New Statesman launches "Land Reform" campaign


Reads rather like something from the Soviet Union (Destroy the Kulaks!), or Zanu-PF... 8O

So, are these idiots desperately trying to stoke up a Town vs Country class war? I remember back in 1996 being told by someone that we're due a civil war, and that it will be town vs country. I didn't believe him at the time, but I am starting to think that he was being rather astute.

Every day I read more that depresses me about the state of the UK, and I grow more & more glad that I left. As for my personal land holdings, I own 82 square metres of Dutch sand. That makes me a significant landowner in these parts!!! 8)
well if there is a war coming i know which side i will be on (i think i may have to go and dust off my wellingtons and barbour wax jacket ;) )

agent smith
% of population living in urban areas compared to rural?

Shotguns and lots of large dogs versus Tech 9's/Glocks/AKs?

I fear we'll be on the losing side.
bunch of w*nkers!

mind you, The New Statesman, the people who argued against going to war with Hitler, the people who defended Stalin and the other Communist Dictatorships during the Cold War.

On the page that they advertise their new campaign, they have a link to Amazon. Top book being advertised "The Communist Manifesto".

No change there then.

Well my response to their little survey, hope they publish it!!

I see from your page that the NS is yet again shedding off any pretense of supporting a liberal democracy, by supporting the mass nationalisation of anything it doesn't agree with. I should be grateful really, that you have yet again confirmed my belief that the NS is manned, written and read by upper middle class w*nkers, with little or no understanding of the so-called working classes that you supposively are the defenders of! I would suggest a bit of manual labour for the editorial staff, so they can see that there is nothing noble about being poor, but that would probably interfere with your pilatis class.

p.s. you're a bunch of c*nts!
I signed it John Bull!
It seems that ever since the foxhunting bill was forced through with no lubrication, all the loony lefties have come out in force with their old-school politics-of-envy crap. Every day I'm reading more & more of it. They now know that they have an Old Labour government on side, who are more likely to follow this sort of thing through than laugh it into where it belongs.

But, as with all moonbat policies, the Theory of Unintended Consequences applies: in trying to tax these few large aristocratic land-owners into selling up their moorland, they will deliver the final blow to British agriculture by making British farmers' lives financially unviable. They will then sell off all their land to developers for a pittance, who will build identikit housing estates all over the place. The MDs of these developers will then be practically printing money & will be able to retire to the Carribean...

But only after putting nice hefty donations into the Labour coffers! :evil:
Well, it looks like the Scottish Land Reform Act 2003 had already started what the New Statesman wants to continue:

Land grabs to the Right and Left
Ross Clark
(Filed: 05/12/2004)

England's cricketers were not present to witness the sad sight last week of a white landowner being thrown off the 26,800 acre estate that his family have lovingly tended for nearly a century. In fact, they were 6,000 miles away in Zimbabwe. But there were several Conservative spokesmen on hand to condemn a vote by crofters on the Isle of Lewis to exercise their right to buy the Pairc estate against the will of their English landlord, Barry Lomas - the first group of crofters to take advantage of the compulsory-purchase provisions in the Scottish Land Reform Act 2003.

Bill Aitken, the Conservatives' chief whip in the Scottish Parliament, describes the Scottish Land Reform Act as a "Mugabe-style land grab". The Conservatives' rural affairs spokesman, Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, says that granting crofters the right to buy estates undermines "the principles of private property and freedom of contract which underpin a free society".

I wouldn't choose to argue with this analysis, but I do feel that the Conservatives' opposition to the Land Reform Act would be a touch more convincing had they not spent the past 25 years devising their own ways of depriving landlords of their property.

Since Margaret Thatcher introduced the "right to buy" in 1980, 11.5 million council house tenants have exercised the right to buy their homes, and in not one of those transactions was the council, or its ratepayers who had paid for the homes to be built, allowed a say.

Now, the Conservatives have promised to extend the right to buy to one million housing association tenants. Like Highland lairds living in the shadow of Scottish land reform, housing associations now have a disincentive to invest or maintain their properties, knowing that a future Conservative government could force them to sell up. Disgracefully, as Bill Aitken complains, the Pairc crofters are being helped to buy Mr Lomas's estate with the aid of lottery funds. Yet the Tories are proposing similar subsidies for housing association tenants, who would be granted generous discounts when exercising their right to buy.

