The irrelevance of the Magna Carta

Andrew Little’s arrogance got the better of himself once again during question 9 in the House, 8 August 2018.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Quote.

Does he stand by his statements on the bill in Parliament last night that the Bill of Rights was—and I quote directly—”a pretty nasty device” and “There wasn’t anything particularly noble about [it]”, given the fact that it is the founding principle of free elections of MPs, free speech of MPs, and Parliament’s exclusive right to pass laws and impose taxes?  End of quote.

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: Quote.

All those principles are incredibly important and highly valued; just as the principles contained in the Magna Carta requiring open trials, the right to hear your accuser, and all those sorts of things, but bearing in mind that the Magna Carta was a document to entrench the power of aristocrats at the expense of peasants and poor people. We should continue to take the true historical context of these founding documents into account, and we should not be afraid to criticise the historical relevance of those documents. End of quote.

Andrew studied Law at Victoria University but obviously slept through a number of lectures if he honestly thinks that the Magna Carta was a document to entrench the power of aristocrats at the expense of peasants and poor people. Quote.

Article 16: No river bank shall henceforth be made a preserve, except those which were preserves in the time of king Henry, our grandfather, in the same places and for the same periods as they used to be in his day. End of quote.

The aristocrats were no longer able to ban the peasants and poor people from river banks by declaring them “preserves”. Quote.

Article 28: No bailiff shall in future put anyone to manifest trial or to oath upon his own bare word without reliable witnesses produced for this purpose. End of quote.

‘Anyone’ sounds like it includes peasants and poor people. Quote.

Article 29: No free man shall in future be arrested or imprisoned or disseised of his freehold, liberties or free customs, or outlawed or exiled or victimised in any other way, neither will we attack him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice. End of quote.

‘No one’, appears to cast a pretty wide net.  Seems to include peasants and poor people.

Article 29 is one of the three clauses of the original Magna Carta to have survived in British Law through to current times

The Magna Carta appears to have been a strong influence in the American Bill of Rights, written in 1791.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, penned in 1948 just after the Second World War, clearly shows the influence of the Magna Carta.

And yet Andrew thinks it is okay to diss it as a document favouring the rich at the expense of the proletariat. Then he finishes with a flourish:  “We should continue to take the true historical context of these founding documents into account, and we should not be afraid to criticise the historical relevance of those documents.”

Okay, then, Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, let’s get back to the historical context of the 1840 Treaty and robustly criticise its historical relevance, rather than worship the stream of politically correct modern reinterpretations, shall we?  Nah, thought not.


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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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