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Offline the leveller

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    A republic is a nation in which the people hold the supreme power. The principle of this social or community system goes back into the mists of time amongst the peoples of northern Europe. The Vikings elected their kings, and sacked them if they failed to deliver that which was required of them by the people. Should the crops fail due to inclement weather it was believed that the king had fallen out of favour with the gods, he was then replaced.
     The British Isles were gradually settled by these peoples, and the age old concept that the King was accountable to the people remained rooted in the settlers principle of social law. The most well known instance of the people asserting the principle of republicanism was the Magna Carta 1215, when it became necessary to remind King John that he reigned only by the consent of the people, or at least as it was in those times the people of consequence who controlled the land. Having become fond of his job and position King John conceded, and signed the Great Charter which gave recognition to the rights and liberties of the people over which he had no lawful powers. This assertion of the ancient republican principle stands in our laws to this day.
    In 1640 the people again reasserted their superior authority to that of King Charles I in a very bloody civil war, the dispute became somewhat heated and the King's head was removed. Republican though the system was, the people had always had a Monarch as a figurehead, and according to ancient custom, someone to take the can back when things went wrong. Before long a new Monarch, Charles II  was elected by the people as was the ancient custom.   
For example. "The dispute between the barons and the king about the use of the royal power at the beginning of the reign of Edward I,  was reflected in the Oath which the King had to accept as the condition of his coronation in 1274. 'The barons' says the contemporary record, 'treated with the king on the oath before they would proceed with his election' ". Note that the Contemporary record said 'election'. Thus it was not a foregone conclusion that Edward would be king. He had to comply with the necessity of the Coronation Oath. Our present Queen had to comply with the same requirement and she swore her Coronation Oath having first been recognised as the rightful heir to the throne by the congregation in the Abbey, who represented the British People, and after they had given their consent to her being our Queen".
    Returning to the seventeenth century, in 1685 Charles II died and was succeeded by James II. It was not long before he forgot his place in the scheme of things and got above himself. The writing was on the wall, he had to go. The people had invited James' daughter Mary who was married to the Dutch Prince William of Orange to come with an army led by her husband William to take the throne of England, which they did. James raised a small army to confront them, but for some reason it disappeared. James decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and was allowed to make a run for it, never to return.
    Clearly it was time to reassert and re-establish the ancient republican principle. This time, before the office of the Monarch was filled, a full job description and it's terms and conditions of engagement were drawn up. It was a masterpiece of legislation which still stands in law to this day, it is known as the Declaration of Rights 1688. Over the centuries, with the self seeking influence of the Christian Church the position of the Monarch had become accepted as being held by divine right. This was to change. The concept of mediaeval monarchy was ended, no more would a Monarch rule over the people, from then on the Monarch would be the official Governor of the nation, a political office, the equivalent of today's presidents. This was made clear in the Coronation Oath Act 1688, in which the Monarch must swear to 'govern' the people according to their laws and customs. To this William and Mary so agreed and jointly reigned. The whole thing was entrenched into the Bill of Rights 1689, by which all Monarchs since that time have been constrained. The principle of republicanism in the United Kingdom had been proclaimed in law for all time to come, upheld and protected by a duly elected Monarch responsible for the governance of the nation, and accountable to the people.
    Although the office of the Monarch had been established as the top political office in the land, our wise forebears chose to keep the position hereditary, thus denying candidates being politically manipulated into the job, or the job being bought into.
    As Governor of the nation the role of the Monarch is very much political. The Monarch delegates the authority of governance to a political party of the peoples choice for a limited period, but the members of that government are subordinate by oath to the  Monarch as representing the absolute power of the people. The Monarch is the chief executive of the government, and is responsible to the people for all its doings, which is why the Monarch is obliged always to refer to the government as "my government". 
    We in the United Kingdom therefore have the best of both worlds. The absolute power lies with the people, and they have a non-party political figurehead to represent them in Parliament, bound by oath to ensure that nothing is done that would be in contravention of the peoples laws and the Constitution, and just as it was in those ancient times of old, someone to take the can back.
    Such is our wonderful political social system of checks and balances which has evolved over at least fifteen hundred years, and has stood the test of time. It is a system which suits the temperament of the British people who by the dictate of their decent are both republican and conservative by nature and disposition. Naturally there are those who prefer a more dictatorial approach, who would like to see the office of the Monarch done away with, thus, with the people's representative removed, despotic politicians could govern from the top down where the state is sovereign, instead of the present system where the people are sovereign and the state their servant, subordinate by law and oath to the people and their representative the Monarch. At this present time, those who would destroy our system are entrenched in a powerful position, resulting from Elizabeth II having abdicated her office in 1972 when she surrendered the supremacy of her office to the supremacy of the European Community. In many respects we are back in 1688 and 1939 combined.
    It seems it is time for the people to once more reassert the republican principle, and re-establish the office of the Monarch to protect it. 
Bob Lomas.   The Magna Carta Society.

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