800th anniversary of Magna Carta

Some may think that spending my Sunday afternoon planting a tree with local children and listening to the bells from All Saints church nestled between the Burton Dassett hills in the very southerly part of the Kenilworth and Southam constituency has very little to do with establishment of Parliamentary democracy, as well as the legal system, in the UK and around the world. But this was just one of over 200 events across the country to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, which was the document that laid the foundations for the rights and representation that we enjoy today.

Magna Carta embodies principles which have underpinned the establishment of Parliamentary democracy, as well as the legal system, in the UK and around the world: limiting arbitrary power, curbing the right to levy taxation without consent, holding the executive to account, and affirming the rule of law. The Great Charter started a journey towards the rights and representation that we all currently enjoy but very often take for granted.

The rights and freedoms that the people of Burton Dassett’s neighbouring villages celebrated with me on Sunday have been achieved with difficulty, often at the cost of much blood and human suffering. They are not, and never will be, perfect. Not everyone will always agree on how liberty should translate into a practical realisation. However, as we mark the anniversary of the document which started the journey to these rights and freedoms it feels that it has never been more appropriate, however un-British it may be, to congratulate ourselves on the democracy and freedoms that we and others around the world have achieved over the past 800 years.