Nationalisation Without Compensation 1600

When slavery was abolished in the British Empire, taxpayers paid huge sums in compensation to slave owners for the loss of their “property”. No compensation was ever paid to the slaves for the loss of their freedom.

The problem with that approach is, of course, that the state did not take into account that the “property” of which it was relieving the landowners was acquired as part of an inhuman and immoral situation.

I was considering the same question in relation to the constitutional moves of South Africa to redistribute land without compensation. It seems to me this is plainly morally justified. The only question marks I can see are of practicality, in terms of making sure those taking over the land are trained to keep it properly in production, and that redistribution is not corrupt. Those are not insuperable problems, and I support the South African government in its endeavours.

But I wish to apply the same principle, of the state acting to right historic injustice on behalf of the people, much more widely and in the UK.

I apply precisely the same argument to the great landed estates, particularly but not only in Scotland. I believe the fundamental answer to land reform is confiscation by the state of large estates, and that social justice can never be redressed by the taxpayer simply handing over money to the ultra-wealthy. We have already been doing far too much of that through the bankers’ bailouts.

I have no moral qualms at all about simply taking back the land, whether it be from the Dukes of Sutherland, Buccleuch and Atholl, from a Dutch businessman or from a sheikh. In England the Grosvenor estate, the lands of the Duchy of Cornwall, and similar holdings could be confiscated. I do not see this as harm to the “owners”. Let them work for a living, or try their luck with the benefits claim system. Residential properties in large estates might become council homes, while tenants of commercial properties might pay rents to the council rather than to the Duke of Westminster, and the council use a large portion of that money for homebuilding.

Agricultural land from vast estates might perhaps best be given to the tenant farmers who have rented it. In the Highland glens, there are vast tracts which were once cattle rearing and arable. We have been lied to for generations that these are only fit for moorland for grouse and deer hunting – despite the fact that they are studded with the croft foundations of the cleared populations they once supported, who reared cattle and grew crops. These unfarmed lands should be given free to communities to develop; with assistance for the expensive task of bringing them back into production. That assistance would be a better use of state money than paying “compensation” to the ultra-wealthy.

But it is not only land. I favour nationalisation without compensation of all PFI projects, and of all railways and utilities. The owners have milked the public and the taxpayer far too long. Any business investment carries risk, including political risk. If you misjudge the political risk, your business fails. These businesses have made a misjudgement of political risk in the view they could profiteer, that it is possible to rip off the people forever without blowback. That is a business miscalculation, and such businesses deserve to fail.

The Labour Party’s renationalisation proposals have been carefully calculated within the existing framework of “legitimate” property rights. Therefore John McDonnell has framed rail nationalisation in terms of the expiration of franchises, and talked of PFI projects in terms of buyouts. I reject this approach in favour of the more radical approach of confiscation.

Yes, I realise that some percentage of the investments removed will belong to pension funds and insurance companies and even foreign states, and to small investors. Still more will belong to hedge funds and plutocrats, and the stake of ordinary people in wealth through pension funds had been – deliberately – tumbling for two decades. The less wealthy individuals with a stake in pension funds will lose a little, but gain from the wider public good, and for them there might be a compensation mechanism.

I also realise the markets will not like confiscation, and there will be an increase in bond yields; but this will pass. There is no measure to redress social injustice the markets will like. The City of London is our enemy and will naturally attempt to resist or punish any attack on its continued ability to be the conduit for the hoovering dry of the national wealth.

The fact is, that the extreme injustice and inequalities of society have now become so very glaring that there is no way to make any impression on wealth disparity without changes that may be rightly considered revolutionary. Either we are content to live in a society where the wealthiest one per cent will within two decades own ninety per cent of all wealth in the UK and the rest of us be helots, or we make changes to the fabric of the economy and government which are truly radical.

The economic system has tilted beyond correction by tinkering.

What is immorally owned ought not to be compensated on expropriation by the community.

As with the owners of slaves, the owners of “property” would be likely to attempt to defend their riches through the courts. This is where the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament might for once be put to good rather than evil use, in passing law making such state confiscation unequivocally legal. Both the UK and Scotland appear set for at least a period outside the EU; I cannot think of a better use for any window of legal autonomy.

