ECHR & British Bill of Rights – a smokescreen

The British Government, as with all British Governments since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, have had to ponder on the big question of how to enable ever closer union when the UK is a Common Law state.

They have all looked at how to bury our Common Law in favour of the EU system of Corpus Juris, and until now none have tackled the problem head on.

During the blitz of legislation enacted during the Blair/Brown regimes, the majority of that legislation has simply ignored the rule of law and imposed Corpus Juris based statutes through the system. Strictly speaking much of that legislation is not lawful.

Cameron & Clegg however have taken the bull by the horns. Both pro-EU, both pro-integration, they have decided that now is the time to finally bury our historic Common Law and the safeguards that go with it.

What we have seen over the past weeks is a classic Problem/Reaction/Solution series of events, and history is littered with them, this time supposedly taking on the might of the ECHR.

We know exactly where they want to be at the end of this exercise. Corpus Juris with Common Law buried.

PROBLEM

In order to do that they first have to create a problem. The problems they have chosen are the ECHR rulings on Prisoners Votes and Review of the Sex Offenders Register.

They know that both issues are abhorrent to the British Public, so it will be easy to whip up public support ‘for the Government to do something’.

REACTION

The reaction started some time ago, there has been a public vilification of John Hirst, known as the JailhouseLawyer, an ex-prisoner who originally took the UK government to the ECHR over prisoners votes and won. Not once, but twice.

He has been vilified in the press, social media, on TV and reams of column inches and mass hysteria has been whipped up over the idea of murderers and rapists being able to vote. Notice they will always use the extreme examples to make the point, no mention of the 14 day detainee who didn’t pay their TV licence who will miss voting day..

The media, press, TV is now gearing up to similarly vilify anyone on the Sex Offenders Register, irrespective of the severity, the mass hype will blow this totally out of proportion to the problem. Paedophiles and Rapists will be the only offenders mentioned.

Classic Horsemen of the Infocalypse stuff.

Now whether the issues are valid or not is immaterial to the point I am making in this post. The point is that these issues have been engineered in order to fulfil a hidden agenda item of the Government’s choosing. Killing off Common Law in the UK.

SOLUTION

Now we come to the solution. A Bill of Rights.

That is where the Government wanted to be in the first place, but it needed to engineer enough public support to push it through.

The Government is aware that very few people know that we already have a Bill of Rights in the UK. It is one of the very first constitutional documents that made this country the Mother of Democracy, it is the founding document for most democracies around the world, and this government wants to destroy it in favour of the EU.

After years of our Sovereignty being assaulted by Government after Government, illegally giving away our birthright to unelected bodies in Brussels, they are now going to try to kill it off completely.

This from Wikipedia: (highlights mine)

The Bill of Rights (a short title) is an act of the Parliament of England, whose title is An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown. It is often called the English Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. It lays down limits on the powers of sovereign and sets out the rights of Parliament and rules for freedom of speech in Parliament, the requirement to regular elections to Parliament and the right to petition the monarch without fear of retribution. It reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law, and condemned James II of England for “causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law”.

These ideas about rights reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England. It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in parliament.

Along with the 1701 Act of Settlement the Bill of Rights is still in effect. It is one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession to the throne of the United Kingdom and—following British colonialism, the resultant doctrine of reception, and independence—to the thrones of those other Commonwealth realms, by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated part of the particular realm’s constitution. Since the implementation of the Statute of Westminster in each of the Commonwealth realms (on successive dates from 1931 onwards) the Bill of Rights cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm’s own parliament, and then, by convention, and as it touches on the succession to the shared throne, only with the consent of all the other realms.

In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act, applies in Scotland.

The Bill of Rights is one of the cornerstones of our Common Law. This Government aims to bury it with a new Bill of Rights, fashioned in the Fabian/Communitarian rights with responsibilities, in other words entitlements not rights, all subject to EU Corpus Juris.

If ever you needed proof that those in power are Traitors, then this is it.

We have finally reached the stage where the population of Britain has to make a simple but exceedingly important decision.

Its either our Common Law or the EU.

Oh, and to those who say its an old document, its out of date, it needs bringing up to date for the 21st century, I would say this: So is the Bible, the Koran and the Torah. Would you dare to consider letting the Government update those?

Whilst I personally would not object to having the religious aspects removed from the Bill of Rights 1689, for the sake of our nation, Don’t let this or any other Government near our Constitution.

