Cut CAP to Mayfair scroungers

james armstrong james36armstrong at
Wed Jun 30 23:16:21 BST 2010

So you thought Private Eye was progressive and radical? Read on!

From: james36armstrong at
To: strobes at
Subject: RE: Cut CAP to Mayfair scroungers
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2010 20:07:01 +0000

Hello to Someone anonymous at private eye.
Just a couple of of quick points.

How meaningful is the average of your £23,000 (for which moonlighting at Private Eye and owning some hundreds of acres at ?£4,000 per acre,  your non means tested need is doubtful.) with  the £81million cap payment in 2009 to British Sugar Corporation ? I suggest meaningless and  misleading.Secondly , CAP  is 44% of EU budget. Is that small fry?Why do you quote the utterly irrelevant % of EU GDP stat? To try to confuse someone? 
Next  the wording of treaty of Rome is to reward not "farmers" but agricultural workers - who have declined catastrophically  in UK. CAP is   a total failure.Next I don't advocate quitting,all  we need to do is  threaten to withdraw our £5.5bn annual contribution (in return for £3.3bn CAP ) to EU to pay You and Yours .  Britain is such an asset to EU they would cave in to-morrow.But there is no will in the UK establishment Also my interest is that I own no land but pay taxes to pay for CAP to landowners , bizarre, secret and inequitable. 
I cannot change what goes on in 25 countries of EU but I  have a small  voice in  UK and I will use it  to change our  undemocratic and inequitable payouts to  the rich from the poor.
I thought  that might appeal to Private Eye. 
 The Land is Ours views land as a common resource not as a commodity.Ownership for a  thousand years has demonstrated that land monopoly  is used by the minority to  oppress the majority- for serfdom/slavery ,  in villeinage for imposing aids and levies,  later for imposing tithes, now for exploiting people's housing  needs (which require land) and in agriculture CAP is a regressive tax by landowners on the majority who own no bulk land.
Strange that you  drag up the benighted Soviet Union isn't it?   Have you no vision of a better world than  that ?  Doesn't education and Britain's progress over some hundreds of years towards democracy a better take off point for progress than the ex serf, ex Tsarist  ex Stalinist USSR?    From James Armstrong.  From Strobes@ Private-EyeThank   you for your e-mail.


I should first declare an interest: I receive an annual
payment in the form of the Single Farm Payment that is paid from CAP
funds (which at least disproves your genralisation that 'CAP
doesn't go to tractor driving farmers'!)  By the way, the average CAP
payment to UK farmers last year was £18,000 and made up 90% of the average
UK farmer's income of £23,000 - not many SFP claimants live in Mayfair so just
because a few aristos have got their snouts in the CAP trough don't make the
mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water. 


You are right when you say that the modern CAP has little or
nothing to do with 'food security' although this has only been the case since
2005 when production subsidies were ended.  To be fair to the EU this
'de-coupling' of production subsidies was forced on policy makers in Brussels
by the GATT and WTO who were insistant that 'trade distorting'
production incentives were phased out to be replaced by the Single Farm Payment
which is paid to the 'occupier' of the land whether anything is produced
or not.  Farmers - whether they be Lord Carrington or a crofter
on two acres - can hardly be blamed individually for taking whatever money
they are offered.  


Regarding your view on farmland values I agree that the CAP
has supported land prices but in real terms both CAP funding and the value of
farm output per acre are in long term decline (the price of wheat is currently
less than it was 30 years ago) and the profitability of beef, dairy and sheep
farming are also in crisis.  So, while CAP funding and
agri-environmental payments are importrnat in determining the value of farmland
just as important are the reliefs from capital taxes that farmland
attracts.  These include exemption for Inheritance Tax and Roll Over
Relief for Capital Gains Tax - these two 'reliefs' draw in massive amounts of
investment from non farmers but are nothing to do with farming profitability or
the CAP.   But the notion of 'high' farmland values has to be kept in
perspective - farmland has been a lousy long term investment (over the
past thirty or forty years) compared to, say, houses or the stock market. 


Like so many Brits you seem very opposed to the CAP but it
has, in many ways, achieved its original
rather benign objectives of protecting the livelihoods of million of
EU farmers from the vagueries of the free market and maintaining a considerable
degree of EU food self sufficieny.  Of course, given that the UK has a much larger average farm size than any
other EU country, the CAP has never been an easy fit for the UK but some of the largest holdings in the EU
are in Germany
and France - the two key architects of the CAP.  


Leave the EU to escape the CAP?  I think that you
are getting this issue out of perspective -  total CAP spending
accounts for less that one quarter of one percent of EU GDP and most of
the money goes to farmers who need it.   


I know nothing of the detail of the Poundbury development on
Duchy land or the house self building schemes you mention but I don't think it
is any good blaming individual landowners for the ridiculous price
of development land - it is the difficulty of gaining planning
permission to build houses at all that has sent development land prices through
the roof.  We must work out a way of releasing much more land to bring
supply and demand into more equal balance - but first one has to wrest
control town and country planning from the NIMBY's - not easy I think you
will agree.


