UNDER THE CROWN – The Poverty Gap

1% OF THE POPULATION OWN HALF  OF THE LAND  IN THE UK

MINISTERS RECENTLY ADMITTED ENGLAND’S HOUSING MARKET WAS ‘BROKEN’ Home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level for 30 years with almost half of all people in England aged 25 to 34 living in rented accommodation. Home ownership is out of reach for young people with many forced to remain with parents, the average age for first time buyers is now 32.  ‘The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 11.2% in August-October 2019’  (House of Commons Library).  ”For 16-24 year olds, the basic rate of Unemployment Benefit is £57.90  ($75.62) a week, for those 25 and over, it’s £73.10  ($95.47) with reductions for any hours worked or for any pension. In 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions introduced the ‘Bedroom Tax’ setting a target to ‘encourage’ 30%  of tenants with an ‘extra’ bedroom, living in social housing, to move home by 2017.  Where a property has a 2nd bed room this is taxed, tenants have their Unemployment Benefit reduced by some £14 per week and by up to £25 for a third bedroom. No exemption is given for separated or divorced fathers  attempting to provide accommodation for their children.  

LAND OWNERSHIP  HAS ALWAYS CONFERRED WEALTH AND POWER, DICTATING PROPERTY OWNERSHIP.  Today, most of UK land remains in the hands of the descendants of the French nobles and soldiers who became the aristocracy after being gifted land  from 1066 by William the Conqueror, in return for service. Successive monarchs continued the practice of granting land in exchange for duties and today 70% of Britain’s land remains in the hands of 1% of the population, highlighting  an ever widening poverty gap.

WITH HER 6.6 BILLION ACRES QUEEN ELIZABETH IS BY FAR THE WORLDS LARGEST LANDOWNER INCLUDING LAND IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA.

Complex accountancy systems have evolved over 700 years which seek to identify and separate the private and public role of the  monarch and the heir to the throne, assuring public and private income  for both in addition to income from the Crown Estate. As Head of State the queen officially holds ownership of palaces and estates for life, which are automatically bequeathed to her successor. As an example, the Crown Jewels, with an estimated value of between three and five billion pounds are not owned by the State but by the prevailing monarch.

Buckingham Palace, the  official London residence of the monarch  is owned by the Queen as part of the Crown Estate.  It has 775 rooms, 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

 

THE QUEEN HAS 2 PRIVATELY OWNED RESIDENCES

BALMORAL CASTLE is the Queen’s Scottish retreat. With over 50,000 acres and 775 rooms  it is valued at  £115 million. The estate was purchased in 1852, no revenues are received by Parliament as the castle was bought in the name of  Prince Albert, the husband of  Queen Victoria rather than in the monarchs name.  As the ballroom is open to the public  her Majesty starts her summer break in the seven-bedroom Craigowan Lodge on the estate  before moving into the main house in August.

SANDRINGHAM a 20,000 acre Estate is the Queen’s personal residence and country retreat, valued at £50 million.

THE CROWN ESTATE

The Queen owns a huge property portfolio called the Crown Estate, which holds £14 billion worth of property in the UK, it includes numerous palaces used as residences by the Queen’s extended royal family. The Crown Estate is managed by the monarch and generates income and revenues of some  £306.32 million ($400 million) per year. Net profit passes to Parliament which is responsible for maintenance and refurbishment of the properties.

THE SOVEREIGN GRANT:  In return for income generated by royal properties, the Queen receives 25% of net profits from the Crown Estate as payment under The Sovereign Grant, to provide an independent source of income for use by the royal household. The major  costs of maintaining the monarchy are met by Parliament.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE. The official residence of the  monarch. Estimated value £2.2 billion. The palace has 775 rooms which include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

 

 

WINDSOR CASTLE: Queen Elizabeth II principal weekend retreat. Built c 1070 it is worth over £181 million.

 

 

Holyrood Palace, the Scottish        residence of the queen where she typically stays in the first week of the summer.            

 

 

Hillsborough Castle, the Northern Ireland residence of the queen during her visits.

