This really is just a posting about random thoughts and a short one at that. (Phew! I hear you say.) I went to an interesting talk about the Human Rights Act and whether it is a good thing or not by Guy Herbert, the man who runs NO2ID. His conclusions were not quite what people might expect, unless you knew Guy and his habit of thinking every issue through to the logical and unpalatable end.

During the discussion, almost inevitably, the subject of Magna Carta came up with somebody arguing that a great deal of the discussion is conducted on an emotional level. Thus, people who were "against" the Magna Carta were deemed to be bad or very bad whereas those who were "for" it were obviously the good guys. He was not talking about the actual participants of that event in 1215 but about people who talked about the subject now.

How, I asked, can one be for or against something that happened in the thirteenth century and was, whichever way you look at it, of some importance in this country's history? That reminds me of the possibly apocryphal story about Thomas Carlyle hearing that Margaret Fuller said that she had decided to accept the universe. "Gad!" - said the great conservative sage. - "She'd better."

Of course, one is for Magna Carta but what one might be against is the hysteria that is already growing around that event, important though it was, the political shenanigans that we shall see with different parties claiming that mediaeval document for themselves and, of course, the miasma of inevitability that will surround so many of the discussions. Magna Carta in 1215 ergo Britain being uniquely free and democratic. Not so, but far from it.


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