Doublethink training.

September 22, 2011 50 Comments
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I haven’t commented before on Dale Farm because there was something nagging at the back of my mind. It finally connected when a couple of recent reports appeared.

Fortean Times (FT280, October 2011 page 20: I only have a paper copy) tells of alleged vandalisation of a historic monument. One of the Priddy Circles in Somerset has been partially bulldozed. These date to around 3000 BC and are on private land. The landowner, presumably to facilitate access to his property, levelled part of one of the circles.

The report is incensed that English Heritage have done nothing about this and the local MP, Tessa Munt, is one of those pressing for court action against the landowner.

In another report, this time in the Daily Frenzied Nutter, a woman has just succeeded in declaring her land off-limits to all and sundry. The problem is that her land includes Vixen Tor, a Dartmoor landmark, popular with ramblers. There is, naturally, Outrage that a landowner can buy land and then claim it’s their property.

In both cases, the popular view is that although the landowner has paid for the land, it’s not really theirs and everyone should have access to it whenever they feel like it without having to ask anyone for permission. On the other hand, if the landowner wants to do anything on their own property, they must have permission or they will be prosecuted.

In the case of Dale Farm, what was nagging at me was that the land belongs to the travellers. They built on part of it without first getting permission from someone else to modify their own property and now they are to be evicted from land that they own because other people don’t like the way they use it.

Yet if your land includes something other people like, then the same people who want the travellers ousted from their land also want free and unfettered access to your land whenever they feel like it.

It may well be that the travellers are doing criminal things in the area – in which case they should be prosecuted for those criminal things. I’ll bet they are not all doing criminal things so throwing them off their own land is collective punishment and that always ends badly.

Incidentally, those Dale Farm residents should use a very long spoon to sup with their ‘allies’ because those activists are not there to help. They are only there for the rumble and if there isn’t one, they’ll cause one. They will only make matters worse all round.

Throughout, the questions being asked are the wrong ones. Everyone seems of the opinion that since they can’t do what they like with their own land, nobody else should be allowed to do what they like with their own land either.

Rather than ask ‘Why should they get away with doing what they want on their own land while I have to get permission?’ try asking ‘Why do I have to get someone else’s permission to do something on land I’ve paid for?’

To insist that people can’t live on their own land and do what they like with it, while simultaneously demanding free access to, and control over, someone else’s land is doublethink. It sounds like such a small thing, doesn’t it?

It’s like the ‘legalise drugs’ groups insisting that legalisation of drugs will not lead to an increase in use because those who don’t do them now won’t take them up – while simultaneously believing that all children will immediately take up smoking if they see Popeye doing it. Doublethink.

Each instance seems so trivial, so inconsequential. Like learning to steer or to change gear. Little steps to the whole, and when it’s done you can drive a 40-ton truck at 60 miles per hour and you don’t even have to think about it.

People are being trained in doublethink without realising it. There are already advanced users of the technique out there and just like experienced drivers, it’s automatic. No need for conscious thought at each step. They don’t even realise they’re doing it.

How many of us are doublethinking now? Am I? I’m honestly not sure. When I saw the early reports of Dale Farm my instinct was to side with those throwing them out but then there was that little bit of doubt. It took this long, and those two later articles, to pin down what it was. It’s their land. I don’t like the idea of having to ask some pompous git whether I could build a concrete shed or a conservatory and having to go without if the pompous git says ‘no’. So how can I support the eviction of people, from their own land, for doing what I want the right to do with my own land?

I did, though. It was my first reaction when the story broke. It was the wrong reaction.

Doublethink training is slow and insidious and we don’t even realise we’re being trained. Once trained, we apply the training without having to think about it.

In many, the training has gone so deep that the little voice of doubt has been silenced. For the rest of us, it’s time to listen to that little voice when it says ‘Hang on a minute’.

 

50 Responses to Doublethink training.

  1. David C
    September 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I can’t agree with you on this one Leggy, not as far as Vixen Tor is concerned anyway. This is moorland, and access should be permitted. I hope some mass trespasses get organised.
    As for Dale Farm, you only have to look at the before and after aerial photographs to see that this was a daft fight for the council to pick.

    • September 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      Sure, we can say that access should be permitted and that historical sites should be preserved – but in that case they should not be sold to private individuals. It comes down to this: do you own the land you’ve paid for or not?

      If you don’t own it, what have you paid for?

      I’d see a case for using taxes to buy and maintain these bits of land, allowing everyone access because everyone’s paid for it. Unfortunately what usually happens is that a council buys land using taxes, calls it ‘council land’ and regard it as their property.

