Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Teddy Bear's picnic

After only a year or so, nobody is more fed up with bankers being slagged off in the media than the bankers themselves. The richest one of the lot was hauled up before a government Q & A session recently, where he suggested that it was high time that bankers stopped having to apologise for ruining millions of people's lives. Nobody else on the committee seemed to pick him up on the fact that not once has any banker been heard to apologise for a single act of greedy and anti-social short-term ism, as they sun themselves in the Carribean at other's expense.

Only last week, the square mile of the City of London (the UK banker's 'Vatican'), feigned outrage when they were told that taxes on the profits from the billions of pounds, dollars and euros that flow through their electronic tills every day, would rise by 8 billion pounds per annum this year. Of course, in secret, they were breathing a huge sigh of relief that they had been let off so lightly by the Conservative government. In the same week, we learned from where over 50 percent of the Conservative party's election fighting fund came from last year. Yes, you guessed it - the City bankers.

The 'wealth creators' (as dubbed by that nice Lady Thatcher) used to have certain responsibilities that came with their privileged positioned as the more equal farm animals in charge of the trough, but now - it seems - they are relinquishing them one by one so that we can all have a go at finding out what living in 'The Big Society' is really like. When David Cameron first came up with this key slogan, everyone said it was meaningless, but now we are beginning to understand that it has a great deal of meaning attached to it - it's just that we didn't understand what that meaning was when first presented to us as a concept.

The latest little scheme is to turn over all the National forests of Great Britain into private hands. They have been under national guardianship since William the Conqueror set foot on the shore of Hastings in 1066. Although he parceled them up into neat packages for the newly created nobility, their ownership came with certain responsibilities and duties of care toward the ordinary people who had used them since pre-history for day-to-day living, and these rules were administered by 'verdurers' who saw to it that ancient rights were not violated.

There have been many tussles between land-owners and commoners over the centuries, involving hunting rights, grazing rights, squatter's rights and - more recently - the 'right to roam' over land where ground-nesting game-birds are reared for shooting, but by and large, the private land-owners have rubbed along decently with their less fortunate neighbors and tenants since the 19th century, and the UK 'Forestry Commission' has done a good job in managing public woodland. Now all that is going to change.

The prospect of a large, UK national forest being owned by a consortium of Chinese businessmen is a very real one, and the offer of it for a favorable, agricultural rate of - say - £500 per acre would make it very attractive indeed to a country with more disposable cash than we have right now, thanks to the bankers.

Epping Forest is the largest and closest, most historical area of natural woodland to London. It is one of the few wooded areas which were not cleared in pre-history for agriculture, simply because even then it was understood that we need forests for many reasons. It is (part of) the lungs of London and, more now than ever, represents a deep-rooted and spiritual sense of wild nature. It is more than just a clump of trees. It is a sanctuary - one of many that is about to be violated across the whole of the UK.

Guess who - at the moment - is the guardian of Epping Forest? The City of London banking 'community'.

It seems that - in these straitened times - they can no longer afford the £5 million a year that they have been contractually obliged to part with toward it's upkeep, in return for other privileges enjoyed in town.

Even the arch old Conservative, Harold MacMillan, despaired at his own government for 'selling off the family silver', all those years ago. He must be turning in his grave.


  1. On the principle that one has to ask for, and obtain, planning permission to even trim a privet hedge in England; what would be the advantage of this Chinese ownership?

  2. I can see the toll booths being installed as we speak!
    I heard an interview on the radio last night about City's in the UK closing down public toilets too. The end of civilization I think.

  3. The cities (including Bath) in the UK closed down public toilets about 20 years ago, Jacqueline. This is why we have had to get automatic lighting installed in our entrance hall. Prior to that, the intellectual creme de la creme of Bath University pissed in our doorway EVERY NIGHT.

    I don't know, Cro - ask them when ownership hits 51 percent of GB PLC. If you can waste hundreds of lives fighting over a barren hill in Vietnam over a period of one year, then land deals elsewhere would seem to make sense to me, nomatter who you are. Living in France as you do, I think maybe you don't fully understand how useful the powerful French agricultural lobby could be for you in the future.

  4. Me fears some Condo's might be planted there instead of trees!
    Have you seen Hongcouver? Ooops I mean Vancouver!

  5. I never made it to Vancouver, V (or Hongcouver...)

  6. I hate to say this, but England seems to be getting EVERYTHING wrong at the moment. I get the feeling that they think England has had its day, and are letting the rest of the world take the upper hand. Fine sentiment; but not for England.

  7. I agree, Cro. The really frightening thing is that they are DELIBERATELY getting everything wrong now - maybe for the reasons you mention.

    Everyone in the world knows that the British Empire had it's day long ago, and we are still arguing over the merits and de-merits of all that exploitation. The trouble is, everyone seems to think that 'Great' Britain means that Brits see themselves as great, rather than a unified (greater) collection of islands and nations.

    Before the financial crash, Britain was embroiled in the 'Greater Europe' battle between the euro and the dollar. Now that both currencies have gone down the toilet, the concept of globalism is knocking holes in the roof, so that not only the rain gets in, but the vultures do too.

  8. I think you've nailed something down there Tom (not quite sure what yet).
    Tasmania is facing the same interest from Chinese consortiums - one farm, then another, then another. Suddenly, insidiously, a whole district is in foreign hands.
    My feeling is that world food security is going to be a big issue, very soon.

  9. I thought it was the Japanese who are colonising Oz. As far as food is concerned, grow your own!!

  10. Many of the biggest dairy farms in New Zealand are now Chinese-owned.

  11. Yep - the bastards are still speculating on food as a commodity as people die of starvation in other parts of the world, Sarah.

    You are HORRIBLY out of touch, Cro. The chinese officially overtook the Japanese two weeks ago, and the Japs stopped buying property in Oz about 5 years ago. Too many 'oldies' dinners, I fear.

    Are they, Judith? I am sorry to say that I do not trust the Chinese foreign investment policy, and I am even sorrier to admit that I often buy cheap Chinese goods because Britain's own are not allowed to compete.