Among all of Labour’s crackpot schemes to destroy free market capitalism in Britain, none is more frightening than the proposed ‘grab’ of private land that the party has just unveiled.
It is a move straight out of the Marxist playbook, a tactic regularly deployed by autocrats the world over with the aim of burnishing their revolutionary credentials – with dramatic consequences. What Labour is determined on is a new age of collectivism. Well, we know how disastrously that worked out in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere – famine and starvation.
For modern day examples, look no farther than Zimbabwe and Venezuela, where the confiscation of large swathes of property from the landowners to be gifted directly to workers led to collapsing food production, economic slump, and was a factor in the hyper-inflation and widespread poverty that followed.
Jeremy Corbyn’s latest set of ideas is straight out of the Marxist playbook
In a sophisticated nation such as Britain, where international investors have bought property as a safe investment haven, the impact could be even more devastating.
Even the threat of Jeremy Corbyn’s apparatchiks interfering in the free market by stopping the sale of land to the highest bidder is enough to scare off buyers and cause values to collapse.
Of course, Labour would argue that is the aim – ‘land for the many, not the few’. In reality it shows the party’s utter economic ignorance.
For example, under current arrangements, local authorities or infrastructure companies such as HS2, which is building the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham and on to Manchester, are required to compensate land and home owners affected by the development at market values.
Corbyn and his team, headed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, want to change that. They would buy land at its current (and always lower) ‘land use value’ rather than at a market price which recognises the uplift that development can bring.
This could trigger a financial crisis. Much of the nation’s potential land for development is owned by housebuilders, property companies and institutions such as insurers and pension funds.
Some of these development holdings will have been bought or financed on credit from the banks. If land values plummet, banks will be left with a black hole on their books.
Jeremy Corbyn could easily turn the UK into a country resembling Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe
A lending freeze might follow, bringing commerce to a shuddering halt, since credit is what keeps corporate Britain moving. That could lead to cascading business closures and a return of large scale unemployment. Even worse, those financial institutions most exposed to property could collapse, destroying the savings of millions. Almost as alarming is Labour’s proposal for an offshore property company tax, a huge deterrent to overseas investors from Asia, the Middle East and closer to home in Norway and Germany.
No one could blame them for pausing their investment in Britain.
What Labour seems oblivious to is that property development is a fundamental building block of our services- led economy.
Of course, it is not the first time that Labour has threatened such action. In the run-up to the 2015 election, the then Labour leader Ed Miliband provoked a firestorm when he told property developers to ‘either use the land or lose the land’. Business leaders described it as a ‘Stalinist threat’ to property rights.
The land grab agenda of today’s party leadership goes much further.
Labour is cloaking its proposals in the disguise of being ‘good for communities’, arguing that challenging land ownership will deliver a fundamental shift in wealth and power.
This ignores the fact that one of the fundamental principles on which social solidarity in Britain rests is that of a property-owning democracy.
Indeed, this was one of the underpinnings of the Thatcherite revolution which allowed council home residents, many of them Labour loyalists, to buy a property and take control of their own bit of Britain.
It is no exaggeration to say that the UK’s green and pleasant land – by the way, Labour plans on appropriating agricultural land for ‘small farmers’ too – is under threat as never before.
And our hard-earned status as the fifth most prosperous country in the world could be imperilled.
It is with good cause that a Corbyn government is already regarded as more frightening than a No Deal Brexit by entrepreneurs, business and overseas investors.