Now online - p parliament: Land ownership: who owns our country?

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Mar 30 14:07:24 BST 2015

Land ownership: who owns our country?

Tuesday March 17th 2015, 6.30pm – 8.30pm, Committee Room 15, House of Commons

Kevin Cahill
Author of ‘Who Owns Britain’ and ‘Who Owns the 
World’ Parliamentary researcher and associate 
editor of the Sunday Times Rich List. Author of 
21 other rich lists. Investigative reporter with 
Sunday Times Insight Team on offshore tax dodges. 
Publisher of the Second Domesday of the United 
Kingdom. Supercomputer specialist for Computer 
Weekly and wrote Trade Wars, an account of CIA spying in the UK in the 1980’s.

Fiona O’Cleirigh
Freelance reporter. Shortlisted for Press Gazette 
‘New Journalist of the Year 2013 award for 
investigation for Exaro News on Northern Ireland 
EU funding. Shortlisted for BT Security Writer of 
the year 2014 for reporting on NSA spying in the 
UK. She has reported on conflict in the Western 
Sahara and written for the Guardian, Mail and 
other newspapers. She is the editorial director 
for the publication of the Second Domesday and 
has spoken on landownership in Committee Room G of the House of Lords.

Yoni Higgsmith (Labour Land Campaign)
Land reform activist and Communications Director 
of Labour Land Campaign, a cross labour movement 
campaign to promote land reform policy and 
theory. He has produced and directed a number of 
land reform films including Rachel Rose Reid’s 
poem ‘The Circle: An Ode to LVT’, ‘Land’ for and ‘The Taxing Question of 
Land’ created with the Coalition of Economic 
Justice (CEJ). The CEJ is an umbrella 
organisation that brings together all land reform 
groups in the UK. In late 2014, he became General 
Secretary of Professional Land Reform Group, 
promoting land reform within professional circles.

Tony Gosling (The Land is Ours)
Tony Gosling started his working life in the 
aviation industry moving on to work as a 
researcher and journalist at BBC Greater London 
Radio and other BBC local radio stations 
publishing online research on the Bilderberg 
conferences at <> in 1995.
After co-ordinating Oxford’s ‘The Land Is Ours’, 
land rights campaign in the 1990s including 
Wandsworth (1996) and St George’s Hill (1999) 
Diggers occupations, he is now a freelance 
investigative radio journalist and writer based 
in Bristol with a politics show archied online at 
<> .

The 2015 election debate is in the gutter. Time for the People’s Parliament

Are we really going to allow the debate in the 
runup to the general election be dominated by the 
bigotry of Ukip against migrants, the vile 
hounding of anyone on benefits by the Tories, and 
the timidity of many in the Labour leadership 
about saying anything of purpose and principle?

Benefits Street is just the latest example of the 
poison pouring daily out of our televisions, 
radio phone-ins and papers like the Sun and Mail 
– poison that is dictating the electoral agenda 
of the political strategists of the main parties, 
and manipulating the fears and insecurity of 
people in order to smokescreen the corporate kleptocracy that we inhabit.

It degrades and demeans us all if we allow this 
politics to dominate and go unchallenged. Anyone 
with any claim to decency has a responsibility 
now to stand up against this debased politics.

One way of taking a stand is to positively 
determine to engage in real politics and cut 
through the crap served up to us by this coalition of the craven.

With months to go before the next election we 
should be entering a period of intense debate 
about the state of the country and the politics 
we want. This hasn’t taken off yet, and usually 
the last place to look for this is in parliament 
itself, with its sterile knockabout politics.

So how do we liven up the political debate in the 
runup to the election, while also giving it some depth?

When I was part of the left that took control of 
the Greater London Council in the 1980s, I was 
worried at how lacking in radicalism the incoming 
Labour group on the GLC actually was. So, in 
order to generate the ideas needed to stimulate 
and sustain a radical administration, we decided 
to throw open the doors of County Hall to anyone 
who wanted to convene a meeting to generate support for a policy or a campaign.

We turned it into a People’s County Hall where 
meeting rooms became the forums for groups across 
the capital to debate and promote an idea for the 
future of London. The concept really took off, 
and virtually every day groups were meeting to 
develop their ideas into policies. You could open 
a committee room door at County Hall and bump 
into a group of people arguing about anything 
from bus fares policy to community arts and 
policing. There were heated arguments, hilarious 
moments when high-flown theoretical analysis 
imploded, and also examples of magnificent creativity.

This was politics at its rumbustious, exhausting, 
enjoyable – and at times infuriating – best. 
Isn’t that the sort of feverish political debate 
we need to influence the period in which party manifestos are being formulated?

Just like at the GLC’s County Hall, there are 
meeting rooms in parliament. Let’s use them and 
bring some real politics to the place. Let’s make 
the place a People’s Parliament.

Since I first suggested this, lots of people have 
responded with proposals on what to discuss and 
who to talk to. So over the next couple of months 
we’re making a start by hosting a number of 
gatherings in parliament on a wide range of issues that people have suggested.

People are posing hard case questions. After 
Russell Brand’s proclamation of the no-vote 
strategy, people want to know what sort of 
democracy we need then. In the week we are about 
to see the return ofbankers’ obscene bonuses, and 
people are asking how they have got away with it 
and how we can wrest control of our economy from 
these tax-evading looters. As the prime minister 
gives his full backing to frackingwhile homes are 
still being dried out from the floods, people are 
asking what will it take to wake people up again to climate change fears.

The aim is to break through the defeatism that is 
overpowering even those political parties, 
movements and individuals that have traditionally stood up for change.

The discussions are open to anyone. Check out the 
information on the website 
or on Twitter: 
Come and have a say.

John McDonnell MP
Labour, Hayes and Harlington

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