This Land Is Ours – Meeting Announced

Call Out statement:

The Land is Ours, originally founded by George Monbiot and others in
Oxford in 1995, is a powerful name and stills holds a resonance with
people. We are probably most synonymous with land occupations that we
carried out in the mid to late 1990s such as Pure Genius on a piece of
land on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth owned by Guiness and the
occupation on a piece of land on St Georges Hill in Surrey to find a
home for a commemorative headstone honouring the Diggers on their
350th anniversary.

The following is an appeal for people who agree with this to give
their support to continuing and renewing the Land is Ours campaign:

The Land is Ours Needs you!
The Land is Ours campaign has been in existence for some 17 years. It
is a campaign that has been characterised as a direct-action campaign
which sought to use the tactic of occupation to promote positive land
interventions that raised issues of land inequity, environmental
stewardship, the need for affordable housing and urban neglect.

The campaign has struggled to make an impact in recent years, with the
exception of the work of Simon Fairlie and Jyoti Fernandez in ‘Chapter
7’ who have made a huge contribution in getting Low Impact Development
recognised in planning policy regionally, particularly in Wales, and
lobbying for the right of those seeking to get planning permission to
live on the land engaged in land-based livelihoods.

There is a strand of opinion that believes that The Land is Ours
should be constituted as a membership organisation with proper
electoral accountability, not a loose affiliation characteristic of
many anarchist groups ioften fall victim to the tyranny of
structurelessness. It has also been said that TLIO needs to canvass
support from beyond the confines of from where it has traditionally
sought it’s support (ie. reaching out further into civil society such
as housing tenant groups, trade union members, students ..etc, and not
confined to an email list and an advert in The Land Magazine).

That campaign, a few of us firmly believe, must go beyond how Marion
Shoard once described TLIO as merely a ‘ginger group’. Our vision for
TLIO is of a robust lobbying campaign, that seriously takes on the
issue of land reform, and advocates solutions to bringing it about via
thorough policy review which may or may not include ideas such as land
value taxation or variants thereof.

That vision for a robust lobbying campaign would use the following
analysis in it’s arsenal:

In Britain, land passed into the hands of a tiny minority of owners
and decision-makers centuries ago. The enclosures and the clearances
were the culmination of a thousand years of land alienation. The UK
has 60 million acres of land – 70% of this is now owned by 0.26% of
the population. The English agricultural plot is owned by just 144,000
people or families, and costs the taxpayer about £2.2 billion a year
to support.

So, whilst just 6,000 or so landowners, mostly aristocrats, own about
40 million acres, two thirds of the UK – 60 million people – live in
24 million “dwellings. These 24 million dwellings sit on approx 4.4
million acres (7.7% of the land). Hereditary landowners have been
adept at protecting their interests – making plentiful land look
scarce, and being paid from the public purse to keep it that way. They
perpetuate exclusion, while bolstering the cultural power of landed
wealth by their constant engendering of images of continuity and
tradition (as though only ruling class people had such things).
Institutions such as the National Trust, whose remit and reach is
commendable, operate in a context which further crystallises this
notion protecting vast landed estates as museums of Britain’s glorious
past of vast land inequity and exasperating levels of wealth
inequality, celebrated for the rest of the world to follow.

However, the increasing trend since the Second World War, particularly
since the liberalisation of the market economy since the early 1980s,
has been the trend towards land & wealth being increasingly swallowed
up by faceless corporations.

As a first step, a robust UK land rights campaign would seek to
campaign for a freely-accessible public registry of land ownership,
leading to community ground rents. TLIO advocates doing this in words
only so far. Secondly, the political agenda for land reform needs to
be advanced through effective campaigning, including political
lobbying and, ideally, public rallies.

This hegemony of land wealth in the possession of a privileged few and
an increasingly upward trend in land values – especially in recent
years – is leading to ever greater land concentration with land an
increasing store of wealth. However, the trend is further crystallised
by the aggressive machinations of free market capitalism and market
entities with disproportionate market power, which have dealt smaller
farmers such a harsh deal in recent years. The Common Agricultural
Policy farm subsidy system has allowed the largest farmers to
withstand the harsh realities of the market and the disproportionate
power and market concentration of the supermarket and agribusiness
sector whilst farmers in hoc to it are subject to greater vertical
integration of the food production process.

In terms of agriculture, TLIO already robustly asserts that “a
farmer-centred approach is the key to the attainment of sustainability
in both developed and developing countries.” ( Agenda 21 from 1990 Rio
Summit). The solution: absoultely not delinking subsidies from food
production, but re-orienting them towards low impact, high employment
uses of the land, such as smallholder organic agriculture, as well as
environmental stewardship, by way of all payments made conditional on
more exacting, rigorous standards of land management, including
measures to protect nature, forbid harmful land management, protect
important landscape and cultural assets, beneficial standards of
animal welfare and sustainable food production, and for suitable land
to be used for food and other natural resource production.

Those of us who want to grow food and tend to the land in a
sustainable way should be enabled by central and local government
policies. So, continuing to lobby for these demands and shape central
and local government policy, in particular planning policy, to make
provision for them will continue to also be a priority as it has been
through Chapter-7’s ongoing work.

If you support what has been said above, we wish you to support what
we have said in time before the next TLIO Core Group meeting, where
the issue of the future of TLIO campaign is to be discussed, so that a
groundswell of support for the ideas we advance here may carry
substantial weight. If you agree, please SIGN YOUR NAME AND AREA
WHERE YOU LIVE AND SEND YOUR EMAIL TO: info AT tlio.org.uk

The Land is Ours are having an open meeting in London on Sat 1st
December, 5pm (prompt start, so please arrive early)
at the Cock Tavern pub (upstairs room), 23 Phoenix Road, Euston,
Greater London NW1 1HB

Phoenix Road is down off Eversholt Street which runs down alongside
Euston Station.
Streetmap Ref:
http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=529716&y=183016&z=0&sv=NW1+1HB&st=2&pc=NW1+1HB&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf

The Cock Tavern is a pub which has hosted meeting of various
left-political group/anarchist and direct-action group meetings over
the years. Reclaim the Streets helfd their meetings there every week
during the mid-to late 1990s.

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