I am fully aware that I am proposing very radical measures very unlikely to be adopted by the current political Establishment. But the most telling fact of recent western society, itself a natural and predictable result of that galloping wealth inequality, is that the political Establishment has its coat on a very shoogly peg.

1,600 thoughts on “Nationalisation Without Compensation

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  • lennart Odhström

    Great idea!
    “I do not see this as harm to the “owners”. Let them work for a living, or try their luck with the benefits claim system. “

  • Stuart

    You have come up with a very radical proposal and in a perfect world this would be fine, but we dont live in a perfect world. This country already has a fundamentaly floor system of wealth distribution. People from all backgrounds can become relatively rich with the property lottery. If your granny happened to have bought her three bedroom terraced house in Lincoln you would be lucky to inherit 60k. If she bought it in chelsea you are looking at 3 million. And if you are smart enough to have handed the title deeds over before she dies then you pay no tax. This is no different from wealthy land owners who have inherited wealth from generation to generation. An estate in Wales or Scotland may not be worth more than a house in Chelsea or Chigwell. How they got the land or wealth years ago may be questionable. But how a plumber gets enough money to buy a mansion in Chigwell by ripping off old ladies and not paying tax is equally wrong. I heard someone say that ask anyone how they made their first million and they will be ashamed to tell you. To blame the third or forth generation for how they got their wealth is wrong. And all you will do is give the land to someone else to give to their children for them to buy Range Rovers and become the new privilaged.
    Councils and Government are corrupt and any committee set up to re distribute the land property will be equally corrupt.

      • Dom

        Nope, a very weak attempt to celebrate an age of savage inequality and claim There Is No Alternative.

        • Molloy

          Stuart. . .

          Stuart, you seem to have omitted mentioning crimes of duress, price fixing, extortion; also human rights’ breaches. All of which contributed to the ‘badge of shame’ (we all know) of those acquiring this land.
          Subsequent buyers to the original criminal dishonesty are complicit. The present ‘owners’, albeit technically, cannot possibly have gained good title through crimes to acquire the land. That includes Cornwall. (A normal human would say sorry and return the land to the community it belonged to in the first place.)

          Compensation is only part of the question.
          It’s all about making fair reparations for crimes of fraud and dishonesty.
          e.g. Arms length contracts when it’s not a sale but in fact theft?
          Lawful transaction. Oh really?!!

          Clearances were precisely theft from the community whilst ignoring fundamental human rights.
          For me, to suggest that CM being radical is missing the point about basic fairness and human rights.

          Question is in fact is handing back the land to the victims sufficient compensation?

          The theft and it’s accompanying distress have been aggravated (the strutting and the aggrandising) for hundreds of years.
          The HMRC fraud tax crime analogy would hand out a 100% penalty on top of the current value of the stolen land. I suggest a maximum of 150% on top of present land value.
          Let’s call it the Grenfell Tower penalty.

          Is CM unintentionally overlooking the massive compensation ‘penalty’ accompanying the value of the stolen land?

          For McDonnell to even be thinking of PFI merely adds to the crime, insult and aggravation.



  • Mick

    It was wrong to take the land of the African’s. It’s equally wrong to take the land of the current land owners.

    We need to find a equitable solution.

  • Pyewacket

    The above link from UCL provides access to a database that details the identities of those who benefitted from the Slavery Compensation Scheme, it amounted to £20 million, equal to £17 billion in today’s money. Those who had several thousand slaves received tens of thousand of pounds, equivalent to millions today. These monies were of course invested into the expanding Industrial market and infrastructure like railways, coal mines and textile manufacturing that employed the poor working classes of all ages in not quite, but almost slave conditions. I’ve checked it out for where I live (Blackburn, Lancashire) and up popped two names who became prominent in the development of the Blackburn as a cotton town.

  • William Habib Steele

    Craig, you’re a man after my own heart! Yes to confiscation of big estates and what should be public services and not businesses for the profit of the rich. Of course the millionaire and billionaire MPs at Westminster will never vote for it. Only a revolution will bring it about. Would the Parliament of independent Scotland vote for it? I have have more hope for that than I have for Westminster.