      If they sell the land to private individuals, then it belongs to that individual.

      • David C
        September 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

        Ownership of land has never been that simple, and shouldn’t be. Since before the Norman conquest there have been wayleaves, easements, and customary use, which reduce the absolute power of the owner of land, even if that owner was the king himself. A general right to roam on unimproved lands is no more than a general wayleave, and can in my opinion fit easily into a libertarian philosophy which puts strong emphasis on ownership of land and other property.

        • September 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

          DC, well said.

        • Thornavis.
          September 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm

          I was peripherally involved a couple of years ago in a ( successful ) campaign to prevent the local council selling off some downland that had been purchased before the war to prevent it being developed. The way I looked at it was that this was land purchased for the benefit of the residents of the then municipal borough using ratepayer’s money and the council had no right now to sell it off without even consulting the present council tax payers. In other words it was our collective private property and could not be sold without our permission, so I think you are right that land ownership and use is a far from simple matter.

  2. September 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Hang on – you say it is their land, the travellers and they shouldn’t be evicted?

    • September 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      It seems the travellers own the land but don’t have planning permission for half of it.

  3. john in cheshire
    September 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I know nothing of the Dale Farm situation but my question would be : have the people living on this illegal settlement caused problems for the settled people who live in the surrounding area. If the answer is yes, then I for one would welcome their removal. If the answer is no, then I’d be wondering why there is so much fuss being made about it.

    • September 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      If people who live in an area commit crimes, they should be proscuted for those crimes. That doesn’t happen so all those people get evicted.

      It’s like saying that because your neighbours are unruly wasters and the courts let them get away with it, the whole street is being cleared. Including you.

      If the justice system was any use, then the troublemankers would have been dealt with and there wouldn’t be a problem. Except for the ‘not doing as the council says’ problem.

    • September 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Hard to justify removing people from their own land. Well, actually it’s not but the problem is that if it can be done to travellers there’s nothing to stop it being done to anyone else, and of course that’s true. Still, this seems a bit sledgehammer and nut. If they’ve committed crimes they should be arrested and locked up. If they’ve caused losses then it should be a tort, and if they lose and refuse to pay up they should be locked up. If they’re just being a pain in the arse and ruining their own land then things get a bit tricky. If all they have against them is not getting planning permission then I’m forced to sympathise with them.

      Having to seek a frigging permission slip from some local council cockslot to develop land you’ve paid for is just a reminder that despite parting with hundreds of thousands of pounds you don’t truly own the place. My own experiences with local planners has led me to suspect they’re also prone to being a corrupt bunch of bastards who’ll find a tree preservation order on anything green and over six inches tall to stop you building unless you happen to be a developer who can ensure their kids have a really good Christmas, or have agreed to build some affordable housing for the council alongside the McMansions on the next project. The whole bloody planning process makes me want to spit, and if someone can say you can’t do something or you must do something then for all practical purposes they own it and not you. And with the price of what we call property in the UK I think that’s bloody wrong.

      • Jim
        September 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm

        Look, most people accept the law exists. Ie if you do something that causes someone a loss, that person might sue you. You would turn up in court to defend yourself, and if you lost pay the damages. You accept the whole process is legitimate and live with its outcomes.

        Travellers don’t. Try suing one, if you can find out which person you are trying to sue. Try just serving papers without being assaulted or worse. The moment you served the papers you would become target for every other traveller in the area. They do not accept the law at all. They consider themselves above the law, and to all intents and purposes they are, because they can cause the authorities such a headache for just a small issue (lets say a traveller van has no insurance) that they just let it ride. Round my way the police won’t enter a traveller site unless its murder or attempted murder. Even then they’ll have to wait for the OK from on high, because the fallout will be so huge.

        If you cleared out every traveller site in the country, rural crime would drop to virtually zero. There is serious criminality going on through these sites, and the authorities ignore it because dealing with it is far more difficult than doing anything.

        • September 23, 2011 at 5:35 am

          “Round my way the police won’t enter a traveller site unless its murder or attempted murder. “

          Spot on.

          Assault right in front of them? ‘Didn’t see nuffin’, mate!’

        • September 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

          Which is why I said “… if they lose and refuse to pay up they should be locked up.” That Essex police would rather sit behind a tree with a speed gun pinging people on the A13 for sixty quid a pop or whatever doesn’t invalidate the principle – it just means the police are lazy bastards who go after the low hanging fruit, i.e. Mr & Mrs Lawabiding-Citizen who’ve committed a stupid, victimless technical offence. That’s a separate issue and I’d say there are more reasons for getting the police to stop doing it than just the issue of being able to serve pikeys.

