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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A bit of over-the-top historical/constitutional pedantry

Talk Politics on top form once again, highlighting the details of deliberately confused legislation:

“The provisions which appeared in the first draft of the Bill, when glorification was a separate offence, which limit its applicability to terrorist attacks in the last twenty years plus anything before that put explicitly on a designated list by the Home Secretary is no longer part of the Bill – taken to the letter of the law, glorification covers any terrorist or terrorist act at any time in history or just terrorism in general.

There’s a handy list including a number of the usual suspects – Nelson Mandela, George Washington etc. – who arguably used terrorist tactics (if terrorism is defined in the broad terms the government generally seems to prefer – namely “using violence to secure political ends”), just to undeline the insanity.

It’s easy to forget, however, that two of the documents most frequently held up as the foundation of the modern British political system also arose from acts which could easily be defined as terrorist.

Magna Carta was signed on 15 June 1215 as a concession following a protracted (para-)military campaign, including surprise attacks on government buildings and the assasination of leading government figures. It has practically no legal standing these days, but many hold it up as the first document extolling the virtues of the rights of the people over the state (even though it was no such thing).

More damagingly, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 was settled after a military force invited by a group of men who held no political office came to London and surrounded the Palace of Westminster until Parliament agreed to give the crown to William of Orange. A modern equivalent would be if a group of nutjob Islamic fundamentalists took it upon themselves to invite Osama Bin Laden to surround Westminster with his barmy army, intimidating our representatives into instigating Sharia law and declaring Osama to be king.

The handy thing is, as there’s no accepted definition of terrorism, it would be entirely possible to argue (and a number of historians have) that the Glorious Revolution was a terrorist act. And please note the name. That’s right, “Glorious” – glorifying terror if ever I saw it.

The post-1688 political settlement (which is in any case founded on an illegality, as the parliament which gave William the throne had no legal right to exist, and no legal right to depose James II) is usually summed up by the Bill of Rights (which, like Magna Carta has practically no impact on anything, other than as a nice(ish) ideal), but also includes the setting in stone of the concept of no one being above the law and the sovereignty of parliament.

Strictly speaking, as William III was illegally made king following his threat of force, he had no right to give away powers rightfully belonging to the crown, and none of the monarchs who followed him had any legitimacy to grant more powers either, as all of their powers as monarch were based upon an illegal power-grab founded on what was arguably an act of terrorism.

By merely being in office, Tony Blair is glorifying and legitimising terrorism. If he really meant what he says about clamping down on terrorist glorification, the current Royal Family would be booted out and the Stuart line restored in the shape of King Francis II; parliament’s powers would be greatly curtailed to remove all those it has gained since 1688; the Cabinet would be abolished along with the office of Prime Minister as the King returns to government by Privy Council; all crown lands sold or given away in the last 300 years (a sizable chunk of the country) would be returned to King Francis; all currency issued by the Bank of England would instantly be illegal for its glorification of a false monarch and for having not been issued by a legal Royal Mint; Scotland would become an independent nation once again as the Act of Union is inistantly abolished; the Elizabethan Corn Laws would return to replace the welfare state; and the majority of the population would lose its voting rights overnight as we return to male-only voting based on property qualifications.

If these things are not enacted as soon as the current Terrorism Bill passes its final vote, the government must prosecute itself for glorifying and condoning terrorism merely by existing.

2 Comments

  1. Now you know that constitutional theory recognises discontinuities by parking sovereignty elsewhere. Since James II carelessly lost the Great Seal of England in The Thames as he headed for France you might argue that the disastrous Stuart Period ended the instability of the Constitution.

    After all, the first Stuart King was subject of an assassination plot by Catholics who thought him too Protestant, and vitriol from Scots Presbyterians who thought him too Catholic, esp. with his wife.

    His son had his head chopped off when he was treacherous and upset Oliver Cromwell – yet his own son was allowed to return with his Catholic wife; although his brother then ended the Stuart dynasty by going overboard on Catholicism and irritating the parliamentarians again.

    So the innovation of Civil War was tried once and established an English Principle of not fighting over sovereignty but parking it until a good offer was made to pick it up.

    THe problem since has been tht Parliament sees itself as sovereign, and the party machines think it belongs to them rather than being fluid within the institutions of power. Once the Centralists like Thatcher and Blair-Brown decided it belonged to them rather like Gollum with his Ring, the whole mess started to crumble and crack

  2. Looks like I'll have to get rid of all my Pogues and other Irish folk records.

    "Come out you black and tans
    Come out and fight me like a man
    Show your wife how you won medals
    Down in Flanders
    Show her how the IRA
    Made you run like hell away
    From the green and lovely lanes of Killeshaneeeeee"
    etc

    Oh yeh, and burn my copy of Brendan Behan's The Borstal Boy.

    Michael (Manchester)