Prince Charles strikes another blow for the British republic

In 1638, with special pleadings from Archbishop Laud, Charles I addressed the privatization of land, enclosure, by fining rich merchants and parliamentarians who had evicted villagers from collectively managed open fields. Only ‘freemen’ owning land worth over 40 shillings a year could vote so the merchants had effectively been voting themselves growing land the poor needed to feed themselves.  Charles I, perhaps bravely, perhaps foolishly, tried to buck the trend of the creeping privatization of land, but the merchants secretly organised against him, launched the English Civil War and he lost his head in 1649. The merchant classes were now firmly in power and ready to bring their new-fangled capitalism to the world.

Prince Charles strikes another blow for the British republic

Beginning his working life in the aviation industry and trained by the BBC, Tony Gosling is a British land rights activist, historian & investigative radio journalist.
http://rt.com/op-edge/161020-prince-charles-strikes-blow/ Published time: May 23, 2014 10:42

There is an air of unreality to Prince Charles’ spin-squad attempting this week to prove that the future British Head of State’s comparison of Putin to Hitler, while surrounded by journalists on a royal tour, was said in a ‘private conversation’.

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It is not just that his views show how out of touch he and his PR team are with the nation and the real world, but Charles’ flippant remarks draw unwelcome attention to his own and his family’s close connections to Nazis, and related war-mongering.

His father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was educated for a time in Nazi Germany and his four sisters married black-uniformed SS officers (three of them, Sophie, Cecile and Margarita, joining the Nazi party). Philip admitted to then having ‘inhibitions about the Jews’ to an American academic and feeling ‘jealousy of their success.’ Charles’ great uncle, the abdicated ex-King Edward VIII, was such a swastika-waver that MI6 had to banish him to Bermuda for the duration of World War Two, thwarting his and his Nazi wife Mrs Simpson’s attempts to join Hitler by crossing into occupied Europe.

Charles himself has come quite close to publicly endorsing Hitler’s slippery chief Architect and Armaments Minister Albert Speer by hiring Speer’s greatest devotee, Léon Krier, as his own chief architect for his Duchy of Cornwall’s extensive building projects. Writer and broadcaster Jonathan Meades in his 1994 documentary, ‘Jerry Building’ nails Krier as the ‘Speer-carrier’ and ‘Keeper of the Toxic Flame’, pointing out that every one of Speer’s creations, which include the Nuremberg rally stadium, is inseparable from the inhuman experimentation and forced concentration camp labor used to construct them.

Charles’ great grandfather George V was one of the three ‘great’ architects of World War One, the so-called ‘Cousins’ War’, four years of mindless slaughter that began exactly a century ago. With two more Saxe-Coburg Gotha cousins, George’s hapless subjects slugged it out in trench warfare with Germany’s Wilhelm II and Russia’s Nicholas II’s unfortunates leaving, by 1918, a total of some ten million dead for no discernible purpose.

When in 1917 ill-mannered soldiers began pointing out that German Gotha bombers from another branch of the King’s family business were killing them, George V blithely announced that his surname was changing from ‘Saxe-Coburg Gotha’ to the more English-sounding ‘Windsor’.

Even masterpieces like Richard Attenborough’s 1969 feature film ‘Oh! What A Lovely War’, the BBC’s controversial 1986 drama ‘The Monocled Mutineer’ and the poetry of Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, Worcester army padre known affectionately as ‘Woodbine Willie’, do not quite reflect the futility of the war and the bitterness it stirred up amongst ordinary people.

Today, despite standing against the Nazis in World War Two, Her Majesty’s government and armed forces, who all swear allegiance to the Queen, are backing most of the dictators and despots around the world. From President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka with the blood of 40,000 innocent Tamil civilians on his hands, to King Abdullah’s brutal Saudi regime which still practices public beheadings. Charles’ tongue always speaks for the world leaders Amnesty International tells us are the bad guys, but he is looking to make money with them, whether through real estate or arms.

The Prince of Wales, Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry attend the Heads of State ceremony in Hyde Park to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of VE Day in Hyde Park May 7, 1995.(Reuters / Dylan Martinez DM)

Are we witnessing the death throes of the British monarchy?

