Trip Report for Naked Capitalism London Meetup

By Lambert Strether of Corrente,

We held the 2016 Naked Capitalism London meetup at the Jerusalem Tavern as in 2010, which seems retrospectively to have been a very good choice. We stood outside, but the pub’s interior is said to be “facsimile Eighteenth Century,” rather like the plumbing in my hotel, but I couldn’t tell you the difference between facsimile and the genuine article. I got lost walking there from the Tube, whether through dyslexia or because London’s handy public street maps don’t always put North at the top, so I was a little late, but people were able to recognize me from my announced purple shirt, as there were only two other people in the pub wearing the same color. I had a terrific time, stayed ’til 10:30PM, and when I left, people were still talking. Amazingly, even then, the sky was still light. London is indeed a northern city, so let’s just hope the Atlantic Conveyor doesn’t flip.

* * *

An interesting lot, London Naked Capitalism readers! What follows is an unordered list of nuggets I gleaned from various conversations. (I did have to say “Please speak English more slowly. I’m an American” several times, so I’d be grateful if you, readers, correct any errors of fact, interpretation, or omission). Therefore summarized and suitably anonymized, and with a addendum of conversations with other Londoners:

The UK is more complicated than you think, and not only because of its history. (Several people told me this in almost so many words.)

The Queen banks at Coutts, which is now a brand owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (!).

The Queen is a “high roller,” but in the UK that only means she’s rich, not that she’s a gambler. (Phew!)

George Osborne, who publishes the London Evening Standard, hates Theresa May so much he can’t think straight, which makes him a useful idiot for the Standard’s Russian oligarch owners (who are not Putin’s friends. At all).

Rule: The subject of real estate is a strange attractor for conversation in London, and all conversations rapidly converge upon it. “Frothy,” I said, but that seemed not to be understood, at least immediately[1].

This rule applies to conversations about Grenfell Tower.

In the UK, owning property but not the land is called freehold leasehold. [Dammit. I told you the UK was confusing! –lambert] (“Possession of the property will be subject to the payment of an annual ground rent.”) Owning property and the land is called freehold. Three Dukes own a ginormous percentage of the land in the UK (but not the houses or the flats), so all that ground rent goes to them. One is the Duke of Westminster.

Many Venezuelan expats have become street vendors in the Dominican Republic. There has been a Venezuelan diaspora in Latin America over the last five years.

There are 300,000 Colombians in the UK. They got into the EU via Spain, and then emigrated to the UK. Many are organized by a union that seems to be much like the Wobblies; that is, they are organized not because they are cleaners or laborers or taxi drivers or university instructors but because they are workers (albeit Colombian). Tactics bypass the usual practices of collective bargaining, and involve direct action, like marching through the workplace beating drums. (I forget the name of the union, unfortunately.)

Estimates of how much business the London financial sector will lose from Brexit range from 10% to 30%.

The finance sector may find it hard to leave London because of established social connections, like kids in school.

The finance sector may find it hard to leave London because the necessary facilities, for example blast-proof data centers, have yet to be constructed elsewhere.

Two Bernie Sanders organizers came to the UK and trained Momentum chapters in organizing techniques, hundreds at a time.[2]

Momentum GOTV software allowed dynamic allocation of volunteers to marginal districts, and away from safe one, on election day.

There were so many Momentum volunteers that the campaign had a hard time knowing what to do with them.

Corbyn’s speech at the Libertines concert was seen as an important straw in the wind at the time[3].

About 40% (guessing) of the the youngest class at Central Saint Martins has sworn off digital communications entirely[4]. This is important because Central Saint Martins is a driver in the world of fashion, hence abandoning “social” (and “digital”) may become “cool.” So go long Moleskine, HallMark, Montblanc, Uni-ball

* * *

So thank you to all London Naked Capitalism readers for a fun and informative meetup. Several of you offered me drinks, and although I couldn’t accept all the offers, I did appreciate them. I also want to thank the attendees who made up for my social ineptitude by ensuring the meetup mixed and flowed. I did try to talk, or at least listen, to all of you, and if I missed anyone out, my apologies.

P.S. You should always comment. Like the Dinsdale Brothers, your moderators are vicious but fair.

