Andy Wightman discusses his book 'The Poor Had No Lawyers'

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Oct 23 21:59:55 BST 2012

How we organise our housing is a disaster - but who benefits?
Who was responsible for the sub-prime mortgade crisis??
Who has made a fortune out of the impoverishment of others?
It's related to the way we hold land and other countres like Germany 
do it much much better.

Scottish writer Andy Wightman helps Tony Gosling and Martin Summers 
to get to grips with the effect of land tenure on the modern world

AUDIO: Andy Wightman discusses his book 'The Poor Had No Lawyers'
Broadband Co-operative
Subtitle:  Crofting, Land & wealth swallowed up by faceless corporations

Programme page


  Who Owns Scotland? How did they get it? What happened to all the 
common land in Scotland? Has the Scottish Parliament made any 
difference? Can we get our common good land back? In The Poor Had No 
Lawyers, Andy Wightman, author of Who Owns Scotland, updates the 
statistics of landownership in Scotland and takes the reader on a 
voyage of discovery into Scotland's history to find out how and why 
landowners got their hands on the millions of acres of land that were 
once held in common. He tells the untold story of how Scotland's 
legal establishment and politicians managed to appropriate land 
through legal fixes. From Robert the Bruce to Willie Ross and from 
James V to Donald Dewar, land has conferred political and economic 
power. Have attempts to redistribute this power more equitably made 
any difference and what are the full implications of the recent debt 
fuelled housing bubble? For all those with an interest in urban and 
rural land in Scotland, The Poor Had No Lawyers provides a 
fascinating and illuminating analysis of one the most important 
political questions in Scotland - who owns Scotland and how did they get it?

Andy Wightman: The Poor Had No Lawyers - Who Owns Scotland (And How 
They Got It) (Birlinn)
A provocative book doesn't hold back its criticism of how Scotland's 
land have been divvied up by the rich and powerful.
A few years ago I was sitting next to a leading Scottish builder at a 
black tie function. He explained his work succinctly: "Any fool can 
build houses. Any fool can sell them................
A fascinating book full of lot of analytical data. The author clearly 
knows his subject and as a Land Law practitioner I can see that 
Scotland has been very slow in registration of its Land Titles which 
has aided a minority to control large swathes of land. Compulsory 
Registration should be passed by the Scottish Parliament for all land 
in Scotland by a specific date. The author's description of the 
Common Good Fund and the mismanagement of it by the Local Authorities 
makes interesting reading. The Burgh's again typical of people's greed.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious of what has been 
going on north of the border in relation to land ownership for the 
past 800 years.
Wightman is an expert on land ownership, but he and this book are 
about much more. In short, what he is addressing is how power is 
exercised in Scotland; in our past and to this day. The forces of 
reaction - from feudal barons to the present day 'great and good' 
constantly usurp others rights, taking from the commons and individuals.
And what Wightman beautifully challenges - in detail - is the Scots 
blindness to this because of our old comfort story of being an 
egalitarian nation. What this has masked is that Scots dont want to 
face up to issues of power, privilege, abuse and exclusion. Yes we 
love going on about some mythical wrong done to a group in the far 
distant past, but real misuses of power - involving complexity, the 
abuse of the law and due process - well forget it

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Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered that shall not be 
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you in darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye hear in the 
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Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
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