The Dysfunctional United Kingdom 2388


Recently an Angus mother of three infant children was separated from them and jailed for ten months for over-claiming £10,000 per year in benefits. Meanwhile the Duke of Westminster evades £3.6 billion in inheritance tax through a transparently fraudulent use of trusts which “have the option” to give the money to someone else instead.

The United Kingdom is a socially backward and sometimes vicious polity, an island which prides itself on the state enforced conservatism which allowed it to evade intellectually motivated reform and retain a historical legacy of gross injustice and privilege.

For historical reasons land reform is an immensely popular cause in Scotland, and one of so many areas where SNP timidity is a deep, deep disappointment. The fact that they are covered in buildings does not make the vast London estates of the Grosvenors any more acceptable than the unnecessarily empty Highland estates where golden eagles are destroyed so the chinless wonders, hedge fund managers and sheikhs can blast away at tame grouse.

The late Duke of Westminster is characterised as a “philanthropist” by mainstream media even though the percentage of both his income and his wealth he gave to charity was less than most ordinary people’s mite, myself included, and I am willing to bet that what he did do, was tax-deductible. That a parasite who sat on £9 billion of unearned money in a country where disabled people commit suicide from poverty, and who got two O levels from Harrow, was Prince Charles’ closest friend, cuts through the lying propaganda about the Royal family we are constantly fed.

The political class have a deliberate will not to enforce inheritance tax on the super wealthy. They have a political will not to tackle landlordism, which as it affects both residential and commercial tenants is a fundamental malaise of the British economy. Neither problem is technically difficult. The problem is that the political class as a whole are in the pockets of the super-wealthy, promote their interests and ache to join them.

Which is why in the UK it is important that the threat to them posed by Corbyn is maintained, and why in Scotland it is essential that the SNP membership now push their own leadership into bold action on fundamental land reform and Independence. To call the current SNP approach to both issues desultory would be excessively polite.

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2,388 thoughts on “The Dysfunctional United Kingdom

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  • John A

    A very apt post on the ‘glorious’ 12th, when protected ‘game’ whose natural predators are often illegally culled to enable pampered toffs to indulge their tweed and range rover role playing as dead eye dicks shooting what are effectively little different from domesticated poultry these days.

  • Loony

    It is good to hear that land reform is not technically difficult.

    Assuming a normal meaning is ascribed to the word “reform” then land reform would not appear to have worked out too well in Zimbabwe. Perhaps it is more difficult than you imagine.

    • craig Post author

      Actually you repeat a persistent and completely untrue racist myth about Zimbabwe. Agricultural production, including tobacco, is up since the land was taken from white colonisers.

        • bevin

          The ‘property’ in question having been taken from black communities and given to white farmers within the last eighty years.
          In much the same way, though generations afterwards, that the common lands and communal lands throughout the UK were appropriated from the people and given, by legislators and lawyers, to legislators, lawyers and their friends.
          Land reform ought to be a central demand, once again, of Scots, English, Welsh and Irish alike.

          • Martinned

            Yes, and that was wrong too. But two wrongs don’t make a right. If a specific person appropriated someone else’s property, they should have a legal remedy to get it back. But to take property from a white person who didn’t steal it and give it to a black person who didn’t have it stolen from them isn’t a remedy for past wrongs, it’s the populist policy of a dictator who doesn’t give a damn about human rights.

        • bevin

          Of course ‘land reform’ was the primary cause of the various sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the capitalist class (smarting from the humiliation of being told to return the swag) and its client states.
          In this equation the people of Zimbabwe are innocent victims of land pirates and those who apologise for them.

          • Martinned

            Wait, the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe was caused by the asset freezes imposed on Mugabe and his cronies? How do you figure? Or are there sanctions that only you know about, that the capitalist class and its client states kept hidden from the rest of us?

          • Loony

            Not all situations fit into a Marxist view of life.

            Zimbabwe has been comprehensively ruined for a range of reasons. Not all of these reasons are connected to racism.

            Many ordinary Zimbabweans have basically fled to South Africa where they are periodically subject to xenophobic violence. That is black South Africans violently attacking black Zimbabweans for no other reason than they are Zimbabwean.

            Meanwhile the murder rate of white South African farmers is more than double the murder rate for other white people. White South African people have nowhere else to go as Europe categorically does not want them, but instead prefers to fill its lands with unknown numbers of economic migrants arriving from unknown locations.

            What exactly does Marxist theory suggest you should do with these people? Execute them all, or persuade them all to commit suicide?

      • Loony

        Really! Let us look at some facts. Facts that are undisputed.

        In 1980 corn production in Zimbabwe was recorded at 2,767 million tonnes. In 2015 corn production was 742 million tonnes

        In 1980 wheat production was 162 million tonnes and in 2015 it was 20 million tonnes.

        In 1980 sorghum production was 105 million tonnes and in 2015 it was 40 million tonnes.