The cry that needs to go out is not one clamouring for a new Bill of Rights, based on an engineered situation, but one that says:

SAVE OUR BILL OF RIGHTS. HANDS OFF OUR CONSTITUTION.

.

addendum:

I have no doubt that John Hirst was acting in the best of faith when he undertook his case at the ECHR. However, I wonder whether he understood the wider implications of his actions, because if we lose this battle the entire justice system will very quickly morph into that we see in Italy, Greece and the majority of the EU, where an arrest results in imprisonment before trial, during trial, not just after conviction, where guilt is assumed upon arrest, assumption of innocence does not exist, where innocence has to be proven. If we lose this battle, his actions will have put back prisoners rights in the UK 300 years.

Advertisements

About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
This entry was posted in European Union, Main Page and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to ECHR & British Bill of Rights – a smokescreen

  1. Andy Baxter says:

    A well thought out article Ian, and a spot on analysis which I would agree with, writing as someone who has researched Statute law, EU Law, Corpus Juris, and Common Law in some depth, I have come to the conclusion that Common Law provides the best safeguards and the most surest form of liberty against tyranny by the State, as it is based on ‘God given rights ‘or for non believers in a more secular age ‘conscience based’ rights.

    All the other forms of law, statute and corpus juris only provide benefits and obligations in fact identical in structure to commercial or contract law.

    Very soon I fear we will see the removal of trial by jury (we have already had the first such case in over four hundred years last year;
    Regina Versus Twomey/Blake/Hibberd/Cameron
    the defendents found guilty by a single judge) and once that becomes a common event I fear the tyranny will become all the more voracious.

    To say we have been betrayed since 1972 by successive politicians of all parties is an understatment of gargantuan magnitude.

    We are approaching the end game now, piece by insidious piece our historic and hard fought liberties are disappearing.

    The question is will we acquiesce as a nation of freeborn men and women to be cowed brow beaten and controlled or will we find leaders courageous enough to lead a revolution of the likes of 1642 in England or 1775 in the colonies?

    • Andy,
      Agree with all of your comment. We have been betrayed long before Maastricht I agree, but it was not until that point that it became an obligation for our Governments to erase our Common Law.

      This one we must fight. I know lots of fat ladies, and none of them are singing yet…

  2. jameshigham says:

    Clearly put and laid out – an excellent article. Particularly liked:

    Oh, and to those who say its an old document, its out of date, it needs bringing up to date for the 21st century, I would say this: So is the Bible, the Koran and the Torah. Would you dare to consider letting the Government update those?

    If you don’t mind, I’ll put a review up on Saturday.

  3. It would be truthful to state that I did not fully appreciate the wider implications, because they are only now becoming apparent with the UK’s resistance to fully complying with Hirst v UK (No2).

    However, I did appreciate (when others have failed to see) that my case goes further than simply the issue of enfranchisement of convicted prisoners. For example, Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of law (the 3 objectives of the Council of Europe). And, was an attack upon the UK’s doctrines of Separation of Powers and Supremacy of Parliament. I did spend between 12-15 years putting the case together. I confess also to laying the legal minefield around it to protect my interests. I do not have the same faith that some MPs appear to have that they can navigate their way around the legal minefield.

    (IanPJ note: I have edited out what I considered to be an offensive joke at this point in John’s comment, after advising him I was unwilling to republish it).

    It is arguable that it does not have to be an either/or situation. It is possible that both systems can work in harmony as this blueprint showsCommon Law & The Human Rights Act 1998 by Af KRISTINE RØBERG

    • John,

      I am sure that both systems can work together providing 2 criteria are met.
      1. The idea of a United States of Europe is halted.
      2. The British Government give up the idea of imposing Corpus Juris on the UK.

      However, that’s not going to happen, so I will fight it until we leave the EU.

  4. A fine article Ian. I will be posting a reply to this on my blog later as it follows on from a previous posts on the matter.

    While I agree with most of what you’ve written, I disagree with your generous assessment of John Hirst’s motives. I have no doubt that he undertook his case at the ECHR to create as much mischief and inconvenience for the authorities as possible. The devil makes work for idle hands after all. And if he puts an axe in them…

    • AM, thanks for that.

      So far as JH is concerned, he did the allotted time for his crime. Justice was served, a British system of justice that once lead the world.

      Leaving the criminal aspect aside, as an individual he has earned my respect as someone who took a law degree, took on the government, took it all the way to the ECHR and won. There are few that can achieve that.

      I personally don’t agree with with his petition or the outcome, however that is where we are today, which is why I questioned whether he was aware of the wider implications and the can of worms it would open.

