INDEXBeginning with the last General Election in the United Kingdom, the obfuscating fabric which concealed the construct of this nation began to disintegrate. There is now a frantic scramble underway in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable, because if the West can look upon and applaud the fall of non-representative governments around the world, it does not take academicians and political pundits too long before they begin to wonder about the structure of the United Kingdom itself. What is the United Kingdom? Upon what is it based? According to the words of Tony Benn:
"If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our present political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is..."*

INDEXWhen the process of devolution was first raised, the man now identified with asking the West Lothian Question, not only decried the early attempts, but Tam Dalyell asked in his 1977 book** whether devolution would be the end of Britain. He answered his own question affirmatively and he wrote his book long before the United Kingdom began to unravel. Now, with a 2011 election victory which surprised even the Scottish National Party, devolution has gathered such momentum that Tam Dalyell's question is no longer the hypothetical debating point that it once was.

INDEXThis Institute began life in 1985, and it grew out of another question concerning governance in the United Kingdom. It had to do with recorded broadcast music, which in those years was still a rationed commodity on the British airwaves, while that situation had never existed in the United States of America. The chain of discovery looking for answers to this enigma, led to a 1968 article written in the name of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black.*** He maintained that while America's basic freedoms came from its written Constitution, the source of its inspiration came from 'Freeborn John' Lilburne (c.1614-1657) who fought both the Crown of England, and the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell.

INDEXLilburne was fiercely independent to the point that some joked that after his death, if John met Lilburne, the two would fall out. But this did not prevent a wide swath of political groups from attempting to hijack his name and his works. Some called themselves 'Levellers' and said that Lilburne was their leader. But Lilburne was not a leveller, and he certainly was not a 'Digger' or 'True Leveller' wanting to seize private property and place it under a communistic regime. But that is what some British politicians have continually attempted to convey by way of explanation. During the era of WWII, British politicians were recreating the 'Diggers' under the name of the Common Wealth Party; while immediately following the war years, Hugo Black began incorporating references to John Lilburne in his written U.S. Supreme Court Opinions. But it should be noted that the ideals of the Common Wealth Party, and the U.S. legal Opinions of Hugo Black which have become a part of U.S. Constitutional law, do not represent the same things.

INDEXOver the years a fabric of obfuscation has descended upon the construct of the United Kingdom. While the Tories and Lib-Dems have given support to the Crown status quo, some Labour Party MPs worked diligently to use the system by continually edging forward towards a quasi-'Digger' platform. This has been achieved by linking John Lilburne to the 'Levellers', and the 'Levellers' to the 'True Levellers' who were also known as the 'Diggers'. This fusion has been performed in order to advance the idea that Christian communism which became rebranded as Christian socialism, or just socialism; somehow or other became the source of inspiration for the U.S. Declaration of Independence.**** One person who has worked hard in this respect is Tony Benn. He has advanced himself in the role of A.A. Milne’s Bad Sir Brian Botany, by getting rid of his title that linked him to the Establishment. It was after all, Anthony Wedgwood Benn as the press called him back then, who worked hard to close down the so-called 'pirate stations' of the Nineteen Sixties which offered the same freedom of expression that is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. When these stations asked for licenses, Benn claimed that the radio dial was full, but the Tory government which followed, turned Benn's claim into a lie when they licensed commercial radio stations on land. Benn wanted to create a government controlled POP network with advertising to replace the free enterprise stations, and the advertising revenue would support new local BBC radio stations on the supposed full radio dial. Contrary to the image created by the press at the time, or even by the recent and ridiculous motion picture that supposedly portrayed both Benn and the era of offshore commercial radio, Benn has made it plain in his diaries that he holds communistic ideals similar to the 'Diggers':
"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." (Acts 4:32)

INDEXHowever, Benn has also made it plain in his diaries that he does not believe in Christianity per se, and therefore he believes in a form of secular communism, which is exactly what Karl Marx advanced, and it was to Karl Marx that he turned to gain further ideas (according to his own diaries.) The basic fault with communism is that is doesn't work - as the former Soviet Union discovered. Rather than this becoming an old subject advanced by an old politician, Benn has been updating his ideas about the 'Levellers', the 'Diggers' and Lilburne on a BBC web site, this year:
The Levellers held themselves to be freeborn Englishmen, entitled to the protection of a natural law of human rights which they believed to originate in the will of God - rights vested in the people to whom alone true sovereignty belonged. These sovereign rights were only loaned to Parliament, which should be elected on a wide popular franchise and hold the people's rights in trust.*****

INDEXBut how can Tony Benn reconcile that statement which he endorsed in February 2011, with his position relating to Christian communism which has been rebranded as Christian socialism? Every communist-socialist program demands subservience by The People. They must fall into line and obey the will of The Party, or they are imprisoned. That is exactly what the USSR attempted to achieve, and it is exactly what every country has attempted to do when they have strayed down that same path. There is very little difference between a religious leader, a king or a secular dictator who treats 'The People' as 'subjects', it is only a matter of form and style. Freeborn rights demand individual expression and consent from leaders who are chosen by the governed. But when a Party enacts by legislation a uniform form of behavior, then freeborn rights and individualism go out of the window. The 'Diggers' attached their cause to public ownership of the land, and that is what the Common Wealth Party also attempted to do, and public ownership of land, business or anything else is exactly what communism and its step-child socialism have always advocated as their ideals. This is the same message that Tony Benn advanced for years as a professional socialist practicing politics without a constitution written by The People. In fact, when this writer put a question to Roy Hattersley (former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party), why Britain did not adopt a constitution written by The People while adopting John Lilburne as their hero, Hattersley responded that written constitutions are a bad idea because the government cannot raise taxes when they feel like doing so. Hattersley, who is also registered as a republican like Benn, claims that a written constitution can not be grafted on to the British system of government, so long as the Crown remains the source of British sovereignty.

INDEXWhen we first began to champion the cause of Lilburne we were on our own. Today references are to be found everywhere: but they are often misleading and inaccurate. Now that the advancement of devolution makes Tam Dalyell's nightmare a possibility, it poses a choice of which way to go? Either events can pass the majority of UK residents by - while dreamers such as Benn eventually see the dawning of their own socialistic and dystopic nation state, or, a closer study can be made to see how the United Kingdom can be transformed into a republic that is governed by The People under their own written constitution. The idea that 'The People' living in the British Isles do not need their own voices to be expressed in their own written Constitution, is the greatest insult of all. A written constitution is the only way to safeguard individual freeborn rights, because there are too many career politicians who are waiting for their chance to tell everyone how to live life.

*Tony Benn: Out of the Wilderness - Diaries 1963-67; Foreword; p.xiii. Hutchinson, London 1987. ISBN 0-09-170660-2
**Tam Dalyell: Devolution the end of Britain? - Jonathan Cape, London 1977. ISBN 0-224-01559-1
***Democracy's Heritage: Free Thought, Free Speech, Free Press, pp.39-44 - 1968 Yearbook, Encyclopedia Britannica.
****Tony Benn: The Levellers and the English Democratic Tradition, Spokesman Pamphlet No.54; Oxford Branch WEA, 1976.
Note: The diaries of Tony Benn have been published at various intervals in several volumes. An abridged single edition has also been published that omits many items of interest that are referenced here. Many local British libraries have access to all of the original hardback volumes, some of which may now be out of print.

May 25, 2011INDEXmore