NOTES

[1] The following day I read a story in the FT that people were starting to place their property on the market privately, through intermediaries, since otherwise buyers might not meet their price, which they would then have to reduce. That’s frothy, too.

[2] Making Jim Messina look like the expensive grifter he is.

[3] So Corbyn turns out to be a brilliant organizer, as well as a brilliant campaigner. Who knew? (“Brilliant” seems to be the UK equivalent of “awesome” or “amazing,” but still.)

[4] The reason: Police tactics in the 2011 riots, which really were a big deal. The police stood back, letting the rioters do their work, but recording everything on CCTV, which is ubiquitous in the UK. Then they came after not only whoever they could identify on the tapes, but their families as well.

ADDENDUM

Other random conversations, some on Grenfell Tower:

1) One London cab driver, who voted for the Liberal Democrats, complained a lot about the heat, and said “London is very angry,” not just about Grenfell Tower, but about the Borough Market knife attack.

2) I had a long conversation with a cashier at WH Smith’s in Paddington, who was an immigrant apparently from the Indian subcontintent. I moaned about “contactless payment,” and her view — her degree was in IT management — was that it was broken as designed, and nothing would ever be fixed because the system was put in place “incrementally.” Both she and the cab driver above estimated May’s tenure in months and not days or weeks.

3) The London cab driver who took me to Grenfell Tower said it was “horrible,” but nothing else (even though I’d given him that destination when I got in, explaining that the nearest stations on the Tube were closed). I didn’t press.

4) One person (young, male, black, dapper, cellphone glued to ear) walking near Grenfell Tower said “The only party here is UKIP,” (this was before the rally), and “Nobody who lives here thinks it was an accident.” (A poorly composed photograph I did not use included what in the US would have been a gentrifying, old-fashioned lamp post.) When asked “Was it an accident?” another person (older, male, black, dreadlocked, hooded eyes), standing well back of the rally under the Westway paused, and said “I don’t know.” When asked “Was it an accident?” a third person (young, black, female, designer training to be a lawyer) said (paraphrasing) “We’d need evidence, wouldn’t we?”

5) I also had a lovely lunch with Clive and Richard Smith, who were kind enough to come into town. I need to think about it before summarizing, if I ever do (though they may chime in, of course!).

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

54 comments

  1. visitor

    owning property but not the land is called freehold. […] Owning property and the land is called freehold.

    Typo there.

      1. visitor

        Looks like leasehold is the same as “Baurecht” in German, or “droit de superficie” in French — which are quite old legal concepts in Europe. Does nothing like that exist in the USA?

        1. PKMKII

          It’s more common with commercial property than with residential. Usually when you see something like that with residential it’s in a condo variation, where you own one apartment in an apartment building but the whole property has a separate owner. Standalone houses are almost always rental.

        2. Alex Morfesis

          Most americans believe they do not have leasehold properties…and then forget their annual “real estate” tax & other payments to “the sovereign” have the same effect…

          On paper, leasehold interests are extremely rare and usually come about from some tax or financial engineering process…

          famous tax writeoff
          leaseholds in nyc :

          Empire State building,
          Rockefeller Center,
          Chrysler building…

          Further, many americans have submitted to serfdom by choosing homes within home owner association developments, with the developer usually controlling the “home owners” via long term control of the initial board and management company along with rules designed to insure “compliance” & a governance structure designed to impede any lawful attempt to actually have a homeowner association controlled by the actual majority of homeowners…

          1. PKMKII

            Most americans believe they do not have leasehold properties…and then forget their annual “real estate” tax & other payments to “the sovereign” have the same effect…

            Real estate taxes are local, you do not pay them to the sovereign. And they are not the same effect as leasehold, as their purpose is to make sure the homeowner chips in on the services and improvements that cause their home to gain in value, not as a rent to the fundamental property owner.

        3. Doug

          In trailer parks, the “house” (mobile home) is usually owned by the occupant, but they must pay ground rent to the property owner.

      2. Carla

        leasehold/freehold — please confirm — so owning the land, but not the structures on it, is a leasehold? and when you own the house, the barn AND the land, that’s a freehold?

        1. David Carl Grimes

          Baltimore still practices that. Many home owners pay ground rent. Something like $100 to $200 a year. But the City of Baltimore says that you can buy the ground rent for a lump sum.

          This practice is a vestige of the colonial era.

