Two BNP councillors staged an impromptu walkout from Sandwell Council last night in protest at Sikh becoming mayor. They claim his appointment breaches the Magna Carta - but now face an enquiry by the local government standards board.
Simon Smith (who represents Great Bridge) and Carl Butler (Tividale) insist that they didn’t leave the chamber during the vote to appoint Gurcharan “Sid” Sidhu as first citizen – but Butler admits they did retire to an area close to the public gallery for a “coffee break”.
He claims that under the Magna Carta – which was written in 1215 and forms the basis of England’s constitution - “foreigners” are banned from holding public office.
Quite how this applies to “Sid”, who’s been a British citizen for 44 years – isn’t clear, but as Butler is happy to explain, he believes that even people who are born in this country should be disqualified from public life if they are of African or Asian heritage.
“That’s not racist it’s realist”, he told us.
“The Magna Carta states that no foreigner should take public office and that’s our view. There’s no personal animosity, he just shouldn’t be mayor”.
Thus proving, as if such were needed, that if you vote BNP, you get a complete moron - or two for the price of one in this case.
You see, even if we ignore the fact that a mere three of the rights granted by Magna Carta* remain in force today and allow the full text, nowhere in it does it state the ‘foreigners’ cannot hold public office.
*If you’re wondering, the three rights in question provide for the freedom of the English Church, the freedoms and liberties of the City of London and, most important of all, the right of habeas corpus.
The closest Magna Carta comes to such a proscription is in clause 45:
We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.
To hold public office one must know the law of the realm and be minded to keep it well - “Sid” has been a councillor for twenty years and the British Citizen for forty-four, so I we satisfy the first part, and as Bob notes, he’s basically a stand-up kind of guy, so that covers the latter.
There is no bar on foreigners holding public office under Magna Carta because such a proscription would have made absolutely no sense at the time.
King John was an Angevin (or Plantagenet if you prefer), a scion of the House of Anjou - in modern terms a Frenchman - although he was born in England (at Beaumont Palace, Oxford) and did spend considerably more time in this country that his more illustrious older brother, Richard I.
Of the Barons who held him to account at Runnymede, only one - William Hardell, the Mayor of London, has a surname of Anglo-Saxon origin. The rest were uniformly of Norman descent, with many holding estates on the continent.
England, at the time, was effectively still under Norman occupation and didn’t really settle down until the reign of Edward I - even John’s successor Henry II ran the country pretty much as a sub-fief of his continental holdings although unlike some of his predecessors, who weren’t much concerned with the messy business of ruling England properly, Henry did have good sense and foresight to lay the foundations of what is, today, the Civil Service, and ensure that the country was at least administered effectively.
It would have made no sense at all for either John, or the Barons, to disbar foreigners from holding office because, well, most their trusted retainers - the people who were being appointed as officials - were foreign… just like them.
One might therefore observe that if your are going to call yourself the British National Party, you might at least take the time and trouble to acquaint yourself properly with British history.