 

THE QUEEN AND THE PRINCE OF WALES  RECEIVE PRIVATE INCOME THROUGH THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER AND THE DUCHY OF CORNWALL.,FEUDAL ECONOMIES WHICH HAVE SURVIVED  FOR OVER 700 YEARS.

The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate owned by the British sovereign, currently valued at £534 million. This  ancient inheritance began 750 years ago, in 1265, when Henry III gifted to his son, lands which had been forfeited by the Earl of Leicester. Henry decreed that the lands would provide a private income for subsequent monarchs through inheritance.

The Duchy of Cornwall owned by Prince Charles has £1 billion in assets. He is  the largest private landowner in England, annual income from the duchy is £21.6m. Created in 1337 by Edward III, as a personal endowment for his son, its lands and revenues have belonged to the male heir to the throne from that time. The Duchy is not designated a Company and so does not pay Corporation Tax. In his capacity as Duke of Cornwall, Charles owns an estate spread across 23 counties, which includes the Scilly Isles and coastal waters.

 

Clarence House: The official London residence of  the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, adjacent to St James Palace, has an estimated value £58.5 million. It was formerly the home of the queen mother and inherited by her grandson on her death.

 

PRIVATE RESIDENCES OWNED BY PRINCE CHARLES

 

High Grove House and Gardens. The main private residence of Prince Charles and Camilla.  A country estate with extensive gardens purchased by the prince under the Duchy of Lancaster.

 

 

 

Birkhall, a 53,000 acre Scottish retreat on the Balmoral Estate, inherited  by Prince Charles from the queen mother.

 

 

 

Llwynywermod a 192 acre estate in Carmarthenshire, is the private residence of Prince Charles and Camilla when staying in Wales.

 

 

 

Tamarisk House, private residence of Prince Charles and Camilla located on the main island, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall.

 

 

HOMES OF THE QUEENS CHILDREN

GATCOMBE PARK. Home of the Princess Royal. Bought privately by the Queen for her and her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips. Extensively refurbished and renovated prior to the family moving in, back in the late 1970s, funded by the Crown purse.

 

ROYAL LODGE WINDSOR: Home of Prince Andrew, Duke of York and his ex wife Sarah Ferguson. A 30 room residence within Windsor Park. Gifted by the queen mother in 2003. He will continue to reside there after stepping down from royal duties in 2019.

BAGSHOT PARK MANSION:  Home of Prince Edward, Duke of Wessex and Sophie. Mansion House with 51 acres set in Windsor Great Park. Owned by  the Crown Estate, with a 50 year rental lease  to Edward and Sophie at £90,000 pa. Renovations £2.98 million, half  paid by Crown.

ANMER HALL. Home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sandringham Estate. A wedding gift from the queen, is now the country home of William and Kate and their children. They also reside in a Kensington Palace apartment to cover their royal duties.

FROGMORE COTTAGE, WINDSOR ESTATE. Home of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Given by the Queen as a wedding gift. Renovations cost to taxpayer £2.4m. Following their decision to ‘step down’ from royal duties the renovation costs are to be repaid..

 

IT IS SAID ‘AN ENGLISH MAN’S HOME IS HIS CASTLE’  – A RIGHT PRESERVED FOR THE FEW…  A BEDROOM TAX FOR THE WEALTHY MIGHT GO SOME WAY TO RESOLVING THE CURRENT HOUSING CRISIS.

‘SUSSEX ROYAL’ – THE BURDEN OF WEALTH, POWER AND PRIVILEGE

Prince Harry, once the most admired member of the royal family has caused shock and dismay through his decision to ‘step back’ from the royal family and relocate to North America. Whatever the motives, questions arise as to the  way in which Harry and Meghan have conducted themselves, widely viewed as a lack of respect for the Queen and the monarchy itself. There is true affection for Harry and  sincere acknowledgement of the trauma caused by his mothers death at such an early age… who can forget him walking with his brother behind her coffin. Whatever the true cause, the total breakdown of the relationship between Harry and William is viewed as collateral damage arising from the marriage of Harry and Meghan. Continue reading

IRAN – A POCKET HISTORY FOR TRUMP

IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?

