This guest blog is reproduced with the kind permission of the Daily Record.
This land is our land.. so let people have their say
Torcuil Crichton 27 May 2013
ON a rare, dry Friday on the Atlantic coast of Lewis the whole community of Bhaltos turned out to dedicate a monument to their shared past and future.
Places like Bhaltos, where the people own the land, are living proof that the land reform agenda is alive and matters.
Someone ought to nail to a fence the message that radical land politics can change people’s lives, over a “Yes Scotland” sign. The SNP government’s Land Reform Review Group was meant to re-engage lost momentum for change in a country where the most important resource, the land, is in the hands of the very few.
Their report is a disgrace from beginning to end. Instead of reigniting the debate, it tries to extinguish land reform. On community ownership it recommends some tinkering. On moving seabed rights from the remote Crown Estate Commission to local control, nothing. On tax avoidance, nothing. On absentee landlords, nothing. On land for housing, nothing.
There is a galling betrayal of tenant farmers across Scotland who put faith in the process. Some of their stories about treatment by modern lairds echo the days of Patrick Sellar.
Distinguished land campaigner Andy Wightman says the cause is effectively dead in the water, thanks to this government.
I understand the frustration.
Alex Salmond has squandered a parliamentary majority, which was a real chance to change the face of Scotland.
He threw the opportunity away to pursue independence, which, as he is at pains to assure us, would change “nothing”.
The SNP have talked constantly about getting control of the levers of power. So why don’t ministers give control of the land to the people who live on it in Scotland?