents than people).

The point is that, like the freemen, who I will belittle for their historic, legal and political ignorance every time, they claim to be what they are not. If there is a delay in the system dealing with the freemen it is because they don't have time and money to waste. I listed the cases where people have sought to challenge the system using arcane or misinterpreting the ones we have; it is a catalogue of disaster. I didn't even include the thief Mote's attempt to avoid justice in this country by appealing to the EU system to grant him an immunity from prosecution that nobody else in our country has ever had (I have all of the judgements in his cases; what a fraud?).

The people might want things in or out of a constitution, but again be careful what you wish for. Consensus is not the extremists of the Occupy Movement or BCG agreeing, it is the 44 million disinterested electors. Opinion polls suggest the majority like the smoking ban, they oppose hunting with dogs, they approve of cameras on every street corner and they like automated speed cameras and on the spot fines. That lot could end up in a new constitution.

Of course this is now where constitutional theory kicks in. What type of constitution do you want - organic or inorganic (or hybrid like, uniquely, Dr Adi Fazal)? Do you want a constitution that is fixed in time and place and only amendable in extremis or do you want one that is flexible and amenable to regular change? do you want a constitution that deal with principles and leaves the minutiae of law to a Parliament or regular referenda, or one which contains a lot of basic laws? Do you want a constitution that focuses on individual or collective rights? Will the constitution impose responsibilities? Will there be religious freedom, even though some religions are intolerant of homosexuality, women's rights and other religions? Will there be limits on free speech and assembly or will you allow people to lie about each other and spread untruths with impunity?

The consensus has to be 50% + 1 of the electorate.

Will the electorate read the constitution before they vote? My experience is that most don't read the manifestos of all candidates at an election. What is the Wessex Regionalist policy on the EU; you campaigned and voted against the guy, you should know?

I can't see you getting a consensus of 20 million voters, not if you're linked to the freemen.

Paul Wesson said...

Ian PJ, Who am I a puppet of? Why do people assume I am a puppet of anybody just because I challenge their points of view?

In some ways I wish I was a puppet of somebody as life would be a lot easier - I wouldn't have been arrested and held in custody for whistle blowing, for instance (I actually got damages for wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and unlawful search). I also spent a lot of my own money contesting elections as an Independent (1 Parliamentary, 1 County Council, 4 District Council and 2 Town Council). I have been a party candidate at District once and Parliamantary once. I've even been an elected Independent councillor (I spent 9 years as a councillor across District and Town - 3 Tory, 6 Independent).

If you think I'm a puppet you are remarkably ill informed, something that doesn't reflect well on a former national leader of a political party. My record shows that I am beholden to nobody and plough my own furrow.

I do think, however, that it is too late to save the country snapping at the heels of the establishment. There are 44 million electors to convince and it might be politic to try to get to them through the system as those of us on the libertarian/minarchist side of things are unlikely to achieve anything as individuals (what a tragedy to have to admit that).

Paul Wesson said...

Edward, the Americans men of 'national reputation' included the largest slave owner in the colonies (George Washington). Another founder of the USA was Andrew Jackson who hunted the natives for sport and broke over 70 treaties with them when President. People loyal to the King were excluded from the process and many later returned to Britain or moved to Canada.

You might be right that racist murderers and slave owners should write, in private, a constitution that protected their rights, but it did not enfranchise loyalists, women, blacks or natives. It was written by a wealthy elite to protect the interests of that wealthy elite. It wasn't until 1865 that black people were freed in many states, women didn't get the vote until the 20th century, natives were dispossessed of over 99% of their land and the majority were murdered, starved or subject to deliberately imported diseases (General Crook used to poison water supplies and leave clothing infected with small pox for the natives to put on).

If you look at the list of names of those who signed the constitution you will see they were nearly all English, none were black, none were native and none were from any of the other settler groups (Germans etc). All those from the southern states owned slaves.

As constitutional conventions went it was pretty naff. Is that what you really want?

graham wood said...

PW wrote:

"How will the people choose a constitution without a vote?

If there is a vote who will be voting?

Will it be everyone on the electorsl roll?

Will you exclude the EU citizens, who can vote in every election other than the general?

How will you communicate to the 44 million or more electors?

How will you convince them that your constitution is the best option?"

Comment. Cart before horse.

Paul. As stated before, your expertise in matters of law may be hugely impressive to some, but of very little practical use on this blog and its stated objective, simply because of the sheer scale and tediousness of your negativity.
Have you nothing positive to contribute?
Do you intend to posit some basic principles directly relevant to direct democracy and the formulation of a new constitution or not?
I'm sure a 'yes or no' answer would be welcome to all.

Paul Wesson said...

Graham, I appreciate that this is intended to be a positive step forward, but it's not wrong to think of potential pitfalls.

