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Get Carta!

Signing the Magna Carta

Watching the celebrations of the signing of the Magna Carta yesterday via the BBC, was watching a nation in deep denial, and a public broadcaster operating irony-free propaganda.

With the Red Arrows flying overhead spurting chem-trails of Red White and Blue (noted) Nicholas Witchell reported in his usual hushed tone, a perfect picture of Obsequious Journalism Perfected. Can you imagine his job? The damage to personal self-respect is unimaginable.

This was Parody England dressing up as Parody Britain and in full, unconstrained flight.

The Magna Carta, we were told, inspired Ghandi (wait, what? – wasn’t he fighting British rule?), was the beginning of ‘our rights’ and ‘our’ rule of law and ‘our politics’ we were told by David Starkey, he who, just recently was unable to disentangle an elected MP from a Nazi, and can’t distinguish a saltire from a swastika. But here he was to intone with gravitas and authority ‘our history’. Never mind, here comes the Royals – out in force – who seemed to have become under the BBC’s extraordinary editorial perspective, the story itself, thereby missing the ENTIRE POINT OF MAGNA CARTA WHICH WAS CONSTRAINING ROYAL POWER.

royal-baby-afpLevels of crashing irony are at this point reaching a dangerous threshold, but on comes David Cameron to explain to the slightly confused audience that he was going to renew the ideals of Magna Carta.

The prime Minister explained in his speech: “It falls to us in this generation to restore the reputation of those rights… It is our duty to safeguard the legacy, the idea, the momentous achievement of those barons.”

How would he achieve this great ideal? By abolishing the Human Rights Act.

If there was a sentient being in the audience or amongst the broadcast crew none was given air time on our national broadcaster.

Written in Latin, granted by a French-speaking King of England and borrowing from similar charters on the continent, the Magna Carta is not the quintessentially English document it’s been framed at, a concept likely to get Kippers and Euro sceptics spluttering into their warm beer. But whether it’s English or not it’s certainly not British.

Never mind, as the squatters near the Runnymeade memorial face eviction this is Parody England, memorializing eternally, no need for facts, or balance, or insight, just the endless stream of Windsor’s in hats, toadying journalists genuflecting for their masters and a surrounding cast of dumbfounded schoolchildren and churchy folk.

In 2015 this our news.



Comments (40)

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  1. kate says:

    very funny but also scary

  2. Andy Wells says:

    Written constitution anyone?

  3. allan thomson says:

    Well. That summed it up!

  4. Pam McMahon says:

    Good article. Hope we Scottish taxpayers are not paying for this, along with the Waterloo celebrations and other London sewerage systems. Am currently reading “The Magna Carta(Or Is It)” by Howard of Warwick. (sorry, can’t do links, but it’s on Amazon.uk) Hilarious, and just about sums up English history and it’s relationship to the monarchy.

    The establishment protects the monarchy, the monarchy protects the establishment. Better Together and how it actually functions.

  5. SteveT says:

    Nicely put. Orwellian doublethink wrapped up in the Union Jack. Cameron and his crew must meet at their club every evening, chink a glass of single malt, and sigh: ‘We got away with it for another day – how much longer?’
    The answer hopefully: not much…

    1. Socrates MacSporran says:

      Steve T – cannot see Cameron, for all his surname, and Co enjoying a single malt of an evening. Appreciating the subtleties of a malt requires good taste and breeding, not their scene at all; for them, it’s all about pater being able to afford the fees at “Slough Grammar School”.

      No, DC, Gideon and their mates will inbib gin and tonic, a much-more English tipple.

      Clive Scott – Nicholas Witchell is such a wee jobbie, the Duke of Rothesay was once caught on-camera/mike, referring to him as: “such an odious little man”.

      1. Holmes says:

        Great original article, why drag it down with a racist comment?

  6. Justin Kenrick says:

    Excellent piece, with a great title!

    The Charter of the Forests (1217) was the result of the struggle of the people for the return of their rights to their commons – to the resources they depended on that had been taken by the conquerors. It returned rights to the ‘common man’ taken away by the Norman conquerors, fundamental real rights to resources for ordinary people, rights ignored by the Magna Carta.

    The Forest Charter happened just after the Baron-focused Magna Carta (it was the ‘Minor’ to its ‘Magna’). It is, of course, part of the hidden history not taught in schools where we learn about the glorious Magna Carta that turns out to have been made for the Barons, to have been made for the consolidation of elite power whether dressed as royalty or slightly lesser aristocratic overlords . . . but we don’t learn about our real democratic history unless we’re willing to look for it.

    1. Thanks Justin. While the piece was fuelled by anger (and fear) and delivered with humour the real point – the important point – is how the English left missed a rest opportunity to celebrate this history and use it as an excuse to deed the attack on human rights, and yes, the commons. The capture of history by politicians and state media and the subsequent distortion is extraordinary and ongoing.

      1. Robin Turner says:

        The Tories should not be assumed to represent the English.

        I am appalled that you seem happy to do that.

