A gentleman called Mark Higginson left a comment recently on the older wordpress.com version of my blog, directing my attention to a project he’s been working on called Magna Carta 2009.
Despite the name, it bears more resemblance to a constitution than the original Magna Carta Libertatum, and it contains some interesting features, not least of which is that it is designed to come into force through plebiscite after England achieves independence. The document lays out some provisions for its maintenance, namely that it cannot be altered, once passed, except by further plebiscite, which alters the current relationship between demos, Parliament, and Crown (and is especially interesting given the growing numbers of culturally non-English voters in England).
The author, having asked me to comment, duly received some input, and he then requested that I tell others about his project so that they may make their own comments known, if they wish. Being a pleasant, obliging sort of lady, I duly draw your attention to the following articles of Magna Carta 2009:
From the section entitled The English Government:
VOTING IN ENGLISH REFERENDUM, shall be compulsory whether referendums are for general elections, national referendums on other national issues, or for voting in and for County councils and matters of county wide importance. There shall be a fine for anyone who does not vote without good cause for doing so.
From the section entitled Law and Order:
IT SHALL BE ILLEGAL for anyone (English people or not), to harm the flag of England in public or before a public gathering at a private function or party or other gathering in any way, as a form of protest either by stamping on the flag, ripping or tearing or cutting the flag, setting fire to the flag, or any other action against the flag in a manor designed to cause offence against the flag of England, England or the English people. Such action if proved in court shall carry a penalty of five (5) years in prison without the possibility of parole.
From the section entitled Rights of the Individual:
ALL ENGLISH PERSONS, regardless of age, have a right to free health care, clean drinking water, nutritious food and a clean environment, as well as a right to protection from any activities that can harm welfare and development.
ALL ENGLISH PERSONS have the right to privacy, provided that such privacy is not used for criminal or inappropriate acts that could result in court action or harm to others.
Nothing in this Magna-Carta-2009 shall give the English person the right to bear arms, except under the current rules for fire arms licensing.
THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT SHALL help to restore an English person’s health, self-respect, and dignity, regardless of age, after abuse or neglect.
EVERY ENGLISH PERSON has the right to freely participate in English cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, and have the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
From the section entitled Rights of the Worker:
There shall be a set of minimum wages worked out by the English government for work done depending on age and experience.
THE RETIREMENT AGE for both men and women shall be 60 years. However, nothing shall stop a person from working beyond that age, without loss of state pension, if they so wish.
From the section entitled Education:
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE of England shall be English as spoken in England during the Anglo Saxon times before the Norman Invasion of 1066 and the modern Queen’s English as taught and practised in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
THERE SHALL BE THREE official dictionaries, an Anglo Saxon English dictionary dated to 1065, and a standard English Historic dictionary dated from 1066 to 1957. The third dictionary shall be the Standard Queen’s English dictionary dated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The last dictionary shall be an English dictionary without any additions from foreign influences.
From the section entitled Other Matters:
ALL UTILITY COMPANIES, regardless of weather they are publicly or privately owned, be they gas, electricity, water or telephone companies, shall have a duty of care to their customers, and ensure that connections remain in place, regardless of the customers ability to pay.
OPENING HOURS FOR THE PURCHASE and consumption of alcohol at all ale houses, public houses and other establishments where such activities are carried out by the public, for the day time Mondays to Saturdays shall be from 11.00 am to 03.00 pm, with time called at 02.30 pm. On Sundays the time will be 12.00 noon to 03.00 pm, with time called at 02.30 pm. Opening hours for the evening times, Monday to Saturday shall be from 07.00 pm to 11.00 pm with time called at 10.30 pm. On Sundays the time will be from 07.00 pm to 10.00 pm with time called at 09.30 pm.
OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS MENTIONED ABOVE shall include but not be restricted to; Supermarkets, hypermarkets, off licenses, private clubs and establishments, nightclubs and private parties.
PRICING FOR ALCHOHOLIC BEVERAGES shall be equalized between ale houses and public houses, and all other establishments that sell alcohol, so that all bottle and case prices are the same, including barrel prices and prices by the bottle and glass. In all such establishments there shall be no reduction of prices, including such things as happy hours, etc.
From Appendix C:
Structured rudimentary teaching in the following core subjects;
Maths (no electronic calculators), Anglo Saxon English, Religion (Christianity), Science, Queen’s Modern English, Geography, English History, World History, French, Art, P.E., Swimming, ICT.
A continuance of original core subjects, plus the following additional core studies;
Basic money management, Historic English (Between 1066 and 1960), Cooking, Relationships between all people.
Appendix D contains a primer of English etiquette, including:
Women are usually independent and accustomed to entering public places unaccompanied. It is usual for women to go out and about on their own as well as with friends. Men and women mix freely.
It is ok for women to eat alone in a restaurant.
It is ok for women to wander around on their own.
It is ok for women to drink beer.
These are only the features that leapt out at me as significant, upon several readings through the text. There is much more, which I have left out as being largely unremarkable or uncontroversial. Mark Higginson, the author, welcomes your comments here.
Having said all of that, I feel compelled to point out that when I provided the feedback he requested, I was fairly unsupportive of this document. I do not believe he will ever get anywhere with it, for numerous reasons, but my overall impression is this: this document is so different in scope, tone, and content from the Magna Carta Libertatum as to be wholly unrelated to it. I have trouble imagining how this could possibly be based upon the original, as its author claims. It is no more a charter of liberties than my grocery list. It is a restrictive, self-conflicting, and invasive constitutional treatise, many of whose articles cannot be guaranteed except through the coercive power of the state, and sometimes not even then. Maybe it is the sort of thing English people want. But somehow I doubt it.