It started thirty six years after the bloodthirsty Knights Templar warrior-bankers were disgraced and dissolved, a new order of 26 ‘knights’ were initiated in 1348 that have dominated the British crown ever since. The Order of the Garter consists of two conjoined cells, each of thirteen knights that advise and ‘protect’ the monarch and heir apparent.

Because of their obsessive secrecy and lack of transparency over the centuries those appointed to these knights have become the very antithesis of Medieval chivalry, a lethal mixture of yes-men, and devious chancers who would sell their own mother to get a seat, and a cut of the rent, at the top table.

Nothing could illustrate more clearly the British monarchy’s distain for their poor subjects than Henry VIII’s asset seizure and eviction in the 1530s of around ten thousand monks from Britain’s monasteries. Since the days of Alfred the Great these holy orders had been providing a backbone of education and healthcare to the nation, but to Henry they represented a kind of Vatican fifth column, daring to question the wisdom of his break from Rome to form his independent Church of England.

In 1638, with special pleadings from Archbishop Laud, Charles I addressed the privatization of land, enclosure, by fining rich merchants and parliamentarians who had evicted villagers from collectively managed open fields. Only ‘freemen’ owning land worth over 40 shillings a year could vote so the merchants had effectively been voting themselves growing land the poor needed to feed themselves.

Charles I, perhaps bravely, perhaps foolishly, tried to buck the trend of the creeping privatization of land, but the merchants secretly organised against him, launched the English Civil War and he lost his head in 1649. The merchant classes were now firmly in power and ready to bring their new-fangled capitalism to the world.

Social & economic polarisation in the UK & London’s role as collateral store-of-wealth & world financial hub

by Mark S Brown (first written in Autumn 2006, updated Autumn 2007 & again in Oct 2013)

The economic divide between the beneficiaries of the financial property bubble and non-homeowners continues to widen in the UK, with upward pressure on land values and affluence-driven development. The cost of housing has now risen in real terms hundreds of percent in the last two decades, and now for the first time, household expenditure on housing has overtaken that on food and leisure as the biggest item in the weekly expenditure (the sale of houses in UK in 2002 reached the staggering total of £184 billion). In 1995 the average UK house price was £50,930. By the end of 2007 they had more than trebled to more than £170,000, an increase of more than 200%.* During this time average wages have failed to keep pace rising only 54% leaving house prices more unaffordable than they have ever been. After a slight dip in house prices with the global downturn after a peak of £172,415 in June 2008, average house prices recovered to £172,127 by October 2013.

[*All data sourced from Nationwide Building Society]

It is the primary indication of ever-widening wealth disparity; young families are increasingly priced out of the market with even key-worker housing schemes showing very low take-up rates because they are still unaffordable, particularly in London. Government targets for “affordable housing” become meaningless in a massively appreciating market. Many social housing schemes for subsidised ‘low-cost’ rent-and-buy housing require applicants to have a minimum annual income (in some cases this is as much as £28,758). Under these conditions the very definition of affordable housing needs to be brought into question.

SPECULATION

Speculation on housing in general is having a destabilising effect on house prices ‘crowding out’ low income groups. In the wake of the property/developer gold rush is the social fallout from rising rents, tenancies becoming less secure, and less social housing provision. Rising prosperity within the property bubble belies the reality of increasing economic inequality, and social disenfranchisement particularly of younger generations with limited scope to step onto the property ladder in a vastly inflating property market. The 18 to 35 age bracket are particularly caught in a highly-inflated private rented sector, unable to afford to get onto the property ladder within a market where house prices are completely out of their reach. Particularly in the UK, inflated property values have become the collateral investment stores of wealth for a financial hub in the City of London which is recycling economic proceeds from investments across the world, with the proceeds shared through big bonuses and share dividend payouts creating an elite section of the property-ownership class. Much of “wealth creation” today originates from the financial services industry in the City of London and Canary Wharf. In 2007, at least 42 of the 54 billionaires with UK status protected the majority of their wealth through utilising overseas tax-havens either through ‘non-domicile’ status, or ‘non-residence’ status. The majority of the rich have also seen the proportion of their income paid in tax in per-capita terms within the UK drastically reduce over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the growing underclass in sink-estate Britain continues to get further economically marginalised, whilst for the public sector working population, pay awards for productivity gains are frozen.

