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A Magna Carta for learning disabled people A Magna Carta for learning disabled people

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800 years of Magna Carta but learning disabled people remain 'villeins', denied rights against arbitrary power. What would a Magna Carta for learning disabled people look like? Although Magna Carta is widely believed to have been the first ‘Human Rights Act’, it actually excluded most of the population. It did not apply to ‘villeins’, the ordinary people, sometimes called ‘serfs’ or ‘peasants’. The Lords, Barons and ‘free men’ were granted the right to be judged by their own peers. Most people however were villeins, and outside this new law. They were peasants who were bound to their lords by ties they were not free to break – they had to work for their Lord, they could not leave his land without permission, they did not own their goods or possessions and did not ha 800 years of Magna Carta but learning disabled people remain 'villeins', denied rights against arbitrary power. What would a Magna Carta for learning disabled people look like? Although Magna Carta is widely believed to have been the first ‘Human Rights Act’, it actually excluded most of the population. It did not apply to ‘villeins’, the ordinary people, sometimes called ‘serfs’ or ‘peasants’. The Lords, Barons and ‘free men’ were granted the right to be judged by their own peers. Most people however were villeins, and outside this new law. They were peasants who were bound to their lords by ties they were not free to break – they had to work for their Lord, they could not leave his land without permission, they did not own their goods or possessions and did not ha

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‘English Votes for English Laws’ — a viable answer to the English Question? ‘English Votes for English Laws’ — a viable answer to the English Question?

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Last week the government published its detailed proposals for introducing English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) into the House of Commons. This is a significant moment in our constitutional history primarily because these changes reflect the acceptance of the need to institutionalise a collective English interest in the legislature, and the conviction that there is a growing and legitimate sense of grievance concerning England’s position within the UK. The primary rationale offered for introducing EVEL is to bring Westminster up to date with the implications of devolution elsewhere within the UK. In a context where further devolution is anticipated for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is becoming harder to ignore demands that English interests be given greater consideration in pa Last week the government published its detailed proposals for introducing English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) into the House of Commons. This is a significant moment in our constitutional history primarily because these changes reflect the acceptance of the need to institutionalise a collective English interest in the legislature, and the conviction that there is a growing and legitimate sense of grievance concerning England’s position within the UK. The primary rationale offered for introducing EVEL is to bring Westminster up to date with the implications of devolution elsewhere within the UK. In a context where further devolution is anticipated for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is becoming harder to ignore demands that English interests be given greater consideration in pa

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British Politics | British Politics | Democracy and Elections | Democracy and Elections | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law | Political Science | Political Science

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Magna Carta: a beggarly thing, a mess of pottage Magna Carta: a beggarly thing, a mess of pottage

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That in 2015, we still commemorate an agreement between the king and the barons of England reached 800 years ago, probably on the 15th June 1215, is a cause for wonder. Magna Carta, the Great Charter, as that agreement has come to be known, is held to be a milestone in the course of western constitutional thought. Its place in English jurisprudence is secure, but, while prominent, hardly matches the reverence it is shown on the other side of the Atlantic. The post Magna Carta: a beggarly thing, a mess of pottage appeared first on Politics in Spires. That in 2015, we still commemorate an agreement between the king and the barons of England reached 800 years ago, probably on the 15th June 1215, is a cause for wonder. Magna Carta, the Great Charter, as that agreement has come to be known, is held to be a milestone in the course of western constitutional thought. Its place in English jurisprudence is secure, but, while prominent, hardly matches the reverence it is shown on the other side of the Atlantic. The post Magna Carta: a beggarly thing, a mess of pottage appeared first on Politics in Spires.

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s unfinished revolution? An interview with Hordur Torfason s unfinished revolution? An interview with Hordur Torfason

