Let the people decide. Let the discussion begin.

Since the Harrogate conference at the Old Swan Hotel, the participants at the meeting have engaged in a great deal of discussion about what is being called The Harrogate Agenda.

Emails have flown back and forth and debate has taken place the forum on Richard North’s EU Referendum blog.  Today is the day that the provisional list of demands has been published.

Provisional because, in a demonstration of the very democratic settlement we are demanding, everyone is being invited to share their views and ideas, and participate in the enhancement and improvement as we draw closer to the adoption of a final charter.  Your thoughts and suggestions are extremely valuable and very welcome – just join in the discussion at the link above.  So here are the draft demands…

The get the old debating juices flowing and get people thinking, below are some challenging thoughts shared in an email round robin between the Harrogate group (which really should have been on the forum) about what the aims of the charter should be and how the movement that has been spawned should approach this endeavour.

First, making the EU the target is doomed to failure. The UK’s destiny can still be mapped within domestic structures – albeit structures that need reform. That should be the target. We need to think strategically. There is no point attacking the opponent’s queen if your opponent is about to checkmate you with his pawns. We need to have our pieces in the right places on the board in order to win and ensure we have a positive and constructive path that people will want to tread.

Second, history has shown political parties are not the route to bringing about change. Movements are the method to drive change as parties will always lose focus and devote attention to their own internal intrigues and rivalries. They develop their own interests and waste energy servicing their own machine.

Having the post constitutional pieces in place is the priority – and before that we need to set aside the illusion of Magna Carta and a Bill of Rights being any use to us. They have been ripped apart with ease by successive Parliaments exposing their weaknesses. We need a modern, watertight constitution that serves the nation’s people, not vested interests, which cannot be by-passed for political expediency or changed without permission of the electorate.

What do you think?  Why not click over to the forum and contribute your thoughts.

Democracy is about power – people power.  The task the attendees at Harrogate set themselves was to define six demands which would bring us closer to controlling our own destinies and governing for ourselves the great nations of which we are part.  With the focus on bringing power to the people, this offering is a start.  It’s now time for others to play their part.

17 Responses to “Let the people decide. Let the discussion begin.”


  1. 1 EU Hypocrisy 06/08/2012 at 7:45 pm

    We need a lot more of this!

  2. 2 Vanessa 08/08/2012 at 11:24 am

    I profoundly disagree with you that our Magna Carta and Bill of Rights are consigned to the dustbin. The are not part of the Statute Book and therefore incapable of being ripped up by parliament. They are there for our use as they enshrine our Common Law. Just because they are ignored by politicians and overruled by them does not mean they do not exist or have the power intended for them.
    Any new “Constitution” which we devise and think is set in stone will never be a guarantee against the people who want to take our freedoms and who write new laws for us to abide by. In another 100 years they/we will be fighting this battle again.
    We should take back our control via these old powerful documents by informing people of their existence (most don’t even know of them) and put them at the forefront of our legislation. This would mean our membership of the EU is illegal and everything passed since is illegal.

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 08/08/2012 at 11:46 am

    If politicians can ignore or overrule Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, how come the courts do not strike these supposed excesses down?

    The fact is Magna Carta has been superseded and there is a necessity for a written constitution that cannot be trampled underfoot in the way ancient documents are.

    Don’t forget Magna Carta was written in the interests of the barons without reference to the people. It dictated what the people could have. It said everyone was subject to the law – but did not foresee the law would be enacted by Parliament centuries later.

    We need a written constitution that makes the people sovereign, protecting theirs rights and serving their interests. That was never on the agenda in 1215.