      Edit: It seems I am not the only one http://timworstall.com/2011/02/11/in-which-we-admire-john-hirst/

      But please, we should not let this detract from the wider issue, our Country is under attack from within, we the people must defend it, or lose it.

  5. John Hirst says:

    I posted this as part of post on my blog, it has relevance here.

    In those civilised countries which do allow prisoners the vote, prisoners do so by postal vote and do so from their last known postal address before going into custody. Civilised countries have no problem with this. Only in the uncivilised UK do we have a problem with it. What the public appear to be missing is that the tyrant David Cameron wants to replace the HRA with a Bill of Responsibilities. Only if the Executive deem a subject to be responsible will they be allowed a right. However, this is the equivalent of the position in prison where prisoners only get privileges at the discretion of the prison governor.

    My advise to the public is that they should be afraid, very afraid, of the Tory plan to strip prisoners of their human rights because the public will be the next in line to get theirs removed.

    First they came…

    • Spin worthy of a politician from Hirst. It is not uncivilised to remove the entitlement to vote from people whose uncivilised criminal behaviour has seen them lose their liberty because they have offended against society.

      If voting was a right why do we only enfranchise people at the age of majority? Why not have 10-yr-olds voting? If people have the right to liberty and it is taken away as part of a sentence for being found guilty of a criminal act, is that uncivilised? Of course not. So if removing someone’s liberty is not uncivilised why is losing the entitlement to vote? The franchise is restored automatically when the sentence has been served and that is perfectly adequate.

      If someone so cherishes their entitlement to vote then perhaps they should consider that before engaging in criminal behaviour that can result in imprisonment and the entitlement to vote being justly removed.

  6. I have knowledge of my own opinions thank you. I can determine the difference between a right and an entitlement. I am far from ignorant. I am not prejudging anything as my comments follow substantial consideration of the subject matter. And there is certainly no fear on my part.

    I suggest you are the last person to attempt psychological games Hirst. All you can do is cherry pick quotes and opinions that lend themselves to your vested self interest. Hence your response. It might work on the apologists and do gooders who fall over themselves to excuse and downplay your actions in order to fit their own agenda in challenging any authority, but it doesn’t work with me.

    • .. and while every man and his dog is preoccupied with how evil JH is….. you lose your fucking country.

      This post is not about JH, it is not about voting rights, its about how they are being used to steal your birthright.

      • Paul says:

        First of all, seeing as it is the first time I have commented on your site, I have found your understanding to be very useful & thank you for pointing out the problem, recation, soultion as it applies in this case. It is quite obvious. Additionally, I believe that these scenarios always require a stooge to create the problem. It is something to think about.

    • John Hirst says:

      “I have knowledge of my own opinions” I should hope that you have or you would be in an even worse mental state than you are already. “I can determine the difference between a right and an entitlement”. Congratulations. “I am far from ignorant”. No man should be a judge in his own cause. In any event, that’s debateable. “I am not prejudging anything as my comments follow substantial consideration of the subject matter”. It helps if the starting point is an open mind. It’s not the amount of time spent but the quality of the thinking. “And there is certainly no fear on my part”. You fear my superior intelligence. And being proved wrong. And change. “I suggest you are the last person to attempt psychological games Hirst”. I am a Grand Master at Mind Games. Now run along. “All you can do is cherry pick quotes and opinions that lend themselves to your vested self interest”. Yawn! I have taken the State hostage, is that something you can do? “Hence your response”. I am generally to busy to waste time on trolls and the dull and ignorant, hence the abrupt answer. “It might work on the apologists and do gooders who fall over themselves to excuse and downplay your actions in order to fit their own agenda in challenging any authority, but it doesn’t work with me”. Sorry, can you elucidate further you have seemed to have lost me with the last bit?

  7. We’ve long since lost our country Ian. Without a proper written constitution akin to that in the US and proper democratic safeguards this elected dictatorship can do what it likes.

    Cameron’s British Bill of Rights will make little difference in reality because we will still be bound by the convention and our political class will ensure we remain in hock the the ECHR’s activist ‘judges’. Very little that Cameron can add can make the situation worse than it is.

    The fact is until the population wakes up and decides to actively oppose the establishment and take back the power that should be ours, we are stuck with this anti democratic bullshit.

