The ancient Palace of Westminster was in 1605 a jumble of medieval buildings [this drawing is of the foundation plan]
Today 5th November is of course Britain’s day of celebration of an event of 414 years ago, when a group of English plotters’ attempt to blow up the then house of Lords and its members with gunpowder, was foiled at the twelfth hour, so to speak, before the opening of the British so-called parliament of the times.
As you might guess, it was all about religion and involved about a dozen Catholics intent on overthrowing the Protestant King James 1, killing him and his lords, while intent on restoring a Catholic monarch to the throne.
Guy Fawkes also known as Guido Fawkes, is the one most associated with the plot as he was the only one actually caught, which was when in control of the gunpowder, as it was he who was set to detonate it in a ground floor storeroom [NOT a cellar as is widely recounted!]. Torture was ordered by the King and used to break him on the rack and so confess and implicate the others involved.
Fawkes was a convert to Catholicism and as we know only too well from Islamic jihadi terrorism, it is converts that make the most violent individuals in a faith. The plot wasn’t actually discovered by the authorities but came to light because a plotter tipped-off a Catholic peer to save his life, so the King found out that way and had a search conducted
Following the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot and execution of its ‘high treason’ participants, an annual ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ bonfire festivity by Londoners was stimulated by parliament [as ‘the joyful day of deliverance’], and indeed and this has evolved into a widespread bonfire and extravagant firework displays event, throughout the UK to this very day, and even to overseas colonies, including some in America
[Later in the 17th century bonfires were accompanied by fireworks and it also became the custom to burn an effigy of the pope, while in modern times it is a guy effigy, often created by children from old clothes, newspapers, and a mask]
However, it was a learned professor of history who recorded that Fawkes came to be toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”. Many of us these days who have followed the disgraceful behaviour over many many years of MPs in the Commons and Peers in the Lords, would agree with that. Obliviously there was no democratically elected lower parliament in Fawkes’ day, as it wasn’t founded until over 200 years later
[The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster rebuilt after a fire some 150 years ago]
Certainly many MPs seem to hold the attitude whereby the general population aren’t clever enough or well educated enough to dictate to them about how the Country should be run, so they will overrule the voters if they consider we have made a mistake or are misinformed – as we have seen over the past 3 years with their blatant refusal to implement the result of the 2016 EU Referendum, as they consider it bad for the UK – that would include the Scottish SNP who failed to persuade Scotland to leave the Union, but nevertheless believe they have the right to defy decisions of that very Union.
You see the elite and our MPs think they have the innate and divine right to rule and they hanker back to the old days without the binding inconvenience of democracy, and when ordinary people were serfs with no power nor say. Well, at least back to the time when only a few percent of the population had the vote and the British electoral system was totally unrepresentative – before 1800 probably only a quarter of a million people were entitled to vote and even large industrial cities like Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester did not have a single MP between them – and certainly not women [universal suffrage, with voting rights for women, though NOT for those under 30, only arrived here in 1918, didn’t it?
Certainly, Britain needs a completely new set of none self-serving, honest MPs who the people can trust, and ones who will implement the long-overdue changes that our parliamentary system requires. That would include getting shot of the ridiculous, non-elected, unaccountable, over-populated, useless, expensive House of Lords – though that will take more than a couple of thirty-eight barrels of gunpowder that Fawkes intended to use, eh?
[A general election is upon us next month and hopefully the Country will get at least some of the right MPs this time]