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In this Q&A, I discuss the prospects for 'unfreezing' the draft new constitution with Hordur Torfason, the award-winning human rights activist credited with starting Iceland's 'pots and pans revolution'. Question: You’re credited as the person who started the “pots and pans revolution” in Iceland. How did the protests start? Torfason: I’m 70 years old this year. I started becoming an activist around 20 years old. Not that I wanted to become an activist, not at all. But I’m gay and it tells you a story that I’m the first gay man in the history of Iceland who steps forward. When I was 30 years old I was very famous. Everybody knew my song. I was on television, radio, doing concerts, LPs. I was doing everything that a young man can dream of. I was close to be a star or In this Q&A, I discuss the prospects for 'unfreezing' the draft new constitution with Hordur Torfason, the award-winning human rights activist credited with starting Iceland's 'pots and pans revolution'. Question: You’re credited as the person who started the “pots and pans revolution” in Iceland. How did the protests start? Torfason: I’m 70 years old this year. I started becoming an activist around 20 years old. Not that I wanted to become an activist, not at all. But I’m gay and it tells you a story that I’m the first gay man in the history of Iceland who steps forward. When I was 30 years old I was very famous. Everybody knew my song. I was on television, radio, doing concerts, LPs. I was doing everything that a young man can dream of. I was close to be a star or

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Democracy and Elections | Democracy and Elections | European Politics and Society | European Politics and Society | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law | Political Economy | Political Economy | Q&A's | Q&A's

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The Democracy Commission: practically teaching democracy The Democracy Commission: practically teaching democracy

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The institutions, technologies and practices of British democracy are, for the most part, inventions from before the time of universal suffrage.  In the fluidity and fracture of the 21st century, it is clear this democratic inheritance has become increasingly inadequate. Sharp, sustained differences in participation and voice by age, class, ... The post The Democracy Commission: practically teaching democracy appeared first on OxPol. The institutions, technologies and practices of British democracy are, for the most part, inventions from before the time of universal suffrage.  In the fluidity and fracture of the 21st century, it is clear this democratic inheritance has become increasingly inadequate. Sharp, sustained differences in participation and voice by age, class, ... The post The Democracy Commission: practically teaching democracy appeared first on OxPol.

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British Politics | British Politics | Comparative Government | Comparative Government | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law | Political Science | Political Science | Political Theory | Political Theory

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So, what was Magna Carta? So, what was Magna Carta?

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This year, we celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of one of the most revered documents in English history. On 15 June 1215 at Runnymede (a small meadow outside of London, marking the midpoint between two armies locked in civil war) King John set his seal on Magna Carta – the ‘great charter’ that has become synonymous throughout the world with opposition to arbitrary rule, and with the protection of individual rights and liberties. But what, exactly, was Magna Carta? Few of John’s contemporaries could have guessed at its enduring and universal significance. Magna Carta was the product of a specific breakdown ... The post So, what was Magna Carta? appeared first on OxPol. This year, we celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of one of the most revered documents in English history. On 15 June 1215 at Runnymede (a small meadow outside of London, marking the midpoint between two armies locked in civil war) King John set his seal on Magna Carta – the ‘great charter’ that has become synonymous throughout the world with opposition to arbitrary rule, and with the protection of individual rights and liberties. But what, exactly, was Magna Carta? Few of John’s contemporaries could have guessed at its enduring and universal significance. Magna Carta was the product of a specific breakdown ... The post So, what was Magna Carta? appeared first on OxPol.

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British Politics | British Politics | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law

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So, what was Magna Carta? So, what was Magna Carta?

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This year, we celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of one of the most revered documents in English history. On 15 June 1215 at Runnymede (a small meadow outside of London, marking the midpoint between two armies locked in civil war) King John set his seal on Magna Carta – the ‘great charter’ that has become synonymous throughout the world with opposition to arbitrary rule, and with the protection of individual rights and liberties. But what, exactly, was Magna Carta? Few of John’s contemporaries could have guessed at its enduring and universal significance. Magna Carta was the product of a specific breakdown ... The post So, what was Magna Carta? appeared first on OxPol. This year, we celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of one of the most revered documents in English history. On 15 June 1215 at Runnymede (a small meadow outside of London, marking the midpoint between two armies locked in civil war) King John set his seal on Magna Carta – the ‘great charter’ that has become synonymous throughout the world with opposition to arbitrary rule, and with the protection of individual rights and liberties. But what, exactly, was Magna Carta? Few of John’s contemporaries could have guessed at its enduring and universal significance. Magna Carta was the product of a specific breakdown ... The post So, what was Magna Carta? appeared first on OxPol.

