Why Should We Be Beggars? 221


There is a great campaign song from the 1890’s, of which the chorus goes

The Land! The Land!
‘Twas God who made the Land
The Land! The Land!
The ground on which we stand
Why should we be beggars
With the Ballot in our hand?
God gave the Land to the People!

That key question – why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand? – was the fundamental driver of the Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum. The answer is, of course, the beggary remains because our corporate masters are enabled to buy off a small but significant minority of the less poor and then brainwash or terrify enough others through their control of mass communication. But so many people are now wondering how on earth we have beggary in a land of so many billionaires, that the question is refusing to go away.

The song above was the anthem of Henry George’s land movement, and it has resonance today. I found land ownership the most passionate of subjects in the referendum campaign. It was as strongly felt in urban communities of Dundee as in the Highlands. There is an excellent article on the subject by George Monbiot today. It ought to be as important in London as in Scotland. The extreme wealth of the Westminster and other London inherited estates ought not be tolerated in a modern society.

I too applaud the Scottish government’s courage in tackling the issue. I wish, however, they had been a bit more bold. That business rate exemption was ever given to sporting estates, by both Tories and Labour, is an abomination. Of course the rate must be imposed. The truth is, much of the Highlands historically supported a greater population than it does now, and there is much land unused that can produce root crops and cattle. The aid for crofting communities acquiring land is also welcome, but should be backed by firm compulsion.

The proposals to end primogeniture may break up large estates over time, but I confess to being not greatly excited by progress measured in half centuries. The major answer should lie in two well understood taxes: inheritance tax and land value tax. I would favour 20% inheritance tax on all estate value above 500,000, 50% on all value above 1 million and 80% on all value above 5 million, with no exemptions or gifting and beneficial ownership ruthlessly traced.

On Land Value Tax, I am particularly attracted by a residency test. LVT should be quadrupled for non-residents, with residence defined as where you pay your income tax. In an independent Scotland, that would sort out a great deal of the problem pretty fast.

Simply repealing the Inclosure Acts would perhaps have difficult ramifications, where the original beneficiaries’ estates have sold land on to become eventually, for example, individual residential plots. But revisiting the Inclosure Acts is a weapon we should not forego when looking at problems like the Buccleuch or Grosvenor Estates. Though for the major aristocratic estates I would favour straightforward nationalisation.

The Establishment, Conservative, Labour and Liberal, have re-introduced the appalling notion of the “undeserving poor”. It is time for action against the undeserving rich.


221 thoughts on “Why Should We Be Beggars?

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  • OldMark

    We were talking about “young males”, after all.

    Nice try at moving the goalposts there Glenn, but the research quoted by the Indy covered all age groups and not just ‘young males’.

    Doug Scorgie @10.40- were you previously unaware of the fact that UK resident females born in Bangladesh or Pakistan have many more children per head than their native counterparts ? What a sheltered life you’ve led. As for ill health there have been numerous reports confirming that the incidence of diabetes and hypertension is higher in these immigrant groups than in the general population. This is very likely a contributory factor in UK resident Pakistanis and Bangladeshis claiming disability benefits at a higher rate than the general population. (For anecdotal evidence, I can tell you that I worked in Tower Hamlets all thru the 90s, and it was very rare there to find a Muslim Bengali male over 45 in any form of employment. Most of the Muslim Bengali women over 35 were effectively unemployable as well, being monolingual in their native dialect of Bengali, and having in most cases to care for at least 3 children ).

    Most Indy readers who commented on this article grasped right away that they were reading dreck from the lower reaches of academia, and not ground breaking research. The killer stat in the Indy report was when it compared the % of Muslim Bangladeshis in salaried employment with Indian Hindus- that latter were found to be twice as likely to be working. Are the likes of Fedup & Glenn really claiming that employers are twice as likely to discriminate against brown people called Miah or Ali at twice the rate they discriminate against brown people called Sengupta or Chakrabharti ?

  • N_

    I would favour 20% inheritance tax on all estate value above 500,000, 50% on all value above 1 million and 80% on all value above 5 million, with no exemptions or gifting and beneficial ownership ruthlessly traced.

