"Where do your people come from?"

On 30th November, 2022, Susan Hussey caused a bit of a kerfuffle when she asked Ngozi Fulani "where are you from?" and then "where do your people come from?" Ngozi is from Kilburn - but she happens to be black. Susan Hussey is Baroness Hussey of North Bradley, daughter of Geoffrey Waldegrave, 12th Earl Waldegrave, also known as Viscount Chewton, whose ancestors go back to the Waldegraves who took over Hever Castle in Kent from the Boleyns - of Anne Boleyn fame. Hever Castle was built by William de Hever a descendant of one of those who wielded a sword at Hastings in 1066 at the start of the Norman occupation of England..

Ngozi Fulani's parents moved to Britain from Barbados as part of the Windrush generation when Britain had a severe labour shortage after World War II.

The lack of cultural and historical understanding shown by Hussey is not surprising given her own ancestry and life of privilege serving as a "Woman of the Bedchamber" under Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha ("Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha") and then as "Lady of the Household" to Camilla wife of Charles Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha?

Yes, "Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha" became "Windsor" in 1917 when the inter-related royal families of Europe were in a bit of a scrap deciding whose empire would be biggest. It didn't go down well with those dying in the trenches that their "king" was a member of the same German family they were fighting.

At the same time that "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha" became "Windsor", "Battenberg" became "Mountbatten" - asking our ruling class "where do your people come from?" can produce some very interesting answers!

Sometimes where your people come from can be a little embarrassing. Oops!

To be fair, members of the Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha/Windsor royal family were not the only aristocrats and landholders to have antisemitic, fascist and Nazi sympathies. Others included the Mitford sisters, Archibald Ramsay, the Duke of Hamilton, Sir Arthur Bryant, Lord Mount Temple, Lord Londonderry, Oswald Mosley (Baronet Mosley), Viscount Lymington, and Harold Harmsworth (Viscount Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail).

Not much has changed at The Daily Mail, now run by Jonathan Harmsworth, the tax-avoiding grandson of Harold Harmsworth.

Interesting fact: England has never had an English ruler since before 1066 - they have all been descendants of French or German rulers.

Colonial history

In 2022 we tend to think about British, French, German, Dutch and other colonies going back to the 17th century.

However, things are not as simple, or as recent, as that.

A colony is a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by settlers from that country. The purpose of a colony is to exploit its natural resources, and its people, for the benefit of the colonial power.

As is the rule with history, everything can be explained if you "follow the money". To be more accurate it should be "follow the wealth" or even "follow the right to extract rent" since most conflicts in history have been about who holds land and natural resources to benefit from the labour of others.

Colonial examples

  • AD43: the Romans arrive in Britain by force, seize land, build large estates, exploit people and natural resources (tin, copper, lead, agricultural products) and introduce Roman law. By 425 they had gone.
  • 1625: the British arrive in Barbados by force after most of the local Amerindian population was killed or enslaved by the Spanish. The British seized land, built large estates, imported slaves from Africa (most likely including Ngozi Fulani's ancestors) exploited people and natural resources (*) and introduced British law (for the benefit of the British land owners) and exported capital back to England. In 1966 Barbados became independent.
  • 1655: the British arrive in Jamaica by force, seize land, build large estates, import slaves from Africa, exploit people and natural resources (*) and introduce British law. In 1962 Jamaica became independent.
  • 1750s: the British arrive in India by force, build large estates, exploit people and natural resources (*) and introduce British law. In 1947 India became independent.
  • 1066: the Normans arrive in England by force, seize land (**), build large estates (under "freehold" grants from the king), exploit people and natural resources and create a system of law and education (public schools, universities) to protect their property.

    They never left.

    The total theft of all English land at the start of the Norman occupation in 1066, has created our legal system (to protect wealth and land ownership - on which they pay no tax), our education system (where children of the gentry learnt to defend their wealth) and our class system. It has created the most unfair distribution of wealth in Europe - only dictatorships, theocracies and the increasingly theocratic USA are more unfair.

    There is more about the Normans here.

  • England remains a Norman colony - we are still living with the consequences.

