Diggers Discussion at Runnymede Magna Carta Memorial: Saturday 30th June, 2012

by Gareth

Picture taken at the 16th June, 2012, meeting at the Magna Carta Memorial in Runnymede, Windsor, courtesy of Peter Marshall (mylondondiary.co.uk)

Meeting notes:

  • There was a discussion on civil liberties and land rights, how we achieve these and put them into action in the 21st century. We said we would make a sign saying ‘Diggers Discussion on Land Rights and Liberties all welcome‘, as over 50 people passed through the Magna Carta Memorial during the discussion, and many looked as though they would join in if encouraged.
  • We also suggested that people bring picnic food to share at the Saturday discussions. We are aiming to meet every/most Saturdays at 1pm at the Magna Carta memorial, Runnymede for discussion but it was recommended that people call the Diggers phone on Friday (or text) to check that people will be present from the camp, so that after discussion those that wanted to could be guided to wherever the latest camp or ecovillage was.
  • This is a long term Land Rights campaign.
  • Forward planning towards the weekend event beginning Friday August 31st 2012 as well as strategic planning to build over the next three years towards 2015 and creating a massive event for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta (which has inspired ‘democracy’ and civil rights across the world), especially as our civil rights have been massively eroded in the last 10 years by the war of terror and the governments recent criminalisation of homelessness and trespass with the new anti-sqautting law that they will be attempting to implement from September onwards. This law is arbitrary and unjust and has led to discussions about us collectively creating a new charter of liberties towards the 2015 anniversary.
  • Networking was discussed, improving the current www.diggers2012.wordpress.com website, and networking of Twitter @freetheland and #diggers2012 and Facebook group ‘Make the Wasteland Grow’ and the new Facebook page ‘Diggers 2012‘. the email : diggers2012@yahoo.co.uk, and improving our email list and database. Also join the  diggers@lists.riseup.net
  • Also, building over the next two months towards an event on the weekend of Friday August 31st about land and liberty around Runnymede.
  • We are looking for a West London support base squat to help the campaign, there was also discussion of linking with the wider Occupy movement to set up Occupy land groups linked to Occupy city groups.
  • Diggers Freedom discussion all welcome.
  • As the economic situation gets worse, more people will join this movement. As the authorities are increasingly trying to criminalise trespass we reach out to more support from other groups such as the wider activist movement, climate groups, permaculturealists, the Ramblers, Woodcraft folk, Forest school etc. A Hackney walk was suggested, linking with youth groups and walking up the Lee valley into the countryside. Land and Freedom walks, North, East, South and West, going out of London, to be organised.
  • Suggestion to organise groups of 100 activists and city youth to walk out of the city and create wild camps in an organised trespass. Creating links to Wolfing groups, which is front-line Woofing (Willing Workers on Organic farms). Staines Anarchists (who have provided solidarity) have made links to several groups, including Surrey Anti capitalists, Thames Valley Solfed, Guildford Huntsabs and more.
  • To keep up communication with and to link more with groups such as Indymedia, The Land is Ours, Climate Camp groups, Scout groups and Forest School.
  • There was talk of setting up Radical Forest School of London Youth, to come to the woods and build timber frame houses, cob houses, earth ovens, and to teach foraging and planting skills. Instilling an idea of Diggers style camps
  • The book ‘Who Owns Britain‘ by Kevin Cahill is an important reference of who really owns the country, the top landowners such as the 1%, Forestry Commission, MOD, the Church, The Crown etc.
  • There was talk of a London discussion event.
  • We talked about setting up video and film group to get the message out, creating a new leaflet towards the Friday August 31st event.
  • Increasing our links to Grow Heathrow.
  • There was talk on ‘the fortress of law’, protecting the land ownership of the 1%.  For example the injunctions writs and ‘contempt of court ‘ for camping we were served with the other day could have led to six months in prison.
  • Apparently the government is again planning to have a massive forestry sell-off, this was massively opposed last time and we must link to groups and network and support action against this.
  • If some of these camps are evicted then we need to build up more resistance, we need to choose our ground well with good research and scouting. There was discussion on creation of a New Charter of Liberties. We expect that over the months the camp may move many times. We also discussed being nomadic and moving before court orders, or sometimes when negative energies build up deciding to move. While obviously we are looking for a longer term ecovillage site.
  • There has been discussion with the authorities and messages passed to the Crown Estate requesting communication , that all we require is disused land and to be able to get on with our ecovillage project. There was discussion on continuing the mission to set up sustainable low impact eco villages around the area including on the Crown Estate.
  • Linking with groups such as the Ramblers to do an action similar to the Kinder scout mass trespass in the 1930s.,onto enclosed, disused land around the crown estate.
  • We want to put out more information on the old and Ancient land laws/lores such as Celtic and Breton law, or indigenous peoples such as the Native Americans’ attitude to groups sharing or taking care of the land for future generations. Also raising awareness of the recent ‘declaration of Mother Earth rights’ at the Bolivia Earth Summit.
  • It was pointed out we are dealing with a thousand years land empire that will resist any change to the unsustainable system. In 1649 50+ Diggers camps with hundreds of people each containing many ex civil war soldiers were destroyed by the authorities yet their vision carries on to inspire us in the 21st century. We must be prepared for a long-term campaign to recognise land rights in this country and internationally.
  • We must also recognise the link between the Diggers and squatters rights and the new laws which seek to criminalise trespass and the homeless (the LASPO Anti squatting/cut legal aid law)as some of the final enclosure acts. These laws will be challenged under the European convention on Human Rights. It has been questioned whether these acts may be unlawful and they will be challenged and resisted in many ways. Someone pointed out and more research is needed into the idea that these so called statute laws are of themselves unlawful.
  • Change is cumulative and will take time and many actions. It was pointed out that for change to come many may be arrested,some people will go to prison and that people internationally and in this country have laid down their lives for the cause of land rights.
  • The number of people joining the movement will increase as the economic situation turns from bad to worse. With the welfare state being dismantled and people being forced to partake in Workfare schemes for the corporations for below minimum wage or nothing.
  • Create a banner saying ‘We don’t want workfare we want land share‘.
  • More research into our ancient rights. Reference the code of Malmutius (land shared out with early Britons). Learning our history/herstory and being able to argue our rights/put forth our rights from the Forest Charter and the Magna Carta. The Norman law of 1066-1200 caused uprising and civil war that led to the reaffirming of our ancient rights with the Magna Carta and Forest Charter. Despite some modern legal claims, these rights are still in effect as they were made by the people as a sovereign body.
  • The people granted sovereign rights to their leaders temporarily but ultimately retain those sovereign rights.
  • End notes: it was suggested to make a 5 minute promotional video with our request for disused land for ecovillages to grow food, linking to Occupy livestream. Filming in bambuser to livestream directly. Building links to Occupy groups worldwide, to create Occupy Land, Diggers, Land rights groups worldwide, e.g. Occupy Farm etc etc.