    I would favour 100% above 2 million. Abolish the right of inheritance altogether for such large amounts.

    As for your last clause here, that gets you onto the issue of trusts. Ah, equity, that great gift of English law to jurisdictions all around the world…

    …rich bastards hiding their family’s assets and money, like the thieves that they are, as they promote the ‘state’, the ‘church, the ‘law’ ostensibly to look after us all – when the cameras are on.

    Did you read the judgement in the Abramovich-Berezovsky case? (It was the biggest case, by amount of money claimed, in legal history. Not just in England, but in the world.)

    The judge’s summary read like an advertisement for the Chancery Division.

    Judges know what side their bread’s buttered – just as they did in Dickens’s day.

    We’re going to have difficulty doing all that tracing, Craig.

    But the good thing is that they can’t hide the land itself in a bank vault somewhere. It’s ‘immovable’, right? Or ‘real’ as it’s also known in law.

  • Macky

    Craig; “I think you are wrong. I think the sanctions on Iraq were brought in by a number of progressive UN resolutions, and weapons were first, passed immediately after the invasion of Kuwait. I don’t think the regime on food and medicines were brought in till after the first war”

    Wikipedia; ““The sanctions against Iraq were a near-total financial and trade embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council on the nation of Iraq. They began August 6, 1990, four days after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, stayed largely in force until May 2003 (after Saddam Hussein’s being forced from power),[1] and persisted in part, including reparations to Kuwait, through the present.”

    “From August 1990 to August 1991 he was also head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, responsible for intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at evading sanctions, particularly in the field of weapons procurement, and with providing information to UK military forces and to other governments to effect physical enforcement of the embargo”

    (https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/about-craig-murray/)

    Can you explain why you used the word “particularly”, as that means “mostly”, which implies “not only”, which would be a contradiction of, “in any event my own job, from August 1990 to March 1991, was purely concerned with weapons”

    “with providing information to UK military forces and to other governments to effect physical enforcement of the embargo”

    Does that mean facilitating the illegal bombing campaign, carried out under the pretext of the Orwellian name “No Fly Zone” policy ?

    “The reason I do not remember better “

    Is this like when the whole war on Serbia totally passed you by without you even noticing because you were far too busy on Sierra Leone !?

  • N_

    The reason a house in North London is worth six times the value of a precisely identical house in Wigan is that 80% of the value of the London home is the value of the parcel of land it is built on. And the London land is that valuable because of the enormous concentration of public resources spent on developing London.

    …mediated through the massive promotion of massive debt to a point where it is considered normal.

    Without that, house prices would be nowhere near as high as they are, even in Wigan.

    Huge debt is the reason why house prices are so high in Britain compared to what they are in France, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, etc.

    And London – in particular the City of London – is a big issue.

  • N_

    The SNP land reform bill is pathetic.

    Powers for ministers to intervene where the scale of land ownership or the conduct of a landlord was acting as a barrier to sustainable development

    Who do they think writes the music for ‘sustainable development’ in the first place?

    The establishment of a Scottish Land Reform Commission

    This is the traditional way of keeping things the same or making them worse, of not really dealing with a problem, of putting it all in ‘a safe pair of hands’.

    Measures to improve the transparency and accountability of land ownership and make information on land, its value and ownership more readily available in one place;

    The transparency bit is good. It won’t come to anything unless it’s pushed, though. The big landowners WON’T LIKE IT UP ‘EM.

    How about just publishing the details of landownership recorded in farm subsidy applications for starters? Leak it if necessary.

    Send it to me, if anyone reading this has got it. I’d be happy to publish it and go to prison if necessary for revealing what duke owns what land.

    Action to ensure charities holding large areas of land were under an obligation to engage with local communities;

    A freemasonic crooks’ charter.

    Local land solicitors, I’m looking at you.

    District valuers, council planning officials, etc. Anyone care to argue they’re not all as bent as nine-bob notes?

    The removal of business rates exemptions for shooting and deerstalking estates.