* Much of the wealth stolen, or generated by slave labour, was used to purchase land (on which no tax is paid) and property in England. The National Trust has identified 29 of its properties that benefitted from slavery and hundreds of others are in private hands where families continue to do well on the back of wealth generated by slavery.

** all land became the personal property of Guillaume le B√Ętard, duc de Normandie (William 1st). Today all land is still "owned" by the "crown" - that's why you purchase the freehold ("freedom to hold") on land - but you don't "own" it. Since the crown is now the people (following the execution of Charles 1st) all land in the England is owned in common - by all of us as a society.

Work, initiative, creativity and silver spoons

Everyone agrees that, as a society, we need certain things (infrastructure, schools, hospitals, security, fire services, utilities, care for elderly, refuse collection, etc.) and those things need paying for through taxation.

No-one objects to what someone earns through their personal honest labour, initiative or creativity - in fact there is a very good argument that people should keep 100% of what they earn! They earned it, they should benefit from it!

How do we pay for what we need if we don't have income tax?

Income tax is only one of hundreds of taxes that have grown up piecemeal over the last two or three centuries. It was introduced when the British ruling class became so afraid of the ideas behind the French revolution, and the legal reforms introduced by Napoleon, that they needed money to pay the British working class to fight the French working class - just as they had done in previous centuries. It is always the working class who die defending the wealth of the ruling class when nationalism (today whipped up by the right-wing press) rears its ugly head - and the names of some of those conflicts are still chanted today!

You may like to check the histories of Patay, Formigny, Castillon and Calais - they don't seem to feature in English school history books. Needless to say, tens of thousand of working class people, on both sides, died during the Hundred Years War fought over land ownership and the right to extract rent. Those who were captured and wealthy were ransomed, those without wealth were knifed where they lay wounded - it wasn't worth the cost of keeping them alive.

Taxing work, not wealth

Putting the bulk of taxes on earnings means that those with unearned incomes, particularly those holding land (there is no tax on land) and living off rent, can avoid paying their fair share. This is no accident - the majority of our laws have been written by those with property - those with wealth have created a legal system designed to protect their wealth.

It is also no accident that the wealthy are grossly over-represented in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Even if they are not personally in Parliament, they ensure, by donations, that their interests are protected by those they pay for. Why else would you give hundreds of thousands of pounds to a politician or a political party if you don't want them to do you a favour - or make you a Lord? Our political system is totally corrupt and needs reform.

The richer people become, the greedier they become and the more effort they put into avoiding their social responsibilities through tax. How else can you explain the almost universal use of trusts by landed families and the huge amounts of wealth and asset ownership stashed away in tax havens - most of which are under British control!

Finding out who owns what in England can be hard - the Land Registry holds records of property that has changed hands in the last 120 years but older estates are not registered. All the data relating to land ownership has yet to be digitised but some excellent work has been done by Anna Powell-Smith mapping different types of ownership. All planning application data is freely available on-line and there is no reason why all land ownership data should not be the same.

Interesting fact: several properties on the Trusley side of Derby are registered in tax havens - including the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin islands!

What is grossly unfair is people who do absolutely nothing of social value, fail to contribute to the social good through their own efforts, live off the wealth created by previous generations and hide their wealth behind trusts and tax havens. Think of the potential talent wasted when people put their feet up and live off of the labour of others! There is a finite limit to the number of art galleries, boutiques and interior design emporiums that need to be run by the sons and daughters of the wealthy! Read Tatler and weep!

A simple answer

The answer is simple: tax wealth not earnings, tax land not homes, tax greed not effort.

Encourage people to be creative, to work hard and to keep the fruits of their labours.

A Land Value Tax (LVT) would go a long way to making things fairer because it is simple, fair and unavoidable.

A tax on unearned incomes, instead of a tax on earned incomes, would redress the balance between work and wealth.

Political corruption can be minimised (it will never go away completely, there will always be corrupt, greedy self-servers and "the establishment") by ensuring that political parties are funded only by fixed membership fees, by getting rid of the House of Lords and by introducing proportional representation.