Tuesday 25 October 2016

Salus Populi Suprema Lex

Hearing John Rees on The Jeremy Vine Show, telling Vanessa Feltz about his forthcoming book on the Levellers, made me realise quite how the election and re-election of Jeremy Corbyn had transformed the debate in this country.

Even Counterfire, even the Stop the War Coalition, and even the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, are now as mainstream as this.

We are talking about Vanessa Feltz. We are talking about The Jeremy Vine Show. We are talking about Radio Two, the most heard radio station in Europe. On the BBC.

The regime that executed Charles I also persecuted the Levellers and the Diggers for their appeals to “the Ancient Constitution” and to “time out of mind”.

That regime anticipated the bourgeois capitalist Revolutions of 1688, 1776 and 1789. Our own Radical tradition does not derive from those Revolutions.

Rather, it predates them, and it opposed them and their consequences, making common cause with Tories for the abolition of slavery (by very specific appeal to the Ancient Constitution), for factory reform, for the extension of the franchise, for action against substance abuse and gambling, and so on.

Something similar presents itself in opposition to the neoconservative war agenda, and through that to the neoliberal economic order.


  1. This is why the thickies hate you and this is why the rest of us are in awe of you. Neil Fleming, Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting at The Labour Party, thinks 1699, 1776 and 1789 are the kick off times for matches between the teams nicknamed the Levellers and the Diggers.

    1. Someone once told me that our friend thought that The Tolpuddle Martyrs was the name of a pub. I said not be silly, he had never heard the Tolpuddle Martyrs.