    Good, but doesn’t go nearly far enough. Much bigger attacks should be made on the enemy. Don’t just fight over the issue of whether or not their fucking grouse enterprises should be exempt from business tax! Fight to stop them inheriting their millions. Fight to expose what their assets are and where they keep them. Fight to take the bastards’ land off them forever.

  • fred

    @N_

    I’ve seen how they do things down south, the shit hole they have turned it into, nowhere to go unless you can pay, everything fenced off, can’t even stop your car and get out without paying somebody for the privileged.

    Up here we do things differently, the roads don’t have fences along the sides of them, you can get out of your car and walk all day if you want to, people are free and so are the wild animals now extinct elsewhere. We have historic monuments you can just walk into, nobody charges you any money you don’t even have to pay to park your car, anything from neolithic cairns to medieval castles there for the people to enjoy.

    I’ve seen how they do things down there and I’ve seen how we do things up here and our way is better, far far better so please can you leave us the fuck alone.

  • Mary

    “The establishment is a dirty, dangerous beast and the BBC is a mouthpiece for that.”

    Radio Times interview with actor Ken Stott:

    Q: What did you think of the poppies at the Tower of London?

    KS: I thought it was astonishing for all the right reasons … I’ve been somewhat annoyed that it seems to have been appropriated [he’s referring to the WWI commemorations] by the military, given that it was the military who sent them all to their deaths. I was very annoyed to see a 13-year old boy in military fatigues putting in that last poppy. I thought it was a disgusting image. It infuriated me.

    [on reality TV]

    I despair. In every area we seem to have thrown everything away and embraced reality television. It’s nauseating, programme after programme.

    Q: So you’re not a fan of reality television?

    KS: That could drop off the side of a cliff and we’d all be better off for it.

    Q: You backed Scottish independence – you must be disappointed.

    KS: I am. The BBC were pretty disgusting throughout all of it. You only have to look at the time given to the candidates, you only have to look at the fact that in the majority of cases the last word was given to a No campaigner. The BBC backed that. The establishment is a dirty, dangerous beast and the BBC is a mouthpiece for that. I was fascinated by how people were given so much room to say “Stay with us, we love you, and if you won’t stay with us, you’re disgusting, we hate you.”

    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1417645376.html

  • OldMark

    “The reason a house in North London is worth six times the value of a precisely identical house in Wigan is that 80% of the value of the London home is the value of the parcel of land it is built on. And the London land is that valuable because of the enormous concentration of public resources spent on developing London.”

    In a nutshell, Craig has succinctly explained the rationale of LVT, and he’s right that, in theory, the grounds for such a tax, and a tax on all financial transactions a la Tobin, is pretty unassailable. The problem with both lies in the difficulty of implementation; LVT would require at the outset significant expenditure, either via expansion of the Government Valuation service, or via the use on a agency basis of independent surveyors, to assess current land values. To ensure the prompt implementation of the tax you would also probably have to deny landowners the right of appeal to the Land Tribunal.

    Piecemeal measures, such as the removal of business rate relief on ‘sporting estates’ are however better than nothing. For residential property a minimum across the board Council Tax charge on properties in the two highest bands could be implemented immediately- say £7000 per year and £15,000 per year. The receipts could be used to establish a central government fund on infrastructure projects- which in turn could wean the UK away its present reliance on expensive PFI projects.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I’ve seen how they do things down there and I’ve seen how we do things up here and our way is better, far far better so please can you leave us the fuck alone.

    Sounds to me like a ringing endorsement of independence…congratulations, Fred, on getting it.

    LOL.

  • craig Post author

    Macky,

    Yes. The Foreign Office is full of comparatively junior people working on subjects, who are not responsible for the foreign policy of this country towards everywhere else. People do their jobs. I was prepared to work there while I was not asked t do anything wrong.

    The logic of Phil’s position is that nobody must ever work for the state as it makes you responsible for the entire policy of the state. That seems to me foolish.

  • Clark

    Phil (and Macky), consider: if your advice had been followed by Craig and he had never worked for the British state, he would never have been pushed beyond the limits of his conscience. He would never have become our ex-ambassador whistle-blower. We wouldn’t have this blog and Craig’s ongoing exposure of the internal workings of the state.