In the RAF we used to say, 'Prior preparation ptevents p*** poor performance'.

If there are going to be issues later on then IMHO it is better to be prepared for them from the start. There will be great disappointment if a lot of time is spent preparing a document that will be torn to shreds the moment it is published. I would argue that it is better to eliminate the potential pitfalls now so that you can focus on prducing something worthwhile.

You can agree or disagree.

graham wood said...

Paul Wesson said...

Graham, I appreciate that this is intended to be a positive step forward

GW Indeed it is! I commented upon the scale of your negativity. so agian I ask you, when will you be contributing something positive by way of some basic principles about a Constitution?

PW "but it's not wrong to think of potential pitfalls."

GW Indeed not - but the whole issue in one great "pitfall" if you are obsessed with pitfalls, which we could do without!
Of course there are complicated legal and constitutional issues - we are not claiming to be experts, and neither are we so naive as to think there will not be complexities and problems. But a start needs to be made, and WfW and friends are making a start.
Time for you to commend that and add a constructive voice, now that you have made your critical points.


PW In the RAF we used to say, 'Prior preparation prevents p*** poo performance'.

GW Indeed so, and that is the purpose of such a blog to rationally discuss and make such preparations. That is the whole point which you appear to miss entirely"

PW If there are going to be issues later on then IMHO it is better to be prepared for them from the start. There will be great disappointment if a lot of time is spent preparing a document that will be torn to shreds the moment it is published.

GW As I said before "cart before horse" We need first to define, discuss, and express first principles - no easy task before we move on to hypothetical scenarios of apocolyptic gloom mongering.

PW. I would argue that it is better to eliminate the potential pitfalls now so that you can focus on prducing something worthwhile.

GW That is what this blog is here for!

IanPJ said...

When you ask someone what they want Government to be like, how they wish to be governed, 99 times out of a hundred the answer you will get will be ‘I don’t want Government to ….’

It is very easy to criticise, it is very easy to tear down and destroy, but not quite so easy to build, to articulate exactly what it is that you do want when it comes to the governance of our country.

That is why having a forum where you can outline what you do want, and having people agree with you, or challenge it, discuss it and have your ideas refined is such a good idea.

Get ye over to http://talkconstitution.net and put forward your ideas on how government should work, what they should or should not be allowed to do, how local authorities should work, how taxes should be levied, raised and disbursed, or suggest clauses and wording for a written codified constitution for this land of ours.

Don’t get hung up with the way it is, think outside of the box, tell us what you WANT it to be like. Don’t expect to be led by the nose by the board moderators, YOU make the suggestions, and ultimately you will also be one of the participants that make the decisions.

Be frank, be bold, but please keep it polite.

Paul Wesson said...

I will go over to the forum, but in a few weeks time. As pointed out, I will be studying a lot of different constitutions this term as well as producing a 4,000 word essay and 10,000 word dissertation on subjects within the genre of contitutional law. I have a lot of books to read and a lot of theories to digest. I reckon I will be more able to comment if I have done the background reading and have produced properly researched papers.

The advice I would give, since people are advocating a Swiss style constitution, is go to the Cornell University site and read the Englsh language version of that constitution. You at least owe youraelves that much. I would contend that that will give you a better idea of what is required rather than dwelling too long on the principles, if they exist, contained in some very archaic language in very old documents.

I would strongly recommend that you at least have a thread devoted to the Swiss style constitutional arrangements with a link to their constitution.

I'm going away to Kazakhstan tomorrow and won't be posting again for some time.

Have fun.

IanPJ said...

PW,
We look forward to seeing your input on the board at some time in the future.

The full Swiss Constitution has already been read some time ago, and I & others will be taking some of the relevant parts of it to the board.

Meanwhile, enjoy Kazakhstan, take in the vista, and watch your back. I lived for some time just across the border in Magnetogorsk running an ATM project, so am all too aware of the pitfalls of that region. Kidnapping visitors is just one of the pass-times that they like to indulge in.

and remember the rules re Vodka, once the bottle has been cracked for the purposes of a toast, it is considered rude not to finish it.

graham wood said...

Menwhile I'm sure posters will be interested to view the following two links for "A Better Britain".

An interesting and bold initiative.
I do not know the founder but know of his aims and undoubted patriotism.
He has been trying to organise this move for some years.

No further comment as I have not as yet read these fully - but certainly worth a visit I think:

www.abetterbritain.org

and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLz4ofNPK78&feature=plcp&context=C2ce0fUDOEgsToPDskKcQUOL31Las-ohEZJ5myZ1

graham wood said...

wfw I cannot register! The format tells me my e mail address is not
correct. I've kept trying - no joy

Will you please register me?
Thanks
Graham Wood

WitteringsfromWitney said...

gw: You need to email me direct through the link on the right hand side of the blog sidebar.