March for Democracy, a view from the crowd

Chris here from Judith’s team writing again. A month ago, I reported from Reading Pride, and this weekend we went a little bit westward to the site of the First and the Second Battles of Newbury. We marched from Wash Common where scenes from nearly 400 years ago played a pivotal role in what came to shape democracy as we know it today. Dave Stubbs from Newbury held a talk on the English Civil War saying;  

King Charles I, who became king in 1625, believed he had the ‘divine right’ to rule, and parliament had very limited power back then compared to now. Parliament conflicted heavily with the king on issues such as his choice of political advisors, increasing taxes for expensive foreign wars and the religious influence his French Catholic wife held over English customs. In 1629, Charles got fed up of parliament holding him to account and simply shut it down. He then went on to rule alone for eleven years. In 1640, he recalled MPs to help raise more money to fight a rebellion in Scotland, but after only three weeks, he prorogued them again. A few months later, he decided he needed them again and recalled them. However, this time, MPs demanded concessions, such as not proroguing parliament unless the MPs themselves agreed to it.  

Further war from 1642-45 ended with parliament victorious against the king. Charles I was put on trial, where the following indictment was read against him: that the king “…for the protecting of himself and his adherents … hath traitorously and maliciously levied war against the present Parliament, and the people therein represented,” and that “against the public interest, common right, liberty, justice, and peace of the people of this nation.”

Fast forward to 2019, and we found ourselves in an uncomfortably familiar situation. Marching from Wash Common through the centre of Newbury, we protested the lack of democracy in the government’s decision to prorogue parliament. Local members, including Judith, spoke very passionately about the importance of having their parliamentary representatives able to sit in the House of Commons and speak on their behalf. It was good to see such non-partisan co-operation as this is definitely the way forward if we want to #StopBrexit. 

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