    People change. Experiences change people, some times quite radically. And that’s a very good thing.

  • Macky

    @Craig, Yes, you have no obligation to answer direct questions, and you do seem to be misrepresenting Phil’s position.

    “comparatively junior people” = “head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre” ?

    As “Head” would you not have reported directly to Cabinet Ministers, and even to the PM ? Did you not realise that the No Fly Zones were not authorised by the UN, therefore the bombings were illegal ?

    Clark; “People change. Experiences change people, some times quite radically”

    Moral consistency & character are important; Craig’s Cold War Neocon parroting on the Ukraine, would suggest that any change may have been peculiarly limited; if somebody like Blair or Straw now publicly repent & sets up “Human Rights Activist Blog”, should we all starting treating them as morally & intellectually infallible ?

  • Clark

    Macky, if Blair and/or Straw were to renounce their previous positions, reveal, condemn and refuse to implement immoral policies, forgo the wealth of their previous activities, and stay on these new paths for over a decade then no, we shouldn’t consider them “morally and intellectually infallible”, but we should of course consider that their new attitude could well be genuine.

    Macky, you again seem to be tending towards a position of “everyone is either born good or born bad”.

  • N_

    To be in with a chance of getting any respect, Blair should start by handing himself over for prosecution as a war criminal. If he did that, I would say give the murderous scumbag some credit where it’s due.

    On a side note, it’s interesting how Brown gets called a war criminal so rarely. There’s collective cabinet responsibility, right? And the wars required state expenditure, yes?

  • N_

    I’m not going to join with those who are having a go at you, Craig, and you’re obviously right to say that not all civil servants are evil and responsible for everything ‘the state’ does, but I have noticed on occasion that you can, sometimes. take an attitude that I would call too soft on the civil service as a whole.

    It would be great to learn more about how the top bods in it get appointed, look after each other, cover shit up, do what the US embassy tells them, the role of the St James’s clubs, links with the City, the top private schools, Oxford and Cambridge, the senior level in the judiciary, individual billionaires and their organisations, the media, the churches, publishing, etc. Is it a ‘first son’ thing or a ‘younger son’ thing? Stuff like that.

    Last I heard, Jack Straw’s wife had rather an important position… Not many people talk about that office and its role. You hear about MI6 nowadays, but some very important stuff remains under wraps.

  • Mary

    The Tory plan (as Gideon tours a Bentley factory today) is to take government spending to 1938 levels.

    http://media.skynews.com/media/images/generated/2014/12/4/354210/default/v1/obr-osborne-cuts-1-480×360.jpg

    The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said public spending would have to fall to 35.2% of GDP by 2019/20 if Mr Osborne is to eliminate the deficit by the end of the next parliament.

    OBR chairman Robert Chote said a “very tight further squeeze” on public services would be needed – including the loss of a further one million public sector jobs – driving down public spending to an 80-year low.

    OBR forecast
    An OBR graph shows a steep drop in public spending under this government

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the plans laid out in the Autumn Statement will require “spending cuts on a colossal scale” after next year’s general election.

    http://news.sky.com/story/1385421/osborne-defends-plans-amid-fears-over-cuts

  • Ben the Inquisitor

    Most are delighted at the price-at-the-pump without knowing the down-side.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102236586?trknav=homestack:topnews:6

    “The flow of petrodollars into the global financial system boosted liquidity, spurred asset prices and helped to keep borrowing costs down.

    But the 40 per cent fall in Brent crude since mid-June will reverse this trend, as the shrinkage of the oil producers’ cash pile removes a pillar of support for global markets.

    “This is the first time in 20 years that Opec nations will be sucking liquidity out of the market rather than adding to it through investments,” David Spegel, global head of emerging market sovereign and corporate research at BNP Paribas.

    BNP estimates that if oil production remains at its current level and oil prices stay at about $70 a barrel for the next year, Opec nations will receive $316bn less in oil export revenues than if oil prices were at their three-year average of $105.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I’d vote Conservative before vote SNP.