RIGHT TO BUY – RIGHT TO SELL

From the early 1980s onwards, the reduction in the amount of council housing stock came about because of the drive towards right-to-buy under Margaret Thatcher, with the offer of the sale of council houses at huge discounts to sitting tenants. Money realised on sale was not ploughed back into social housing, and, because of absurd rules on the use of capital receipts and the less-than-value sales, councils were prevented from building new homes to replace those sold. Through this process ‘housing’ became only ‘property’ and Government policy ever since the early 1980s has been destroying the stranglehold large municipal authorities have on housing and reconfiguring basic needs as demand in a privatised market.

The legacy has been record high waiting lists, record low new tenancies, and the run-down condition of council stock due to years of inadequate council financing. Across Britain, the reality is that council housing was deliberately run down into a state of dereliction beyond councils’ financial capability to deal with it, to then be used to justify the wholesale transfer of council housing stock to the private sector. The accusation is that Housing Associations are now little more than property development companies, criticised for being deliberately complex structures, set up that way to both avoid tax (through their charitable arm) and accountability. For many housing associations or ‘social landlords’, the company structure is ‘Sui Generis’. There are no shareholders, and they are instead managed by a board, usually comprised of roughly one-third councillors, one-third tenants (usually selected by the Housing Association), and one-third outside business interests, which immediately means the tenants are a minority voice. Tenants rights are frequently undermined, with tenants’ rights for legal redress seemingly rendered unobtainable through systematic cuts to legal aid. Housing Associations receive state support and accumulate vast revenue streams, protecting part of their asset base from tax through their charitable status whilst tenant’s rights are eroded as dubious management practices are executed and rents rise in real terms over time. This is exemplified by one of the main housing associations – Notting Hill Housing Trust, also known through other shadow identities as Notting Hill Housing, Grove Lettings and others. Housing Associations benefit from legal and fiscal exemptions which even Rachman didn’t enjoy.

 

BANKING ON HOUSING

The underlying process of wealth accumulation through property and rising rental values, have served to make the local retail environment in many areas of urban and rural Britain in different ways economically out of reach of lower income people, such as the non-property owning sector of society. As with everywhere else, developers are only too keen to cash in on a rising property market and sell-off to the highest bidder. However, the extent of this rising property market and it’s socially-divisive ramifications is entirely due to excessive lending of the banking sector since the 1980s. Former Governor of the Bank of England – Eddie George, who headed the Bank for a decade from 1993, admitted to MPs on the Treasury Select Committee in 2007 that this relaxation of bank lending policy was deliberate government policy at the start of the 1990s, admitting that he knew the approach was not sustainable: ‘In the environment of global economic weakness at the beginning of this decade, we only had two alternative ways of sustaining demand and keeping the economy moving forward – one was public spending and the other was consumption through extending credit for increased high street spending.’ (evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, 20th March 2007). In May 1997 Gordon Brown told the government of the Bank of England to use consumer spending to stimulate the wider economy. This to be achieved by increasing credit and debt. Therefore a credit boom was underwritten by a flow of mortgage finance, leading to an unlimited amount of money chasing a finite housing stock, pushing house price inflation above 25% at one point and high street spending growth to its highest since the late-Eighties boom. Rising house prices are central to this policy. UK house prices have risen by over 100% since 1999 (according to the DCLG mix-adjusted house price index – Ref:  http://www.houseprices.uk.net/articles/odpm_regional/ ).

Against the rising value of their house, owners borrow £264billon per annum. This represents £564 billion to the banks when mortgages are repaid with interest. This large sum dwarfs the Government PSBR which was £43billion in 2006/2007 financial year, as well as the social housing grant £2bn, the cost of building new houses £20bn, and the value of all houses existing and new purchased in a year at £200 billion. Consumer debt has reached £1.3 trillion in 2007 according to the Bank of England. The UK mirrors the credit spiral in the US. The housing market price-spiral bubble is similar to the gigantic pyramid of inflated credit. When ‘bust’ follows boom, the financial institutions are best placed to benefit. They hold the title deeds and those suffering negative equity lose their homes and their savings.

As early as 2006, the ECB (Euro Central Bank) underwrote the banking system to bailout hedge funds who were in crisis as the financial markets panicked, pulling something like 95 billion Euro out of their magic hat like a white rabbit – a measure of the banking system’s ability create money out of nothing and it’s ability to appease the shortfall of capitalists to secure their speculative venture capital. In truth, as with the worldwide financial bailouts of 2008, it is a fait-accompli to oil the engine-pistons of the world economy suffering a sudden shortage of liquidity without which like-it-or not, the engine of global capitalism would grind to a halt – a fait-accompli because the prospect of global depression is too horrific to contemplate.