    • John2o2o

      Maybe a nice idea if you are living in a fantasy world. Not practical in the real world.

      Tell me, when you have “confiscated” these estates, what are you going to do with them?

      The old ruling class were largely destroyed by inheritance taxes in the twentieth century. A few of the wealthier aristocrats survived, but many did not. A great many old stately homes were demolished in the 1950s. One I know of allowed the fire brigade to use their ancient home for training. Of course they could only use it once. During the war, the army took over (and destroyed) the abandoned stately home in which Handel wrote the Messiah.

      These ideas of Craig’s appeal to the visceral emotions of some of his readership, but as one of his regular readers I find them depressingly simplistic and infantile.

      • Kempe

        ” A great many old stately homes were demolished in the 1950s. ”

        About 1,200. We were well rid of the feudal system of which they were the centre but that had largely gone by the 50’s. The loss to the nation’s built heritage however is quite another thing.

        • Clark

          Why were the stately homes demolished? They could have become centres for communal living, or museums, or community resources, or offices, or any number of things.

          Surely the owners didn’t have them demolished out of spite?

          • Giambologna

            Because there was no many to keep them going. It costs millions a year (not an exaggeration) to keep large, historic houses in a manageable state so that they do not crumble. The National Trust had to reject a whole load of these houses, there were too many to take. No one else wanted to take them on. The Government was building thousands of horrid new council buildings and schools, largely based on Le Corbusier and his followers’ social ideas, and had no time for these symbols of the old world. They were demolished because it was safer, otherwise they could have fallen bit by bit and killed people or set on fire, which is often what happened.

          • J


            “Because there was no many to keep them going.”

            The contradictions in your argument begin at the slightest exploration. Your typo above hints at a repressed truth. If it were true, allow them to crumble rather than demolish. Allowing to crumble invites alternative use. Demolition prevents any use. If use comes with dangers, surely the alternative users accept this danger. The only credible purpose of demolition is to spite.

  • Mac

    Without, I hope, sounding supercilious, but I have been saying this for decades.

    The current state of land ownership in Scotland does not require mere tinkering – it needs to be overhauled. An independent Scotland would offer these landowners fair prices for the land, particularly in the Highlands, and that land would then, through law, be given to the people of Scotland. And, like you, Craig, I have absolutely no issue in taking that land back into some form of public ownership.

    Walked and driven grouse moors are partially responsible for some of the more iniquitous situations in which species – such as blue hare – are shot as a byproduct of this ‘sport.’ In the case of blue hare, to the tune of around 25,000 a year. That is not a sustainable situation. To put it into human context, the Highland Clearances were all about burning and forcing the Highlanders off their land to make way, in the first instance, for the ‘four-legged Clansman’ – i.e. sheep. Now vast tracts of our land may be bought by rich Danish, English, American, Italian, German families and used as a plaything.

    There are some better examples of foreign landowners out there, but the system is dead on its feet and needs radical reform. Whether this would face censure in the courts, or bond yields would fluctuate is, in the context of Scotland’s enormous contribution to the UK economy – around £200billion – irrelevant. We are seeing a revolution regarding Scottish independence

    The issue is of fairness. And parity.

    The current system of land ownership provides neither for the people of Scotland.

  • John A

    It is my understanding that a high proportion of the homeless people on the streets of Britain are former military personnel, many with mental health issues to do with stress disorders. Yet the richest and most fawned on family in Britain is full of ex military personnel, always ever keen to don uniforms and squeeze a million medals onto their chests. The most recent ex serving member, who married recently, is moving house and we taxpayers are apparently spending millions doing up his new home. The main palace, is being refurbished for hundreds of millions of taxpayers money. The family has homes, palaces and estates all round the country.
    Homeless people are a disgrace to a supposedly civilised nation. I fully support nationalisation as the author proposes, and firstly of all the properties of the Windsor nee saxe coburg gotha family as a first step to ensuring affordable housing for everyone in the country.

  • le Pierre

    How do you define ‘the great landed estates’? You will require a committee. Would holiday homes fall into this definition, if not by size, but perhaps by implicit wealth?

