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  • Haydn Wheeler

"Which Side Are You On" Need Not Apply.

1642. As it was said "The Quarrel Was More Between Parliament And King" not the people.

The reversal of the phrase of Paul Weller's lyrics in (The Jam) song Going Underground. "The Public Gets, What The Public Wants" being changed mid verse to "The Public Want, What The Public Gets", evokes a fiery anger shot across the public's bows shouting the frustration "your choice need not be what your given" and the frustration with being led to believe that what we are given is what we want, has a nod to where the Clubmen of 1645 found themselves.

The Jam "Going Underground"

This mass movement of people who chose not to side with King or Parliament in the English Revolution in Dorset has been a subject lost in relevance relating to the county. We who are living in the present can learn from what lay at its ground-base with the matter of effecting change in local governance . 1645 saw large bodies of people with numbers ranging in thousands. Badbury Rings with the reading of their Desires and Resolutions declaration numbered 4.000 according to eyewitness accounts as did many rendezvous in the counties locally. Fairfax writes to The Lords on July 3rd 1645 of the Clubmen of Wiltshire and Dorset " and boast they can raise 20,000 in 24hrs "

The calling for a settlement between the warring parties by the Clubmen has a relevance to how a confrontational form of politics between the governing party and the opposition operates . The argument that you need a strong opposition to hold the ruling party to account is a convenient tool for those who want to hold the status quo in how our Parliamentary system operates.. As can be seen with the Brexit decision vote for the UK to leave the European Union with Article 50, whoever governs has the ability to use that thing of old "The Royal Prerogative.

The nature of our unwritten constitution as we have seen in the Supreme Court's decision throws into dispute how we interpret our constitution In the triggering of article 50. A vote made by Parliament is now the case.

All these systems our Parliament works under can be seen I would argue in the way the Clubmen of the past made their voice heard in the quote, "this was an argument between King and Parliament, not the people". The strength of the Clubmen in their form as an association and not one could say a union of sorts applied to trade or of a social standing within the 17th Century, is something of note. The essence of association has at its core value no matter your beliefs or loyalties, that an ill functioning governing body affects one and all.

Looking at the Clubmen as an association of all, with a mix of rural trades, clergy, yeomen and the like is powerful in its simplicity. A common interest in their demands was for a return to stable Government and King, and from then on rightful liberties and justice restored . The locality where one lived and worked one's trade in their county and parish should be respected, and the immediate governance be overseen by those associated to the locality. The message of association by the Clubmen can be seen throughout their demands. Its direct bypass of not accepting the warring parties' grievances avoided the trap of divide. The shout of "Which Side are You On?" and the answer back neither has an immediate effect on those asking the question and dis-empowers those wishing to recruit for either side. These were not people going into self-interest traps, the tradesmen, yeomen, clergy, farm worker and minor gentry in association took their strength with a direct say to Parliament and King as a body together..

The formation of Unions and their roots in Dorset is by rights seen as a celebration. I would argue The Clubmen of Dorset in 1645 also need considerable recognition. We see the Union as a strength in a number of people with the power to protect rights often fought for. The Union by its nature is in a constant argument at core with a form of protectionism, a holding onto and attempt to better ones conditions. The Clubmen in an association avoided the trap of protectionism in the divide sense. Tradesmen, Yeomen, Gentry alike, the joining of was not in question, you were by being in the locality by default in association of that County. The fight of keeping house, goods and body from plunder was inclusive. A celebration of inclusiveness as associated with The Clubmen hence avoids division.

A new Desires and Resolutions declaration of the County of Dorset is in urgent need. The "Which Side Are You On" call, need not apply.

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