        The thing about tobacco is that you cannot eat it. The thing about corn, wheat and sorghum is that they are all part of a staple diet – for both racists and non racists alike

    • Nuada

      It worked out OK in Ireland in the late 19th century. If the likes of Gladstone and the other mutton-choppers could make a go of it 120 years ago, surely the most advanced, educated and, we need hardly say, intelligent generation that ever lived — ie, the current one — could do no worse.

  • Loony

    How do you enforce inheritance tax? 15 OECD countries have a zero rate of IHT. These include Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    The super wealthy will always have the option of relocating themselves and their assets.

    I suppose you could confiscate property – but that may not go down too well with the British, what with their slavish devotion to the dream of home ownership.

    For what reason should the estate of the Duke of Westminster be broken up just because the titular head dies? Why not break up BP in the event that the CEO dies or break up the UK in the event that the Prime Minister dies. Why is it sane to persecute individuals and simultaneously worship at the alter of state and corporate power?

    • Habbabkuk

      Loony

      For once – una rondine non fa primavera! – I find myself in agreement with you.

      Just to add:

      “I suppose you could confiscate property – but that may not go down too well with the British, what with their slavish devotion to the dream of home ownership.”

      I think that the confiscation of property would not go down too well with most people of whatever station in life and of whatever nationality.

      Moreover – would it not be contrary to certain human rights as set out in various international instruments?

      • Michael McLaughlin

        Your objection to transfer of ownership and use is laudable. Which is why the heirs of its original owners object to losing it in the first place. The descendants of leaders of robber bands who seized or were allowed to seize by the dominent forces of the day large stretches of countryside to claim as their own will have grounds for objection if the dominent forces of the day allow the true owners to seize them back.

  • Habbabkuk

    Craig

    ” Meanwhile the Duke of Westminster evades £3.6 billion in inheritance tax through a transparently fraudulent use of trusts which “have the option” to give the money to someone else instead.”

    _______________________

    Could you just clarify the sense in which you’re using the word “fraudulent”?

    Are you saying that the late DoW engaged in fraud in the sense of the criminal law?

  • Eric Zuesse

    Estate taxes need to become confiscatory. There is no rational justification for allowing some infants to come into this world rich while others come into this world poor. The obligation to eliminate that human-imposed, non-natural, inequality-at-birth, rests entirely with the government in a democracy, and any government which fails to level financial things at the starting-line of people’s lives is an aristocratic one, not a democratic one, in reality, and it should be overthrown and replaced by an authentically democratic government.

    • Habbabkuk

      On the contrary, Eric, any government acting in the manner you advocate would be a profoundly undemocratic, authoritarian one and, moreover, a government seeking to eliminate the entirely human and natural wish of parents to leave something to their children.

      I shall therefore assume – charitably – that you did not mean what you wrote and that you only wrote it in order to stimulate discussion.

      • Eric Zuesse

        Of course, parents want to leave their wealth to their children. But parents also want their children not to be disadvantaged in their lives by having to compete against other children who have received from their parents the financial means to provide them education and other opportunities-enhancements that their own children don’t have. You are looking only at the side of the aristocracy, not at the side of the poor. You are accepting the aristocracy (societally imposed inequality-or-opportunity) as an institution. You are rejecting democracy (societally imposed equality-of-opportunity).

        Naturally imposed inequality-of-opportunity, such as by different innate abilities (having nothing to to with a person’s education) is something else entirely. But you are supporting societally imposed inequality-of-opportunity. You support dictatorship by the rich — the institution of the aristocracy.

    • Habbabkuk

      Eric

      “There is no rational justification for allowing some infants to come into this world rich while others come into this world poor.”
      ____________________

      I wonder if you would care to expand a little on that rather ex-cathedra assertion and, while doing so, also tell us whether you would apply it not only to the question under discussion (ie, inheritance tax) but also more globally (broadly, to the question of the rich developed world and the poor third world)?

    • Martinned

      Sure there is. By straightforward Rawlesian reasoning, if we assume that people respond to incentives, some acts are so valuable to society that it is impossible to generate a sufficiently big incentive to do them if the incentive is constrained by people’s individual lifetime. This is more likely to be true if the hypothetical person performing the act or not gets older. By allowing them to share their “reward” with their descendants, and assuming that people care about the wellbeing of their descendants, they can be incentivised in a way that satisfies the maximin criterion.

      To get more specific: If we assume that inventions are important, and that it is just and useful to incentivise them by giving inventors a patent that allows them to get rich, you need to allow inventors to pass on their wealth to their descendants, otherwise they won’t have any incentive to carry on inventing after their first big hit.

      Whether that logic also applies to other categories of people is a decision society has to make, but in each case it will turn on whether they ought to be able to get rich doing what they do in the first place. If we accept that a certain act is sufficiently useful to incentivise with big money, you can’t then turn around and undermine that incentive by ruling out inheritances.