          If you cleared out every traveller site in the country, rural crime would drop to virtually zero. There is serious criminality going on through these sites, and the authorities ignore it because dealing with it is far more difficult than doing anything.

          Agreed, it’s being filed under “Too hard – someone else’s problem”. No argument from me that there’s plenty of criminal behaviour, but I don’t think the answer is evicting someone from land they own. If it can be done to the Pikeys it can be done to you or anyone else if you step out of line (remembering that what is out of line is not up to you). This might be a bit of an old fashioned approach but I’d quite like it if the police, oh, I don’t know, gathered evidence and fucking arrested them. And also, and it’s another old fashioned idea this, maybe the courts could lock those convicted up for a good long time. Yes, I know they don’t but if the problem is that the judicial system has got its collective hand on its dick all the time then the solution surely is to get it to take its hand off it and perform its function. Instead we hand power over everybody’s homes to a collection of local council planning gauleiters.

  4. john in cheshire
    September 22, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Just for clarification, I have had indirect experience of socalled travellers and they are not the nicest of people. So, I’d not want to be living next to them.

  5. Mudplugger
    September 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    The irony of the Dale Farm Travellers is that ‘travellers’ they are not – they’ve been there for 10 years, that ain’t travelling.

    By divorcing themselves from the rules and laws of society, they are claiming the whore’s prerogative of power without responsibility. They want the power to inhabit their land as they wish, but without the responsibility of contributing to the rest of the society in which it exists, both financially and democratically.

    Whilst agreeing with much of what has been written on self-important council jobsworths (or graftsworths), that is a problem which could be solved if we had the political will. Solving the ‘pikey’ problem requires an understanding of who is the problem, and it ain’t the rest of us.

  6. September 22, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    “So how can I support the eviction of people, from their own land, for doing what I want the right to do with my own land?”

    But the point is that you haven’t that right over your land. The question is would you really want it as a free for all?
    The planning laws are a mess and far too restrictive of private domestic development but the theory at least is that you can’t do anything with your land that unreasonably reduces the enjoyment or safety of your neighbours. So you are restricted, but in return your neighbours can’t do what they like either.
    So that developer who wants a 6 story block of flats can’t just buy & demolish the next door house and build them 6 foot from your window. The local gun club can’t open a firing range just over your fence and the local rappers can’t open a nightclub in the adjoining semi to yours.
    The problem as I see it is that permissions and denials are bureaucratic and not made by the people affected on the basis of community good.

  7. Woman on a Raft
    September 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    the popular view is that although the landowner has paid for the land, it’s not really theirs and everyone should have access to it whenever they feel like it without having to ask anyone for permission

    It’s English property law. They don’t own it. Only the Queen does, and she has sold a number of rights over it to them. She (that is, the Crown) defines what right(s) it wants to sell and in this case it was a parcel of land in the green belt which can be cultivated or not, but what it can’t be is turned in to a housing estate without permission.

    There is no double-think if the conditions exist at purchase. So, the legislation which imposed a right-to-roam on people who had not bought land with that condition is something one can meaningfully argue about.

    If, however, you buy something with a national monument, protected tree or various wayleaves, covenants or restrictions or listed buildings on it, then that is part of the deal. For instance, up until the mid-90s if you bought a house in a mining area there was a provision that reserved mineral rights to the National Coal Board, so you couldn’t go sinking a mine in your back garden.

    There’s not double-think here – only a mistake as to what ownership over land legally means. It isn’t the same as ownership of other items, which is why there is a separate branch called Land Law.

    So:

    do you own the land you’ve paid for or not?
    No. The Crown owns it.

    If you don’t own it, what have you paid for?
    You have paid for a number of rights over it which may or may not be honoured in perpetutity, depending on what it said on the deal and how long the Crown lasts for. The main right is usually the right to exclude others, but as we’ve seen, that can be modified.

    As regards Dale Farm, the crucial part is that the disputed parcel of land is defined as green belt, meaning the land was bought at the price of agricultural land, not land with outline planning permission for 50 dwelling plots on it. The green belt status was known about and there was no question of them getting further planning permission following DF1.

    • September 23, 2011 at 1:13 am

      We have a law that states no public house may allow anyone to smoke indoors. If a publican set up a protest smoke-in, would we support it or decry it with ‘Well, we have laws and we all have to abide by them’?

      Sometimes the laws don’t make sense. Green belt? Oh, that’s in the past. Cameron is going to let the developers have it and then you won’t see little bungalows and caravans – then you really will see twenty-storey blocks going up.

