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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?

There are glaring absences at the heart of the UK elections contest. The new preface to his ‘Essay on Britain, now’ – by one of Britain’s leading political thinkers tells us why. Remarkably, it suggests ways in which to free ourselves from the trap we are in. My book, Mammon’s Kingdom, was born of incredulity. The global financial and economic crisis of 2008 was the second most devastating in the long history of capitalism. Only the crisis that began with the Wall Street crash of 1929 and culminated in the Great Depression of the 1930s did more damage to output, employment …

Adam Wagner (One Crown Row Ltd and founder of RightsInfo.org) gave a very timely seminar on Tuesday May 12 for the Oxford Human Rights Hub and the Oxford Martin School Human Rights for Future Generations Programme on the future of human rights in the UK under the new the Conservative majority government. The seminar asked two crucial questions: what will they do? And what can human rights activists do? What Will They Do? The Conservative Manifesto argues that the Human Rights Act, 1998 (HRA) should be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights based on “common sense,” but …

Do you expect the machine to solve the problems? In this wide-ranging interview with the Director of the Open Rights Group members of Open Democracy discuss bulk collection, state bureaucracies, the pre-crime era and trust. Rosemary Bechler (RB): Few of us understood the full import of what Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions, was saying at the Convention of Modern Liberty in 2009 when he referred to the then just published paper by Sir David Omand on the effect of modern data mining and processing techniques on intelligence work. Omand had stated that public trust in the organs of the …

If we are in a constitutional moment, it is time that ‘We the people’ have a right to settle what happens. A Constitutional Convention (CC) is one way to give the people this leading role. A CC is unlikely to refound the British state if it is set up to function as, in effect, an advisory council to the UK Parliament on a relatively narrow range of issues. The UK is in what the lawyer and political philosopher Bruce Ackerman would call a ‘constitutional moment’. There are, obviously, deep and urgent questions about the future of the Union and ‘devolution’. There are related questions …

The British socialist and labour movements of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century chose to view Magna Carta as an important symbol to invoke in their own struggles against the current system and its abuses. The Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, recently announced that if Labour are returned in the upcoming general election every school will be required to teach the history of Magna Carta. He is keen to ensure that ‘every school child is taught the medieval past and modern power of this heroic charter’. Unsurprisingly, this declaration caused a variety of responses from those within his own party …

Last month the Political and Constitutional Reforms Committee published a report on the future of devolution, in the wake of the Scottish Referendum. Here Dave Richards and Martin Smith pick the report apart and look at the implications for devolution in the UK. The newly published report on the Future of Devolution after the Scottish Referendum is a worthy attempt to bring some order to an often confusing and conflicting debate concerning where devolution goes after the election. Strikingly, the Committee notes that since the September 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, rapid developments have been made in bilateral ways which pay little attention to …