      • Node

        I don’t dispute we all have a selfish component to our make-up, but you overstate its importance. We are encouraged by the PTB to believe that everything should have a price because they find it easier to manipulate our selfish motives than our altruistic ones. However humans have evolved to be co-operative. We are hard-wired to take pleasure from contributing to our society – our peers’ approval is our reward.

        How much is Craig being paid to camp in a field and do hard physical work for long hours at Doune the Rabbit Hole? I would hazard a guess it costs him money. Why does he do it? He wouldn’t if you are right, Martinned.

        • Martinned

          Not at all. Just because money generates incentives, doesn’t mean that incentives don’t come from other things too. Being worshipped by a bunch of lefty conspiracy freaks is its own reward for certain people. Likewise, inventing something is extremely satisfying, and leads to many (other) non-monetary rewards. But that doesn’t mean we can go ahead and abolish patents.

          • Martinned

            How many more might he have made if patent law had existed? Then he might not have needed to travel around and sell his services as a painter and an inventor to the highest bidder, but might have been able to do both painting and inventing for the common good.

          • Node

            How many more might he have made if patent law had existed?

            Ha ha. How many more could he have made? He was the greatest inventor the world has ever known.

    • Loony

      You write “The obligation to eliminate that human-imposed, non-natural, inequality-at-birth, rests entirely with the government in a democracy,”

      No matter how generously one may seek to interpret this statement the conclusion must be that it is pure garbage.

      Take the example of birth defects caused by thalidomide. It was a human imposed non natural inequality at birth. Exactly how do you propose that a government or any other body rectify this outcome?

    • michael norton

      Like NULABOUR

      The Blairs
      The Kinnocks
      The Mandelsons
      The Straws
      The Benns
      The Sainsburys
      The Hodges
      The Milibands
      The Janners

  • Habbabkuk

    There is a moral dimension to the question of whether inheritance tax should exist and if it does, when, at what rate(s) and in which circumstances it should apply.

    I suspect that – as with private, fee-paying education – the moral position taken by most individuals who express themselves on the subject is closely linked to whether they themselves would be affected: the less likely it is that you yourself would have to pay, the more likely is it to be that you find inheritance tax to be morally justified.

    • Anon1

      Exactly. And we’ve all seen what the virtue signallers on the left do when they acquire a bit of wealth.

  • Bert

    I recall all too well how, when thatcher raised the possibility of the right-to-buy for private tenants, a torrent of criticism was raised (by the over-paid media lackeys) and the suggestion quickly forgotten. The Duke of Westminster was featured prominently in the aforementioned torrent. It is noticeable that recently the tories have suggested the possibility of the right-to-buy for social housing in the private sector but, still, not for private landlords.

    Bert.

      • Habbabkuk

        At the risk of contradicting what I wrote a little earlier, and having read your link once again, I don’t think that link makes what I assume to be your case.

        If it were the case that inheritance tax were a violation of fundamental human rights then how does one explain the lack of a stream of cases brought against those govts that do impose such a tax?

        • Martinned

          I cited it not to respond to a comment about inheritance tax, but as a response to a comment about private right-to-buy. Requiring private landlords to sell their property against their consent is legally problematic, even if they are paid the market value of the property. The difficulty is that it’s not obvious that such a deprivation of property would be in the public interest.

          Taxes are ordinarily fine under art. 1P1. They are explicitly mentioned in subsection 2.

      • nevermind

        from were it says

        “No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.”

        a piece of rubberoid nothingness, if you loose your possessions in war, what regress have you got if you live in the country that lost.

        The general principles of international law? just look around you and count those who respect international law, UN rules or Human rights, this is farcical.

        off course there are some who respect their financial obligations.

        http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/b9594ce8-2e15-11e6-a18d-a96ab29e3c95.html#axzz4H7qFanAy

        then there are Japan 232% of GDP, Greece 173%, Lebanon 139%……. and on tenth place the USA 104%.
        Venezuela is not amongst the top ten, but they know what other debtor would/have unleash /ed in their country, and despite their people getting food rations, they are keeping this unsustainable financial system alive with their repayments.

        • Martinned

          if you loose your possessions in war, what regress have you got if you live in the country that lost.

          Litigation. Look at how much success Greek Cypriots have had suing over land that they used to possess in North Cyprus.

          Not sure how you got from that to government borrowing again, but I guess everyone is entitled to their hobby horses.

    • nevermind

      the release of housing land and land banking is a racket. If house building does not offer a six fold return for developers on their investment, these houses won’t get built.
      Further, the building of apartments for rent by housing associations is dismally low, it is affordable rented accommodation local authorities should promote, not the indebtedness to banks and building societies for life long chores. There should be a balance of private developments visavis that of non profit making housing associations, one without the other, should not happen. It would promote cooperation between the two. If a private or public developer wants to build o100 houses, he should be obliged to build apartments of all sizes for an equal amount of people and for affordable rents.

