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Why we need a Charter of the Commons

Posted On: 22 Aug 2019   |   Posted By: The Big Issue

On November 6, 1217, two documents became part of our constitution, Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, the latter asserting that everybody had a right to subsistence, a right to a home and a right to work in the commons. The commons are natural resources - land, water, air, forests and woods, minerals and other resources in and under the land. They also include the social amenities and a body of ideas bequeathed to us by the many generations before us.
Yet throughout history, elites and governments serving their interests have plundered our commons illegitimately, by enclosure and encroachment, and recently by privatisation and neglect through budget cuts under the name of ‘austerity'.
The modern plunder began with Margaret Thatcher, who launched the privatisation of council housing. This was popular with those who had council houses at the time, since they gained government subsidies to help acquire a property. But those houses belonged to the whole country, not just to specific occupants at the...

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