          1. craazyboy

            So does Mexico, and many other countries that want to protect local citizens from speculative, foreign driven property bubbles. The land lease is managed by a local bank, whom also collects a comfey service fee.

        2. windsock

          No. Leasehold is to own the property but NOT the land. The owner of the land usually includes a leasehold rent when an initial purchase is made, but that rent can be increased at future points. Freehold is owning the land AND the property.

          1. visitor

            From what you say, this really seems to be the same legal mechanism as used in other countries (“Baurecht” in Germany, “droit de superficie” in France, etc). There are flavours:

            a) how the lease payments are staged (initial payment, fixed or variable annuities);

            b) whether the lease is for a definite or indefinite period of time;

            c) whether constructions become automatically property of the land owner at the end of the lease, with or without payment from the land owner for the residual value, or whether the land must be returned in its original condition.

            In Europe, where land is scarce because of generally high population density, the scheme is quite common. Thus, municipalities often prefer that scheme to selling the land they own.

            Had Lambert never stumbled on that kind of property right in the USA?

              1. visitor

                Where I live, in the past that scheme was very much used for industrial premises. A municipality would reserve some area for an “industry park”, a firm would come, acquire a piece of estate in “leasehold”, build and operate a factory (or garage, or warehouse). After, say, 50 years, at lease end, if it wanted to relocate it would just leave a fully written off building behind.

                In the past 20 years or so, I was surprised to learn that the scheme has been increasingly used for dwellings. It is generally considered not such a good idea for buyers, because the annual lease may not be covered by normal mortgages, renders planning ahead costs difficult (with variable annual fees), and makes the house or flat more unattractive to sell — especially when nearing the end of the lease.

                Overall, the information provided by the article you linked to confirms an overall trend towards maximization of rent extraction from every corner of economic activities:

                You do not own cars, you lease them.
                You do not own software, you license it.
                You do not own media on a support, you transiently stream it.
                You do not own real estate, you “leasehold” it.

                But you still have the responsibilities and liabilities of an owner…

                1. jefemt

                  Fundamentals of Capitalism? Internalize profits/ gains, externalize costs/ responsibilities… And then publicly espouse a perverse virtuous version of the set-up— because Markets!

            1. Carla

              Yes, we have that in certain parts of Ohio. But I think it’s usually the state or a conservation authority of some kind that owns the land and leases it to the “property” owner — of the house or structures.

      1. Anonymous2

        The length of the lease can vary. For so-called ‘long leases’, 99 years used to be quite common. That used to be priced pretty much the same as ‘freehold’ property at the beginning of the lease. I guess the buyer thought ‘I will be dead so it will be up to my descendants to find somewhere else in due course’.

        125 years was another term I came across in years gone by.

        I think some buyers, coming from cultures where freehold is pretty well insisted upon, have stood out for much longer terms – 999 years?

  2. skippy

    “The finance sector may find it hard to leave London because the necessary facilities, for example blast-proof data centers, have yet to be constructed elsewhere.”

    As noted in the waybackNCmachine…. if anything catastrophic were ever about to occur, find the nearest one and take shelter….

    disheveled…. don’t even think heads of state have this level of sanctuary.

    PS. Clive and Richard melt your head _?????_ muhahahahahah~~~~~

    1. freedeomny

      Leaseholds are not uncommon in NYC. Related, a large developer, has a bunch of leasehold properties – the land is leased from NY. Battery Park is largely leasehold – although since it is landfill it “technically” might be considered waterway….

  3. PlutoniumKun

    A few random comments on the random comments:

    The reason: Police tactics in the 2011 riots, which really were a big deal. The police stood back, letting the rioters do their work, but recording everything on CCTV, which is ubiquitous in the UK. Then they came after not only whoever they could identify on the tapes, but their families as well.

    These tactics predate social media. Back in the early 1990’s when anti-road and environmental protests/rave scene were at their height the police would use videocameras as a means of intimidating protestors – essentially following people around, pushing them in their faces. They were very deliberately singling out what might be termed ‘middle class’ (and sometimes upper class) protestors – those people who would most likely look like they had something to lose by a disorder conviction or having their photographs distributed (one reason why people like me dressed as scruffy as possible). Social media now just makes it easier for the police to link camera footage with identities.