      If I wanted to build a huge block in my garden, I would not be surprised to find the neighbours objecting. That’s fair enough. But if I had a plot of land out of the way of neighbours and wanted to build a bungalow, those neighbours can currently stop that with objections just as they can stop me building a tower block in my garden. They can claim they want to walk their dogs there and my bungalow would be in the way.

      The Ministry of Sound nightclub were careful to pick a site well away from any residential buildings so they wouldn’t risk their licence by causing complaints. Yet the council now plan to put blocks of flats next door and the Ministry of Sound can’t stop them.

      So the council can stop us doing what we want on our land but we can’t stop them. That’s the law.

      Yes, these travellers are breaking the law but it’s not a fair and equitable set of laws as it stands and they are drawing attention to that. Whereas on the one hand, we want to use the law to tell a private landowner they must grant access to all, we want to use the law to tell another landowner to get off their own land.

      They might all be foul-mouthed light-fingered yobs who charge you for a driveway made of half an inch of tar over sand. That’s beside the point.

      As a smoker who has beem called all manner of things I’ve never been called before, by people I’ve never met, I am no longer a great supporter of ‘the law’. It is selective in its application in a way I had never imagined possible before the latest war on smokers, and now on drinkers, fat people etc.

      If the State can throw one set of people off their land (they always start with the ones nobody will object to being thrown out) then they can turn that law on anyone.

      Currently if I were to build a conservatory without permission I’d be told to take it down. Even if it wasn’t visible from neighbouring properties. Would it be good to extend that to where the council can throw me out of my home for disobedience?

      Forget that they’re travellers for a moment. Forget those activists altogether – they are only there for a fight.

      Imagine they are smokers in a privately-owned pub. Then they are told to clear off, and the owner of the pub is told that if he allows them to smoke there, he will be prosecuted and his licence withdrawn.

      You can’t do what you want on your own land, in your own business premises, soon to be extended to your car and your home. Should we all just say ‘Ah well, that’s the law’?

      Never mind the traveller issue. That’s just the beginning. As with the demonisation of smokers that nobody liked anyway. Look at where it’s leading.

      Imagine being evicted from your own property for smoking or drinking in it. Imagine being expelled for being overweight. Can’t happen?

      Imagine having a large, well-tended garden and being told that the council has decided to allow everyone to use it as a park because there isn’t one nearby. Can’t happen? Take a close look at who’s in charge these days.

      I’m no supporter of travellers. I don’t care if they all bugger off and never come back. I’d never support a traveller camp on someone else’s land and I’d be less than happy if my neighbour built the Eiffel tower in his garden.

      But if he built a one-storey Granny flat out there, it’s not going to trouble me. And yet I could scupper his Granny flat as easily as his Eiffel tower with one letter to the council.

      The law lacks perspective in so many areas now. The whole planning-permission circus is one great money spinner when all it really needs is a letter to the neighbours to see if they have sensible objections. Non-sensible objections should be ignored.

      Yes, they’re only travellers and nobody likes them anyway. So get rid of them all. Private property? No matter, out they go. Nobody wants their sort around here. Horrible, dirty, smelly, selfish and inconsiderate, every last one of them.

      Even smokers say things like that, and smokers should know better by now.

      • September 23, 2011 at 5:37 am

        “Even smokers say things like that, and smokers should know better by now.”

        Perhaps those smokers have lived near these people. You really have to, to appreciate the problems here.

        • September 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

          Well, I haven’t lived near ‘travellers’ who live in brick houses for ten years and claim they can’t move to council brick houses because they are ‘travellers’, that’s true.

          When I was a kid, proper travellers came every year. In brightly painted caravans, selling pegs door to door (they weren’t home made, they’d obviously picked up a job lot somewhere). They’d stay a week or two and then they’d be gone. They set up in a field within sight of our house.

          Did we trust them? Of course not, they were strangers. Did we hate them? No, they didn’t do anything actually criminal and the days of dodgy driveways were yet to come.

          There is a field owned by travellers about a mile from where I live now. No hardcore, no concrete, no walls, just a field. They turn up in summer and are gone in a couple of weeks.

          They now have fancy commercial caravans and white vans. It’s not the same. They also try to hawk dodgy driveways and patios but this is in the countryside around Aberdeen. Getting money from the locals, well, the words ‘blood’ and ‘stone’ come to mind. The travellers don’t make a lot of money here.

          Trouble? Never noticed any that could be specifically attributed to the travellers but then their field is next to a part of town known as ‘Fuckwit Central’ so unless they wore badges, nobody would know the difference.

          So I have not experienced the nastiness exhibited by the Entitled Ones who want to live a sedentary existence and still claim they are travellers. I can, however, say that while most travellers are a rough sort – and you’d have to be – and most will cheerfully rip you off if you’re not careful, they are not all violent, unprincipled thugs by any means.

