David Drew's column
11:00am Tuesday 27th January 2009 in News
This week MP David Drew urges readers to visit the Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library IF you are in London before March and have a couple of hours to spare there is no better way to spend them than take yourself along to the British Library at St Pancras and have a look at the Taking Liberties exhibition.
I went along recently and have to say that what I saw was one of the most powerful demonstrations of our history and its consequences that you could ever witness. Quite simply to be able to see and read one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta, some original works from Thomas ‘Rights of Man’ Paine, the conclusions of the Putney debates following the execution of Charles I, and the material from the Suffragettes is awe-inspiring. This is our history but as importantly it is the derivation of our rights, our freedoms and our responsibilities. The exhibition is set out in a way that makes the best of the materials using interactive display and gives plenty of opportunity for discussion and explanation. The group of Parliamentarians I went with had the advantage of a guided tour by the curator of the library but this is not necessary as the exhibits are so well laid out and the accompanying texts are explicit.
Of course it is necessary to place the history in a modern context and there are plenty of references to modern controversies such as 42 days, the benefits or otherwise of devolution and dilemmas on when it may be right to challenge and eventually break the law.
Stimulating stuff, but if you want to know what really caught my eye more than anything else it was the presence of the purse and return rail ticket of Emily Davidson killed by the King’s horse at the Derby, proving that she had not intended to end her life. A real part of our history and the epitome of personal sacrifice in pursuit of the worthy cause of votes for women. Don’t take my word for it, go and see for yourself.
* Do we take our liberties for granted? Add your own opinions here.