  8. Vicky says:

    Iain Dale now at LBC radio has just done a programme all about why we need this bill of rights from Cameron.
    I was furious sending him an e-mail asking why when we already a Bill of Rights [ 1689] now incorporated into our Constitution something else politicians deny we have, yet were quick to use the Bill of rights when they wanted to save their thiefing backsides’.
    Jeez, all this is making my blood boil!

    I was reading up on Corporate Fascism came across this..

    http://www.rense.com/general83/dc.htm

    Before I became involved in nanotechnology, I was the head of a company that was affiliated with UUNet, the original US Internet backbone company when the Department of Defense privatized their DoD internet. During the Cold War, the DoD installed what they believed would be a communications system that would withstand a nuclear attack from Russia.

    Big Society…
    Funny how this organisation seems to have spread worldwide.
    It is now in South Africa and now even in LONDON!
    The red, black and white colours are reminiscent of the ones used by the Nazi Party many years ago, which is some ‘coincidence’, isn’t it?
    The military-like chanting routines and regiment/squad ‘exersises’ are another example of disturbing notions of mind control.
    Just what IS going on?

    Category:
    Non-profits & Activism

    Very sinister…

    Some are chanting military like….Same in USA clothing etc

  9. Anoneumouse says:

    We already have the law in place

    Article 37 of the 39 Articles of Religion is quite clear.

    “The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction”.

    The Thirty – nine Articles of Religion were drawn up by the church in convocation in 1563

    Subscription to them by the clergy was ordered by act of Parliament in 1571. The Subscription (Thirty-Nine Articles) Act (1571), 13 Elizabeth, Cap. 12

    The 39 Articles can be found in the Book of Common Prayer, which has not been repealed and are part of the British constitution through the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Union with Scotland 1707

    See also The Act of 6 Anne 1706 Exception, and other Acts, in force for ever.

    • Anoneumouse,

      Thanks for that. So if I read this right, the best they can do is hide it with a new Act, but not remove or repeal it.

    • John Hurst says:

      Ian, IIRC in the front of the Book of Common Prayer there is a certificate to the effect the Elizabeth Saxe-Coberg-Gotha re-issued it in some way. Does anyone have a copy handy to check the wording please?

      The significance of this is the protection that Magna Carta and the Declaration of Rights give to “The Church”.

      Regards, John Hurst.

  10. Pingback: ECHR & British Bill of Rights – a smokescreen | The Albion Alliance presents

  11. defender says:

    One of the biggest challenges we face is keeping the focus on the problem.
    Going off on a tangent over some slight or other, the clash of egos and the feelings of pride being hurt will not get this done.
    All attempts, whose intention is towards our rights and freedom are gratefully respected, regardless of the how or who.
    It is clear who the enemy is, it does not matter who or how resistance is shown.
    What matters is that there is resistance.
    United we stand, divided we FAIL.

  12. Anoneumouse says:

    Yes Ian, in as many words. However, Parliament could insist that the Government invokes the provisions within the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

    Section 2. – Invalidity of Treaties Article 46 http://www.jus.uio.no/lm/un.law.of.treaties.convention.1969/46.html

    1. A State may not invoke the fact that its consent to be bound by a treaty has been expressed in violation of a provision of its internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties as invalidating its consent unless that violation was manifest and concerned a rule of its internal law of fundamental importance.

    2. A violation is manifest if it would be objectively evident to any State conducting itself in the matter in accordance with normal practice and in good faith.

    Then again, we could join the Arab Revolt.

  13. I am a bear of simple brain but foresee the time when given the chance all political decisions shall be handed over to Brussels in exchange for 30 shekels and a seat at the top trough regardless of which lying cheating fraudulent set of bastards is in Westminster.
    Besides this common law rule argument going on I am appalled that to lower taxes to help the ordinary man and woman of Great Britain our lords and masters must first gain approval from 27 different heads of state and not one of the fraudulent liars is willing to challenge them.
    We no longer have in my opinion any democracy within our own country other than the facile allowance of a vote every 5 years to choose who sits closest to the trough.
    Is it not time for a true revolution of the people to rid us of theses arrogant swine and their determination to sell out the country.
    First off get us out of Europe then Let us have a proper debate with arms if need be to decide who actually gets to run the shop.

    • Derek Reynolds says:

      Indeed it is time Kevin, long past time in fact.