  4. 4 Vanessa 08/08/2012 at 5:26 pm

    The courts are ruled by Brussels and our parliament, together with the EU do not recognise our different legal system nor our Common Law. And from disuse we, the people, have forgotten about them. I thought Magna Carta was written as a promise to the British people that the freedoms enshrined therein could never be superceded. As these documents are not in the power (Statute Books) of politicians they cannot change them so they choose to ignore them.
    I have a copy of the Magna Carta downloaded from the British Library.
    http://www.bl.uk/treasures/magnacarta/translation.html
    The EU law overrides our own and they have no understanding of Common Law which belongs to the people of England / Britain.

  5. 5 Autonomous Mind 08/08/2012 at 8:40 pm

    Just because that is what you want to believe, it does not make it so.

  6. 6 NewsBoycap 09/08/2012 at 1:01 am

    British constitutional law is entirely misconceived, as described in detail by Lord Justice Laws in the Divisional Court in the case of the “Metric Martyrs” (sections 62 and 63

    “The special status of constitutional statutes follows the special status of constitutional rights. Examples are the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Union, the Reform Acts which distributed and enlarged the franchise, the HRA, the Scotland Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 1998. Ordinary statutes may be impliedly repealed. Constitutional statutes may not. For the repeal of a constitutional Act or the abrogation of a fundamental right to be effected by statute, the court would apply this test: is it shown that the legislature’s actual – not imputed, constructive or presumed – intention was to effect the repeal or abrogation? I think the test could only be met by express words in the later statute, or by words so specific that the inference of an actual determination to effect the result contended for was irresistible. The ordinary rule of implied repeal does not satisfy this test. Accordingly, it has no application to constitutional statutes. I should add that in my judgment general words could not be supplemented, so as to effect a repeal or significant amendment to a constitutional statute, by reference to what was said in Parliament by the minister promoting the Bill pursuant to Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593. A constitutional statute can only be repealed, or amended in a way which significantly affects its provisions touching fundamental rights or otherwise the relation between citizen and State, by unambiguous words on the face of the later statute.”

    Not being a Judge myself I would find it difficult to argue with Lord Justice Laws.

    Just because that is what ‘you’ want to believe, does not make it so.

  7. 7 NewsBoycap 09/08/2012 at 1:15 am

    Sorry, forgot to add.

    H/T. To M of B

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 09/08/2012 at 8:42 am

    ” A constitutional statute can only be repealed, or amended in a way which significantly affects its provisions touching fundamental rights or otherwise the relation between citizen and State, by unambiguous words on the face of the later statute.”

    This is the point I was making. Successive additions to statute since 1215 have effected the settlement. Magna Carta was open to evisceration because Parliament was created and afforded power.

    A new written constitution is required.

  9. 9 NewsBoycap 09/08/2012 at 11:19 am

    I think, forgive if I am wrong, the point Vanessa is making is that the courts, Politicians and the people have forgotten that we have a Constitution, that affords us protections from TPTB and the EU. And that Constitution is still there.
    “Ordinary statutes may be impliedly repealed. Constitutional statutes may not”.
    Personally I feel that if a ‘new’ Constitution is written as ‘Harrogate’ requires, the Creation of MONEY by private corporations must be outlawed. The people must have control and this must be the 1st on the list.

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 09/08/2012 at 1:25 pm

    I’m sorry but those supposed protections do not stand up in court. It’s not a case of people, courts or politicians forgetting them, it is a matter of the law of the land moving beyond them.

    Magna Carta was for and of its time. But it was not of the people for the people. Time moved on, structures changed, representative politics emerged and constitutional matters were kept deliberately vague to allow Parliament, rather than the people, to be sovereign.

    The simple test of Magna Carta is to see how many times it has been used as the basis to strike down laws as unconstitutional. So on that measure how effective has it been?

  11. 11 NewsBoycap 10/08/2012 at 1:00 am

    ” I’m sorry but those supposed protections do not stand up in court”.

    Well they have for me, in a long drawn out case (eighteen months) in which the Secretary of State for Transport has claimed that I have caused her harm. Those same Constitutional Statutes have been my only defence, plus the above comment by LJ Laws.