  • Martinned

    This story about the Duke of Westminster cracks me up. This is literally why modern trusts were invented during the reign of Henry VIII, to avoid the usual inheritance process. (Which involved, in the case of the estate being inherited by a minor, the King stepping in and robbing the place blind.) The King tried to crack down on the use of, well, uses to avoid feudal duties in the Statute of Uses (1536), and in response the King’s subjects, through the Court of Chancery, relied on trusts to achieve the same end. The fact that you can also use trusts for other things is a much later innovation, what trusts were originally for was to replace inheritance by a gift from a living person to another living person.

    • Habbabkuk

      And indeed most European countries allow unlimited gifts inter vivos which, if certain conditions are met, are inheritance tax exempt.

      • Martinned

        Not my country. Simplifying a bit, my parents are allowed to give me a few thousand Euros per year. Anything more than that is taxed at 10%. (Unless, theoretically, it’s more than € 121,903, in which case the rate is 20%. Gifts or inheritance to non-descendants are taxed at 30% and 40%.) The rate is the same for gifts inter vivos and inheritances, deliberately.

        • Habbabkuk

          Fine – but I suggest the Netherlands are an exception to the general (European) rule.

          • Martinned

            Why? I agree that inheritance taxes are relatively undistortive, compared to other possible taxes, meaning that the rate should be relatively high, but why 40%, exactly?

        • Old Mark

          Sounds like the Netherlands has something similar to the Capital Transfer Tax that applied in the UK between 1974-86, until it was replaced by Nigel Lawson with the current IHT arrangements, which are (deliberately) full of loopholes, and exploited to the hilt by the likes of the Duke of Westminster.

          Loony @14.00- unless our host gets back here promptly with reliable stats it looks like game set & match to you over the Zimbabwe diversion!

          • Habbabkuk

            Yes, I was puzzled about Craig’s Southern Rhodesia claim as well and would like to be referred to a reliable source for it.

            Is it not a fact that Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe, I believe) has had to import huge amounts of grain from South Africa in recent years for reasons not only of drought but also falling productivity in normal conditions?

  • glenn_uk

    Reading an interesting book on taxation at the moment: ‘The Great Tax Robbery’, by Richard Brooks:

    https://oneworld-publications.com/the-great-tax-robbery.html

    About 2/3rds of the way through it, and I’m already convinced the Inland Revenue system has been entirely taken over by the extemely wealthy and large multinational corporate interests. The code has been rewritten directly for their benefit, with the sham excuse that they’ll all flee the UK unless we convert it into a tax haven. The dubious benefit of their presence is never really investigated, let alone demonstrated, just idly assumed.

    • Martinned

      Yes, rent seeking is a thing. Moreover, it’s a thing that you can’t really solve by wishing it away. The same goes for government failure more generally. That’s why, in any given case, you have to weigh the market failures that justify government intervention against the government failures that will ensue if the government does step in. Pick the lesser evil, that’s all you can do.

      • glenn_uk

        What the hell has that got to do with what I wrote? Do you just hit “reply” on anyone’s post, at random?

        • Martinned

          Sorry, forgot to specify the – fairly obvious – link. Tax loopholes are a classic example of the consequences of rent seeking.

          • glenn_uk

            I’m sorry too – both for my intemperate comments, and being a bit thick. Multi-tasking too much while working in a grim environment. Can’t wait to retire, but they keep telling me I’m not old enough.

    • nevermind

      Yep, thanks for that Glenn. Tax law should be scrapped wholly and replaced by one sentence.
      ‘if you seek to sell in this country, you are paying taxes in this country, regardless of international obligations. No tax no sale! level of taxation to be decided by HMRC.’
      All countries still under British jurisdiction will levy a holding tax on latent assets equal to the amount applicable in the country of origin.

      Another small point, the level of taxation should play a part in retail space allocations. real devolution that allows local authorities to allocate rateable retail space according to the level of taxation they pay. No more tax dodgers should be allowed to litter the high street with their scheming.

  • Brianfujisan

    Great post Craig thanks

    those Beautiful, Majestic Birds killed so that snobs can play with guns…. And it’s not just Golden Eagles that are targeted, there’s , Hen Harriers, Peregrines, Red Kites, all meant to be protected by Law..a lot of Grouse moors are crime scenes..

    here is a petition that has almost 90,000 signatures –

    Ban driven grouse shooting –

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

    • Habbabkuk

      Brian

      When debating inheritance tax one thing is certain: the discussion will not get very far, nor will it be very interesting or constructive, if it is carried out on the emotional level of social envy and class conflic as illustrated by expressions such as “so that snobs can play with guns”.

      (That said, one can certain make out a respectable argument against driven grouse shoots in a discussion on nature conservation as opposed to inheritance tax).

      • CanSpeccy

        The debate about inheritance tax will probably never get very far whatever the circumstances.