The effects of a relative rising cost of living and the squeezing of council finances, is a process related to the underlying privatisation of the money system, i.e. the crowding-out of public money by swelling of private credit. Local government services are cut and Public-Finance Initiatives are justified, whilst hedge funds get access to massive credit to help shore up their ability to profit. The proportion of public credit (money created by government*) has fallen from around 50% of the total money supply in 1948, to 16% in 1976, to less than 3% today, whilst indicating the rise of economic wealth, may be evidence that can be cross-referenced with this spectacular availability of credit for speculation and the explosion in property prices as the private banking sector through the loan-spiral process has ever-expanded with the relaxation of banking regulations.  [*Note that local authorities used to provide mortgages up until the 1960s]. The lending of money in August 2007 by the ECB served to bail-out a financial system that has over-extended itself. On 31st August 2007, Barclays borrowed £1.6bn from the Bank of England through the emergency lending fund to bankroll Barclay’s investments after a sudden shortfall in it’s exchanges on the open market. It was back in 2001 that a shaky equities market post September 11th drew pension funds and institutional investors away from the stock market and back to property, with a notable surge in investment of real estate investment trusts (REITs). A process that started around after 11 September because the stock market was too risky has recently started to be replicated again with the August 2007 sub-prime crash in the US, together with the biggest cash injection (3 trillions) in the stock market since the 11th of September 2001.

For more explanation of how the sub-prime crisis led to a worldwide near-financial collapse and subsequent bailout to a global downturn, read: ‘The dollar empire & world financial system – a giant ponzi scheme akin to a pyramidal stack of cards’

MEET THE NEW LANDLORD – REITS: WHAT ARE THEY?
Real Estate Investment Trusts – a tool of asset accumulation as an escalation of the division of wealth and class separation in Britain and across the world:

REITs are trusts that buy commercial properties, such as apartments, office buildings, and shopping centres which produce income. When a person buys shares in a REIT, they become a part owner in all of the property holdings of the REIT. REITs are traded like stocks on the major stock exchanges, so they provide the liquidity of stocks with the diversification and income of commercial real estate. REITs first appeared in the US, after being approved by Congress in 1960 to offer small investors a chance to participate in the commercial real estate market. There are now more than 200 REITs available on the major stock exchanges, including about 150 REITs on the New York Stock Exchange, and dozens more on the American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ market.

AGAINST REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS (REITs):

Throughout the world, Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs) are playing a rapidly increasing role in organising private financial investments in housing and cities. Real Estate Investments Trusts (REITs) are joint stock companies that primarily derive their income from real estate. They are free from corporate tax and they are legally forced to pay out high parts of their profits.

After a longer period of development in Northern America disastrous consequences on social housing are evident:

– Buying out of social, public and low-cost housing

– Rent increase and increase of heating costs, service charges etc.

– Demolishing of affordable complexes and replacement by more profitable buildings

– Disinvestments, neglect of/worse maintenance of the housing stock

– Pressure to leave on financially disfavoured tenants, replacements by wealthy residents

– the ending of social neighbourhoods programmes, participation process etc

– Construction on public spaces, privatization of public spaces

– Lobbying governments for weakening legal standards

– Exit to private funds

The large U.S. REIT AIMCO gave a shocking example how these investors

treat tenants.

* Video on forced evictions by AIMCO at Lincoln Place

Although negative consequences in the USA, Canada and elsewhere are obvious, the introduction of REITs in most of the countries took place without protests and even without critical debate. They just happened in the extra-democratic spaces where financial lobbyists make their deals with governments.

HOW DO REITS WORK?

Lots of small investors can take part by owning shares in the Trust which owns the buildings. This means they can buy or sell their shares in the trust easily whenever they like exposing homes to the volatility of speculative markets. No tax is paid by the Trust; tax is only paid by the shareholder, with their dividend income return added to their annual taxable income. If the shareholder is a charity (such as a housing association which has a charitable arm), the shareholder may be exempt from paying any tax at all.