    As Stuart has noted: ‘Councils and Government are corrupt and any committee set up to re distribute the land property will be equally corrupt.’.

    Replacing one corrupt system with another is no solution, and demolishes your arguemnt, although the intent is laudable.

  • Independent Woman

    My guess is the big landowners have made plenty out of their land over the decades or even centuries of land ownership. They should have enough in the bank to live on for the rest of their lives. I would, therefore, have little hesitation in putting the land into public ownership for the benefit of society as a whole.

    McMillan castigated Thatcher for ‘selling the family silver’ as she started the process of stealing publicly-owned utilities and selling them dirt cheap to ‘her kind of people.’ So I would have no problem in taking them back into public ownership again.

    Pension funds have more to fear from delinquent business owners than from losing some of their investment in previously nationalised industries.

  • stef

    I agree the state should exercise its power for good in this manner. Ironically, especially as a remain voter myself, there may be a few other opportunities brexit offers us; strong state aid for geothermal and electric transport infrastructure. The fallout for utilities nationalisation would also be a card in the hand while EDF and RWE own large slices.

  • John2o2o

    Oh dear. I think perhaps you’ve been giving a little too much “justice” to that 48 year old Islay malt you were twittering on about the other day Craig.

    This sort of nonsense may appeal to the visceral emotions of some of your readership, but does nothing to advance your cause.

    I have said on numerous occasions that I am indifferent to the cause of Scottish nationalism, but being half Scottish I have some personal interest in the matter.

    I spoke to my cousin in June at his brother’s wedding in East Kilbride. He told me that he supported Scottish indepencence because he thought it would be good for Scotland. And although I did not mention it, he was keen to emphasise that this was not an attack on the English. I greatly respected him for that. That is voting for the right reasons.

    Contrast that with his father, my uncle. He told me that he voted for Scottish independence because of a verse in the UK national anthem. I’m not sufficiently familiar with the national anthem to know what he was talking about, so when I got home I looked it up. Well, according to wikipedia the offending verse is not a part of the official anthem. I doubt that anything as clearly inflammatory as that verse would be, but I know I’m not going to convince those who resent the sassenach.

    A cousin in law of mine provided another angle on the issue, when I asked him what his view was of Scottish independence, “What’s the point?” he scowled. Not everyone views independence as positively as Craig and his groupies, it seems!

    • bj

      These ideas of Craig’s appeal to the visceral emotions of some of his readership, but as one of his regular readers I find them depressingly simplistic and infantile.

      This sort of nonsense may appeal to the visceral emotions of some of your readership, but does nothing to advance your cause.

      Meanwhile these quotes do shed some light on your visceral emotions.

    • Molloy


      John2020. . . .

      Oh please do spare us readers the thinly veiled undermining of CM.

      Consider that gaslighting and the need to do it says far more about John2020.

      Please try and be sensible.


  • George Campbell

    Total support from me Craig. I have long been an advocate iof state stewardship of land and other strategic national assets. We could repopulate the highland glens with refugees from our inner city council estates and others. Provide training to work the land and establish new healthy communities.

  • Mark in Mayenne

    I would be interested to hear your views on the hugely wealth Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • pete

    Re Nationalisation without compensation.
    This seems to me to be a very sensible idea. I have to declare an interest in the matter in that I am not a vast landowner and stand to loose nothing by its implementation.
    Still the basic idea is sound, the distribution of land and wealth was never made on a fair basis, it always went to the most ruthless, the most greedy and the most amoral. Such benefits to society that you might point to were usually gained by the struggles of the underclass. How you might do the redistributing and who might do it is what worries me, I have a horrible feeling that the same administrators we have now will find themselves in charge and we could find ourselves standing on the same patch of barren earth where we started.