        The human mind has been shaped by evolutionary forces, which is to say that behaviors promoting reproductive success tend to spread throughout a population. One behavior that enhances an individual’s chance of representation in succeeding generations is the passing on of wealth. Another behavior that promotes reproductive success is mugging the rich. Thus an eternal conflict between the communists and the plutocrats. Total victory for one or the other means tyranny. Probably, therefore, one’s best hope is that demands for higher inheritance tax coexist indefinitely with vigorous efforts at tax avoidance.

        Perhaps, though, a compromise can be found to end the debate. For that, the best bet appears to be a capital tax that leaves the Duke of Westminster seriously rich, but nevertheless transfers substantial amounts of wealth to the masses. An annual levy of one to two percent would significantly redress the balance between wealth and poverty, raising enough to entirely eliminate income tax for the majority of wage earners.

    • Habbabkuk

      You can take a Benn out of the Lords but you can’t take a Lord out of a Benn 🙂

    • glenn_uk

      This is what I despise about politics – the “gotcha” / tu quoque invocation which supposedly proves something. Do you approve of Benn’s actions or not? And what’s that got to do with the principle involved here?

      • Martinned

        It does prove something (though admittedly not much). In politics, the problem is that talk is cheap. In a market setting, people have to put their money where their mouth is, but in politics people rarely do. So to see someone doing something they claim shouldn’t be allowed can be construed, in certain settings, as a lack of commitment to the cause.

        (In other settings, the politician’s view can only reasonably be interpreted as a belief that something should be ruled out for everyone at the same time, in which case one can’t reasonably expect the said politician to follow a rule that hasn’t actually been enacted yet. The classic example of that one is higher income taxes. It’s silly to say that left-wing politicians should put their money where their mouth is and voluntarily pay more to the Revenue than they legally owe.)

        • glenn_uk

          Well that’s what I mean. Referring to one person apparently flouting a proposed fair tax system which isn’t even in place, is apparently good enough to stop an argument for the proposal in its tracks. It’s so lazy and irrelevant.

          It’s also an almighty cop-out. Unless someone proposing a more socialist system is themselves living pretty much like some monk who’s taken a vow of poverty, they apparently have no moral basis to make any statement on the matter. And if they do, they’re too poor to be taken any notice of anyway – or it’s the “politics of envy”.

          Yet again, it’s a miserable excuse to toady up to the already rich in order to give them a pass on unearned privilege.

  • Anon1

    What are the Scotch nats going to do with all this empty moorland once they have seized it from the rich scum? Grow haggis?

    • bevin

      Go up to Aberdeen and see what can be done. Or read IR Carter’s Farm Life in the North East…The Poor Man’s Country. Go on read a book.

    • Laguerre

      “What are the Scotch nats going to do with all this empty moorland once they have seized it from the rich scum? Grow haggis?”

      You’ve never heard of the Highland Clearances, I suppose. If you had, you would know what the land was used for before.

  • Johnstone

    Yes Craig. The country has been impoverished by the activities of the few.
    Deer numbers are anywhere between 1/2 million and 1 million. SNH stopped publicising national estimates some years back. The poor beasts are smaller than their deer park relatives as they are a species able to physically adapt to overpopulation (so called species plasticity) sadly their habitat does not adapt to overgrazing hence lack of forest regeneration in the country …what the ecologist Frank Fraser Darling called a ‘wet desert’. Deer a woodland animal, he said, can erupt in numbers and they can and should be culled down to a density at which trees can regenerate. Frank Fraser Darling wrote this is a report for the Nature Conserve Council in 1959 to inform the committee responsible for preparing the 1st Red Deer Act 1959. His report however was stamped confidential and hidden in the National Archives. Current deer legislation part of WANE is voluntary in terms of deer control!!! Since FFD made his estimation of deer over population in 1959 numbers have continued to rise. This is just one of many negligent land management problems of the highlands.
    The current Land Reform Scotland Act at least had a few teeth until the along came the SNP and extracted most of them during the last set of amendments to the bill. Independence will make next to no difference whatsoever to the lives and welfare of the average person living in Scotland unless there are massive and sweeping land and taxation reforms.

    • Habbabkuk

      Has your comment taken into account all the provisions of the subsequent Red Deer Acts?

    • Iain

      “The current Land Reform Scotland Act at least had a few teeth until the along came the SNP and extracted most of them during the last set of amendments to the bill.”

      The Act is a bit timid but is a step on the path of an ongoing project so I think this comment is a bit harsh. At they (the SNP) are doing something and respond to their membership, it more than we ever get out of the other clowns.

      • Johnstone

        Iain, sorry I should have written a few wobbly teeth.. So explain to me how unmeasurable criteria like ‘sustainability’ can be used to gauge improvements in land management practices, please. And perhaps you have a number for the community buyouts post amendments. As land values increase due to the potential of payment for ecosystem services ….wind energy, peat land and woodland carbon trading the opportunities for community buy outs gets slimmer and slimmer. So which specific provisions of the act can effectively counteract these trends?