‘In the United States and France, REITs have lead to higher rents and to asset stripping; where the most profitable housing has been enhanced at increased rents, whilst the rest has been left to decay or emptied for redevelopment or demolition.’ From London Tenants.org

There are several different types of REITs available on the market:

[1] Equity REITs own and operate income producing real estate, such as apartments, warehouses, office buildings, hotels, and shopping centres.

[2] Specialized REITs focus on a particular type of property, such as shopping centres or health care facilities.

[3] Geographically-focused REITs specialize in a single region or metropolitan area, while others try to acquire properties throughout the country. Mortgage REITs lend money to real estate owners and operators, and raise income from the interest payments on the mortgages.

4] Hybrid REITs own properties and provide loans to real estate owners.

FINANCIAL MARKETS: ASYLUM FOR CAPITAL

Taken from FROM CRISIS TO CRASH

Ref: www.beigewum.at

The financial markets prove to be an ideal place of refuge for anxious owners of capital. They are flexible and global. An IBM stock can be exchanged in a few moments for a Yen credit or a government bond. For big customers, the expenses are trifling. State incursions like taxes and restrictions tend to zero.

Profits were and are now gained from shares (dividend distributions based on business profits), national debts (compound interest financed by taxes), credits (interest payments from private or state debtors), organisation of firm takeovers or the purchase and sale of securities at the right moment. The latter is a very popular option since it requires the least waiting-time. Through deregulation and internationalisation, getting into and out of investments as fast as lightning is increasingly possible.

With this flexibility, pressure is exerted on everything that does not bow to the desires of investors. This structure is the central lever for the restructuring and realisation of better profit conditions for capital in general, not only the much reviled ‘speculators’.

Cap the Common Agricultural Policy!

Info here for a TLIO Information-Briefing on the CAP, which highlights how through Single Farm Payments, the CAP is largely being utilised by large landowners, agribusiness & corporations. The Briefing also focuses on possible solutions for a re-invented CAP that has an upward limit on subsidies in accordance with land-holding and so, prioritises redistribution to small farmers.

The latest phase of CAP reform negotiations in the EU between member states concluded last year (2013). Despite the fact that the UK government claimed it led the way amongst EU member states in supporting the EU commissioner’s CAP reform agenda to move the CAP payment structure away from Pillar One direct payments to Pillar Two rural development schemes, the UK were opposed to the Commission’s suggestion that large farms should be capped. Ed Hamer from The Land Magazine says: “As of Dec 2012, the proposed cap has been repeatedly revised upwards in an effort to get it past agribusiness lobbyists and now stands at an indulgent 300,000 Euros a year.

For more info on the campaign for food sovereignty all around the world, visit: video.viacampesina.org/  see also: www.viacampesina.org

The problem with the EU Common Agricultural Policy – TLIO information briefing

Cap Welfare Payments to the Rich!

Reinventing a Common Agricultural Policy for ecological, economic & social sustainability.

The current Common Agricultural Policy (C.A.P) agreement between the members of the EU exists to distribute agricultural subsidies to the farming industry across Europe.

What are the origins of C.A.P? The Common Agricultural Policy (C.A.P.) was set up by the founders of the European Community in the aftermath of WW2 to stabilise food supplies and guarantee fair incomes for farmers.

 

The problem

In recent years, the system of subsidies changed to one based on how much land is owned or cultivated, rather than the amount of crops produced. Under this change to a system called Single-Farm Payments, though effective in reducing over production, landowners now get paid for owning land. Landowners get between £60 & £90 per acre, with the only provision to maintain the land appropriately which currently amounts to occasional maintenance. Whereas the bulk of subsidies have always gone to those who own the most land, the reforms have intensified this situation.

The CAP has also been monopolised by wealthy, landed interests, particularly in Britain where 2/3rds of its 60m acres are, rather amazingly, owned by only 0.26% of the population. Of that, the vast majority is owned by the even more astonishingly small number of just 1200 individuals. Some of the biggest recipients are able to use the money received to buy more land year-on-year and so get ever larger subsidies. Between 2005 and 2011 the number of landholdings in England fell by 10%, while the average size of holding rose by 12%. Landowning benefits of using land as an increasing store of wealth are obvious – farmland is exempt from inheritance tax so it pays to buy up farms to avoid tax.