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    One of the problems with such a radical approach is money and property and resources equates to power. There can be no doubt that powerful people would do great harm rather than concede their wealth to some notion of equality or redistribution.
    I would expect retribution on a large scale.In times of major disruption such as that proposed the wealthy command the resources to allow them to persist and one would also have to expect the deployment of legal mechanisms that are designed precisely for such an eventuality.A class war could develop into civil war.
    Is it an accident that the royals maintain such close affiliations to the military? Or that many ‘lairds’ have a military background o employ people who have this expertise.
    I sense that a much more important and constructive approach to moving towards a more satisfactory distribution of land is to focus on land management from an environmental perspective.The most pressing issue of the time is that of climate change. It would be much less divisive to demand that we have more control over land and its use to attempt to mitigate global warming. I would favour ‘re-wilding’ of large swathes of Scotland( and England).it is highly questionable that the use of large areas of land for a very low quality sheep industry or for the vanity of rich people with absurd affectations wishing to mimic the ‘gentry’.
    or a ludicrous grouse shooting activity which is so ecologically damaging.
    it’s certainly time for change but exactly how this is achieved is an important matter.
    Craig’s approach is impractical, unworkable and dangerous.

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        do you mean bollocks? bollix is the Us version of bollocks and has a slightly different meaning to the good old British version.
        the main point however is that shouting ‘bollix’ is not an intelligent or reasoned response.

  • Clark

    People cannot ‘own’ bits of the planet; it reverses the inherent dependency relationship. A more rational assessment is that the planet ‘owns’ the people.

  • Loftwork

    It’s necessary to think the unthinkable to begin to correct entrenched problems. This nationalisation position is a post in the ground. It may be well beyond the riverbank of conventional wisdom, but by the standards I grew up with much of what transpires today is almost literally unthinkable. The US is now embarked on an indefinite programme of pre-emptive illegal war with UK help. The New Enclosure of public resources – privatisation – is camouflaged as necessary austerity. The New Enclosure of public intellectual property is proclaimed as copyright piracy. Investigative reporting at the “respectable” media is apparently dead. “Competition” as a driver for capitalism is being systematically degraded by IP cartels. This is no longer a minor setback in the post-war consensus, it is a juggernaut which will require nothing less than major anti-trust, anti-cartel legislation and the breakup of vast entrenched property holdings dating in most cases back to the last Enclosure Acts.

    The town of Langholm in Dumfriesshire is on Common Land. In 1759 that land was defined and confirmed by a famous court case after encroachments by the local laird. “However, by 1816… the court accepted the Duke of Buccleuch’s case that he owned the land despite the 1759 court ruling. By 1922 the Duke had decided to gift the land to the local council, on the condition that it could not be sold without his consent, despite the fact that in law he was never the proprietor. In 2009 the council asked the Duke if he would waive his consent, but the Duke refused – instead offering to buy the land back for PS500, a fraction of its market value. The council agreed, and the Duke now owns the land.” ( ) Legal leverage in pursuit of the old Enclosures, still alive and well.

    It is not, I think, a revolutionary act to take drastic measures to restore and defend parts of a traditional and constitutional system which are under attack. On the contrary, the ‘revolutionaries’ are those who wish to carpetbag the entire country for their sole benefit. Small-business capitalism, democracy itself, is embattled every bit as much as it was in WWII. Half measures will avail us nothing.

      • Clark

        “Copyright infringement“, please! “Piracy” is a propaganda term, equating sharing with armed robbery and murder at sea.

        • SA

          The patent laws should be seriously curbed and exclude what pertains to common goods. I remember that at some stage some US company wanted to patent the human genome, luckily for the rest of us this did not succeed.

        • Loftwork

          I agree. But I’m explaining how the entrenched narrative distorts the underlying reality. In many cases the “infringement” is actually a threat of litigation against a use legitimately in the public domain in order to ‘enclose’ the public asset in private hands. I consider that theft by extortion.

    • Royd

      Interesting and illuminating article. Thankyou for posting the link. The land on which the house I live in stands is in Lancashire and was once owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. It is now freehold and ‘belongs’ to me. Small steps, eh?

  • Stu Neill

    I’m left wondering which early maladaptive schemata might be the cause of Craig’s see-sawing from urging a rigid application of international law in the Sea of Azov yesterday (with which I somewhat agree), to this vague but florid disquisition in which he endorses an abandonment of the rule of law altogether by proposing an expropriation of land in the UK that would cause Mugabe to blush (with which I do not agree).
    Another visit to St Thomas’s may be in order.