    Many Venezuelan expats have become street vendors in the Dominican Republic. There has been a Venezuelan diaspora in Latin America over the last five years.

    I’m dubious about this as however bad Venezuela is, its still much wealthier than the Dominican Republic and most other South/Central American countries. There is a big Venezuelan diaspora (a surprising number here in Dublin, all ‘low class’ as my Venezuelan friend calls them), but I’ve always understood it to be more about gaming the stupid Venezuelan currency controls than people fleeing the country.

    The finance sector may find it hard to leave London because of established social connections, like kids in school.

    I thought thats what boarding schools were invented for.

    In the UK, owning property but not the land is called freehold. (“Possession of the property will be subject to the payment of an annual ground rent.”) Owning property and the land is called freehold. Three Dukes own a ginormous percentage of the land in the UK (but not the houses or the flats), so all that ground rent goes to them. One is the Duke of Westminster.

    Its not just land rent – in many parts of England the old aristocracy kept the mineral rights when they sold land for development, so they can legally dig the coal or anything else they find out from under you. One Duke (I can’t remember which one), still owns all the coal under Birmingham and the West Midlands.

    One London cab driver, who voted for the Liberal Democrats, complained a lot about the heat, and said “London is very angry,” not just about Grenfell Tower, but about the Borough Market knife attack.

    I don’t think I ever met a London cab driver who wasn’t very angry.

    The finance sector may find it hard to leave London because the necessary facilities, for example blast-proof data centers, have yet to be constructed elsewhere.

    I thought data centres were pretty much footloose, so long as there is a fibre optic cable somewhere. Maybe the person meant old style data storage facilities. When I worked in London in the 1990’s every Friday a magnetic disk with the weeks design work was brought for storage in an old WWII air raid shelter just down the road from my office on Tottenham Court Road. My boss reckoned that old shelter had over a billion pounds worth of building design stored in it. My company refused to allow internet connections because of fear of viruses or piracy.

    The following day I read a story in the FT that people were starting to place their property on the market privately, through intermediaries, since otherwise buyers might not meet their price, which they would then have to reduce. That’s frothy, too.

    The air seems to have gone out of the bubble, there are lots of stories circulating about unsold properties. It may be that its drawing breath, or it may be that its all about to go very flat indeed. This could be one of the drivers behind the current boom in Dublin property – traditionally Irish property goes up as bubbles start to deflate in England as landlords and investors seek to cash in and invest in what is seen as a countercyclical market.

    1. Robert St.

      Many Venezuelan expats have become street vendors in the Dominican Republic. There has been a Venezuelan diaspora in Latin America over the last five years.

      I’m dubious about this as however bad Venezuela is, its still much wealthier than the Dominican Republic and most other South/Central American countries.

      Can confirm. My wife’s family are Dominican and have remarked upon the swelling ranks of Venezuelans (and to a lesser extent Puerto Ricans) to the country. I’ve also read with interest a number of online articles in the past 6 months or so from the local papers confirming the growing Venezuelan ex-pats. Plus you underestimate the DR. It has quietly been booming for something approaching 20 years and currently has the fastest growing economy in Latin America, a remarkable feat.

      1. Alejandro

        Only data could “confirm” what seems mostly conjectural speculation…without reliable stats, it seems that unchallenged claims propagate and take on a life of their own, mostly in the realm of imagination.

        I also find dubious, the claim that PR’s with the means to flee, would choose the DR as a destination.

    2. Madarka

      I’m dubious about this as however bad Venezuela is, its still much wealthier than the Dominican Republic and most other South/Central American countries. There is a big Venezuelan diaspora (a surprising number here in Dublin, all ‘low class’ as my Venezuelan friend calls them), but I’ve always understood it to be more about gaming the stupid Venezuelan currency controls than people fleeing the country

      Venezuelan migrants in Santo Domingo

      The case of Miriam (also a fictitious name), because she prefers not to reveal her identity for fear of reprisal, is a lady of more than 70 years. She is a teacher, graduated in Literature and Languages, but here she is dedicated to carrying a thermos in Mella Avenue selling coffee. On occasion she is accompanied by a niece (who is a lawyer) at the sale of coffee in the streets.

      Source is in Spanish, but I don’t have time to translate. I think that most of them go to DR, stay a while and then try to emigrate further north, either to Miami or Europe, but this is just conjecture on my part.