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British Politics | British Politics | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law

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Experimenting with citizens’ assemblies in the UK Experimenting with citizens’ assemblies in the UK

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In October and November, two citizens’ assemblies will be taking place in Sheffield and Southampton. Organised by a coalition of academics and civil society organisations under the banner Democracy Matters, Assembly North and Assembly South represent significant interventions in contemporary British politics. First, the assemblies will be dealing with a fundamental constitutional question: how should we be governed? The main focus of the assemblies will be devolution and decentralisation of power to English regions. The Devolution Deals that are current government policy are piecemeal reforms. And as the term ‘Deal’ suggests, they are stitched together by local and national elites: ... The post Experimenting with citizens’ assemblies in the UK appeared first on OxPol. In October and November, two citizens’ assemblies will be taking place in Sheffield and Southampton. Organised by a coalition of academics and civil society organisations under the banner Democracy Matters, Assembly North and Assembly South represent significant interventions in contemporary British politics. First, the assemblies will be dealing with a fundamental constitutional question: how should we be governed? The main focus of the assemblies will be devolution and decentralisation of power to English regions. The Devolution Deals that are current government policy are piecemeal reforms. And as the term ‘Deal’ suggests, they are stitched together by local and national elites: ... The post Experimenting with citizens’ assemblies in the UK appeared first on OxPol.

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British Politics | British Politics | Democracy and Elections | Democracy and Elections | Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention | Law | Law | Political Theory | Political Theory

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Democracy matters, but how? Democracy matters, but how?

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In an unheralded committee room at the House of Lords on Wednesday a group of politicians from across the political spectrum came together with the participants and organisers of two recent pilot Citizens’ Assemblies on constitutional reform. It was heartening to hear the genuine appetite for new approaches to involving members of the public in politics. Politicians from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP all sang the praises of the Citizens’ Assemblies and called for more public participation in politics. Nevertheless, belying this consensus was a little less agreement than apparent at first sight. The ... The post Democracy matters, but how? appeared first on OxPol. In an unheralded committee room at the House of Lords on Wednesday a group of politicians from across the political spectrum came together with the participants and organisers of two recent pilot Citizens’ Assemblies on constitutional reform. It was heartening to hear the genuine appetite for new approaches to involving members of the public in politics. Politicians from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP all sang the praises of the Citizens’ Assemblies and called for more public participation in politics. Nevertheless, belying this consensus was a little less agreement than apparent at first sight. The ... The post Democracy matters, but how? appeared first on OxPol.

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Great Charter Convention | Great Charter Convention

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Opening up a new British constitution

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Last year the Select Committee for Political and Constitutional Reform published a bulky report with a question as its title: A New Magna Carta? The Committee’s Chairman Graham Allen MP launched it in July at the British Library. It set out three options for the overall reform of the UK’s constitution: a codification of what exists; a consolidation of existing laws and conventions into a unified framework; a written constitution. It issued a call for public responses. To encourage the imagination and inspire people the Committee also lay down a challenge: come up with your own preamble to the Constitution of the future. The air is full of talk about the constitution, about Magna Carta, about the need to renew democracy. So this is a neat opportunity to think creatively. In particular

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Great Charter Convention

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Can a constitutional convention offer real and radical change?

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The establishment of an Irish Constitutional Convention was first proposed in April 2010 at the Labour Party conference in Galway, when then Labour leader Eamon Gilmore called for the establishment of a convention to revise the text of Bunreacht na hEireann, the 1937 Irish Constitution, in advance of the 1916 centenary. Given the outdated language of some of the articles of the Irish Constitution, many of us greeted this proposal with real excitement. The proposal for a convention was subsequently included in the Programme for Government drawn up between Fine Gael and Labour following the February 2011 General Election. In July 2012, motions were passed in both the Dáil and the Seanad (Upper and Lower Houses of the Irish Parliament) to enable the establishment of the Convention, and it he

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Great Charter Convention

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Citizens should have the power to call constitutional conventions

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There is much debate about the need for a constitutional convention for the UK. The case for a convention is strong: the constitutional settlement is currently in flux with cross-party agreement to devolve further powers to Scotland; the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies want enhanced powers; and there are calls for devolution to the regions and cities within England and/or an English parliament. Older constitutional issues such as the voting system and the future of the House of Lords remain unresolved. A great deal of ink is being spilled on the question of what form any convention should take. A concern that a new settlement will be a stitch-up amongst the major political parties and the vibrancy of the referendum campaign in Scotland have energised campaigners to call for a conventio

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British Politics | Democracy and Elections | European Politics and Society | Great Charter Convention | Law | Political Theory

