By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
Recently an Angus mother of three infant children was separated from them and jailed for ten months for over-claiming £10,000 per year in benefits. Meanwhile the Duke of Westminster evades £3.6 billion in inheritance tax through a transparently fraudulent use of trusts which “have the option” to give the money to someone else instead.
The United Kingdom is a socially backward and sometimes vicious polity, an island which prides itself on the state enforced conservatism which allowed it to evade intellectually motivated reform and retain a historical legacy of gross injustice and privilege.
For historical reasons land reform is an immensely popular cause in Scotland, and one of so many areas where SNP timidity is a deep, deep disappointment. The fact that they are covered in buildings does not make the vast London estates of the Grosvenors any more acceptable than the unnecessarily empty Highland estates where golden eagles are destroyed so the chinless wonders, hedge fund managers and sheikhs can blast away at tame grouse.
The late Duke of Westminster is characterised as a “philanthropist” by mainstream media even though the percentage of both his income and his wealth he gave to charity was less than most ordinary people’s mite, myself included, and I am willing to bet that what he did do, was tax-deductible. That a parasite who sat on £9 billion of unearned money in a country where disabled people commit suicide from poverty, and who got two O levels from Harrow, was Prince Charles’ closest friend, cuts through the lying propaganda about the Royal family we are constantly fed.
The political class have a deliberate will not to enforce inheritance tax on the super wealthy. They have a political will not to tackle landlordism, which as it affects both residential and commercial tenants is a fundamental malaise of the British economy. Neither problem is technically difficult. The problem is that the political class as a whole are in the pockets of the super-wealthy, promote their interests and ache to join them.
Which is why in the UK it is important that the threat to them posed by Corbyn is maintained, and why in Scotland it is essential that the SNP membership now push their own leadership into bold action on fundamental land reform and Independence. To call the current SNP approach to both issues desultory would be excessively polite.