spoiling for a fight about the iniquity of eviction

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Fri Oct 4 15:54:12 BST 2013

The Diggers, The Chartists, The Crofters, The Irish Land League and 
today's criminalized squatters have been spoiling for a fight about 
the iniquity of eviction, landlessness and destitution for hundreds 
of years. Britain has a land-mass of around 65 million acres and 
around 65 million people, that's roughly a football pitch per person, 
or around three acres for the average family.

Britain was a free gift to its people, just as the Earth was to 
mankind. Back in medieval England most land was farmed collectively, 
few actually owned it but did have the right to a cottage, to stay, 
and to pass those rights down the generations. But the landowners' 
parliament instituted 17th- and 18th-century land privatization, 
enclosure, evicting hundreds of thousands. A vast factory workforce 
of destitute landless citizens was created, ripe for the dark satanic 
mills of England's industrial revolution.

Across the Irish Sea one million died between 1847 and 1851 in the 
Irish Famines and a further million were forced to emigrate. So in 
the late 1800s, with fire in their bellies, the Irish led the way in 
taking back the land, setting a precedent for today's solution.

Exploiting the balance of power in London, four laws were forced 
through delivering interest-free government loans. Penniless Irish 
tenants could now buy land and build new homes, repayments being far 
less than those crippling rents. It was one of history's most 
successful land reform programs to date.

Figures are hard to come by today but 40,000 'land millionaires', 
0.05 percent of the population, now own around half of Britain, most 
of which they have never set foot on. A further 30 percent is owned 
by 1 percent of the population, and the remaining 20 percent is owned 
by banks, corporations and other institutions. Though many have 
'bought their own home', actually the bank owns it until they pay off 
their mortgage.

This leaves around 50 percent of the population, or 30 million 
people, effectively landless, either with a big mortgage, renting or 
homeless. Britain today too carries the shame of roughly 200,000 
homeless people, either overcrowded, sleeping on friends' floors or 
sofas, squatting or sleeping on the streets. 

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