I wonder how much money Hamish MacDonell was paid to write this blatant piece of PR spin on behalf of the landed elite in the Mail on Sunday on 24 February 2013? It displays such depths of ignorance and ill-informed opinion that one wonders about the veracity of anything he writes as the “voice of Scottish politics”.

I wonder if this kind of rubbish has anything to do with the fact that the editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, Paul Dacre, owns an estate in Scotland?

Time to end the myth over Great Scots Land Grab (471kb pdf)


  1. Reiner Luyken

    “I wonder how much money Hamish MacDonell was paid to write this blatant piece of PR spin on behalf of the landed elite in the Mail on Sunday on 24 February 2013? It displays such depths of ignorance and ill-informed opinion that one wonders about the veracity of anything he writes…” is that all in the way of argument you have to offer, Andy?

    • I am not offering an argument, I am offering an opinion. I think the piece speaks for itself.

  2. Hamish MacDonell is offering an opinion as well and if the article speaks for itself, why do you feel the need to gild the lily and slag it off?

    Don’t you feel it would be more constructive if you *did* offer an argument – by pointing out exactly how the article is incorrect or ill-informed, for example?

    (Don’t answer that. I know. You don’t have time for argument.)

    • Ever grateful for your advice Neil.

      • So you don’t believe articulating an argument is necessary, then. Great.

        • No I don’t and I really don’t understand why you feel the need to make frequent rude and snide remarks.

          • Silly old me for once again mistaking you for that other Andy Wightman who wrote both (a) “such depths of ignorance and ill-informed opinion that one wonders about the veracity of anything he writes” (rude? snide?); and (b) “I want to see a more informed level of debate about such matters and look forward to engaging with those who take a different view.” (articulation of argument not necessary?)

            Breathtaking …

          • That other Andy Wightman at (a) is entitled to say exactly what he likes on his own blog. My remarks in relation to rude and snide are directed at people who comment here and, as you know, comments policy is that comments shall be “courteous and relevant”. As for (b), that does not imply that I or anybody else is compelled to be drawn into each and every argument that people choose to pick. Please respect people’s freedom to choose as and when they wish to be drawn into discussions otherwise such interactions can quickly turn into flaming.

  3. This looks like positive PR for the land reform movement to me.

  4. hebrideanfarmer

    Okay, here is your argument. I am a tenant farmer, and in the last 30 years my landlord (absent from Scotland ) has not invested 1 single penny in the farm I rent. Rents go up in great excess of inflation. Should we have the nerve to ask to diversify, our landlord is entitled to cream of the profits. Now I call that stifling investment, but I expect Hamish McDonell would say that was dovetailing with the community. The profits stay in the community he claims…..well not in ours. Or perhaps maybe they do in the form of going to the upkeep of the “big House” or maybe pay for the cook whilst they are in residence, or maybe pay for the gardener in their private gardens they mange to enjoy on their brief visit to the estate. So maybe you can understand how ill informed McDonell is of life on an estate.
    It is precisely this kind of article that will hoist them by their own petard

    • Margaret Gardiner

      Well put Hebridean farmer.

      Before we know it, we’ll be charged with stealing of we have earth on our shoes when we leave their land, huge fines imposed as punishment. Monies paid as fines will go to the landowner to repair the footprint and compensate him for the damage done HIS.HER property by some poor misguided Scottish walker.

      Yes. That’s a satirical extreme but there was a time we laughed at a few satirical extremes which became fact.

    • Thanks hf – that was a constructive insight into the issues. As Andy clearly regards it as beneath his dignity to help us understand (he just expects us to believe), perhaps you could pick up his mantle and say a bit more about the bit that jumped out of your post at me, namely, that rents go up in excess of inflation. How does that work?

      I suppose (answering my own question?), it’s because the statutory criteria for rent review is market demand so as long as someone else wants your farm (shortage of land?), the price goes up irrespective of what you’re taking out or the landlord’s putting in? Something like that??

      Got me thinking. Thanks again.

  5. Reiner Luyken

    Neil, I am secure tenant of 12 acres owned by the estate. As I understand it, rents can only go up after a rent review between the two parties, and their is a possiblity to appeal to the land court though there is also a system of arbitors appointed by the land court. I never came across the situation because my landlord never raised the rent beyond anything that is reasonable, in fact, the rent is unreasonably low. But a number of years ago I had a major dispute with the landlord that was resolved by an arbitor – totally in my favour. I don’t hold it against the landlord. Everybody has his or her interest to look after. But from my experience I can’t say that one is in a terribly disadvantaged position under the tenancy acts.

  6. hebrideanfarmer

    I note that Reiner states that he is not in a terribly disadvantaged position, therefore may I clarify the facts please. Does Reiner rent the farmhouse that goes with the land.? Does he depend solely on that land to support himself and his family? Has he had rent increases much greater than inflation without any justification? Has he tried to diversify into renewables on the land?
    You see, we are 3rd generation tenants and depend on this farm to make a living. We are not hobby farmers. We dare not risk going to land court as our home and livelihood would be at risk.
    Reiner states that he doesn’t hold it against the landlord, as everyone has their own interests to look after, well fine, but lets not pretend then that the estates have the best interest of the community at heart. Reiner clearly has a terrific landlord, and when we get the Absolute Right to Buy I’m sure he will simply continue renting.

  7. Reiner Luyken

    Dear Hebrideanfarmer, you are quite clearly in a different situation from us. All I wanted to do with my last post was to answer Neil’s question as best as I could. But you tell him! To answer your question to me, we obviously don’t rely on 12 acres but we have a croft where we made a 700.000 investment in a tourism enterprise that provides our main income.

  8. hebrideanfarmer

    Hello Reiner,
    Hamish MacDonell clearly does not share the understanding that we both do. As a Crofter you will have complete rights, and that would possibly be why you have invested to heavily. If we did that as tenant farmers, a share of the profits would go straight to the laird, despite him not contributing one penny to the investment. MacDonell needs to do his research. The LRRG have identified the position that you and I are in, and have therefore asked that we comment on the idea of enhancing the situation of tenant farmers to give them the same rights as crofters.
    MacDonell is right about one thing though, these estates do dominate the highlands.

  9. Reiner Luyken

    Dear Hebrideanfarmer (and other participants in this blog), what do you think about the ever increasing influence of bodies like the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), John Muir Trusts etc. as landlords and as funders behind community owned estates?

  10. Hard to know exactly where Hamish MacDonell is coming from but as he seems to like attaching labels to land reformers, – left wingers who don’t care what happens to the land so long as our estates are broken up, I’ll return the label and suggest he enjoys relationships amidst the comfort and freedoms monopolised by a few of our larger landowners, most likely right-leaning individuals. So what divides us?
    Well, left-leaners tend to have an awareness of the needs and aspirations of our less privileged majority whereas the remainder assume they know best what is best for everyone. They assume this because they are happy with their lot and the way things are, oblivious to the discontent of others.
    Land reform would indeed upset the tiny minority, but just think of the pleasure given to the majority as they too re-establish similar links and pleasure from the most natural of all associations, that of man and the land about him. Aye, just like Hamish and his pals, many more would make the best of the land and take pleasure from full time self-employment on it. What’s not to want about that?