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Self-rule - a wonderful old story


Old Bristol Bridge, 13th century

Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP want to bring self-rule back to the people of Britain by strengthening local government and leaving the EU. They write -

It's true that many of the things we want exist across the Atlantic - referendums, elected sheriffs, a local sales tax, open primaries. But the American revolutionaries took their inspiration from English political thought.

American revolutionaries, who at the time were British subjects, took their inspiration from English political thought and how people actually lived in Britain.

Henry I recognized the rights of the citizens of London to appoint their own sheriffs and judges, to limit their taxes, to arrange their own lands, pledges, and debts, to transport their goods free of tolls and to be free of having soldiers billeted on them - in the 12th century.

Richard the Lionheart reaffirmed the liberty of Londoners in a charter (in exchange for help with his ransom) sixty years later.

Magna Carta reaffirmed the freedom of the City in 1215 - And the city of London shall have all its ancient liberties and free customs, as well by land as by water.

Hundreds of cities and towns followed suit. Over the centuries they expanded as unique self-governing ventures with a continuous history of resistance to the high-handedness of sovereigns.

British townspeople didn't depend on the national government or some quango to decide who their sheriff was going to be. For hundreds of years they took care of that themselves and figured out how to pay for the new fire engine and which roads to repave and what the load limits should be and a thousand other practical things that affected the quality of their lives. And because they were paying for these things out of their local taxes they made certain they received good service.

The safety of Londoners is exactly why London Mayor Boris Johnson forced the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair and why there should be no doubt he had a right and responsibility to do so.

I'm glad that Hannan and Carswell are batting so strongly for common sense. Their book - The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain - has some excellent ideas.

We note with dismay that Amazon UK is not carrying the book.

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