The Magna Carta will be 800 years old next year and it’s the great reminder of the rights and freedoms we must hold dear to us all.
In 1215 the Magna Carta forced the English King John to respect the laws of the land and guaranteed rights and protections to his subjects.
This year was worthy of note for good reasons and bad. It’s been a year in which many around the world have celebrated, but also in which many have suffered, whether in Britain, Africa, the Middle East or further afield. And while it has been a successful year for Ukip, it’s important that we don’t just judge the past 12 months solely in political terms. This was a year in which we saw Britons dig deep; for those suffering from the Ebola crisis, to the memory of those who fought and died to defend our liberties. I was moved to see the 888,246 ceramic poppies on display outside the Tower of London, and delighted that hundreds of thousands of people gathered to see them. The coming year will be just as noteworthy – and it will also be a year of great uncertainty.
It is worth, therefore, remembering and reflecting upon what came before us, and what lessons we can take away from it. Next year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta; arguably one of the most important documents in human history. This Great Charter guaranteed the basic freedoms of the British people – and it is something that is still celebrated the world over to this day. Sadly, our children are today scarcely educated on the documents that established the rights of free-born Englishmen, as it is often referred to.
But Magna Carta’s significance cannot be stressed heavily enough. It asserted that nobody was above the law – an idea which is constantly tested, and one which may have some serious resonance in 2015, as political scandals begin, once again, to stack up. Accountability and answerability are two of the major themes now derived from Magna Carta. I for one hope that we as a people will seriously consider what this means ahead of our own major political event of 2015: the general election in May.
Whether we’re thinking about the backroom deals or political cover-ups in Westminster, or whether we’re talking about the European Union and its unaccountable bureaucrats – I personally think that major lessons need to be taken from Magna Carta. On the 800th anniversary of its sealing at Runnymede, there will be no greater occasion in our lifetimes to celebrate its significance and think on its impact.