      My continuing problem is; our MP is elected to represent her constituents in Parliament, she is my only formal and peaceful avenue to being heard in any form. Since exactly one year ago, I called upon her to investigate a collusion between local Councillors wherein they had deliberately co-ordinated a non response to another colleague over a local roads matter. I found out about this due to an error on one Councillors behalf in replying ‘to all’ in an email, and by mistake my email address happened to be amongst the recipients. My concerns over this action of deliberate non-communication by public servants to a member of the public, caused me to approach my MP in writing asking for an investigation into the matter. I received no reply. I repeated my request a month or so later – no reply. Part way through that year, I had cause to write to her again on another matter and reminded her that I had not received a reply to the first issue. Again, no reply. A second copy of my ‘second’ issue was sent, no reply. Later in the year, I wrote a somewhat scathing and cynical letter demanding to know why she refused to communicate. No reply. I am not alone in receiving this non response, and am left without any representation in Parliament due to her non response.

      When peaceful methods, and correct procedures are taken with nil effect, what is left? We are forced into a position of a most uncomfortable kind. Physical action against the state is met (as we have seen all too often) with ‘kettling’, gloved fists, and batons. ‘Peaceful’ demonstrations are grist to the mill of uniformed Officers, who may not necessarily be of British birth, and who will inevitably be goaded by more rowdy elements of a crowd, and many of them deliberate plants. And so it is that we are left with a third avenue – lawful rebellion. Refusal to co-operate, and withdrawal of payments of taxes due. To a generation or maybe two, who have sought to feather a nest by their graft, such actions are seen to place a very real threat to all they have worked for all their lives. Therein lay the reality of a trap that has been set and sprung by the system that enslaves us. To break free of that system, is to give up on everything that has been worked and maybe fought for, and start again from scratch – with nothing other than what we stand up in.

      Is this our revolution? And to whom go the spoils of our labours?

      It would seem to me we are illegally governed by a foreign power, yet none will call it treason, though that is what it is. The political smiles, firm words and pontificating, are facile, false and fatuous – every single syllable. The anger is measurably growing and can be read in so many places. On the street people are preoccupied, distracted and terse – frustration in all we do and attempt is at an all time high. When we knew who the enemy was, where the bombs fell from, we could take avoiding action. We could even fight back. But this new enemy – yet at the same time – the Old enemy within, has attacked through the letterbox with directives, taxes, and fines. Removing from beneath our feet the very infrastructure that made a people stand together as one.

      I have reservations about the BNP as a party, but sometimes I read Nick Griffin’s comments and think he is absolutely right – bang on the nail.

      We desperately need to cut Britain out of the EU politically, financially, and legally. But not one will step up to the platform, for all are corrupt, or corruptible.

      I fear this sorry state of affairs will see blood on the streets yet.

      • Morningstar says:

        Just as an aside – e-mail MP’s through the ‘they work for you’ website – it gives you a chance to show that you get no responses from your MP – and it does it for all to see !

        A good place to start looking for traitors when the people take their country back !

  14. Pingback: ECHR & British Bill of Rights – a smokescreen | Centurean2′s Weblog

  15. The Talking Clock says:

    Hi IPJ

    You may – or may not – like to know that this post has seemingly gone viral (in a slightly edited form).

    It landed in my inbox via email this morning and so I had it, author unattributed, on my blog (the slightly edited version).

    Now, thanks to a fellow blogger letting me know who the author is, I can put the correct attribution in place and send people over here to read the original, excellent article.

    TTC

  16. John Hurst says:

    Ian, At last, just in the nick of time I trust.

    This article by Sean Gabb started me on th road to lawful rebellion.

    Self-Defence and the British Constitution.

    Introduction.

    During the past hundred years or so, the government of this country has become increasingly despotic. I do not mean by this that I live in anything approaching
    a totalitarian police state. Indeed, I will say that I live in one of the freest and generally the most fortunate societies that have ever existed. Though I have spent at least a decade now denouncing the government of my country, I do not fear for my personal safety or for my career. I will also say that those foreigners who favourably compare life in their own countries with life in modern England are seldom entirely wrong.

    Even so, the power of the British State is both more concentrated and less
    restrained than at any time in the past. The old notion of the State, as limited by custom and law, has given way to the common belief that there should be no impediment whatever to the clearly expressed will of the people – or of those who can, with any show of reason, claim to represent this will. For a long time, the effects of the change were largely confined to certain economic areas. Of course, these are of the highest importance, and no definite boundary can be drawn between them and other areas. In practice, though, a boundary was observed; and areas of life that, by common agreement, lay outside were usually left unaffected. We could therefore argue for or against socialism within an undisputed framework of civil and political rights.

