Land Grab, a noble tradition.


In 2014 the Scottish Parliament will hold a referendum on remaining a part of the Union or independence. An independent Scotland raises issues of land ownership in a country where 50% of the land belongs to an estimated 450 Landlords. The Lairds claim they have a proven record of good stewardship and therefore any change to the status quo will be detrimental to the countryside. Considering that their acquisition of the land, Highland Clearances, was theft and that Independence will return it to its rightful owners does not fit the ancestral portrait.

The British Empire, now a shadow of its day’s of glory, exercised land grab worldwide, acquiring land on all continents. That the Empire has shrunk is a measure of the success of Independence movements worldwide. Scotland’s referendum is not without precedent.

In this time of austerity land grab has become common currency. Since the downturn in our financial fortunes the loss of jobs has put families out of their homes, and this in a ‘civilised democratic society’. The foreclosure of mortgages orchestrated by the Banks, has provided them with a massive portfolio of repossessed properties, mostly empty.

The consequence of this can be illustrated by a rumour/story, heard from two sources, and a first hand account.

A man enters a rural bank seeking to withdraw a cash sum of £75,000 from his account. He is advised that the transaction will take two days to arrange. When he returns on the appointed day the manager greets him, suggesting they go to lunch to discuss the transaction. They drive to a town in Donegal in the north west of Ireland. The Bank manager points to an empty property in a new development and offers it in lieu of the money. The man refuses the offer. They drive through the town where another property is added to the offer and also refused. Finally a third property is included in the offer. The deal is concluded.

Recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance with whom I’d had no contact for a year. This gentleman, a professional in his field, had been dealt a series of misfortunes in recent years. He had lost his wife to cancer, and then his business due to the recession. The Banks in their compassion repossessed the home he had built. The house is empty and boarded up to prevent entry. It will, no doubt, be offered as part of a package to any client seeking to withdraw cash.

‘What’s the most toxic financial asset in the world?  A mortgage.’

Faisal Islam, The Observer 18 August 2013


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