          And they don’t all flout planning laws. In both the cases above, there was not so much as a brick laid in either field and they left no mess.

          So they never get into the papers. Only the shitty ones get reported.

    • September 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

      WOAR, good summary.

    • September 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Was going to bring this up in a follow up post but yes, WoaR has hit the nail on the head. There is a difference between personal property and ‘real’ property, ‘real’ in this sense meaning ‘not really your property’ as far as I can tell. This is why ‘property’ can be compulsorily acquired – you don’t really own the land for which you’ve just handed over hundreds of thousands which you’ll be paying back for 25 years. All that money has bought you little more than permission to live on it, sell it on or will it to your heirs. It’s more tenure than ownership and seems to be one of the last dregs of feudalism that’s unfortunately stuck around. The only reason I don’t suggest it as yet another reason to kick Lizzie out on her arse is that where monarchies have been abolished the states that have replaced them have often taken over that same ultimate ownership of all land.

      My feeling is that the Crown directly owns plenty anyway and that when you’re paying a lot of money, millions in some cases, you should have absolute ownership. Unfortunately not many people seem to find this particularly worrying, possibly because absolute ownership would imply not being able to write an objection to the council because they don’t like their neighbour’s plans to extend over his garage. But as I say about so many things, if something can be done to one person then it can be done to anyone and everyone. Because you don’t really own what you tend to think of as your property you can receive a kick out notice and a bad price any time the state – in the Crown’s name, natch – want to take it off you. Hell, they can even destroy the value of it just by talking about compulsory purchase orders or listed status and then grab it off you for even less.

      English Common Law has many good things going for it but this not-quite-ownership of a very, very expensive asset is a big black mark against it. Long past time it was fixed.

  8. Edgar
    September 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks, Ms WoaR. Single-thinkedly clear.

  9. rt1
    September 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Without reference to any specific places:-

    An Irish mobile organised criminal group (OCG) has been identified by Europol as being involved in the targeted and international theft and trade of rhino horn as well as more common criminal activities relating to tarmac and fraud involving counterfeit products (generators and power tools). It’s involved in organised robbery, money laundering and drugs trafficking. It’s adept in the use of communications technonlogy and false documents. Its activities are international, encompassing North and South America, South Africa and China. It uses intimidation, threats and violence to achieve its aims.

    link to europol.europa.eu

  10. September 23, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Where any group is involved in criminal activity, those criminals should be prosecuted. That does not mean their family should be evicted. Those criminal groups keep on being criminal because they keep getting away with it. The courts won’t impose any serious sanction and they know it. That’s what needs to change.

    Are all travellers criminals? I’m a smoker – how often do you hear ‘all smokers are (insert derogatory remark)’? Not all teenagers are violent mindless yobs, not all Christians are anti-gay, not all Muslims want to blow someone up and not all gays are Stonewall fanatics.

    Only the troublemakers make the news.

    But the article isn’t about criminal activity. It’s about declaring that certain properties must be freely available to all while declaring that certain people can’t live on land they’ve been sold.

    If you sell land to travellers, what do you think they’re going to do with it?

    This is an old town. There are listed buildings here and if you buy one, you know from the outset that you won’t be able to fit double glazing or put anything other than matching slate on the roof or paint it orange. That’s clear at the outset. But even though it’s a historical artefact (some of them predating the Jacobite rebellion by a very wide margin) you are not obliged to let people tramp through it at any time.

    So if you buy a tract of land with a historical monument on it, don’t you have the same rights? You’d certainly have an obligation to look after the landmark so if some yobs pasted it with grafitti it would be your job to clean it off. Also, if anyone fell off it after you’d granted permission for access – you get sued.

    (My approach would be to put up ‘No entry’ signs and not police it)

    Those Dale Farm travellers have now moved to Luton and set up camp on land they don’t own. They’ll be evicted and correctly so – it’s not their land. They’ll be told ‘You can’t just go tramping over other people’s land’.

    Forget about the criminal acts – that’s a separate issue. Forget abotu callikng them ‘travellers’. The issue is whether they should be allowed to live on their own land or not.

    • September 23, 2011 at 1:12 am

      “Forget abotu callikng them ‘travellers’. The issue is whether they should be allowed to live on their own land or not.”

      And the answer is no. Unless you are prepared for absolutely everyone to have the freedom to buy any piece of land anywhere in the UK irrespective of it’s importance to the landscape, ecology or community and build absolutely anything they want on it.
      Consider it this way: They are not being evicted from their land. The land remains theirs and they are perfectly free to occupy it and use it for any allowable purpose or sell it. Any restrictions were clear when they bought it and one such is not being allowed to build or live permanently on it. No rights are being removed.

