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September 27, 2013

The Relevance of Magna Carta in the 21st Century

Sir Robert Worcester, Apollo Dinner, Reform Club

Worcester, Sir Robert, The Relevance of Magna Carta in the 21st Century, The Reform Club, Apollo Dinner, 27th September 2013.

There are many myths which surround the Magna Carta. That it was only a fight between the barons and the King.  It certainly was, but not only that. That it was signed at Runnymede.  It wasn’t, it was sealed.  That it wasn’t the beginning of parliamentary democracy.  Well, perhaps not, technically.

It was the beginning of the spread of real democracy, not on the Athenian model. For Magna Carta is the overturning for the first time of ‘divine rule’ (King John, and somewhat later, King George III’s power over the American colonials), the beginning of representative democracy, and as the Lord Chief Justice of the United Kingdom recently quoted: “Nullum scutagium vel auxilium ponatur in regno nostro, nisi per commune consilium regni  nostril, which roughly translated into English means ‘No taxation without representation’.

Now where have I heard that phrase before…?

It was an idea that’s time had come.  It was followed just eight years later, in the ‘Golden Bull’ in Hungary.  England’s greatest export, it is now embodied in the Rule of Law in over 100 countries.

And it was the foundation of human rights.

It is time then, to examine what happened then, and now, what’s happening now, the relevance of the Magna Carta in our lives, its applicability today.

To download the full speech, please click MC Apollo Dinner, 27 September 2013-1.



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