  • A non

    Dear Craig,

    I’m a lawyer based in Angus. There are High Court sentencing guidelines which make it clear that Sheriff’s have to jail benefit fraudsters if the gain is over a specified amount. The sheriff’s have no discretion unless the accused’s agent can demonstrate exceptional circumstance s why jailed should be avoided.

    • Habbabkuk

      A lawyer is supposed to be precise in his use of language. It is (in the plural) “Sheriffs” and not “Sheriff’s”.

      • nevermind

        Thanks for that information A non, please forgive our school master.

        you can take the school away from a school master, but you can’t take it out of him.
        Inheritance tax is the most loop holed tax there is and I hope that small businesses get together and start using the same schemes that large companies use. At least we would come to a point were taxation would not cover anything and the system collapses.

        Its never talked about much, our very own magna carta was in reality a tax dodging event. Tax boycotts have a very long history, from the Jewish zealots to Egyptian peasants to jewellers in India this year. So, should we really carry on with unfair taxation and an increasing rift between rich and poor?

  • Habbabkuk

    Nothing “dyfunctional” about this from a hard-left Continrental govt 🙂 :

    “A short list of nine private TV channels that will take part in a state licensing tender later this month was announced on Thursday, amid criticism that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is conducting a purge of stations that oppose him.

    The nine include Alpha, Skai, Antenna, Epsilon and Star channels.

    The leftist-led coalition has vowed to clean up the country’s beleaguered TV industry, long accused of corruption and of striking illicit deals with prominent politicians.

    However, opposition parties and critics say Tsipras wants to make way for channels that back his government and cite the case of Mega TV, a strong critic of the government which did not make the list.

    Opening bids for the four 10-year licenses on offer will start at 3 million euros.

    The government has repeatedly stated its intention to scrap stations heavily indebted to the state and banks, and to grant licenses solely to stations that are financially sustainable.

    Greece’s TV stations, which have operated with provisional licenses over the last quarter-century, have struggled in recent years, hard hit by plummeting advertising revenues.”

    Rumours have it that the excellent “SKAI” station with its heavy emphasis on news and current affairs (no, nothing to do with the British “SKY”) is marked out for removal because it keeps pointing to events and inconvenient facts which displease Mr Tsipras and his hard-left SYRIZA govt.

    Admittedly, SKAI is indebted (but not to the govt) but there is something faintly comical about a very heavily indebted govt requiring provate TV statios not indebted to the state itself to be financially sustainable, is there not?

    Censorship, bully-boy tactics and hypocrisy are inevitable concomittants of any hard-left govt. As would be the case in the UK if – God forbid! – a far-left Corbyn Labout Party ever managed to weasel its way into power.

  • bevin

    It is amazing how the defenders of ‘property’ avoid the issue, a very simple one extremely well documented, of the origins of that property.

    All real property in England is held of the crown. And the crown is, in effect, trustee for the Common Weal. The land belongs to the community. This has been the case since society was established. Those like the Duke of Westminster hold land which is not theirs but belongs to the people among whom they live.
    The only possible rationale for society continuing to condone this state of affairs-productive as it is of most of the ills in society- is that hinted at by Martinned, which is to say the ideological rationale that without incentivising thieves, and encouraging greed society would never have ‘progressed’ with such rapidity to the brink of extinction.
    Suffice it to say that this is simply ideology, founded on self serving assertions, without a shred of real evidence to support it. An ideology long exploded, long discredited, but still convenient to those acting for criminals.
    There is every reason to believe that, absent the appalling side-effects of imperialism and capitalist accumulation, and despite the lack of patent laws etc, humanity would have developed into a far better state had it foregone the wars, genocides, famines and ecological disasters caused by, let us say only, five centuries of savage inhumanity.

    As to ” the entirely human and natural wish of parents to leave something to their children…” what could be more natural than a parent wishing to leave descendants social harmony, co-operation and equality?
    But Habbakuk is not talking about that, he is talking about the, understandable but hardly laudable, desire of those currently in possession of stolen goods to pass them on to their children without their even being taxed. The argument being, presumably, that if society starts taxing those who steal from it it will no longer have the pleasure of being plundered.

    • Martinned

      Where property came from is irrelevant. Unless the current owners obtained it through wrongful means, their rights should be protected.

      • bevin

        So you defend fences do you?
        Where property came from is of enormous importance, particularly if society is full of victims of the theft.
        Another example, well known in English history and not unconnected with Henry VIII’s legal innovations, is that of the transfer, over a relatively short period of the public property of the Church into private hands. Among the uses to which that property was put was the charitable care of the poor. Rackrenting and de-population both increased enormously (See Thomas More) when Church lands were stolen and transferred to Henry’s friends and creditors.
        The consequences of the crimes at Reformation are permanent stains on society: children suffer as a result of them; old people die of famine because of them.
        And yet, according to your theory, it is too late to repair the damage. And morally unacceptable to recover the ill gotten gains and employ them for the benefit of the 99%, who are neither Dukes nor their fee’d retainers.
        It is not the expropriation of expropriated property which endangers civilisation by the condoning of the expropriation of property from the public (Royal Mail?) in the first place.