1953 CIA SUPPORTED COUP IN IRAN:  The removal of Mossadegh  (the leftist Iranian Prime Minister in 1951) was, in my estimation, a tragic mistake on the part of the United States. We caused, in effect, the Khomeini revolution by doing that. But essentially, the seeds of that revolution were planted then, because we insulted the Iranians nationally, as a nation. So we interrupted the normal course of Iranian history… Iran would have gone its own way, and we would not have become the scapegoat, the great Satan, or whatever.      David Nalle, Director, Bi-National Center, Tehran, 1960-1963

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KURDISH ALLIES – A pocket History for Trump

IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS THE KURDS, ALLIES OF THE  UNITED STATES, LOST 11,000 OF THEIR SOLDIERS IN SYRIA.  THERE WERE  6  AMERICAN FATALITIES.

Despite Pentagon and US Intelligence disapproval, the President of the United States ordered the withdrawal of US military troops stationed on the Syrian-Turkey border, effectively abandoning their former allies. President Trump warned Turkey  not to invade the region being held by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.  Turkey attacked the SDF within 24 hours of US military withdrawal from the region.

“I said to my Generals why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad,  to protect the land of our enemy?  Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China or Napoleon Bonaparte…   ‘the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out”. Continue reading

BREXIT TO BACKSTOP – Preserving the Status Quo

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THE POLITICAL QUAGMIRE NOW CHALLENGING LEADERS OF THE  EU AND THE  UK, DEMONSTRATES THE HISTORICAL CONSEQUENCE OF CONTROLLING A COUNTRY FOR THE ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION OF THE NATIVE PEOPLE AND THEIR LAND.

The Partition of Ireland  in 1921 created the invisible border which divides rivers, fields and houses, only the road signs written in English or Gaelic remind you that it separates one nation but two countries and two cultures. An estimated 30,000 people pass through 300 crossings daily. Current negotiations threaten much more than a return to border controls and Custom checks, the pending withdrawal of the UK from the EU threatens the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which ensured power sharing by Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Brexit negotiators intent on securing binding agreements acceptable to all, are mindful of border sensitivities and the sectarian divisions which the Good Friday Agreement largely resolved. Continue reading

A POCKET HISTORY OF CENTRAL AMERICA FOR TRUMP

‘WE ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE’

As Americans currently grapple with the sense of being overwhelmed by a sea of immigrants,  the refrain “We are here because you were there” reminds us of the cause and inevitable consequence of colonisation and uninvited incursion into other lands. The safety of its citizens is the primary responsibility of every government and few would argue that this should not include the security of its borders. The question of how they are secured and why, is the factor now dividing America. 

It is no coincidence that many seeking refuge are coming from Central American countries, the Northern Triangle of  Guatamala, El Slavadore and Honduras, followed by Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize. These countries endured colonisation under the Spanish from the 1500s with the British and the Spanish later fighting for control until the British  turned their attention to colonisation of North America and Canada. In 1823 the United Provinces of Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador) gained independence from Mexico, each achieving independence  in the 1830s. Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 declared the U.S.’s right to exercise an “international police power” in Latin America, the US has influenced the region ever since.

Successful immigration is entirely dependent upon acceptance and assimilation and this takes time. Opposition to immigrants includes numbers, timing, employment prospects, ethnic differences, race and religion and political ideology.  Any of these can be used to instil fear, the threat that the host community will be overwhelmed and irrevocably changed, because social change is an inherent aspect of immigration. When viewed positively this is seen as enriching communities through diversity, with cultural traditions maintained and encouraged. In general people prefer to remain within their home countries if basic needs are met and opportunities are available. Mass migration is always triggered by a threat to survival. Continue reading

GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

THE WORDS HAVE A HOLLOW RING TODAY as the world views the horrific photograph of a little girl not yet 2, clutching her father, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, as both were swept to their deaths in the Rio Grande in an effort to seek asylum. Their mother Tania Vanessa Avalos, 21 watched as they drowned. The family  made their way to Mexico from El Salvadore, then spent the last two months in a migrant camp waiting for an appointment to apply for asylum to enter the US. A shelter director said that only 40 to 45 asylum interviews were being conducted there each week while there are 800 to 1,700 names on the waiting list. Ramirez became frustrated by the delay and decided to attempt to swim across the river. He deposited his daughter on the far bank and went back to assist his wife to cross but the child became confused and followed her father back into the water. Both drowned in the strong undercurrents as he tried to save her. Continue reading