    And was not the Glorious Revolution caused by a breach of Magna Carta by the monarch at the time. Resulting in the Declaration of Rights 1688.

  12. 12 Autonomous Mind 10/08/2012 at 9:07 am

    You mean those elements that have not already been set aside or superseded.

    You seem determined to resist the simple fact that portions of Magna Carta have been replaced – which demonstrates we do not have a robust constitution, irrespective of whether it made the people sovereign or not.

    What I cannot understand is why some people cling to some romantic notion that a document from 1215 is the be all and end all of constitutional focus; and why they reject the constructive and positive idea of writing a brand new constitution that could restore sound elements that have been lost while making the people sovereign – and being relevant to the modern era.

  13. 13 james higham 10/08/2012 at 7:25 pm

    Be careful with 2 – might turn into regional assemblies again.

  14. 14 Andy Baxter 13/08/2012 at 4:22 pm

    We are in danger of going deep into the rabbit hole here:

    There is no doubt that Parliament is supreme at present (EU aside of course) I’ve written about this under the constitutional section of the blog over at EURef and its blatant hijacking by the executive and its (the executives) own belief in it’s ‘divine right’ to order our lives.

    as I said at Harrogate what I want to see is a Constitution that is supreme where true seperation of powers is evident and the organs of governance are subordiante to such a constitution. Get that right and I think all else will come. I think the demands address the fundamental shift of power back to us, but how we get that recognised and the mechanics of the exercise of that power is a debate in itself.

    I have to agree with Vanessa and NewsboyCap and Lord Justice Laws that constitutional documents cannot be explicitly or impliedly repealed, AM has valid criticisms of Magna Carta 1215 in its application and relevance but only to a degree. MC1215 was a written contract between the executive (King) and the governed that recognised at last in writing the individual sovereignty of subjects, be they barons who had the muscle to force such an acceptance is no different to what we want today by creating a movement that will use its ‘muscle’ to gain recognition and acceptance of our demands.

    I think it would be incredibly arrogant of us to think we could rewrite documents as flawless as Petition of Right, The Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus and The various Acts of Union that again set down in writing a subjects inalienable rights against the tyranny of the State. The American States attempt to set down in writing their own constituional documents recognised the future risks of usurpation of pwoer by an executive and the descent into tyrrany. To attempt to do so ourselves today as basically amateurs in the fields of legality and lawfulness is fraught with the dangers of unintended consequences. Far better these documents are incorporated to a written constitution (I’m not against some more modern updates to reflect the modern age) that is SUPREME

    The problem however is that we have been tricked into surrendering our sovereignty by layers of statutes and the express belief that Parliament is supreme and we are conditioned continually to accept ‘authority’ over us as absolute.

    The issue of individual sovereignty is fascinating and the power of withholding consent is so powerful where the belief in ‘The Rule of Law’ and of ‘governance and policing by consent’ are accepted. If we are not goverened by consent then we are governed by force and that is all too evident in the way agents of the State the police included enforce the will of the money collectors by use of coercion and force on us today, truly we live under tyranny but are tricked into compliance through fear and fear of the unknown through lack of knowledge of our individual and collective strength.

    I have seen individual sovereignty exercised successfully in practice, peacefully and asserively and it was eye opening! as a witnes to this I asked myself “WTF is going on here and how did this guy exercise such power over two police constables” and it was for me a game changer. The educated PTB know how the game is played as do more and more people waking up to asserting and exercising their sovereignty and the rights that go with that.

    The answer lies in the recognition of sovereignty and the safeguard of a supreme written constitution that constrains the organs of governance, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary from overstepping the limits of power we allow them to exercise.

  15. 15 Andrew 10/09/2012 at 1:45 am

    In the list of demands, No. 4 doesn’t make sense really. British people are policed and ruled by consent already. All Acts of Parliament / Statutes are by consent already, just that people are unaware or too frightened to stand their ground.


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