    • Loftwork

      What “abandonment of the rule of law”? The Sherman Anti-trust Act or Glass-Stegal weren’t an “abandonment of the rule of law”. The rule of law was used to justify piracy on an unprecedented scale but since those opposed to it were generally unable to compete with the extensive legal resources of plutocrats and magnates, you have no problem. Now that the proposal is to rebalance a situation which should never have been allowed in the first place, you are offended?

    • Andrew Ingram

      Craig has not endorsed an adandonement of the rule of law – he proposes a lawful confiscation/redistribution of land. As lawful as the various Enclosures Acts and a lot fairer. Can you translate “early maladaptive schemata” from Pompous into poor man’s English please?

        • Lana Runter

          I just made a similar reply to John2o2o, and see here another gaggle of “Craig’s groupies”, c/w the omnipresent Master of Hubris


          I expect what Stu Neill was meaning, “Pompous into poor man’s”, is that Craig is a crackpot, and always has been. Harsh, though possibly fair! I also think he means the rule of law is desirable, and there would be undesirable legal “issues” with expropriation of land here as in S Africa, to put it mildly.
          I suspect, Andrew, that Craig’s suggestion implies his own belief that Parliamentary democracy trumps all, natural law included. I find this stance at best naive, and ill-informed. An historian…whistleblower (etc) he may be, but an expert on jurisprudence (Maritime Law possibly excepted) he certainly is not. I didn’t get the impression Stu Neill was offended, Loftwork, but who knows? I thought this comment was quite funny.

        • Lana Runter

          Another comment did not appear in this place just now (12.30 ish). Is there a problem server side? ?

  • David Wilson

    When Thatcher did it to the TSB the markets didn’t seem to have any objections. We should first expand adverse possession laws. Any housing unoccupied for more than three months in a year to be taken into management by the state. This will be quite upsetting to both slumlords and foreign owners of “investment” property, but then there are laws on the books that allow civil forfeiture, and I expect many of those oligarchs would be unable to show legitimate sources for the income which bought those properties. And should Brexit go badly, there’s plenty of EU property in Britain to be confiscated, EU citizens to be dispossessed and the like.

  • giyane

    Always interested in a new way to print money. I don’t want to upset anyone today. A certain country decided it would go socialist and nationalise all the land. Some bright young politicos realised that by serving the political party that had nationalised the land they could get rewarded with government land. So they served the party faithfully for a while and soon realised that lots of other people were getting land but not them. so they left the party and joined another party called CIA Islamic Party. Promises were made and delivered but CIA kept on causing other problems to their fellow citizens. CIA then started to round up and torture all the people who had worked for them and then CIA Islamic Party HQ got bombed by USUKIS.

    The final outcome is that the Party that did socialism to get central control of the land kept the land but switched to Democracy. Democracy allowed them to cram the ballot boxes with votes for themselves with impunity because USUKIS was guarding the voting booths. Now the “””””Democratic “”””” Party control all of the land and some of the oil revenues, and USUKIS get all the oil for nothing through “””””democratic””””” free market oil companies. The only cost to USUKIS is maintaining their vassal government servile by attacking them with Islamic State head-choppers women-enslavers and free people -enslavers but all that was paid for through the Islamic Socialist booty of stolen oil.

    Now, that could never happen to an Independent England or Scotland, could it?

  • Monster

    The Soviet land grab was reversed after its fall and the result is that some 84 per cent of Russians are homeowners. A better solution to a UK land grab would be to drastically limit rents which would drive out the rentiers and crash the price of housing and land. The government would then step in with a miserly compensation package. Good money drives out bad?

  • Ron Pomfret

    This is an essential part of the only peaceful way that I can see towards a sustainable equitable society. Our current model of society is failing on every level and will collapse very soon unless radical change happens. If we leave the current corrupt system in place the collapse will be marked by chaos and violence as the plutocrats and their bought-and-paid-for political muppets pull out all the stops in a desperate bid to hang on to their ill-gotten gains.

  • Kempe

    Land reform is one thing, I could never understand how so much land in Scotland came to be owned by so few, re-nationalising utilities without compensation might run into some difficulties though. Many of the companies that own British infrastructure are foreign so there’s not only the matter of international law to consider but tit-for-tat actions against British interests abroad of which there are more than you might think.