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Why the UK needs improved caretaker conventions before the May 2015 general election

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In 2010, the UK’s underspecified caretaker conventions caused the “Squatter in Downing Street” controversy, when Gordon Brown remained in office after Labour’s election defeat, pending the completion of the coalition negotiations. Pollsters predict another hung parliament in May this year and potentially protracted coalition negotiations. Yet, the country still lacks adequate rules to govern caretaker situations, which gives rise to considerable risks. Caretaker periods and their attendant challenges are universal to parliamentary democracies. The government’s mandate to exercise its executive powers stems from its ability to command the confidence of parliament. However, there are points in every parliament’s lifecycle when no government can lay claim to such support—betwee

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British Politics | Democracy and Elections | Great Charter Convention

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Government in Greater Manchester: A mayor for all seasons?

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From June, Greater Manchester will get an interim mayor as part of a deal with the Government on regional devolution. But its imposition without a referendum is a fundamental error by the political elite that may well backfire, argues Professor Colin Talbot. ‘Mayors’ seem to have become the default answer of many in the political elite to the problems of local government and governance in the UK, or more specifically England. Linked to the idea of English devolution as an answer to Scottish ‘home rule’ this has become a heady brew. But maybe it’s time to ask some sober questions about this project of ‘Devo Manc’, at least in terms of the proposed system of government for Manchester. My argument is, simply put: Elected mayors are based on assumptions about what Archie Brown ha

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British Politics | Democracy and Elections | Great Charter Convention | Law | Political Economy | Political Science

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The making of the Greater Manchester mayor – what next?

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Much has been made of backroom deals between the Chancellor George Osborne and Manchester City Council’s chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein to deliver the most significant devolutionary settlement of Whitehall budgets in England. The price of the deal is an elected mayor, who from 2017, will oversee significant sums of devolved spending, answerable to a cabinet made up of the ten council leaders of the Greater Manchester authorities. For some attending a cities@manchester debate earlier this week, the imposition of an elected mayor is seen as an unwelcome and undemocratic step. But this view underplays the way in which this deal represents the culmination of over ten years of hard work and commitment by all the region’s elected leaders (and their officers) to collaborate and innovate

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British Politics | Great Charter Convention | Law | Political Economy | Political Science

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s constitutional future: a view from the US

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As both a constitutional lawyer, albeit one specializing in the United States, and a political scientist, I followed with great interest the recent vote in Scotland regarding potential secession from the United Kingdom. From an entirely detached academic perspective of someone with no affiliation with the United Kingdom or any of its regions, the final outcome almost did not really matter. It is simply the case that the actual affirmative vote to remain within the United Kingdom generates different, but still fascinating, questions from those that would have occurred had those supporting secession prevailed. In the latter case, there would have been much discussion, no doubt, about the mechanics by which Scotland would become truly independent and, crucially, whether it would have easil

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Does the new Penguin edition of Magna Carta miss the point?

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“No free man [homo liber] shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land,” says Chapter 39 of Magna Carta. It put King John under law. It should do the same to government now. And, with an eye to the future and interpreting even more deeply, those last two phrases might lead to law that comes from equals and law that begins with land, not the state. A phrase from chapter 7 of Magna Carta, “… and she shall have in the meantime her reasonable estovers in the common,” introduces us to the principle of the commons which should become the material basi

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Devolution in the North of England: time to bring democracy and people into the debate?

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In the wake of the Scottish independence referendum, the ‘English Question’ has gained new political traction, emerging as one of the most crucial issues underpinning the debate on the future of the Union. In spite of its result, the Scottish vote has certainly shed light, with a renewed emphasis, on the presence of a growing democratic deficit across and within the nations of the UK, and in particular in England. This, in turn, has triggered a new interest both within political elites and the wider society on the role and place that England should have in the context of an increasingly decentralised UK. For the for the first time, all the main traditional parties have overtly embraced the narrative of the English Question – putting it at the core of their political discourse, and of

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British Politics | Great Charter Convention

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The law of the forest and the freedom of the streets