    I’m thinking you always have.

    And if it were not for the regrettable necessity of having millions of proles to make their profits for them, I’m sure they’d like to turn the UK…sorry, our UK. Mustn’t forget to spread the Cameron subliminal messages to the, er, hardworking families…into forking Caithness. They do bleakness instinctively.

  • KingOfWelshNoir

    Fred & Macky

    How do you feel about:

    1. Oskar Schindler
    2. John Newton, former slave trader turned priest and abolitionist.
    3. Paul the Apostle/Saul of Tarsus?

  • Mary

    The man of Straw was chairing a Commons committee the other day.

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/house-of-commons-governance-committee/membership1/

    His wife. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Perkins

    Plus, omitted on Wikipedia.

    Alice Perkins CB to join the BBC as Non-Executive Director
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2014/alice-perkins-non-executive-director

    28 Mar 2014 – The BBC has today announced that Alice Perkins will be joining the BBC Executive Board as a Non-Executive Director from 1 April 2014;

    Preferment is the watchword, as ever.

  • Abe Rene

    @Craig “A very successful non-fiction book in the UK sells about 20,000 copies. The author gets an average of not much over 1.20 a book.”

    Maybe a good reason to write a novel. If you do a thriller with the sort of world view in John Le Carre’s A Most Wanted Man, let us know. Good luck!

  • fred

    “Fred & Macky

    How do you feel about:

    1. Oskar Schindler
    2. John Newton, former slave trader turned priest and abolitionist.
    3. Paul the Apostle/Saul of Tarsus?”

    I’m feeling that none of them have anything whatsoever to do with anything I have said.

  • Macky

    Clark; “but we should of course consider that their new attitude could well be genuine”

    I too consider some of Craig’s more eye brow raising views to be genuine, (even those that seem to fluctuate 180 degrees within months) , which actually makes them doubly bad in my book.

    Clark; “Macky, you again seem to be tending towards a position of “everyone is either born good or born bad”.”

    Seems that you, as well as KOWN, weren’t able to follow my simple comments on the “Craig Murray, Criminal” thread.

    KOWN; “How do you feel about;”

    Sorry KOWN, not sure if I have the motivation for a serious yet one sided debate again, as your lack on responses on the “Craig Murray, Criminal” thread, even after a reminder on the “Gordon Brown the Big Feartie” thread, doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm.

  • lysias

    Was that initial UN sanctions resolution passed right after Iraq invaded Kuwait clear on whether food and medicine were among the embargoed items? I remember reading a report shortly after that invasion (which I presume I read in the New York Times, as I was living in Princeton at the time), attributed to some unnamed U.S. government official, that the U.S. naval blockade would not include food and medicine. I was pleased to read this, as I had recently read a book about the horrifying effects on German health of the blockade of Germany during World War One and for several months after the armistice. Then, a day or two later, somebody else in the U.S. government corrected that report, and said that food and medicine were included in the embargo.

  • glenn_uk

    @OldMark “Nice try at moving the goalposts there Glenn, but the research quoted by the Indy covered all age groups and not just ‘young males’.

    You’re right – it doesn’t talk about just young males. My mistake, sorry.

  • N_

    Alice Perkins, Jack Straw’s wife, was head of the office that handles appointments to top posts in the civil service.

    That must surely be a very important position.

    You must

    * know who’s trying to get what post

    * know a lot about what business interests are pushing which candidates, in pursuit of getting what type of contracts, not just in relation to one department or ministry, but across most of the central state – ‘defence’, ‘education’, ‘health’, transport, infotech, ‘environment’, police, prisons, telecoms, utilities, etc.

    * have seen a lot of the MI5 files, and be able to influence what’s considered positive or negative in someone’s file – not just when a vacancy looks like appearing, but in the long term.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if she had (and has) at least as high a security clearance as her husband, if not higher. And how common is it in Britain for a senior cabinet minister to be married to such a senior civil servant?

    Focused on the permanent government, not on a bunch of politicians, that office in Whitehall sounds as though it beats the parliamentary whips’ offices in strategic importance.

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