      • September 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

        “A nd the answer is no. Unless you are prepared for absolutely everyone to have the freedom to buy any piece of land anywhere in the UK irrespective of it’s importance to the landscape, ecology or community and build absolutely anything they want on it.”
        That is exactly what I have suggested in the past, and will continue to suggest.

    • September 23, 2011 at 5:38 am

      “Those criminal groups keep on being criminal because they keep getting away with it. “

      For the same reason the Mafia used to get away with it – everyone in the family (think extended clan) was involved. EVERYONE.

      • September 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        Yes, the Mafia involved everyone in the family. But not all Italians are Mafia. Not even all Sicilians.

  11. Andrew
    September 23, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Great post Leg-iron.

    I’ve always liked your posts, you’ve educated me more than once, and this is a first rate piece of thinking

    You are, without a shadow of doubt, the number one “libertarian” (or whatever label you prefer) writer on the net today.

  12. September 23, 2011 at 1:40 am

    “Unless you are prepared for absolutely everyone to have the freedom to buy any piece of land anywhere in the UK irrespective of it’s importance to the landscape, ecology or community and build absolutely anything they want on it.”

    That’s Cameron’s policy, not mine. I’d favour publically-owned historic sites and sites of particular importance, such as green belt. Farmers could rent but not buy such land and therefore could not sell it to anyone who wants to build on it.

    I’d also favour a much simpler planning rule: if none of the neighbours have sensible objections, do what you like. You’d submit plans to the council, they’d consult the neighbours and consider objections on the basis of ‘Is this a genuine objection or a bit of spite’ and that would be that. No lengthy planning committees. Unfortunately this cannot be done with current councillors because it would require actual thought.

    Building safety? Your problem. If it falls on you, tough, you built it. If it lands on next door, you’re responsible (and I’m not talking ASBO either).

    Then, the travellers could not have built on green belt because it would not have been for sale. They could have bought other land, parked their caravans and built their low houses without sensible objections (“I don’t like them” is not going to wash with a smoker as a sensible objection;)).

    If a community wants to keep an area of, say, woodland clear of developers, then they can club together and buy it. If the councils could be trusted, that could be done through council tax but we know the council will sell it to the first developer who comes along under current rules anyway. The local council here have overridden local objections and sold land to developers, which means we have many more houses but the same 16th-century high street for all the traffic. The new road they promised was a lie.

    So as I see it, the travellers can’t build bungalows on their own land but the council can do what they please with land they bought using money extorted from residents. As I said, forget the ‘traveller’ tag. They’re just an easy target because even the word ‘traveller’ is enough to get the pitchforks sharpened and the torches lit.

    “No rights are being removed.”

    Not this time, no, but only because those rights were removed long ago. There was a time, you know, when you’d just turn up to a village and if you got along with the locals, you’d build your house at the end of the street. No uniformity, no rows of boxes. Streets like that still exist but they aren’t built that way any more.

    • September 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

      “particular importance, such as green belt. Farmers could rent but not buy such land and therefore could not sell it to anyone who wants to build on it.”
      Isn’t that (in theory) similar to what we have? OK they technically buy rather than pay rent but buying agricultural land only provides limited rights.
      “village and if you got along with the locals, you’d build your house at the end of the street.”
      And if the villagers didn’t like you they would likely burn it down and run you out of the neighbourhood – rough and ready local democracy – I can live with that.

    • September 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

      “I’d favour publically-owned historic sites and sites of particular importance, such as green belt. Farmers could rent but not buy such land and therefore could not sell it to anyone who wants to build on it.”

      WOAH! The Hallowed Green Belt has nothing to do with that land having ‘particular importance’ and everything to do with pushing up house prices in the outer suburbs.

      The area occupied by the HGB is the same as the area occupied by all our towns and willages put together (or possibly larger, depending on which statistics you use). It’s not just the odd bit of land of ecological significance (like rare butterflies), or land along rivers and waterways which is best left untouched to prevent the rivers becoming polluted etc.

      • September 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

        Bottom line for me – I don’t give a stuff about London’s green belt. I don’t live there, never have and never will. It’s up to the locals to decide what they want to do with it.

        But if it shouldn’t be hallowed, why can’t a group of people build their homes on a part they’ve bought?

        Here, the developers keep trying to build on the flood plains of one of our two rivers. If they do, they’ll have to build defences so the houses won’t flood.