    However, the intellectual collapse of socialism within the past generation has
    tended to break down the old boundary. So far from allowing the State to be rolled back, this collapse has had the unexpected result of letting it roll uncontrollably forward into every other area of life. This should not have been unexpected. Once established, beliefs about the duty of the State to intervene, and the benefits of intervention, are unlikely to die simply because the old justifications for it have died. Therefore, when politicians have realised the futility – and, more importantly, the danger from a mercantilist point of view – of trying to manage things like the telephone network or the prices of food, they will turn naturally to trying to control our lives in non-economic matters.

    And these new controls will be accepted, and even demanded, by a people so
    accustomed to control that they cannot accept the lifting of it in one area without a compensatory extension of it into others. Therefore the controls on smoking and driving and sport and amusement and child rearing, and even on the expression of ideas. Therefore the new supervision of private life that would never have been attempted or accepted in the days of exchange control and the Selective Employment Tax. Therefore the breaking down of any legal safeguards that seem to frustrate the smooth working of the new controls.

    And so the threat of unlimited government is actually greater today than it was
    in the late 1970s, when it first became a popular concern. It is greater because it is less well defined. The slide into despotism will not come because someone like Arthur Scargill wants to nationalise everything in sight. It will come because of a push that is weaker at any one point, but applied over a far larger area.

    Now because the nature of this threat is new, so the response to it must be new. The concentration on economic issues, that for most of the present century, has
    been the main feature of conservative and libertarian argument is no longer appropriate in an age when the debate over economics has mostly come to an end.
    We must turn to a far greater degree than has so far been the case to putting the argument for limited constitutional government. Instead of dealing with one
    aspect of the changed conception of the State, we must deal with the changed
    conception itself.

    Our fellows in the United States are more fortunate in this respect than we are
    in England. They have a written Constitution that derives from an earlier age of English civilisation, when the limiting of state power was taken as the main end of politics; and they can appeal to the letter of their Constitution in opposing the spirit of their actual government. Efforts, no matter how determined, to disarm the American people can be countered by insisting on their Second Amendment. Every effort to restrict what can be made available on the Internet has broken so far without success on the rock of the First Amendment. They have a text around which conservatives and libertarians and civil libertarians can unite in the defence of liberty.

    But we also have a Constitution. It may not be digested into a single clear
    document that was intended to stand forever. But the materials that were digested into the American Constitution all had their origin in England. Granted, these materials are scattered through customs, charters, legal judgements, textbooks, and Acts of Parliament that accumulated over about eight centuries. But their existence is a matter of record. They are still a flat challenge to the modern conception of the British State as the instrument by which the untrammelled legislative supremacy of the House of Commons is expressed.

    Or they would be a flat challenge if they could be made generally available. At
    the moment, they are not available. Last summer, for example, an argument started on the Cybershooters List over the extent to which the Bill of Rights 1689 guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. Before this could be settled, it was necessary to circulate a copy of the Bill. I had an old copy in print too small for scanning. it was nearly a week before Bob Allen found or produced an electronic copy that could be circulated.

    Again, I am something of a legal antiquarian – yet I have never found a complete edition of Sir William Blackstone’s great Commentaries on the Laws of England, first published in the 1760s. These are one of the main influences on the American Constitution. They were a powerful force in shaping understanding of the English Constitution well into the 19th century. Yet I do not know of any modern edition. There are the State Trials, published in the early 19th century, with some highly valuable commentaries – these have never been reprinted, and they are only available in a few specialised libraries.

    In short, the primary materials from which an understanding can be gained of the English Constitution are unavailable to ordinary people. The intention of this Web
    Page is to make these materials available on the World Wide Web, and thereby to
    assist in the growing debate on the preservation of freedoms that we once took for granted, but which are now under growing threat.

    I said at the top of this Page that I would lay particular emphasis on the right
    to keep and bear arms for self-defence. This means that my first main job will be to publish the reports on and the parliamentary debates about the various Firearms Acts of the 20th century, together with any legal judgements, both ancient and modern, that shed light on the destruction of this particular freedom. But my ambitions are far wider, and are limited only by the amount of time that I can afford to spend in the relevant libraries and then at home with my scanner. I hope to make this the resource page for English constitutional thought. It may take some while, though, before hope and reality can be made to resemble each other.

    Sean Gabb. London, May 1997. (English Constitution Resource Page, with Emphasis on the Fight against Victim Disarmament. Texts Selected and Introduced by Sean Gabb).

  17. Pingback: Scapegoating people who ‘have no rights’ « Churchmouse Campanologist

Comments are closed.