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About Anthony Barnett

Anthony Barnett (@AnthonyBarnett) is the founder of openDemocracy 

Articles by Anthony Barnett

This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Surveillance, the British and US debates compared

In Britain, allegedly, no one cares that the state is collecting vast data on all of us. In the US things are clearly very different.

Britain’s Ptolemaic constitution

English votes for English laws is another botched attempt to fiddle with a broken system.

Save the BBC and save ourselves

As the government's consultation over the future of the BBC comes to an end, here is a submission to it from openDemocracy's founder.

Open Labour: the only way for Corbyn to replace Blatcherism

Britain needs an open Labour party as well as a democratic one if it is to turn the astonishing energy Corbyn's success has released into a lasting gain for the country

Corbyn's golden opportunity

If Jeremy Corbyn can inspire the stunning support that today made him Labour's leader to transform British democracy, he can succeed in ending austerity. Otherwise he is doomed.

The Labour leader candidates and the constitution

What to make of the Labour leader candidates answers on questions about the constitution.

Why does the UK need a constitutional convention? An interview with Anthony Barnett

Phil England asks Anthony Barnett, founder of openDemocracy, about the UK's constitutional crisis and the relevance of Iceland's constitutional convention.

No, sweet no

The astounding NO vote that swept every part of Greece will take time to digest and understand and its meaning also depends on how the Europeans respond. But here are some immediate reactions.

The Greek showdown, what if No means Yes and Yes means No?

"A strange referendum, then, when both sides want the same thing: a viable agreement with the institutions... that keeps Greece in the Eurozone." Anthony Barnett pursues clarity on his way to Greece.

The Lab-Lib pact that never was, but should have been

What would have happened if Clegg had stood down and allowed Cable to lead?

Magna Carta 800th anniversary: three contrasting videos

A message to England from America's Black Lives Matter, A talk under the oldest Yew in England, and might says it is right

Melvyn Bragg versus Anthony Barnett on the Magna Carta continued

A lively exchange over Magna Carta, Bragg's series of programmes on it, and Barnett's criticisms of those programmes.

From King John to Baron Bragg: celebrating Magna Carta

As the Queen is prepared to annoint the humiliation of King John with a witticism there is a gathering anger against the way Britain is governed.

A Choice

The Comic Tragedy of British Politics 3: Real People

Three Men in a Studio

The Comic Tragedy of British Politics, 2: Can England join the Union?

The haunted election

The comic tragedy of British politics: 1  

Learning from Scotland

Can the English left finally wake up and smell the constitution?

On the eve of Magna Carta’s 800th birthday, the British legal system is being ripped apart

A protest march against the Global Law Summit in London symbolises the relevance of the Magna Carta.

From here to democracy, open letter to Ed Miliband

Labour is promising British voters a muddled, demoralising way forward for democratic reform despite its leader knowing better, here is the solution.

Dear Ban Ki-moon, please withdraw your video

A respectful request to the head of the United Nations.

Response to committee - a new Magna Carta?

openDemocracy's founder explains why Britain must go for a fully written constitution, and why a constitutional convention is necessary to achieve that.

Change? How? England arises…

We are now clearly in the middle of a "constitutional moment" and those who want a new settlement for the country are beginning to stir and take action. How can you get involved, and what's coming up?


The 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's death brought forth a spasm of second-rate musings and hagiographical blather about the great man by the London media, but little understanding of the transformation of Britain which, despite himself, he personified. Here, by contrast, is the 1982 analysis of Anthony Barnett.

Opening up a new British constitution

A Commons Select Committee has called for members of the British public to send them a model Preamble for a new UK constitution. Anthony Barnett tries his hand.

Torture, the UK's role, "I'm satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues"

A new Senate report lays bare US involvement in torture. As for Britain's collusion, well, you'll just have to take David Cameron's word — they're handling things. What could possibly go wrong?

A parallel moment not to be missed: for old nations, new times

Anthony Barnett on the rise of UKIP at a particular moment for Scotland and England. (Video)

Take a look at the Magna Carta

There is now an online version of the original that lets you see every letter in close up, along with a translation.

Party memberships in the UK: some context (Tory termination?)

The long term trend with membership of the traditional political parties in the UK shows an astonishing decline.

Fear not, England

English supporters of a No vote often cling to Britishness as a remedy for England's alleged ills: intolerance, ethnic nationalism, and so on. Yet we lose none of our tolerance in a Yes vote. We are the same England, and we should embrace this opportunity for constitutional renewal.

Introducing Tom Nairn, prophet of the break-up of Britain

Tom Nairn is introduced to a young generation by an old friend

Thank you Scotland - and, hold your nerve

If the world could only follow Scotland's example, peace would break out and democracy would spread. The powerful are terrified.

We want our Rights not Magna Bollocks

Today is Magna Carta Day. The great charter was sealed on 15 June 799 years ago. As preparations begin for the 800th anniversary the people of England need to claim their rights and liberties not be subject to a self-congratulatory celebration. 

“We had to wait for Snowden for proof”, an exchange with NSA whistleblower William Binney

The NSA preferred a much more expensive system of bulk collection of foreign data. That was a fatal choice as it deprived the NSA of understanding what it was monitoring and this permitted the planning of 9/11 to escape them, not to mention the surveilling of American citizens, which is unconstitutional.

All I can say is that you are uninteresting! An exchange with General Michael Hayden, Director of the NSA from 1999-2005

On the first anniversary of Ed Snowden’s revelations, this interview contributes to what we intend will become a growing, in depth exploration of the significance of surveillance for the future of humanity across the globe.

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