        The next town downriver has come perilously close to disastrous flooding some years, when the snow melts. They were saved each time by the same flood plains the developers want to build on. Developers, doing it all legally, mind. Not travellers.

        Should the developers have the flood plain? I’d say – only if they are prepared to compensate all those in the next town who will be flooded as a result of their actions.

        You don’t have to say ‘no’. Just say ‘Up to you, but you’ll be held fully responsible for any harm to others resulting from your actions’.

  13. September 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

    This whole shebang has gone woefully off topic. I was trying to demonstrate how the ‘I must be allowed to go on anyone’s land’ vs. ‘You cannot do what you want with your land’ was one of the modern doublethinks.

    It went off on a tangent of ‘horrible people I don’t want living near me’ and ‘what about their criminality?’ Also, ‘it’s the law and we all have to do what the law says ‘ and that was part of the point! The law doesn’t always make sense.

    So I’ll try again, without mentioning horrible smelly inconsiderate selfish people this time. Except for smokers, maybe drinkers, perhaps fat people, a teenager or two, a burger muncher…

    • September 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

      “I was trying to demonstrate how the ‘I must be allowed to go on anyone’s land’ vs. ‘You cannot do what you want with your land’ was one of the modern doublethinks”

      Wrong. Those two widely held opinions are entirely consistent. People like telling other people what to do, end of.

      Plus nobody said ‘I must be allowed to go on anybody’s land’, they just want to exercise their historic legal right to go and look at a lump of old rock miles from the woman’s house, and good luck to them.

  14. September 23, 2011 at 3:15 am

    One last detail.

    What are your thoughts on this impending eviction?

    link to express.co.uk

    • Andrew
      September 23, 2011 at 3:36 am

      “Last night, Cllr Paul Buckley said the committee had been “sensitive”.

      But he added: “Due to the small size and the lack of running water, the application for the lodge was not suitable as primary living accommodation.””

      Pathetic. Why can’t these violent thugs just leave people alone?

      Still, at least it’s given the couple an insight into the true nature of the state.

    • September 23, 2011 at 5:40 am

      Same as the Dale Farm, irrespective of the ‘niceness’ of this couple compared to the ‘nastiness’ of the travellers. You obey the law.

      Because, at the heart of it, the law is all we have! No-one really wants anarchy. No matter what they say.

      Don’t like the law? Work to change it.

      • September 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        One of the suggestions to break the smoking ban law was widespread flouting of the law. Would that work?

        Is it different?

      • Andrew
        September 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

        You stand zero chance of changing any laws that make a difference to people. Unless of course you want to steal more money, you want greater control of people, and/or you want to involve more vested interests.

        Blindly obeying every whim of our ‘masters’ doesn’t give us “all we have”, but it does give them everything they have.

      • September 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

        … the law is all we have! No-one really wants anarchy.

        Point of order, mate. Anarchy does not mean an absence of laws, and therefore plenty of people who respect law do in fact want an anarchy (not me but that discussion would be a post in itself).

    • Woman on a Raft
      September 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      They also said it “created an undesirable precedent which would make it difficult to refuse similar applications”.

      There is no problem with kipping in your shed providing you don’t annoy the neighbours with obvious things such as building giant mud huts; the problem was that they applied for permission to uprate it from a shed to a dwelling. The missing info is why they decided to do this. It is usually so you can connect mains services, at which point you can expect objections as that creates a permanent dwelling in a space never intended for it.

      Also reading between the lines:

      Victoria, who earns £7.80 an hour, now wants temporary planning permission, which was originally recommended by officers at Havant council.

      Possible translation: the planning officers warned her that they could do a temporary permission, as is common for re-builds, major renovations and new-builds, where you can put a caravan, portakabin or shed in the garden and get mains connections because it has planning permission. These typically have a limited period of about two or three years and you have to get on with the building to mitigate the disturbance to the neighbours. They often get extensions as a matter of course. So they went as far as possible in helping her use planning law for something other than it was intended. But Victoria and her parents wanted permanent permission, which can only mean her mum and dad had something else in mind for when Vicky moved on.

      However, she didn’t listen and may now find that instead of a temporary permission with little fuss, she’ll have rather more objections facing her and the officers may not find it so easy to nod it through because it was always bending the law to cracking-point as there was no actual building going on.

      Not only is she not listening carefully to the grown-ups, but her parents have to have questions asked too since they have shown a lack of understanding in creating a dwelling where, if they wanted to sell their house (assuming they own it) they could find their sitting-tennant daughter cannot be moved. Plus, I guarantee that they will have made plenty of enemies, whether they say so openly or not.