VENEZUELA- A POCKET HISTORY FOR TRUMP


OVERT AND COVERT US INTERVENTION HAS TOPPLED A SERIES OF LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENTS IN THE LATIN AMERICAN REGION SINCE THE 1950s. GUATEMALA, PANAMA, NICARAGUA, HONDURAS AND EL SALVADOR HAVE ALL BEEN INVADED BY THE UNITED STATES  WHICH IRONICALLY IS NOW ‘INVADED’ BY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE FLEEING THEIR RAVAGED COUNTRIES.

The political manoeuvring by the most powerful nations on the world stage as they align with and against Venezuela should remind us of the self interest and the all too familiar strategy of divide and conquer previously witnessed in the Middle East and currently being  played out in Latin America.  Russia, China and others jostle for position to ensure their stake in that country’s natural mineral wealth and oil, as America attempts to grab the world’s greatest source of oil in its “backyard”, 

Comparison of current oil reserves

  • Venezuela –     300,878 million barrels
  • Saudi Arabia –  266,455 million barrels. …
  • Canada –         169,709 million barrels. …
  • Iran –               158,400 million barrels. …
  • Iraq –               142,503 million barrels. …
  • Kuwait –          101,500 million barrels. …
  • UA Emirates –   97,800 million barrels. …
  • Russia –            80,000 million barrels. …
  • Libya –              48,363 million barrels. …
  • United States – 39,230 million barrels.

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THE GOLAN HEIGHTS – POCKET HISTORY FOR TRUMP

IN FORMALLY RECOGNISING ISRAELI CONTROL OVER THE  GOLAN HEIGHTS  DONALD TRUMP HAS ACHIEVED THE IMPOSSIBLE – UNITING VIRTUALLY EVERY NATION IN THEIR OPPOSITION AND CONCERN FOR THE OUTCOME.

In the 1940s, Britain secretly advocated the creation of a Greater Syrian state that would secure Britain preferential status in military, economic and cultural matters. France and the United States opposed British hegemony in the region, which eventually led to the creation of Israel on 14 May 1948. 

  • 1948 The  First Arab–Israeli War, was fought between the newly declared State of Israel and a military coalition of 5 Arab nations which rejected the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine. Israelis call it “the war of independence”; Arabs call it the “nakba” or the catastrophe.
  • 1956 The second Arab-Israeli war broke out when Israel, Britain and France launched a joint attack against Egypt aimed at regime change and deposing Abdul Nasser the country’s leader.
  • 1967 Israel launched preemptive attacks on Egypt, Jordan and Syria, unleashing the June War, that resulted in the Israeli occupation of what remained of historic Palestine. Israel subsequently captured and occupied the West Bank and Gaza, capturing East Jerusalem from the Jordanians and the Golan Heights from Syria. The displacement of civilian populations resulting from the war had long-term consequences, as 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and about 100,000 Syrians left the Golan Heights. Israel began to settle the occupied Golan Heights almost immediately, directly flouting international law.
  • 1973 Syria tried to retake the Golan Heights during the ‘Yom Kippur ‘war.  Egyptian and Syrian armies, with advanced Soviet weapons, launched a two-front offensive on Israel, from the north and the south. Despite inflicting heavy losses on Israeli forces, the surprise assault failed. Both countries signed an armistice in 1974 and a UN observer force has been in place on the ceasefire line since.

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ISRAELI APARTHEID

DEMOCRACY: A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT WHERE THE CITIZENS EXCERCISE POWER BY VOTING

APARTHEID: A POLICY OR SYSTEM OF SEGREGATION OR DISCRIMINATION ON GROUNDS OF RACE. 

Benjamin Netanyahu stated this week:   “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone”.  By definition this excludes Palestinians. This controversial law passed last summer declared Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, stipulating that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”. Continue reading