    3. notabanker

      On the DC relocations being footloose, technology wise, it depends. DWDM and synchronous replication technologies are limited by distance, as the TBTF’s found out after 9/11. Latency can also become an issue for applications, depending on Global WAN architectures.
      There are hundreds of millions of pounds depreciating over 30 years incurred in their construction that no one will write off. Reselling that space for anything near it’s value is almost impossible as AWS and Google have made those cooling technologies obsolete by using natural resources instead.

      DC migrations are measured in months, usually spanning a couple of years. Scheduling 100’s of seemingly random, yet interconnected, apps to be brought down and back up gracefully in the 2 hour a week change window (that can get cancelled by the CEO on a moments notice because last week a competitor had an ATM outage) keeps many, many project managers employed by the TBTF’s. And if the developers have to actually change something in the apps to make them work on new technologies, well then, good luck.

    4. RabidGandhi

      In my (highly anecdotal) experience, there is a substantial difference between the Venezuelan and Colombian immigrants in Europe, with the Colombians having far greater numbers and tending to come from much lower income levels. But these anecdotes may be victims of my confirmation bias based on the data: before Syria, Colombia had the largest internal refugee population on the planet, whereas the alleged tidal wave of Venezuelans fleeing abroad is one of those Loch Ness style creatures that has yet to be confirmed in hard data.

  4. Anonymous2

    ‘London is very angry’.

    As a UK resident I think that a disturbingly large proportion of the UK population is angry about something or other – angry about being in the EU, angry at leaving it, angry about the Government, angry about the quality of the opposition that failed to get rid of them, angry that our newspapers lie to us, angry about whatever it is the newspapers tell us to be angry about. Angry at foreigners, angry at each other.

    There must be some deep psychological reasons behind all this anger.

    The Age of Anger is next on my reading list. Perhaps that will shed some insights. I hear he is a fan of Rene Girard, who I think has some interesting perspectives. Mimetic crisis perhaps (for those who are familiar with Girard’s jargon)?

  5. Arizona Slim

    Digital communication is going out of style? Will we start to see a revival of, say, people talking to each other?

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d talk with you, but you might have a knife. Or a gun. Or be one of those chaps with the golden tongues that work the three-card-monte or find-the-pea games…

  6. Terry Flynn

    Glad you had fun!

    If I’d had time I’d have come down to London (or “up to London” as many there imply when they say “down to” somewhere else – learnt that when living there in the 90s).

    Yes Momentum didn’t know what to do with themselves they were so over-staffed – the “Labour” canvasser to our house was almost definitely Momentum – wish I’d asked. I know how large (not) the official Labour team was in my constituency and they *don’t* canvass in my (very very Tory) suburb….but this guy did, “not knowing this area” (big giveaway as Momentum) and ironically probably helped Labour (though they didn’t need it – once May’s majority was toast, the sitting Labour MP was safe – it’s an ultra-marginal). He got a surprising number of positive reactions, and the Tories flooded this suburb – something they should never have had to do – and their GOTV drive on election day was unheard of.

    Leasehold was traditionally much more common to London. But it’s now popping up a lot up here in Nottingham. Clearly as a way of reducing the price on flats (in particular) for people who don’t expect to be leaving a property to descendents.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Terry.

      Leasehold is gathering ground in the Home Counties (London commuter region for those outside the UK), too. Ground rent as an investment class is also growing and being touted, often, by estate agents (realtors).

      Some friends, all single, middle aged and immigrant women living in central London and the former Docklands, have had nasty shocks recently when the bills for maintaining communal facilities, arrived.