      You can get a decent 3-bed ex-council house in Havant for £120k (there’s a pretty one which looks like a country cottage, I’ve just checked), so the question has to be whether the parents spending £14k on a shed were doing her or themselves any favours? Apart from anything else, they seem to have paid roughly double what a 16×16 cabin goes for in the standard suppliers. That’s the deposit for the house, there. Since Bill is said to earn about £20k and Victoria should be able to reach a salary approaching that, they should be able to raise a mortgage based on 3x joint earnings, especially if they can get that deposit.

      There is something else missing from this story, but I’m not exactly sure what it is, although I can take a wild guess based on what looks like a child’s bed and piles of toys from pictures in the Daily Mail.
      link to i.dailymail.co.uk

      Giving someone 9 months to sort themselves out and the shed stays up anyway, is hardly being “a violent thug”. There is no threatened eviction. There’s a threatened fine. Some people would cough politely and enquire how much the fine is.

      The whole thing smells fishy and I would not draw any conclusions about the state of planning law from this (frequently deplorable but sometimes it works). Nothing wrong with it here though, other than some people disagree with the ruling, which happens in 100% of all cases, so you can’t go by that.

      You can reasonably conclude that some people don’t take good advice when it is offered for free.

  15. rt1
    September 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Of course how silly of me, travellers and OCG’s are two quite separate issues. The organised flouting of planning laws has nothing to do with a certain type of mentality.

    • September 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      The flouting of all laws, including much more serious ones, is connected to a certain mentality.

      The mentality that realises; ‘Hey, the law isn’t actually going to do anything about this’.

      That goes far beyond any single group.

  16. September 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Interesting point of view. I thought I had made up my mind on this issue. Now I have to go away and have another think about it. I have plans too…

  17. MickC
    September 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    With regard to Dale Farm, and slightly off topic, does anyone know why the farmer sold the land to the travellers? Yes, obviously for the money (which he probably needed to carry on farming) but is this a case where he had been refused planning permission for e.g. residential and the travellers then offered to buy it for above agricultural price but below development value. This is not an uncommon thing for travellers to do-they get what they want and the farmer gets the cash he needs to farm.I believe its called a free market.
    If the farmer had been refused planning permission, you can bet the local “settled” community had objected to it.

  18. Bertie Bassett
    September 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Dear Leg Iron

    Interesting article. I agree with your widely publicised view that the smoking ban in pubs is wrong. People can decide on that for themselves. But, without joining a discussion about English property law and the way in which Government has sought to impose its own controls on the development and use of land last century, particularly since 1947, when there was, arguably, a “nationalisation” of land that has never been undone, I have two questions.

    You say “[p]eople are being trained in doublethink without realising it. There are already advanced users of the technique out there and just like experienced drivers, it’s automatic. No need for conscious thought at each step. They don’t even realise they’re doing it….Doublethink training is slow and insidious and we don’t even realise we’re being trained. Once trained, we apply the training without having to think about it.”

    I don’t agree with the “are being trained” part. By whom? I don’t see the source of your fear. This is despite my own suspicions of “campaigners”, in the meaning the word has taken up (I enjoyed Counting Cats’ view on this: link to countingcats.com). The ordinary people, or British people, or English people may not express as much fervour or civic mindedness as you think they should, but that is up to them.

    And who are “the ‘legalise drugs’ groups insisting that legalisation of drugs will not lead to an increase in use because those who don’t do them now won’t take them up – while simultaneously believing that all children will immediately take up smoking if they see Popeye doing it”? I appreciate that a liberal approach to illegal-drug use does not usually extend to their use by children, but if an individual or organisation is prepared to tolerate drug use without criminal sanction, I would expect to find them to be willing to let families be the arbiters on how to bring up their own children.

  19. September 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I read somewhere that no-one in England (dunno about Celtland) ‘owns’ land absolutely, outright, unfettered, etc., no matter the details of contract(s) s/he may have, but only holds (e.g. ‘freehold’) it by permission of the Crown, the implication being that lawful restrictions may be placed by Crown agencies (e.g. local government?) on the holder’s rights of usage, and further, that this is the basis of planning law.

    Anyone know whether this is correct?

    BTW, excellently thought provoking post, Leggy. Spot on about double think, regardless of the Dale Farm issue.

  20. September 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    In Scotland, and one or two US states, land is sold with Allodial title. In a nutshell, if you own everything on the land outright, i.e. there is no mortgage, no-one, not even God himself, can remove you from that land.

    See here: link to en.wikipedia.org

    And here: link to straighttalknews.org

    Neither article is complete but will put you on the right road.

    Your statement regarding land in England is pretty much spot on.

    CR.

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