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‘What the f*** do you think an English forest is for?’ raged Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, when served with a notice to move his caravan from its woodland clearing, in Jez Butterworth’s 2009 anti-Arcadian play, Jerusalem. The kids who come there, he claimed, are safer than at home. This is where the wild things are. The opening stage direction: ‘England at midnight’. Butterworth’s explosive ‘state of the nation’ drama raised many questions about the state of the nation. In a highly urbanised society, talk of the ‘meaning’ of the forest today might seem anachronistic. Yet it raises anew the spectre of waking up to find that many historic freedoms--about rights to roam and freely associate (and on occasions run foul of the law)--have been subtly suborned, or deleted. As the

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Digital rights and freedoms: Part 2

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More than rights, a set of guiding principles is needed to counterpose to the reigning ideals of ‘security’, ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’. Alternative ideals, perhaps, such as democracy, health and environmental sustainability? The net has the potential to revolutionize democracy with an informed citizenry empowered to deliberate and decide on key issues. Yet current trends strengthen anti-democratic forces. In addition to concerns over privacy, there is an urgent need to address how the public realm is being hollowed out by corporate interests and advertisers. The ideal of democracy presupposes a shared public sphere in which citizens can construct, debate and decide on collective projects. This requires access to quality information and while the net has certainly increased the

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British Politics | Democracy and Elections | Great Charter Convention | Law | Media | Political Theory | Terrorism and Security

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Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1

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This article launches a new section of the Great Charter Convention dedicated to debate and analysis of democracy, politics and freedom in the digital age. It is clear that we are at a crucial historical juncture. The issues around state power and surveillance raised by Edward Snowden’s revelations should be an important theme in the upcoming general election, while the symbolic double anniversary of Magna Carta (aged 800) and the web (aged 25) offers an opportunity for critical reflection on how to upgrade fundamental liberties in response to new threats and re-imagine how technology can serve the common good. We are to a great extent playing catch-up. The rapidity of technological change has vastly outpaced the development of our laws, institutions and regulatory systems, along with th

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Alan Rusbridger: The world after Snowden

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The debate over the impact of Edward Snowden’s intelligence leaks has been obscured by “muddle and fog”, particularly in the United Kingdom, according to Alan Rusbridger. The Guardian’s editor-in-chief said the lack of response from British politicians, journalists and the public following the revelations was “very frustrating”. Politicians in the UK have found the subject “toxic”, complex and difficult to discuss, but the issues are too important to be ignored, Rusbridger said. “The penny has dropped recently that, love or hate Edward Snowden, he has laid out a huge canvas of issues that concern us all,” he said. In a lecture, 21st Century Surveillance State: Implications of the Snowden Revelations, at the University of Oxford this week, Rusbridger told his audience i

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The Great Charter of Liberties

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Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy. The coincidence of the British Library’smagnificent exhibition with a general election campaign is bound to tempt political parties to claim a particular affinity with Magna Carta, or more precisely with what they believe it embodies. As David Carpenter’s newPenguin Classics edition demonstrates (together with the review of it that Peter Linebaugh contributed to this series) - this is a subject still wide-open to contest. Yet this in no way diminishes the significance of previous interpretations, especially those that helped shape past political movements. That great popular movement of the early Victorian period, Chartism, naturally springs to my mind as someone who has devoted much time to its history. This was a movement that explicitly took Magna

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‘The first chapter’: Magna Carta and British socialism’s struggle for freedom in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain

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The Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, recently announced that if Labour are returned in the upcoming general election every school will be required to teach the history of Magna Carta. He is keen to ensure that ‘every school child is taught the medieval past and modern power of this heroic charter’. Unsurprisingly, this declaration caused a variety of responses from those within his own party and those on the left more generally. For a number, Magna Carta should not be celebrated in this way, for it was nothing more than a tool of oppression, which merely entrenched an elitist system that cared little for the people. Others have supported the initiative, often arguing that what it did is not important, it is what it stands for that is significant. As such, Magna Carta should b

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British Politics | Great Charter Convention | Political Science

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In new gods do we trust?

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Do you expect the machine to solve the problems? In a wide-ranging interview with the Director of the Open Rights Group members of Open Democracy discuss bulk collection, state bureaucracies, the pre-crime era and trust. Few of us understood the full import of what Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions, was saying at the Convention of Modern Liberty in 2009 when he referred to the then just published paper by Sir David Omand on the effect of modern data mining and processing techniques on intelligence work. Omand had stated that public trust in the organs of the state was going to be crucial, because from then on, ”Finding out other people’s secrets is going to mean breaking everyday rules of morality.” This was Ken Macdonald’s response: "Now, what the paper com

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