After Young Dave was given a platform by the Mail On Sunday to enthuse about what Magna Carta has done for us – no, not make the pubs shut at half past ten – some of those inclined to creative reinterpretation of the past have declared that the 1215 charter to be the basis for all our freedoms, rights, and of course the fount of Britishness, despite it being written in Latin and referring only to England.
“Magna Carta is the birthright of all English-speakers” declared Dan, Dan The Oratory Man as he carefully avoided the direct link from the Great Charter, through the Bill of Rights, to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), because the latter means hated Euro-legislation, in which Hannan does not want the UK to play a part. So he keeps to his narrow agenda.
“The principles of the Great Charter have since become the common property of all English-speaking peoples. One copy adorns the Australian Parliament in Canberra, another hangs alongside the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution in Washington. Here is the Anglosphere's defining text” he burbles happily. But Hannan’s enthusiasm is not universally shared.
Over at the deeply subversive Guardian, Charlie Brooker is not at all impressed with the PM’s pushing of the Great Charter: “It's King John versus a bunch of wealthy landowners: a legal spat between several berks and the king of the berks. Plebs weren't covered by the Magna Carta, see. They had the same human rights as a parsnip”. And on that last point, Hannan grudgingly agrees.
“The Charter ... had nothing to say to or for the vast majority of Englishmen, let alone Englishwomen, who remained serfs and vassals ... In a literal sense, all this is true”. In a literal sense? You mean, as in factually correct? Well, having seen Hannan go on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) and reel off a string of whoppers for professional loudmouth Sean Hannity, I can see his problem with that.
In any case, as the UK Human Rights blog has noted, “much which is said about Magna Carta is myth. The limited articles which are still on our statute books have little if any legal effect, although they are occasionally rolled out by judges trying to speak with the voice of the ages”. And, it seems, Tory MEPs trying to lay claim to authority when it comes to history.
Even in a moment of apparent conciliation, as Hannan says Magna Carta should be “beyond the quarrels of our times. Left or Right, radical or conservative, republican or monarchist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or atheist, surely we can all celebrate the subordination of our rulers to the law”, he then goes totally gaga and rants at Owen Jones for being of independent opinion.
But he does it all without mentioning the ECHR, so it’s Mission Accomplished.