        • Martinned

          Euh, I think I understand at least some of that rambling bit of text…

          Let’s see:

          Yes, good fences make good neighbours.

          No, I don’t think the Crown and the Church of England should pay reparations to the Catholic Church.

  • AAMVN

    This really is one of the elephants in the room of the British sociopolitical house. Until we have radical land reform there is no sustainable way forward for the UK or a separate Scotland and WENI rump state.

    One would hope Scotland breaks off soon and shows the WENIES how it is done.

    • Ben Monad

      It is amusing how we all seem intent on scraping tiny warts off the huge wart known as the Body Politic.

      No one seems to have the stomach to scrap the existing malfunctions and replace with something radically different like DE-Centralizig government.

  • Republicofscotland

    Land reform in Scotland must be put at the forefront of any SNP policies except those that need addressed urgently.

    The killing of Golden eagles by game keepers so that inbred toffs can shoot grouse should be punished heavily with a custodial sentence. Of those game keepers none would directly implicate the estate owner, in the killing of wildlife, for the fear of losing their jobs. I’d imagine morals aren’t the order of the day.

    Talking of inbred toffs, an article in my local rag claimed that David Cameron, is on the verge of buying a £10 million pound estate in Aberdeenshire, what has Aberdeenshire done to deserve such misfortune.

    Policies endorsed by the likes of the former PM, as you rightly say have led to the deaths of many who’ve had their benefits removed. The dis-United Kingdom’s Tory /LibDem, and now just Tory, has and will, continue to try and balance the defecit on the backs of the poor and disabled, even more so now Brexit is to be implemented.

    The very wealthy can afford to squirrel away monies, with the help of the establishment from the eyes of the tax man, into large swathes of highland lands within countless shell companies. Without ever having to worry that the Treasury will come after there booty so to speak. The SNP must address that, sooner than later.

    Yet the poorer in society, bear a heavy cost if mistakenly overpaid by the DWP. This dis-united dis-connected and dis-functional kingdom, favours the wealthy in society something the late Duke of Westminster would’ve known.

  • Agnes stevenson

    I agree wholeheartedly with you ,these people have not got a clue on life !!he did not work for his wealth he was left it and all the properties he never knew what work was ,he will not be missed !!and saying he was a friend of Prince Charles that says it all as he would not get a job anywhere .and as for the Land Reform I know it will take time but come on SMP get on with it stop stalling!!as for puting this woman in Prison for claiming 10 thousand pounds of the benefits system she must have been desperate??but all the politicians in this COUNTRY and peers and The House of Lords should all be in Prison for fiddling there expenses and All the bankers for TAX Evasion the JUSTICE SYSTEM in this country STINKS !!Justice is ONLY for them that has money and are corrupt.

  • nevermind

    A land reform, a tax reform, a reform of feudal unfair dis[proportional voting rights, a reform of both Houses, a reform of policing, is there another shorter word for it?

    • Brianfujisan

      Thanks for adding to the petition Nevermind,..great that you can lend time to the task.. and Alan too, cheers

  • Barbara naughton

    100% with you on this. Land reform is much needed. Proof of how he acquired the land he says is his.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    How much more dysfunctional can the UK get if the Duke was murdered for losses he incurred for assets he gained illegally, and the police authorities, media, and general public will not even consider it a possibility.

    Looks more and more like what happened to Robin Cook, Mike Todd, and Alexander Litvinenko.

  • CameronB Brodie

    ‘Great’ Britain is increasingly taking on the attributes of a tinpot dictatorship, as it continues to distances itself from the rule of law. ‘Great’ Britain is a ‘cereal’ abuser of human rights, due largely to the spirit of international law having been obscured from the plebs.

    The Right to Development at a glance
    http://www.un.org/en/events/righttodevelopment/pdf/rtd_at_a_glance.pdf

    30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/Pages/DevelopmentIndex.aspx

    Access to Justice Critical in Ensuring Rule of Law, Speakers Stress as Sixth Committee Continues Deliberations on Principle
    http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/gal3478.doc.htm

    IMHO, the original right-to-buy scheme reduced the availability of affordable housing. This is counter to the core principle of the international law underlying the right to development, which require that policies and programs of national governments do not undermine the potential for individuals to secure an ‘adequate’ standard of living. Access to adequate shelter is an essential component of securing an adequate standard of living, duh. So I can’t see how further right-to-buy would avoid similar, unless receipts from sales can be re-invested in affordable housing.