In some cases landlords renting land out pocket the subsidy for land actually worked by tenant farmers! Like the farcical trade in milk quotas, it has also given rise to a trade in those subsidies which has more in common with the failed financial sector than the honest intentions of the original treaty.

The C.A.P. welfare bonus
Under the ‘Single-Farm Payment’ system of distributing agricultural subsidies, in the UK, huge annual C.A.P. payments and other financial aid went out to –

– the Duke of Buccleuch £549,000, the Duke of Westminster £532,144, Lord Carrington £149,000, to MP’s, for example Richard Drax MP got £417,846 in financial year 2010-11, to dukes, earls… to Prince Charles £581,000 …

H.M.Queen was paid £1,183,508 C.A.P. over 2 years (08 & 09) for privately-owning Sandringham.

Tate and Lyle received Euros 829,975,239 in payments between 1999 and 2011 (source: farmsubsidies.org)

In 2010, 709 UK recipients got more than £250,000, 133 were given at least £500,000 and 47 received more than a million pounds.

Owners of bulk land – especially agri-businesses, plc corporations and giant food processors – get the lions share of CAP money. In 2009, one £81m cheque went to British Sugar plc. Unilever, Nestle, RSPB, banks, distillers, get £millions. Meanwhile, whilst large farms sell at rock-bottom prices, farmers with small capacity struggle with tight margins in a marketplace dominated by actors who wield disproportionate power (ie. supermarkets and processors).

Since 2010, details of individuals’ holdings have been removed by Defra from the web site – due to objections.

The Case for a new Agricultural Policy in the UK
Reforming the CAP should focus on one of the original tenets of the Treaty of Rome to “ensure the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular, labour“. Britain holds the smallest percentage of agricultural workers in the world, and that workforce is an ageing workforce. A third of one percent of the population, some 116,000 people, work the land. The inequitous subsidy system combined with our vertically-integrated food system driven by the corporate sector leaves the UK with a deserted countryside and vapid rural society/economy.

Structural reforms to the CAP subsidy system for agriculture would divert funds away from barley barons to small farms, allowing them to once again thrive in a competitive marketplace. There should be an upward limit on subsidies – no subsidies for large farmers, possibly with the exception of organic agriculture. And subsidies should be conditional on farmers practicing low-input agriculture to limit environmental externalities of modern farming methods (eg: pesticide use).

Subsidies for Sustainable Agriculture

Small farms almost always produce more output per unit area than large ones. This holds true, both in rich countries and the majority world.  The “inverse relationship between farm size and output” is now widely recognized by agronomists across the political spectrum, Barret, 1993; Ellis, 1993; Tomich et al., 1995; all agree on this point.

Whereas, large farms tend to monoculture because of heavy machinery and the rigidity of big systems, the greater flexibility and attention to detail inherent in small farms enables far more  mixing, combining and rotation of crops and livestock, with manure and compost replenishing soil fertility (denuded fertility is a huge, looming issue across the EU).

Small farms are by far the most successful and environmentally desirable model of agriculture. Preserving and increasing their numbers should be the highest priority of agricultural policy. Instead we have a system that subsidises the wealthiest in society, distorts markets and encourages the concentration of land in fewest hands.

This is the opposite of CAP’s original aim.

Our Solution

There is a new constituency of aspiring farmers with a real awareness of the wider social and environmental impact of how we use the land. They need to be able to access land and an appropriate level of subsidy, so they can deliver positive impacts on food quality and security, the rural economy and the environment.

CAP, along with land redistribution, could be tailored to bring about a new dawn in British farming. These are the issues TLIO campaigns on.

The Land is Ours proposes that:

  •  Only those directly engaged in agricultural production should get subsidies, with an upper limit equal to the national average income;
  • National conservation bodies and branches of government involved in conservation and other desirable C.A.P. funded activities should receive equivalent national funding from the money saved;
  • All payments should be conditional on more exacting, rigorous standards of land management, including measures to protect nature, forbid harmful land management, protect important landscape and cultural assets, beneficial standards of animal welfare and sustainable food production, and for suitable land to be used for food and other natural resource production;
  •  A maximum payment should apply to private landowners (but not for publicly owned land), to prevent payments for conservation becoming a loophole that provides subsidy to the land-rich purely for owning acres.

