[Diggers350] TLIO: re-foundation, money, and ethics [1 Attachment]

david bangs dave.bangs at virgin.net
Wed Dec 5 08:16:35 GMT 2012

I will just take up one of the points Mark makes, at this stage.

I did NOT "propose we cast a vote  proposing the formation of a transitional 
group to liaise with the TLIO core group to form a new Steering Group to 
take charge of TLIO".

For good or for bad, that is absolutely NOT what I proposed.

My proposal was that  "we elect a new steering committee, with a ceiling of 
ten members, to take TLIO through to the next stage in its refoundation".

In fact, I made no mention of liaison with the core group wotsover, and 
assumed that the core group ceased to have any executive role at the point 
of the vote to replace it with a democratic successor body.

What other function could  the core group have than to hand over the assets 
and resources of the organisation to its democratic successor body, as 
happens in any decent trade union, tenants association, sports club, or 
local council ??

For information, I declined to be part of that new steering group. My family 
and personal projects are my present priority.

Dave Bangs

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <mark at tlio.org.uk>
To: "david bangs" <dave.bangs at virgin.net>
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2012 12:47 AM
Subject: Re: [Diggers350] TLIO: re-foundation, money, and ethics [1 

>I wish to just make it clear that these are Dave's personal views, and I 
>know for a fact that they are not shared in their entirety by atleast a few 
>people who attended the meeting at the weekend (and I suspect most people 
>who attended that Open TLIO meeting organised by me last Saturday).
> Whilst I could now go on to express my own views as to what has or hasn't 
> happened with the insular workings of the TLIO Core Group (I have 
> expressed them enough times in the past), I'm not going to do so now, so 
> as to encourage us all to move on.
> In Saturday's meeting, it was Dave who proposed we cast a vote proposing 
> the formation of a transitional group to liaise with the TLIO Core group 
> to form a New Steering Group to take charge of TLIO. There was unanimity 
> that the vote should proceed, and after several rounds of clarification on 
> the precise wording of that vote by the chair of the 2nd half of the 
> meeting, the vote was carried with a clear majority in favour (12 in 
> favour, 2 objections, 5 abstensions).'
> Recriminations aside, I do take issue with a few points Dave makes.
> 1). In actual fact, Dave, though it was not formally put to a vote, the 
> majoirity in the meeting seemed to support the manangement of monies we 
> have had jurisdiction over and the decisions that we made. 3780quid have 
> gone to activist projects, such as projects supporting Squatters, lobbying 
> over the criminalisation of squatting and direct-action campaigning in 
> London on housing issues, a project commomorating the Luddites, Reclaim 
> the Fields SW and the diggers group at Runnymede (250quid of the 530quid 
> given to them did not go through our internal funding claim procedure). 
> There seems to be wide support that The Land Magazine was supported also, 
> and I think you'll find that support is probably near unanimous on this 
> email list.
> The recent grant of 2,250quid to the Advisory Service for Squatters comes 
> at a time when the war against squatting looks set to be extended, Tory 
> MPs call for new laws that criminalise squatting in residential housing 
> passed earlier in the year be extended to commercial premises. The 
> squatting community in the UK has not gone away, and squatting remains a 
> very real and necessary means of escaping homelessness for many people 
> (there are estimated to be 20,000 squatters in the UK). Ref: 
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/nov/30/criminalise-squatting-commercial-property
> But, as to the notion that the wider democratic membership may have 
> prioritised spending elsewhere than on suvch an issue as this, we will of 
> course never know. On the one hand, we stand guilty of charged of 
> financing our pet project. The thing is, Dave, I think you'll find that 
> for the body politic that encompasses our constituency of support, this 
> would have been their pet project too!
> 2). He describes the Core Group as a 'do-nothing' group.  This is unfair 
> in the way it is so categorically expressed, though, aside from the 
> warranted criticism that it has failed to be open to new people for a long 
> time and the fact that the Core Group does leave itself vulnerable to 
> being accused of not meeting often enough (though, it has to be said, this 
> is a symptom of the problem that most people involved work on the land and 
> have incredibly busy spring and summers every year).  I say it is slightly 
> unfair because the Core Group did put a call-out in April/May for a 
> work-day to begin the construction of a yurt which was an actioned outcome 
> out of last year's Autumn Gathering, for which there was virtually no 
> response!  In the end, 3 members of the Core Group dedicated a great deal 
> of time this Spring and Summer with many unpaid man/woman hours 
> constructing a new yurt, which by all accounts and judging by the pics 
> looks amazing and is now a great resource for TLIO to be used in the 
> future.
> 3). Dave refers to the 'cadastral' land ownership mapping project as if it 
> is a private project. NO!  It is a TLIO project.  We will be doing a pilot 
> research project to create a wiki-style mapping template which hopefully 
> will enable people anywhere in the future to do their own land ownership 
> map in their area. Everyone I have told about this idea has been really 
> enthusiastic, and cann see it as we do as a key TLIO campaign tool. Shame 
> you can't Dave.
> The idea received a positive response from people attending a meeting this 
> evening in Committee Room G of the House of Lords organised by Kevin 
> Cahill ("Who Own's Britain"), hosted by Lord Laird, of a panel discussion 
> and reception on the occasion of the publication of the facsimile edition 