The Conservative Party is very good at standing up for the rights of rural landlords, yet it has done everything to undermine the rights of urban landlords. In 1967, the party supported Labour's Leasehold Reform Act, which gave the leaseholders of houses the right to buy their freeholds whether or not the freeholder wished to sell. As the Environment secretary in 1993, Michael Howard pushed through the Urban Development Act, which extended the right to buy to the leaseholders of flats.

As a result of these two measures, London's great residential estates, which were responsible for creating the city's much admired garden squares, are gradually being broken up. Worthy charities have been obliged to sell property investments to wealthy leaseholders.

What chance a Conservative spokesman using the term "Mugabe-style land grab" to describe the process by which an assortment of bankers, lawyers and television personalities is allowed to wrest the freehold of a house in Belgravia from an unwilling Duke of Westminster? None at all. Yet there is no fundamental distinction between this and the act of crofters depriving a laird of his estate, just the small matter that the residents of Belgravia tend to vote Tory while Highland crofters do not.

The defence of private property was once a central tenet of the Conservative Party, but it has become reduced to a vague principle to be discarded at whim according to electoral advantage.
stoatman said:
Well, it looks like the Scottish Land Reform Act 2003 had already started what the New Statesman wants to continue:...
Article from today's Scottish edition of The Sunday Times by the excellent Allan Massie (national treasure that he is). (Copied in full because no direct link possible.)

Almost incredibly, this story involves the use of Lottery and taxpayer's money to compulsorily purchase an estate against the landowner's wishes, enabling the crofters to get the benefit of a future windfarm paying a rent of £1million a year.

Massie also makes the point that unlike any other compulsory purchase (for purposes of road building, defence or whatever) there is absolutely no need under this legislation to show public benefit. The purchase will, in fact, be for the private profit of the crofters, at the expense of the public purse and the present landowner.

Yes I know, it's our fault in Scotland for voting in these people, I only pass it on as an awful warning to the rest of you.


The Sunday Times - Scotland

December 05, 2004

Comment: Allan Massie: Mugabe would be proud of this land grab

‘The whole principle of landlordism is being ripped apart.” It was with these triumphant words that Alasdair Morrison, the Labour MSP for the Western Isles, greeted the news that the residents of the 28,000-acre Pairc estate on Lewis have voted by a handsome majority to compel the estate’s owner to sell his property to them. Pairc is owned by Barry Lomas, an accountant (bad), who lives in Warwickshire (worse), and he does not want to sell the estate, which his family have owned since the 1920s and which he inherited from his father last year. Too bad; he’s going to be ousted.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 has, as Mr Morrison delightedly proclaims, destroyed the security of property rights in the Highlands, and Mr Lomas is going to be its first real victim. Other estates have, under the act’s provisions, already passed to crofters and residents, controversially enough, but with at least this saving grace: that in all previous examples, the proprietor had put his property on the market. This case is different. Mr Lomas doesn’t want to sell, but he is in effect to be made the subject of a compulsory purchase order; and this for no better reason than that other people want to take possession of what is legally his.

Now compulsory purchase orders are sometimes justifiable, even if they never seem so to people who are on the receiving end of them. But in any such instance, a court of law has to be satisfied that the public benefit is so great as to justify the infringement of the rights of the property owner.

In the case of the Pairc estate, there is no evident public benefit. There is certainly a substantial private benefit for the 379 people who live on the estate (even though 49 of them voted against the proposal to buy). They are lucky, of course. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act relieves them of any obligation to demonstrate public benefit. It’s enough simply for them to say “we want”, and then grab the estate at the price to be determined by an independent valuation. That price will, almost certainly, be lower than might be obtained if the estate was offered for sale on the open market. But this, though bad luck for Mr Lomas, is a minor matter.

Now granting people the right to take possession of something that isn’t theirs when its owner doesn’t want to sell would be deplorable enough if the would-be purchasers were paying for it themselves. But they aren’t. They are going to be given it as a present. The money to buy will be provided by the Scottish Land Fund, which is financed by the lottery, and by the Highlands and Islands community unit, which gets its money from the taxpayer. Could anything be more agreeable — for the residents of the Pairc estate, that is? At no expense to themselves — or next to no expense — they are going to be given a capital asset.