    • Clark

      Cannot this apparent liability be turned into an asset? It is no more right that a domestic company owns an asset in a foreign country than that a foreign company owns an asset in this country. Pre-empt the tit-for-tat and propose to trade them off against each other.

    • Loftwork

      As to land in Scotland, see “The Poor Have No Lawyers” by Andy Wightman. As to re-nationalisation, it depends on the context. In rail, the franchise nature of the TOCs means that they do not actually own anything. The Tories have already played fast and lose with TOC franchising rules in the case of Southern Rail, for example.

      • Kempe

        No the TOCs don’t own much but the companies they lease their trains from (ROSCO’s) do and many of these are owned by conglomerates with French, German, American, Canadian and even Australian companies involved. Some pension funds have also invested on UK infrastructure. Until recently HS1 was owned by two Canadian pension funds, one of the three new owners is the South Korean Pension Fund. Do we feel happy about robbing people of their pensions?

  • Edward Spalton

    The largest outright confiscation of land and other assets since the dissolution of the monasteries was at the foundation of the NHS. The charitable institutions, town councils and other local authorities which had founded hospitals – not forgetting the large acreage of farmland attached to mental hospitals were simply taken over. The trustees were not compensated. If you owned shares in coal mines, steelworks or the Bank of England, you received government bonds at quite a reasonable rate upon nationalisation.

    I think this Stalinist seizure of property explains the massive over-centralised, unmanageable nature of the NHS. The growth of bureaucracy to attempt to manage it has been phenomenal. Continental systems appear to have retained individual hospitals as sub-contractors to the state system – rather as GPs are here.
    Bevan wanted to make them into salaried civil servants so he could post them wherever he wanted. The doctors resisted and the patient/Doctor relationship remained much the same as before with the NHS picking up the bill.

  • Deb O'Nair

    “When slavery was abolished in the British Empire”

    The slave trade may have been abolished but millions of Indians and Africans would argue that slavery was not. The idea that the British woke up one day, after centuries of running the slave trade and using slave labour, and decided it was morally wrong is historical spin. The British Empire no longer depended on slave trade labour thanks to the industrial revolution and by bringing entire nations, like India, into servitude and bondage, which is just another form of slavery.

  • SA

    Bravo and welcome to socialism. Neoliberal capitalism has legalised exploitation with increasing inequalities and this trend can only be reversed by the measures you suggest.

  • Clark

    In 1649, St George’s Hill,
    A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people’s will,
    They defied the landlords, they defied the law,
    They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.

    We come in peace they said, to dig and sow,
    We come to work the land in common and to make the waste land grow,
    This earth divided we will make whole,
    So it can be a common treasury for all.

    The sin of property we do disdain,
    No one has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain,
    By theft and murder they took the land,
    Now everywhere the walls rise up at their command.

    They make the laws to chain us well,
    The clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell,
    We will not worship the God they serve,
    The God of greed who feeds the rich while poor men starve.

    We eat together, we need no swords,
    We will not bow to masters or pay rent to the lords,
    We are free men though we are poor,
    You Diggers all stand up for glory, stand up now.

    From men of property the orders came,
    They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers’ claim,
    Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn,
    They were dispersed, only the vision lingers on.

    You poor take courage, you rich take care,
    The earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share,
    All things in common, all people one,
    They come in peace, the order came to cut them down.

      • Salford Lad

        From an economic point of view, the campaign by Wilberforce to abolish slavery in the Colonies was a boon to the British economy. The money paid to compensate the slave owners was mostly recycled to invest and expand British Industry, which created jobs and raised the living standards of British workers.
        This was Overt Fiscal intervention in action, which is the ability of the Treasury to create money and invest directly into supporting the economy. Taxation was not used for compensation. which amount would have created a recession by withdrawal and reduction of money circulating in the economy.
        The British Govt of the time made an economic decision which was presented as an altruistic endeavour.
        .The freed slaves and their ancestors still remain in poverty in much of the West Indies, and the lucky ones escaped on the Windrush to the sunny uplands of Mother England., where their diverse cuisine and music has enriched our society.

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