King Billy did nothing

I WOULD like to have my final say on the legacy of King Billy to Jack Binns.

If he read my letter correctly he would have realised I never claimed William of Orange gave Britain parliamentary democracy. I stated that James II was the final British monarch to have absolute aspirations, where William of Orange was our first constitutional monarch. He didn’t do anything at all, that was the whole point of him.

If James II had been victorious at the Battle of the Boyne, the act of settlement which set in our constitution the role and limited powers of the monarch would not have happened. No monarch since James II has ever tried to challenge parliament.

What is democracy anyway? You might well ask how long is a piece of string. No one incident in history gave us parliamentary democracy, rather it has slowly evolved through events such as the right of every adult man to vote. The success of the suffragettes a hundred years ago and with the current situation regarding the alternative vote system you could say it is still evolving.

Though what Jack Binns thinks happened in the mid 20th century that suddenly gave us democracy puzzles me. The fact remains the act of settlement in 1701 was one of several significant moments in our history which still affects us today.

To Sean Carney, I do not dispute any of the atrocities he mentioned but they have to be put into context. In the 16th and 17th centuries religious wars were raging all over Europe as the protestant movement fought forces loyal to the Catholic church. Burning people at the stake and mass slaughter was common on both sides. I take it he has heard of the Spanish Inquisition.

As Europe settled down with some countries becoming predominately Protestant and others remaining Catholic, one truth eventually became apparent. Those that adopted the new faith flourished and became prosperous. The Protestant work ethic meant this life mattered and it was no longer viewed as an audition for an after life.

Spain, the European super power of the middle ages went into rapid and terminal decline. As for Italy, Poland and Ireland they never fully developed industrially as Britain and Germany did. Catholic superstition resulted in ignorance and poverty.

Also compare the fortunes of the United States with the continent of South America where the stifling influence of the Catholic church prevented social mobility and affluence. The Catholic church had no influence in the northern continent.

I fully agree the Irish potato famine was a shameful incident but resulted out of the government of the time being obsessed with market forces and refusing to intervene, when it could have rather than religious persecution. This is my final say on the matter, I rest my case.

D Baldwin

Cambridge Street

Scarborough