THE EDITOR: Under the point of the sword, King John of England enacted the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215 and created parliament.
The principle is that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial. The problem with any right is how you enforce it.
The effective control of government is the supremacy of parliament. In the 17th century, Edward Cook wanted to make the Magna Carta above the king and above parliament. He failed.
Parliament has been able to act like a king having parliamentary prerogative – usually corrupt without being subject to the law. Parliament can give you rights and take them away, making citizens of a parliamentary democracy subjects and not free.
The guarantee of rights were to guard against the king’s abuse of power by a pro-parliamentary group and transfer the power to parliament. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I recommend that parliamentary supremacy be put in check by requirements to hold referendums on any matter that affects the citizens significantly.
We have made parliamentarians kings and then we get upset when they act accordingly. Elections only reinforce this system because opposition parliamentarians become a government in waiting. They will continue to act like they are above the law because in practice they are.
As a mathematician I study patterns. Never give people absolute power (like a state of emergency to fight crime) because they will never give it up. It’s like good sex and lots of money – intoxicating.
BRIAN ELLIS PLUMMER via e-mail