  7. JBS says:

    You’d think that Starkey’s reputation as a serious, professional historian would be shot by this time, yet the BBC keeps on employing him. Wonder how long it’ll be before they commission him to present yet another deadly dull multipart series on the Tudors.

  8. Alastair says:

    Windsor’s ? I think you mean Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

    1. JBS says:

      Sshhh! You’re not supposed to talk about that! 😀

      1. Legerwood says:

        Nor are you supposed to point out that all the kings and queens of Great Britain since James VI and I have been descendants of Mary,Queen of Scots.

  9. Mary MacCallum Sullivan says:

    Yes – so irritating to be subjected (ha-ha!) to all that on my tv news, when BBC Scotland can’t be bothered to give us any Scottish news! Thanks, Mike for the biting quality….

  10. Clive Scott says:

    Good piece Mike – Nicholas Witchell perhaps the most nauseating BBC toady of them all but there are so many to choose from. I wonder how much the pantomime cost? Whatever it was, a total waste added to the national debt.

  11. Donald Mitchell says:

    I couldn’t help enjoying yesterday’s pantomime.
    England, my favourite foreign country at it’s wonderfully silly best.
    Starkey as court jester and Nick Whitchell whipping himself into a frenzy of sicophancy without a forelock left to tug.
    It almost rivaled his performance when the Royal sprog was born, i thought he would prostrate himself on the steps and beg to be made warden of the royal nappies.

    Magna Carta, did she die in vane?………sorry!

  12. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    You are being decent in giving this individual the benefit of the professional doubt; but said Starkey long ago surrendered these credentials.

    Now no longer more than an establishment hack on tap to give a bit of “professional”/”independent” colour to the Beeb’s and the propagandist MSM’s loose bowelled outpourings.

    A court jester seeking a leather cushion to park his ample posterior on in the HoL.

    PS Am now on a Twitter “list” for daring to critique this individual.

    Surprise, surprise the subscribers seem to consist of uber, blood and soil British nationalists.

    1. Kenneth G Coutts says:

      How do I get on the list David, perhaps I could join you,Messr’s starkey and witchell,Sarah Smith,robinson,Smith(who has been reporting umph years on europe and still reporting umph years on europe),Brewer,wark,neil and side kick the list is endless for union propagandists.
      Queen brenda with her spawn lined up no sign of austerity there.
      Austerity, No such thing.

    2. JBS says:

      “Now no longer more than an establishment hack on tap to give a bit of “professional”/”independent” colour to the Beeb’s and the propagandist MSM’s loose bowelled outpourings.”

      Agreed, David. 🙂

  13. Darien says:

    Those British/English institutions selective and inventive ‘take’ on history – the Windsors, the EBC, Westminster etc and associated characters such as Starkey and Witchell – are happy to invent mistruths simply to justify at least some sort of continued relevance of said institutions. They do it (or rather distort it) so well, though nowadays thankfully most Scots see through the trash these and other British institutions tell us. Perhaps it’s a different matter south of the border.

  14. Don bradley says:

    ” perhaps it’s a different matter south of the border ” ?
    I’m N/E English ànd I am sorry to say that indeed different here at least.
    The people are crushed by debt, poverty, and exploitation that there remains not a glimmer even of recognition of their situation, let alone of resistance.
    These ” subjects “, cowed and docile, read the corporate press and unquestioningly swallow every misrepresentation and distortion they are fed.
    They direct their loathing and ire at whichever target group the Desmond’s and Murdoch’s point them to, and never, ever question the hegemony their lords and masters inflict.
    It’s truly depressing.
    As I was told thousands of times in Scotland, ” an Englishman is a Scot with his brains bashed out ”
    Turns out its demonstrably true.

    1. robert graham says:

      I worked in the Scottish branch of an English Company for over twenty years,they way that saying was always put was ” a geordie was a Scotsman with all compassion removed ” I never agreed with that naughty little remark as both us, and the geordies used to rip the piss out of our southern bosses ,and they didn’t have a clue because they hadn’t a clue what we were saying and to tell the truth they didn’t care nothing has changed, north of Watford you don’t exist never have .

  15. maxi kerr says:

    Last June after years of planning the 1314 Bannockburn celebrations Hammond just happened to think that armed forces day would go down well on the same day as the Bannockburn gathering under the ramparts of Stirling castle.The local Tory/labour council(joined forces to keep snp out of office) played along to detract from Scotlands big day and the local and msm had just about nothing at all to say about the dirty underhand tactics that weekend.As usual in attendance at stirling were the usual happy clappers and flag wavers and special dignitaries supplied by the state.
    It would have been no problem giving this other armed forces show another date and with it another good day out for public. But we all know why the 24th of June was chosen …don’t we?

