I can’t stop grinning. If ever I have had a glimpse of political nerd nirvana it was today. Here’s the run down:
1)Went with my BFF to see the Magna Carta exhibition at the British Library. Wonderful! This year is the 800th anniversary of this ground-breaking document. The exhibit gives a great, detailed history of the document that is, after all, credited with being the foundation of democracies around the world. It was inspired by what passed for a populist uprising in those days. The Barons were sick and tired of King John taxing them to death to pay for ill advised wars. (Something of a familiar ring? We just need the uprising now.) This includes our own, somewhat tattered, democracy back across the pond in the good old U S of A. In fact, in the exhibit was Thomas Jefferson’s own copy of the Declaration of Independence and an original of our Bill of Rights. The main themes of the Magna Carta, that have carried on down through the ages, are the idea that no person can be deprived of liberty or property without due recourse to the law including a jury of their peers. Freedom of the Press and habeas corpus were also credited as ideas that came from the subsequent versions of the charter.
2)The second great event of my day was something that just came along serendipitously. As we pulled into London yesterday on the train I noticed a poster for the annual “State of London Debate.” An event where the Mayor of London gets up on stage with a presenter from LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation, a radio station) and debates the state of the city. Mostly taking questions from the audience. The tickets were free and, other than having to get myself from one side of London to the other on the underground, it looked like a great evenings entertainment. And it was! Boris Johnson (the Mayor) and Nick Ferrari (the presenter) were obviously old pals and they gave the audience at the Indigo at the O2 a great show! The questions from the audience seemed to be mostly about transportation issues. Taxis versus Uber. New Underground lines. Where to expand the airport. But the Mayor came across as a (somewhat) populist, free-market conservative if there is such a thing. I sat next to a very nice woman from the East End who filled me in on all the details of a city that she professed to love very much. The audience was lively and held the Mayor’s feet to the fire a couple of times mostly on housing issues. A good time was had by all. But wait, that is not the kicker of the evening. I got on “the tube” to go home and was talking to another really nice woman about the evening when she said “there he is now.” I turned around and there was Mr. Johnson himself riding the Underground on his way home. “A man of the people.” My new companion said. He held court a bit with his handlers surrounding him and lo and behold got off at my stop. Well, you know me I could not miss that opportunity. “Mr. Johnson.” quoth I. He turned. “I came all the way from the states to hear you tonite.” He shook my hand. “You’re joking.” He said. “Yes.” said I “but I really enjoyed the evening.” “Thanks,” He said “Where are you from in the States?” “Maine.” “Oh, that’s beautiful.” said one of his handlers. “Yes, it is. Anyhow really enjoyed the evening.” “So glad.” He said, put on his bike helmet and was off.
3)Came back to my beautiful little hotel in Kensington and turned on my computer to see that Jill Stein of the Green Party announced her entry into the Presidential race for 2016 yesterday. A truly populist candidate taking NO CORPORATE MONEY!!!! My day was complete.