These measures would help keep prices reasonable for consumers.  Safe, healthy food raised properly is a basic human right and is deserving of state support.

Now is the time to exert pressure on policy-makers and re-direct the money towards genuinely sustainable production.  Far-reaching land redistribution is required to make this effective.  So let us also take back our true and just inheritance – the Earth and all that grows on it.  The Land is Ours!

What You Can Do:

  • Write to your M.P.
  • Copy your letter and any replies to our website.
  • Distribute this leaflet in your area, available from info@tlio.org.uk

Some positive suggestions for reform of CAP have also emerged here: http://www.europeanfooddeclaration.org/

Sources of INFORMATION  on  C.A.P. PAYMENTS in U.K.
www.cap-payments.defra.gov.uk
farmsubsidy.org/  for payments across Europe.
Produced by The Land Is Ours www.tlio.org.uk

The long-term trend of cultural apartheid against the gypsy & travelling community

The long-term trend of cultural apartheid against the gypsy & travelling community through subjective discriminatory intepretation of changing government policy over the years started with local authorities’ enthusiastic adherance to implementing section 23 of the ‘1968 Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act’ which gave powers to close commons to travellers whilst section 24 of the same act to provide traveller sites was ignored. It resulted in long-running displacement and ostracisation of the culturally diverse gypsy & travelling community.

The ghettoisation of the travelling community to marginal bits of land around the country (due in part to long-term population dynamics which is a consideration in a densely populated island like the UK), and in some cases, the abandonment of a cultural lifestyle and retreat to conventional housing stepped up a gear with the passing of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 by the Conservative Government, which repealed the duty of local authorities to provide sites, who publicly stated that “gypsies and travellers should buy their own land”. However, many travellers were excluded from access to a planning process subject to highly complex procedures and a dearth of advice – with the result that many were stranded in legal terms and compelled to live on their own land without planning permission. Travellers across the country faced such impossible odds in actually receiving planning permission for Traveller sites over many years that there was estimated to have been an over 90% rate of refusal. The culmination of a wave of failed planning applications and the resulting enforcement actions occurred especially from the late 1990s onwards (there are many travellers who are said to have just walked away from land they purchased). It resulted in a spate of brutal and violent evictions across the country over recent years, most notably Woodside in 2003, Meadowlands in Essex in 2004 and Twin Oaks Caravan Park in Ridge in Hertfordshire in Jan 2005. See: http://www.advocacynet.org/ website for footage of previous evictions by Constant.

Dale Farm became a refuge in the last few years for families evicted from other sites. (see background info below for a brief more detailed historical overview of what’s happened at Dale Farm). Around 20% of the estimated 18,000 gypsy caravans in the UK are not accommodated on authorised sites.

Human Rights campaigner and advocate of Roma as well as Irish Travellers – Grattan Puxon: “Travellers should not have to live in constant fear of eviction with their lives and communities under constant threat. They should not have to be forced out of their homes and off their land by bulldozers and police. This constant hounding, marginalisation, and lack of provision is how rural England does ethnic cleansing. It is time for a resurgence of support for Gypsy and Traveller communities. Time to stand against the extreme racial discrimination faced by Gypsies and Travellers. Time to defend the right of Gypsies and Travellers to land, life, respect, and dignity.”

The travelling community is a culture that has long been discriminated in this country by successive governments and which, as a result, has seen subsequent generations from sections of the traveller community at friction with settled communities across the country as gypsies and travellers are left with no option but to park up on unauthorised sites or public land in areas where no authorised sites are available and there are no stopping places and where locating vacant sites to settle upon become rarer and rarer in ever decreasing circles as the years go by.

LINKS:

Travellers Advice Team at the Community Law Partnership: http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/your-rights/law/travellers-advice-team/

Irish Travellers Movement in Britain: http://www.irishtraveller.org.uk/

Traveller Solidarity: http://travellersolidarity.org/

Traveller Times: http://www.travellerstimes.org.uk/website/News.htm

Traveller Law Reform Project:http://www.travellerslaw.org.uk/

London Gypsy and Traveller Unit: http://www.lgtu.org.uk/

Advocacy Project: http://www.advocacynet.org/

 

Land Registry workers to stage 48-hour strike over privatisation plans

Land Registry workers to stage 48-hour strike over privatisation plans
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/06/land-registry-workers-48-hour-strike-privatisation-plans
On 14-15 May, a 48-hour strike by thousands of workers at the Land Registry is taking place over plans to privatise the 150-year-old agency, which is expected to lead to hundreds of job cuts.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will walk out in 14 locations across England and Wales.

