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This year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Following the independence referendum in Scotland, calls for a constitutional convention are widespread and growing. The Oxford University Politics Blog, together with OurKingdom, IPPR and the Department of Politics at the University of Southampton, are hosting the Great Charter Convention – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it. What would a new Magna Carta say, and what could a new constitutional settlement for Britain look like?

That in 2015, we still commemorate an agreement between the king and the barons of England reached 800 years ago, probably on the 15th June 1215, is a cause for wonder. Magna Carta, the Great Charter, as that agreement has come to be known, is held to be a milestone in the course of western constitutional thought. Its place in English jurisprudence is secure, but, while prominent, hardly matches the reverence it is shown on the other side of the Atlantic. Among the range of subjects covered by Magna Carta, three stand out for their constitutional importance: liberty, the rule of law and due process …

800 years of Magna Carta but learning disabled people remain ‘villeins’, denied rights against arbitrary power. What would a Magna Carta for learning disabled people look like? Who are the ‘villeins’ today? No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way,  nor will be proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no-one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or …

Last week the government published its detailed proposals for introducing English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) into the House of Commons. This is a significant moment in our constitutional history primarily because these changes reflect the acceptance of the need to institutionalise a collective English interest in the legislature, and the conviction that there is a growing and legitimate sense of grievance concerning England’s position within the UK. The primary rationale offered for introducing EVEL is to bring Westminster up to date with the implications of devolution elsewhere within the UK. In a context where further devolution is anticipated for Scotland, Wales …

In the first of a series of interviews by Phil England examining the situation in Iceland and the possible relevance of developments there to the UK, Phil talks to Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jonsdottir. Birgitta Jonsdottir is a co-founder of the Icelandic Pirate Party and one of three Pirate Party MPs in the Icelandic government. Since March the Pirates have been polling as the most popular party in Iceland. Their core policies focus on direct democracy, civil rights and access to information. A former Wikileaks volunteer, Jonsdottir describes herself as an anarchist and a poetician. She is also founder and Chair of the …

Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years…. “But we need our lawyers and our politicians to understand programming, to understand what can be done with a computer.[1] – Sir Tim Berners-Lee   The above quote should come as no surprise to anyone with even a passing interest in digital rights. In recent …

One of the Internet’s most awe-inducing features is its ability to serve up whatever piece of content you need, whenever you need it. Whether you’re looking for videos of cats riding Roombas, the translated poetry of Goethe or the song of a nightingale, the Internet, thanks to the incredible resources of the World Wide Web, will dish up whatever you’re after. Of course, insofar as online content mirrors our offline imperfections, it’s equally easy to find less salubrious material. As with many other technologies before it, the Internet has provided a new platform for pornographic content, and whatever your sexual …