      1. Terry Flynn

        interesting! A friend who had use of a family friend’s leasehold apt (7 story block) in London when doing a clinical rotation told me a similar story. The leaseholders all faced a large bill to get double glazing installed – a quote which seemed very very high and (obviously) unattractive to those whose leases were now down to less than 30 years….the land owner (Dulwich College) negotiated an extension to their leases, thus making investments more attractive to individual lease-holders. I gather various improvements are now underway. But one can’t but help think “hmmmm, Dulwich College seem to be doing well out of this”

  7. Terry Flynn

    regarding May’s tenure:

    Everyone I know (and me) think nobody wants the poisoned chalice of her position. You have backbench Tory MPs like Anna Soubry who are going to lead rebellion after rebellion to try to soften BREXIT – and she knows full well she is only in parliament because she was an anomaly to the East Midlands swing (which was heavily against REMAIN supporters like her) but that her constituents like her for being a good constituency MP, bolshy and ‘a character’ – Ken Clarke always bucked the trend too for the same reasons. The hard BREXITeers are keeping their powder dry for now until May really tanks in the polls and/or it becomes obvious that Corbyn’s (personal) ambiguous line on BREXIT is beginning to give his party difficulties. The East Midlands Labour MPs are very very twitchy already. The Labour Party at the national level needs to say something totally different to the Labour Party at the level of certain regions. That, plus the Tories realising being PM at this stage is a career-ender, means nobody wants May gone just yet. So yeah, months (probably a year), not weeks or days. Though a stalking horse candidate may well challenge soon to weaken her so she survives a year and no more – the Thatcher scenario all over again.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think thats the key – May will survive for as long as there is nobody of substance willing to take the poisoned chalice (apart from Boris of course, who is egotistical enough to think he could run the country between long boozy meals, but I think everyone sees through him now).

      I suspect the Men in Suits who really run the Tory party have decided that the best thing is to let May take all the grief coming down the line for the next 2 years, and then if circumstances start to look up after then, a fresh face might rescue them if they can run the full term. Of course, there are all sorts of wild cards, not least if someone from the fringes starts up a rebellion from one flank or another of the party. But the Tory party, despite its very deep rifts, has a strong survival instinct and the money men behind them will be determined to do what is necessary to keep Corbyn out of power, so I’d never underestimate them. I think they will be happy for May to be a lightning rod for all the stuff that can go wrong – she is ultimately disposable, as even Thatcher proved to be.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yep, agreed.

        And it’s why I, too, continue to think Labour under-estimate the Tories….there’re the data out there to show what Labour need to do. Unfortunately Labour rely too much on ‘appeals to the heart’ when at least *some* ‘appeal to the head’ is required for power. I’ve had some interest in my results from Momentum but unfortunately I don’t think they value it enough to use it. Like em or loathe them, the Tories use data exceptionally well (apart from when a general election is sprung on them and they don’t get their social media act in order! – They won’t make that mistake again)

        The money-men behind the Tories will, as you say, prevail. The only question is whether enough Tories stop embodying their old label as the “stupid party” and start being “the principles before party” party and vote for little England policies that defy the conglomerates. Traditionally they didn’t…but things are changing rapidly and I do wonder if some Tories really would rather self-destruct their own government than compromise on Europe. We live in interesting times.

  8. David Carl Grimes

    I’m glad you gave this report. It would be interesting to know what transpires in other meet ups.

  9. craazyboy

    I think Lord Buckethead and our American, KFC Buckethead should organize a pair of bi-directional “Atlantic Crossing” concerts. It’s been a while since we’ve co-operated in the field of music.

    Lord Buckethead should learn bass real fast, or I guess anyone can don the outfit. Maybe Paul McCartney could brush up on his bass and be up to the task? Ringo could play drums, as Ringo, but I don’t think he could keep up. Maybe Bill Buford is available?

    They could call themselves the “Bucket Of Bernie Brains – Momentum”. That would be cool!

    Also, something needs to be done about 3 Dukes owning all of the land in London. It’s the 21st Century! Jeebus.

      1. Propertius

        The Duke of Westminster, the Queen and the Earl of Cadogan are still London’s top landowners, holding nearly 700 acres of central-London land between them.

        1. Deo gratias, the barbaric anachronism that is the British “aristocracy” is not my problem (at least not since 1776).

        2. The Evening Standard needs to hire an editor.

  10. Comradefrana

    Off- topic: There is, on the “brilliantmaps” website, a not-so-brilliant map of percentages of people in European countries “willing to fight a war for their country”. The numbers were fairly low compared to other countries in the world, resulting in not-so-subtle jabs at “wimpy Europeans” in the article and predictable far right drivel in the comments about how “Europe is doomed!” and how it is the fault of muslims, feminists and gays.