Leaked documents show that in a Land Registry board meeting in March, the board had detailed discussions about the pros and cons of two types of privatisation under the heading “business strategy”, appearing to discuss a  KPMG presentation on the possibility of a private sector partner. The meeting did not consider the option of keeping the registry as a public asset.

Former executives from the body, that registers the ownership of land  and property in England and Wales, say that a sell-off “beggars belief” because it will allow the private sector to adjudicate on what can be conflicting interests between sellers, buyers, lenders and neighbours.

Taken from: “Privatisation: Another Disaster in the making” (by MICHAEL KAVANAGH, 29/04/2014, The Morning Star):

HM Land Registry has been a part of central government since its
creation in 1862, when it was formed to create security of title to
land as an impartial arm of the state.

The staff make quasi-judicial decisions on thousands of property
transactions on a daily basis and record and maintain the register
that contains details including house and land purchases, rights,
remortgages and other secured debts.

The Land Registry holds a large amount of personal and financial
information, including land ownership, price paid information and
details of third-party interests such as loans and court orders.

As a “trading fund” it makes no call on the taxpayer, as it is
entirely funded by transaction fees and — because it is so efficient —
it is able to pay a sizeable dividend to the Treasury on an annual
basis.

For 149 years it was part of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and predecessor departments. In 2013 machinery of government changes moved it to the Department of  Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) under Secretary of State Vince  Cable. Within BIS, the Land Registry is under the control of the shareholder executive, which also controls Ordnance Survey, the Met Office and Companies House.

Since the early 1970s the Land Registry has been subject to seven studies into possible privatisation. These studies, undertaken by both Conservative and Labour governments,  have each unequivocally concluded that privatisation would be utterly  wrong and against the public interest.

The most recent “feasibility study,” however, sought to answer the
question “how would you privatise HM Land Registry?” and was carried out following the coalition government’s 2010 comprehensive spending review. The then parent department, MoJ, commissioned the well-known  management consultants and privateers KPMG to carry out this study.

Coincidentally, several members of the shareholder executive hail from KPMG, including its chief Mark Russell.

The KPMG report, obtained by PCS under freedom of information,
concluded that the best way to privatise the Land Registry would be to  firstly vest it into a government-owned company, which — surprise  surprise — was one of the options contained within the government consultation, which closed on March 20. The other consultation options included a joint-venture partnership and contracting out almost the entire delivery side of the Land Registry.  Each of the options included the retention of a small office of the chief land registrar within government, to deal with statutory elements. This was an unsuccessful attempt to reassure the public and legal  profession that state guarantee of title and service levels would be protected.

The minister responsible is Michael Fallon, who was the main mover in government for the botched and ludicrous privatisation of Royal Mail. According to the PCS, Fallon gave assurances that the status quo is an option,  although this was not clearly stated in the consultation papers. The Law Society, high street solicitors, property search providers and the PCS were among the many voices who have voiced opposition to the notion of privatisation of the Land Registry.

PCS and others argue that this would affect the quality and accuracy
of service and the security of the data we collect and hold. They also argue that concurrent consideration on what Land Registry would look like, including under the government’s “digital by default” strategy, would inevitably force up the cost to the public and potentially put small high street conveyancing firms out of business.

 

 

 

New Occupy Political Party

Occupy Founders Launch the After Party in Detroit
Dennis Trainor 05/07/14 03:39 PM
ET
http://www.huffpost.com/us/entry/5250788
Originally Posted at  PopularResistance.org
Some of the founding members of the occupy movement are launching a new political party — THE AFTER
Party.
Carl Gibson is among them.
He says:

“What sets The After Party  apart is that 365 days out of the year it is a humanitarian organization. The way we
organize politically, what sets us apart is that we are finding needs within the community, and then working to meet them using the community’s assets.”

And, so is Radio Rahim, another After Party founding member and, yes the real life persona behind the character in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing says the following:
“There is a little bit of Radio Rahim in everybody (…) we all love our music and we have outrage about different things.”
How will After Party be different than other 3 party alternatives?
Why start a political party at all?