> and database of the 2nd Domesday of the UK of 1872. Amazing meeting this 
> evening by the way (I'll write a report)
> On Tue, 4 Dec 2012 21:37:46 -0000
>  "david bangs" <dave.bangs at virgin.net> wrote:
>> The Land Is Ours
>> Re-foundation, money and ethics
>> Dave Bangs, 3rd December 2012
>> The re-foundation meeting of The Land Is Ours on 1st December was a 
>> success. Twenty people attended from across the country (from Plymouth, 
>> Hereford, Dorset, Bristol, as well as a strong London contingent) with a 
>> wide range of land-based concerns. The election of an eight strong 
>> steering committee to consolidate this re-foundation marked a clean 
>> democratic departure from the old closed core group 'leadership'.   It 
>> was a last-gasp move. The old core group had been stifling TLIO's 
>> re-emergence and contained people who had no faith in, or commitment to, 
>> its revival. It is over a year now, since TLIO's exhilarating Gathering 
>> in October 2011. That Gathering was the first the organisation had had 
>> for 10 years, and was marked by an exciting inter-generational revival, 
>> and the presence of folk from many campaigning sectors. That Gathering 
>> had been fatally flawed, however, by its failure to address the 
>> organisational questions that needed to be answered...and, in the 
>> aftermath of the Gathering, this flaw turned into a full-scale disaster. 
>> The price that TLIO has paid for its failure to take democratic 
>> functioning seriously has been the loss of the great majority of the 
>> remaining uncommitted funds of the organisation via a last-ditch gifting 
>> away of its monies by the core group - a disaster which made crystal 
>> clear how political decline can go hand in hand with ethical decline. 
>> For a whole further year the do-nothing core group, which had not met for 
>> nearly two years, resisted meeting for month after month. When it finally 
>> met, a few weeks ago, all of its members present, except Mark Brown, 
>> stated that they wished to resign.
>> This did not prevent them, however, from off-loading almost all of the 
>> uncommitted funds (based largely on a £38,000 bequest made circa 2007) of 
>> the organisation to their pet projects. At the end of that carve-up they 
>> graciously left a mere £2000 cash (so it was reported) for the on-going 
>> needs of a re-founded TLIO. About £8,750 had been gifted away, if my 
>> information is correct (including a sum of £500 to the Runnymede 
>> 'diggers' which did not even have the consent of the core group at the 
>> time, but which they left unchallenged).
>> These last ditch disposals consisted of gifts to the Advisory Service for 
>> Squatters (ASS), the British version of Via Campesina (not yet properly 
>> in existence, I understand), 'The Land' magazine, the Runnymede 'diggers' 
>> encampment, and Chapter7 for a 'cadastral' land ownership mapping 
>> project. (A further £10,000 remains on the books from a loan to a tiny 
>> eco-housing initiative. The full repayment of that loan is not 
>> guaranteed, for it depends upon this project's land retaining its value. 
>> If the project do not get planning permission they will be unable to 
>> repay all the loan because of the reduced value of their land asset, I 
>> was told).
>> -         It did not seem to occur to the members of the core group that 
>> their role was to steward the funds intact until a proper, democratic 
>> re-founded TLIO could take fiscal responsibility for them.
>> -         It did not seem to occur to the core group that they lacked any 
>> democratic legitimacy for these disposals, or that the fact that two 
>> members of the core group had projects which were beneficiaries of the 
>> funding (The Land magazine and the mapping project) was doubly ethically 
>> dubious. -         It did not seem to occur to the core group that a 
>> re-founded TLIO would need all the funds it could get to be effective in 
>> work which has a widely dispersed geographical reach across the country - 
>> and internationally - and in which many of its supporters will lack the 
>> means even to travel across the country to meetings and events, leave 
>> alone buy campaigning equipment, pay legal costs and so on.
>> Four points were made at the December 1st re-foundation meeting (in 
>> conversation, or in the full meeting) in justification of these 
>> disposals...
>> ONE (paraphrase) was that these "were all good causes that we support and 
>> that need the money".
>> ...But the judgement on whether these were good causes was a matter for a 
>> democratised TLIO to decide, not a by-invite-only rump of do-nothings 
>> who'd long wanted out.  TWO was that "this money needed to be spent".
>> ..A nonsensical argument. There was absolutely no imperative to dispose 
>> of the funds before a new - democratic - leadership was in place. THREE 
>> was that "nobody was asking for the funds" (in the last few years).
>> ...If they really believed this argument they would have issued a formal 
>> call to the TLIO network for applicants for grant aid...and explained to 
>> them that they wished to off-load their funds.  In any case, this 
>> argument was no excuse for taking the money for their own projects.
>> FOUR was that "it wasn't very much money anyway".
>> ...But if it wasn't very much money then it was doubly important that it 
>> be preserved as the dowry for the newly re-formed TLIO...and if it wasn't 
>> very much money then what was the urgency in disposing of it ??
>> There is only one ethical way to deal with this maladministration. The 
>> new TLIO steering committee should explain to all the gift recipients 
>> that there has been a failure of procedure, and ask them, in friendship, 
>> to return the financial gifts...and apologise to them for the mistake 
>> made by their predecessors.
>> If any of these gifts are still not complete then they should be 
>> cancelled and the money considered as part of the TLIO's property. It may 
>> be embarrassing to ask for the return of these monies, but embarrassment 
>> is better than undeserved penury as the only dowry TLIO is to receive 
>> from the old core group...
>> Dave Bangs

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