    @Royal Town Planning Institute
    Won’t you support Scotland’s right to development, or does that go against your Fabian/BritNat principles?

    • Martinned

      I hate to disappoint you, but in law there is no such thing as a right to development. General Assembly resolutions do not alter international law, and are not capable of bringing into existence rights that didn’t already exist. In the absence of a treaty basis or a CIL basis for a right to development, such a thing only exists as a rhetorical device, not as an actual legal reality.

      • CameronB Brodie

        Perhaps you are correct? I’m not a lawyer so the meaning of the law is easily obscured from me.

        The right to development was subsequently proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986 in the “Declaration on the Right to Development,” which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128. The Right to development is a group right of peoples as opposed to an individual right, and was reaffirmed by the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

        Do you acknowledge the principle of human rights?

          • CameronB Brodie

            OK, can you help me understand this please?

            A core component of the effort to secure access to the right to development for all, is the effort to bring development under the rule of law. How can the British state claim to be doing this when it won’t even allow Scotland an honest plebiscite on it’s self-determination?

          • Martinned

            Whose effort? I can’t find the actual detailed minute of the vote, but this resolution was adopted by a vote of 146-1-8. Given that it was 1986, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the US and the UK were among the 8 No votes. Is there any evidence that the Crown, in any international (or other) forum, has ever committed itself towards promoting development as a legal right? (As opposed to development as a good thing that ought to have its own government department, preferably run by someone who doesn’t want to abolish it.)

            And what does any of this have to do with Scotland’s right to self-determination? That right is protected by international law, for example by art. 1(1) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. That doesn’t mean that Scotland has a legal right to a referendum whenever it wants one, but it does mean that the Crown has to act reasonably in the face of clear evidence of a widespread wish for such a referendum, as well as act reasonably in the eventuality that Scotland should vote to secede. (See, with respect to Quebec: Supreme Court of Canada, In Re: Secession of Quebec: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1643/index.do) But development and self-determination are two very different things, and with regard to the latter, Scotland has already had a referendum and doesn’t seem to want another one any time soon.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Since the Duke of Westminster is the chairman of the Westminster Trust, who are the other members, and has he made some arrangement for them to actually massage it?

    And what are the arrangements?

    • Martinned

      Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of (most parts of) the EU legislature, there isn’t as much transparency about trusts as there is about corporations, so I’m afraid we’ll never know.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig,

    You remind me of Deek Jackson of The Landless Peasants Party. He’s even more Scottish (and funnier than you) – and I also agree with most of his political views. Have you ever met him? Maybe you two should team up.

    Meanwhile, in England, everything too is slowly getting worse. I know, I’m not as good as I used to be – but most things I do – still work (when I’m sober – and even better than a lot of people when I’m not).

    Whilst I realise that the internet, can provide a lot of transparency about all the evil deeds that those in control are getting up to (and I am totally convinced they are getting worse – despite my naive and generally trusting nature), a lot of people around my age, simply do not know how to use the internet – and yet the Government, and the vast majority of institutions and companies – assume Everyone is connected and understands – and they provide almost no alternative. If you are lucky there might be a telephone number that eventually gets answered by a human being – after pressing several different numbers to answer -all kinds of stupid questions – whilst billing you at an exorbitant rate. Very occasionally, they can actually assist you, if you manage to remain polite, and can understand their dialect.

    If you are poor, isolated and lonely – you don’t stand a bloody chance. The average IQ is 100. 50% of the population have a lower IQ. If they are old and slow too – and for example – have just realised they have to wait another 6 years for their pension – what chance do they stand of making 66?

    England used to be a lot better than this.

    Tony

    • RobG

      Try to keep good cheer, Tony; and with regard to the internet, I would venture that it is the biggest social change in human history, and it’s all really happened within the last decade, and it’s not designed for the greater good of humanity: it’s designed to control the masses.

      Nowadays all you see are people staring at gadgets in their hand, in the street, in bars and restaurants, on public transport: it’s like something out of a sci-fi movie, and when you think about it it’s totally bizaare. The internet used to be called ‘the information super highway’, but the vast majority of these ‘smartphone zombies’ haven’t got a clue about what’s really happening in the world around them. That’s the whole point of it: it’s the most efficient way yet found of pumping out lies and propaganda and setting up the ‘alternate reality’.

      Critical thinking is now actively discouraged, and is no longer taught at all in the education system. A prime example of this is some of the people who post on boards like this, who are complete slaves to ‘authority’; but on the plus side people like Craig and many others in the ‘alternate media’ are increasingly providing a different and more honest narrative.

      That’s why the feckers are trying to censor the internet. There’s been a story pumped out this week by the presstitutes – one of many – about a young girl who went to Syria to fight for the latest incantation of the CIA’s bogeyman, and the presstitutes keep saying that this young girl was ‘radicalised on the internet’. The girl in question probably doesn’t even exist, but you see where they’re going with this.

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