As a land owning farmer struggling with a mortgage
and the raising of a ridiculous number of children I cannot agree that
'this land is ours' (even the Russians have given up on that idea!) but
I would agree with you that the current CAP is rubbish and farmers should
be encouraged to grow food to address our growing food trade deficit and
potential food shortage (if the 'experts' on climate change, population growth
and peak oil are to be believed) rather than receive handouts simply because
they own land or occupy land as tenants - but without any requirement or
encouragement, in the form of a profit motive or subsidy, to produce


Best Agri Brigade












From: james armstrong
[mailto:james36armstrong at] 

Sent: 19 June 2010 10:34

To: Strobes

Subject: Cut CAP to Mayfair scroungers


Cut C.A.P. to Mayfair scroungers,

Common Agricultural Policy Payments  could better be called

And Aristocrats, Public Pensions.


Huge annual payments go to –

     Lord Carrington          £149,000

     Lord Linlithgow          £ 144,000

      Lord Rothermere        £29,000

Every year for the last thirty seven years 


 to-    M.P.s  ,    Richard Drax  £417,846

To dukes….to earls…. To Prince Charles £581,000

To their  trade association , NFU, £70,000


HM Queen received  £1,183,508 over the last two years for privately
owning the Sandrigham estate.

Two thousand get more than the Prime Minister’s annual salary,

39,000 receive  CAP welfare bonus of  over twice the minimum wage.


This is not a means of helping struggling farmers  but a regressive
tax- a Sheriff of Nottingham extortion from the poor to the rich.


It has nothing to do with food security – One million pony paddock
acres qualify for some £30million .  Preserving the countryside and the
wildlife  is the business of Defra and  the RSPB-not CAP -  (yet that Charity
with a £15million membership fund gets an additional £1million from CAP


It is all on show  at


These claimants are already landowning millionaires and after dipping
you pockets for thirtyseven years are also  CAP millionaire- privateers.




CAP  is funded not by EU but out of UK
taxes and costs the British taxpayer £3.3billion in 2009 .

This is an increase of  23 per cent over 2008  and in 2010 will
increase again, and in 2011…


CAP DOESN’T GO TO tractor driving FARMERS 

£19millloin went to sugar /bio-fule brokers Czarnikow. 

Unilever, Nestle, RSPB, Nat West bank, distillers, get £millions




CAP was designed to compensate low paid agricultural workers for the
higher wage levels obtainable in industry.  This is the rationale explicitly
stated in the Treaty of Rome. CAP was a political deal  to reward working
French farmers then paid in shaky French francs, from the proceeds of rock
solid German industry  paid in the mighty Deutschmark., to make a fledgling
European economic community less lop sided.

CAP is the price post-war Germany
paid  for rehabilitation into the community of nations.  When UK
later joined the EEC in 1973 the Conservative land lobby in Britain ensured
that the payments went to  bulk landowners  and to agribusinesses and subverted
the rationale of the CAP.

 Since then , in UK
the` number of  workers in agriculture and the number of small farms has
declined rapidly  , land prices have rocketed  and CAP payments have increased
and are still increasing. .   CAP is a fiercely regressive and largely
unreported  tax  and is defended by the land lobby- hear the NFU on Radio
Four’s ‘Farming Today’ and read their propaganda in the press. They have press
officers in each of their regional offices and paid lobbyists at Westminster and Brussels.


The solution is either to cap CAP, at some £12,000 per individual , or
to  cut out CAP altogether, or to cut and run from EU.


One of the unexpected (o r intended) effects of pumping £billions
annually into land ownership for thirty seven years  has been to increase the
price of land.


A large proportion of new houses are built on former farm land  .  The
huge development of some 2,500`projected houses at Poundbury  in Dorset is being built on the 400
acres of  former Poundbury and Middle Farms owned by the Duchy of Cornwall

Where the cows were grazing some months  ago. several more streets of
houses in Prince
  of Wales Road, Lancaster
Road, Duke
  Road, and Sandrigham Road
surround the old farmhouse of the Prince of Wales’ Fordington Farm, now within Dorchester town.


This connection between the inflated price of farmland caused by CAP
and the rising price of houses which is partly caused by the increased price of
the sites) suggests one solution.

Replace the Sheriff’s CAP tax with a Robin Hood tax raiding the unused
landbanks of giant inefficient housebuilders like the Duchy of Cornwall and
selling the land to  self builders eager to self supply the houses that the big
builders are reluctant to build in sufficient quantities and at accessible

Although getting planning permsiion for 2,500 new houses at Poundbury
in 1994, to date only 800 have been completed.  In htemeantime teh
 value of the undeveloped land increases year by year.


It seems bizarre that we reward giant landowners including inefficient
housebuilders from the CAP with some £3.3 billion annually and spend only £2.7
billion on social housing via  Housing Revenue Account.


Since self builders finance their own self provided houses at no cost
to the Treasury, in times of cutting public expenditure Government could
cut the Housing Revenue Account payments and rely on self builders to supply
social houses at their own expense as is already happening at a team self build
project in St Minver, Corwall.

James Armstrong   The Land is Ours,  Dorchester
DT1 1LE    tel 01305 265510       


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