flashback - George Monbiot & the late Stuart Adamson

Marki Brown mark at tlio.org.uk
Thu May 10 15:52:52 BST 2007

see also - Tatty Blair puppet makes way for tatty Brown puppet

On the day that Mr Blair announces his departure to which Menzies
Campbell's response to the question of how he would sum up the PM's
tenure, he said, "10 wasted years", it is timely that we remind ourselves about the reason the TLIO campaign was brought into existence in the first place with something George M wrote when the campaign was first starting up and was frankly more active than it has been of recent years (when he was more involved)....
(incidentally, TLIO will be having an informal meeting in London on Friday 18th May at the London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel at 8pm. All welcome.. M

by George Monbiot

The quality of our lives depends to a large extent on the quality of our surroundings. Yet, partly because of the inordinate power of large
landowners and developers, ordinary people still have very little
influence over the ways in which the land is used. The Land is Ours
campaign was founded in April 1995 with the aim of bringing land-use
decisions in Britain to account.

We have three main objectives:
We'd like to see suitable housing land used for low cost homes, especially self-help and community initiatives. At the moment, scores of good inner city sites are being left idle by speculators, or used to build office blocks which no one wants or executive housing which no one can afford. In the countryside we want a tightening of Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act, in order to allow low impact settlers to live on their own land, without destroying landscape values. We'd like a new Caravan Sites Act, to provide Gypsies and Travellers with a place to live.

Both subsidies and planning policies need to be redirected to steer
farming from high-impact, low employment towards low-impact, high
employment forms. This means the definitive mapping of locally-important habitats and landscape features and their protection in much the same way as footpaths are protected today. As far as grants and subsidies are concerned, we'd like to see the whole country treated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area, with special support for such land uses as smallholder organic agriculture.
We're campaigning for the protection and reclamation of common spaces - especially informal commons - in both towns and countryside. We're calling for a right of access to uncultivated land in the countryside, on a similar basis to the Swedish Allemansratten. There's an urgent need to bring to an end the continued enclosure of streets, playing fields, city farms, allotments and informal relaxation and play areas. We want to see an end to off site "planning gain" - technically illegal, but not yet tested in law. We want local people to have the same rights of appeal as developers.

There have been hundreds of land campaigns of various kinds since the
Diggers occupied St Georges' Hill in 1649, but I hope I am right in
believing that ours has a greater chance of success than its forebears.
Our first action, the occupation of a disused airfield and set-aside land a short walk from St Georges' Hill, generated almost universal - and highly favourable - press coverage and enormous public sympathy. The occupation was wholly non-confrontational. Despite building a village which housed six hundred people for a week, we managed to leave the land in as good a state as it was when we occupied it. We dug gardens, performed a play and distributed information in the neighbouring towns. I think it is fair to say that we succeeded in generating the first stirrings of a national debate on land.

Since then, after three smaller occupations, we have scored our first
definitive political success: Oxfordshire County Council adopted a motion supporting us and calling for land reform. We are now approaching every county council. Last August we launched a competition for Britains' best and worst landowners, in which people in both towns and the countryside were asked to send in nominations. We're also carrying out research into planning, urban housing land, countryside management and the attitudes of district councils towards low impact development. If you'd like to nominate a landowner for this years competition, the criteria include treatment of the homeless, tenants, the environment, common spaces and access. Please send a few paragraphs explaining your choice. Nominators will remain anonymous, but we'll need a contact phone number in case more
information is required. [end]

In addition to the above, i also recently discovered the following. The late, songwriting genius Stuart Adamson made apparent reference to the Diggers in a live performance by his band - Big Country - of their anthemic classic song “Steeltown”. See this classic performance (from 1994) at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Veko70OfQ

Note that in the 2nd half of the 1st verse, he changes the lyric of
"Leaving behind the weight of years, leaving our own in a flood of tears" to what sounds very much like "Leaving behind the weight of Diggers, leaving our own in a crowd of Diggers".

See the original lyrics below (which are pretty damn spot-on anyway, about the industrial revolution, wage slavery & it's legacy):

Steeltown By Big Country.
Here I stand with my own kin
At the end of everything
Finally the dream is gone
I've had enough of hanging on
I came here with all my friends
Leaving behind the weight of years
Leaving our own in a flood of tears
Out on a prospect that never ends
All the landscape was the mill
Grim as the reaper with a heart like hell
With a river of bodies
Flowing with the bell
Here was the future for hands of skill

We built all this with our own hands
For who could know we built on sand
But now it's barren all to soon
There is no miracle in ruins
We set the flame and it burned so blue
With open eyes I watched it grow
A sea of palms in an ocean of snow
Hands with the courage to start anew

Here was a home for the lost and scared
Out of the yards and the run dry docks
To the call of the steel that would never stop
There was a refuge for those who dared
In a steeltown
When the heat's on
I went down
And the heat turned on me

Here I stand with all my kin
At the end of everything
Finally the dream has gone
Nothing left to hang upon

You'll also appreciate their performance of their song o“The Storm”
(performed in 1983) which loosely refers to the Highland Clearances, at:

If you liked both of these two songs, then you’ll also like this (footage
from their last ever live performance at Glasgow Barrowlands May 2000):

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