  16. HerewardAwake says:

    Yes, a fine commentary, Mike, on recent events about Runnymede, Magna Carta and the ‘Hollywoodisation’ of English history. Nobody with half a brain would take it all seriously but it is disturbing how myth, legend and, frankly, lies, can over time become accepted as fact. As an Englishman I would place much greater importance on the Peasants Revolt of 1381 which came damn close sorting out the toffs, and Oliver C’s later ruthless efforts to do much the same (until he went nuts), not to mention those of my nom-de-plume of course. We all have our national icons, true or false, but when I saw pictures of the recent Garter parade at Windsor with all that fancily-dressed brass done up like the cast of a cross-dressed comic opera I just had to slip rapidly away and take my little piggy for a quick feed in the woods. Thank goodness for that Forest Treaty of 1217. Just a pity it didn’t include penalties for sycophancy and nepotism! Now you Scots would never stoop to such nonsense, would you?

  17. Douglas Robertson says:

    For me the week long reburial of the ‘Car Park’ skeleton King in Leicester was a far better historical re-enactment, although I did miss the Starkey contribution on that noble occasion.

  18. old battle says:

    While ridicule of the Gilbert & Sullivan ceremony is appropriate and rather easy the central thesis indicates that constitutional arrangements are very much centre stage priority matters at this time. The Westminster show will be dominated (is currently dominated) by talk of future constitutional arrangements: The EU Referendum: Scotland’s position in Europe; The Scotland Bill: FFA: EVEL; Devolution within England; Additional powers etc etc
    We ie the progressive forces in Scotland must not allow major constitutional debates to belong to the 56 & the others in London or indeed in Edinburgh.
    WE need (on-line?) a forum for the popular engagement of that substantial social force that drove the REf & indeed the GE. What do the people want from the EU & what is Scotland’s position? Don’t leave it to the Pols & the mandarins!
    The Scottish Bill needs public scrutiny & participation. THe coloniality diminutive subservient status of Holyrood demands popular mass engaged participation in some form of constitutional convention. Bella & the other on-line progressive forums have a responsibility to create the space and indeed the leadership in this vital democratic task.

  19. leginge says:

    so what should be taught in the schools ? This is fundamental to the next generation being able to distinguish between the establishment lies and propaganda and the true history of ordinary people. A debate needs to be held, maybe here on Bellacaledonia, and pressure applied to the Scottish Govt to review school curriculums.

  20. Airconditioned says:

    Superb article.

    I thought I was hearing things when Cameron started spouting about protecting human rights. You really couldn’t make it up.

  21. Grumble Mcgrumble says:

    Here’s a crazy suggestion. Don’t watch it?

    I didn’t even know it was on until I read it here.

    1. Grumble Mcgrumble says:

      And aren’t you supposed to be doing a full time job now? Skiving off watching daytime TV eh?

  22. Graham Harris Graham says:

    And now for BBC Scotland’s weather forecast; while cool & breezy for much of the northern isles, Hebrides, central highlands, the central belt & a risk of persistent showers across Argyll, it will be a warm, dry, sunny day tomorrow for the Home Counties & the South East.

    Back to you Jackie …

  23. Big Jock says:

    So now we have had England’s Magna Carta presented as Britain’s ,despite it being 500 years before the Union. Can we now expect the Declaration of Arbroath to be presented as Britain’s Declaration of Arbroath.

    How can people with degrees in history who wrote this fabrication. Hold their heads up and pretend to be experts. Its truly the dumbing down of history ,in order to spin the England is Britain lies.

    God we really need out of this annexe. England is ready to ignore Scotland’s existence altogether now.

  24. dennis mclaughlin says:

    All that was missing from this charade was John Cleese and his pals on horseback…. rediscovering the Grail!.

    1. HerewardAwake says:

      They’re all there on YouTube, Dennis. At least we can still laugh at ourselves.

  25. Connor McEwen says:

    Correct Bella, and of course Mike.
    I am convinced it is a “jolly jape wheeze ” to wind up the plebs and minions “up noarth”.
    Serves us northerner serfs right by doffing our caps to the rulers from the south.

    What an Eton Mess.

  26. James Campbell says:

    I accept there are many problems with English democracy and the SNP critique of the Westminster system is a powerful one. But this kind of article is too cynical and negative. There is a historical event to commemorate here and it would be strange for politicians and the monarch to have ignored this milestone.

    Perhaps a nicer approach would have been to acknowledge its historical importance and suggest how its spirit could be applied to modern issues, no doubt differently to the LibLabCons.

    1. Angry Weegie says:

      Agreed it is an historical event but the celebration is of a parody of the event and deserves the treatment given. This was a group of toffs (nobles) screwing concessions from another toff (king). It had nothing to do with the peasants and therefore little relevance to most of us and it certainly wasn’t democracy.

      If human rights were involved, it could only be on the basis that the peasants were sub-human and they and the rest of the animals could be excluded.

  27. hindmost says:

    What amused me about Starkey’s commentary is that, as a historian, he seems completely ignorant of the fact that the whole idea of the Magna Carta was lifted from Islamic jurisprudence. From the idea that limits could be placed on a rulers power to habeas corpus and trial by a jury of your peers. The nobles returning from the crusades brought back these ideas with them. His ignorance isn’t limited to current Scottish politics but to areas in his own subject.

  28. revjimbob says:


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