What is the justification? Why did the Scottish parliament choose to imitate the actions of Robert Mugabe, if, admittedly, in a more gentlemanly and orderly fashion? For the same reason actually: that indulging in this land grab was righting an ancient wrong. The Labour MSPs who, with a little help from their Liberal Democrat colleagues and the support of the SNP, got the measure through the parliament, claimed that it corrected the injustices of the Highland Clearances of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

But of course it didn’t. The people who suffered from the clearances are long dead. Their children and grandchildren are dead. Almost all their great-grandchildren are dead. It is impossible that the injustice they suffered can be corrected. To pretend otherwise is sheer sentimentality.

The 379 adult residents of the Pairc estate have suffered no injustice themselves. But they are being rewarded as if they have suffered grievously. Indeed the situation is still more ridiculous. The residents of the estate are going to become the latest beneficiaries of the clearances — the latest, but not the last, because others will follow their example. They are going to make a good thing out of the misfortunes of people some 200 years ago, thanks to the sentimentality of our parliamentarians. It’s enough to make the most hard-faced asset-stripper chortle.

They may indeed make a very good thing out of it. Southern Energy has plans to build a 125-turbine wind farm on the estate; it will be capable of producing 250 megawatts of electricity at a rent for the next 25 years of £1m per annum. Nice work if you can get it.

And thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, the 379 adult residents look likely to get it all, instead of part of it going to Mr Lomas. One assumes that what would have been his share will be taken into account when the independent valuation is made and the purchase price decided. That would mean, of course, that more public money would be needed to buy the estate for the private benefit of the residents. Lovely.

Or possibly not, for there is trouble ahead. Some of the residents don’t want the wind factory to be built. One, Martyn Imrie, who is the founder of the Pairc Protection Group, voted for the community to take control of the land in order to be able to reject the Southern Energy proposal. This may make for some amusement — for the rest of us anyway.

I expect Mr Imrie will fall. Few people refuse the offer of a large sum of money when it is dangled in front of them. For that reason, I can’t for a moment blame the residents of Pairc for taking advantage of the parliament’s generosity with other people’s money. They would have to be very high-principled to reject the chance of getting something for nothing.

Nevertheless the right provided for by the relevant clauses of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act remains objectionable. When one thinks of the poverty experienced by many in the shabby housing schemes of our cities, and the wretched conditions in which so many Scots are condemned to live, who can doubt that there are more worthwhile uses to which public money can be put than buying Highland estates? Who can doubt that there are more deserving recipients of public largesse than people living in the already highly subsidised Highlands and Islands? There is finally one desirable piece of land reform that the parliament has so far neglected, but which, if enacted, would be of far greater benefit than buying Highland estates. This is a reform of our unnecessarily stringent planning laws, which as they stand now have the effect of severely rationing the supply of land available for building, and so keep the cost of new houses artificially high.

Such reform would however give our MSPs no glow of self-satisfaction, no sense that they have righted an ancient wrong; it would only be useful. No fun in that. Certainly not when compared with the delight in ripping apart “the whole principle of landlordism”, which will incidentally ensure that there will be less and less private investment in Highland estates — and so, of course, a greater “perceived need” for more publicly funded compulsory purchases.
Personally, I've become what I used to joke of being: a Scottish absentee landlord in Ireland. Hell of a lot cheaper than Surrey, I can tell you (although I'd rather be somewhere in Africa).
Maybe the Clans can all come home now. Those who were thrown off that same land in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ahh! That's just the nationalist in me thinking out loud!
Busterdog said:
Maybe the Clans can all come home now. Those who were thrown off that same land in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ahh! That's just the nationalist in me thinking out loud!
What the f*ck would they want to go to Lewis for! 8O
War of country vrs town presuposes that a majority of town dewellers actually care about the countryside issuses to any great degree.
If they don't care why don't they feck off and mind their own business then? They can take their sodding politicians with them and the bloody Ramblers Association as well. :evil:

Oh, and the RSPCA while I'm thinking about meddling idiots.
Bladensburg said:
If they don't care why don't they feck off and mind their own business then? They can take their sodding politicians with them and the bloody Ramblers Association as well. :evil:

Oh, and the RSPCA while I'm thinking about meddling idiots.
Because there's nothing half as much fun as interfering in other peoples' lives when you're not going to feel the effects of your actions.

It's like a computer game to them - and when they've finished playing they can sit back sanctimoniously rubbing their hands in the self-deluding belief that they've made the world a fairer place :roll:

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