    Never mind the fact that the survey the map is based on didn’t specify what kind of war it is asking about: is it supposed to be for example a conventional defensive war or a protracted foreign adventure with questionable results (i.e. the the kind most of Europe is familiar with lately). Essentially the results of the study are incomparable, and it says too little to be useful for anything other that reflecting peoples’ biases.

    1. Anonymous2

      Maybe Europeans are not keen on war because there are still enough octogenarians around who remember what it is like to have a war fought on your own territory and tell their children – never let that happen again?

      1. Propertius

        Why would that only be true in recent times? Europe has a pretty bloody history, after all.

  11. Mark Anderlik

    This is quite ironic as Messina got his start in organizing and politics out of the Union Hall in Missoula, Montana as an organizer for Montana People’s Action, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of poor people which used many of the same tactics as Momentum.

  12. Tony Wikrent

    “In the UK, owning property but not the land is called freehold [correction: leasehold]…. Owning property and the land is called freehold. Three Dukes own a ginormous percentage of the land in the UK (but not the houses or the flats), so all that ground rent goes to them. One is the Duke of Westminster.

    This is, I believe, a very important point pertaining to the different social and economic structures between Britain and USA, and, crucially, the legacies of the American Revolution and Constitution. The standard leftist interpretation of the USA Constitution, as expressed recently by Paul Street, is “it’s absurd to think that a document crafted by wealthy slave-owners, opulent merchants, and other vast property-holders with the explicit purpose of keeping the “wicked” popular majority and its “secret sigh for a more equal distribution” of wealth (James Madison’s lovely phrase) at bay… can function in meaningful service to popular self-rule in the 21st (or any other) century.” I do not contend that this interpretation is entirely untruthful–the Constitution necessarily involved compromises of even principles in order to be passed–but the plain fact overlooked is that if the framers had wanted to perpetuate their class structure, they would have retained the British legal and social legacies of primogeniture and entails, which are among the most powerful means of preserving ruling oligarchical families in power and station.

    Instead, primogeniture and entails were among the very first legal concepts eliminated and banished. Which, to my mind, shows that the primary intent was quite different than what Street thinks it was.

    It would therefore be highly useful if we knew the details of ground rent in Britain and perhaps elsewhere. Exactly who are the largest landowners? How concentrated is landholding? Lambert states his interlocutors indicated there are only three Dukes owning most of the land in the Kingdom. What are their oligarchical family roots? How much rent do they extract? What percent of GDP, national income, disposable income, etc., does this rent account for?

    Can you imagine how the course of USA history and economic development might have differed if only three or four or five people owned almost all the land? The story of how the Penn family was shorn of its ownership of most of Pennsylvania is an interesting but seldom told tale. This opposition to the effects of primogeniture and entails remained a very potent political force in USA as the “leveling spirit” right up to the 1930s (see Gustavus Myers, who wrote books such as The Ending of Hereditary American Fortunes.)

    1. Anonymous2

      Dukes owning land.

      The Dukes of Bedford and Westminster are very wealthy, their ancestors having ‘got lucky’ as a result of owning farmland on the western edges of London in the C17th and C18th which became prime central London as the City spread out and the ‘smart’ area moved West. Wisely, the families held onto the freeholds, only selling leases on properties, so being able to cash in over and over as the centuries passed.

      The Duke of Cornwall (aka Prince Charles) also has substantial London property holdings.

      The Duke of Buccleuch has the largest acreage (268,000 acres reportedly) but I think quite a lot of this is probably pretty poor quality uplands in Scotland, so although he is wealthy I doubt he is as rich as the big London landowners.

      How have they managed to hold on to all this land? Well apart from the Duchy of Cornwall, which I suspect is a special case, they benefited from the fact that there were no estate duties for several centuries and, when they were finally introduced, the families quickly worked out how to get round them (e.g. by setting up trusts).

      In some cases, social standing followed wealth rather than vice versa – so the Westminsters became Dukes after they became filthy rich.

  13. Oregoncharles

    “but recording everything on CCTV, which is ubiquitous in the UK.”

    The rioters neglected to smash the cameras? Not next time. Should be big market in powerful slingshots.

  14. ChrisAtRU

    Thanks for the summary! Envious. Have not been to #TheBigSmoke since just after the turn of the century. Far too long, methinks! I’ll have to be content with Dear Old Blighty updates here and #JEZZA tagged tweets for now!

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