UPDATE 0900 18 May 2012 A spokesperson for Mr Salmond told the West Highland Free Press that “it is too early to give any details of what the First Minister might say.”

I’m delighted to report that Alex Salmond has asked me to assist him in writing his speech to Scottish Landowners at their AGM on 29 May 2012. (1) Only some lines, mind, not the whole damn thing. This is the first time to my knowledge that a First Minister of Scotland has addressed their lairdships. With four years left of Government before the next election and a healthy Parliamentary majority, Salmond and the SNP can do as they please (within the law of course).

So what will please? I began my research with a speech Alex Salmond made in the House of Commons on 6 November 1996. It would be inappropriate to simply give this same speech again. There are, after all, some obvious clues that it is dated (the opening lines for example, where he congratulates President Clinton on his re-election). But the general thrust of it seems OK. Maybe I should excise the dated stuff and add some ideas on what Salmond and his party can now do 15 years on now that we have a Scottish Parliament and he is First Minister.

Where to start? I’ve decided to crowdsource this. So feel free to provide your suggestions on twitter @andywightman or facebook. You can also leave comments at foot of this post. I will add lines here as they come in and will build up to the great day on 29th (which is also my birthday). Here goes.

1. “Last week I was in Norway. It is clear that Scotland has a lot to learn from the Norwegians about land distribution and I have asked my officials to prepare a report on the matter.”

2. “As an elected Scottish politician, I am sure I don’t need to remind you that though you may own the land, we the people own the land law.”

3. “C’mon yev hud mair than a fair crack o the whip fer hunners o years. Gies a’ the land an’ awa’ an’ dinnae return.” from @calumsmac

4. “It is not acceptable for you to register land in companies in offshore tax havens and we will amend the Land Registration Bill acccordingly.”

5. “As I said in my opening speech to Parliament on 25 May 2011, When we control our natural assets as a sovereign power, the profit from the land should go to all

6. “We look forward to bringing forward proposals for reform of inheritance law to make sure that each new generation has equitable access to land.”

7. “Housing is vital for future of Scotland and we will be introducing new minimum tenancy terms of ten years.”

8. “They keep telling us this oor country. Most of us don’t even have as much as a vegetable patch in this country.” from @rattlecans

9. “In a land of 19m acres and 5m people, it is no longer acceptable in 2012 for a young family to have to pay more than £10,000 for a house plot.”

10. In an independent Scotland we look forward to working with you to increase your membership from around 2500 to nearer 250,000.

(1) I should make clear that First Minister Salmond has of course not really asked me to do this. This is a spoof. Journalists beware.


  1. As a lurker on your site, congratulations!
    I’d start by suggesting that you take any/all suggestions with a pinch of salt, and I look forward to hearing the FM’s speech as coloured where appropriate by Andy Wightman.

  2. Matthew Young

    Opening lines:

    “It is my intention as First Minister of the Scottish Government to bring in to being a nation of equal opportunity and freedom. Crucial to this task is the healing of old wounds and the over turning of corrupt laws. I urge you to redeem your desperate organisation by joining me in this…”

    Well, we can dream right?

  3. We therefore plan to begin the process of sharing what Scotland’s natural capital can sustainably produce by a tax on commercial wind and hydro schemes, with excessive profits from the Feed-in Tariff directed to reducing fuel poverty and supporting community renewable energy projects across Scotland

  4. “Fellow Scots, I have a dream. A dream that will heal old wounds, and cure old ills. It will enrich the Scottish people, create great wealth for Scotland, and restore rural Scotland to it’s rightful place as the heartland and soul of the nation. This dream is land reform. Other nations do it, when things become so unfair to the mass of the people, that many despair. Once, the greater part of the population lived and worked on the land. This was destroyed by the injustices of the clearances, and needs must be made amends for. I have a simple, great idea, for this: The land must return to the people. Once again, thousands upon thousands of crofts and small holdings must flourish, producing the wealth that is food and the foundations of the countryside. Over the next three generations, Scotland’s land must return from its long captivity in the hands of the few, and be restored to the many. I therefore introduce a major bill into this House, that will make available, to all that are willing, land and crofts, on reasonable terms, for settlement by Scottish families…….etc etc

  5. I wonder what actual chance there is, this side of the referendum, of getting any meaningful land reform done?…..Obviously, the SNP wants to keep things quite for now, and maximise votes. But afterwards?……….A draft land reform bill could be done by volunteer lawyers, and circulated for comment, by MSP’s, and others. What think ye?

    • I am a firm believer into folk “taking the law into their own hands” by which I mean taking over the process of law drafting. For too long we have simply waited for what the powers that be decide to offer us and have then engaged in a mostly futile process of trying to amend something whose very framing defies amendment. So, yes, I agree. However, there is the question of capacity – I know of no civil society organisation that is currently in a position to take on such a task. I myself am hoping to work on a new law relating to common good land – we’ll see how I get on with that.

  6. To whoever it was who suggested minimum ten year leases, speaking as a landlord, I say bring it on. I’d do cartwheels of joy if somebody would sign a ten year lease of my property as I wouldn’t have to worry about empty periods and agents’ fees etc. for a long time. But I find people very reluctant to sign for longer than a year so legislation to make ten years compulsory would be brilliant.

    Speaking from my experience as having been a tenant, I’d be horrified. Once I needed to rent a flat for four months but no-one would offer me anything less than the current minimum of six months and I had to pay for two months I didn’t need.

  7. I concur with this

    “”As I said in my opening speech to Parliament on 25 May 2011, When we control our natural assets as a sovereign power, the profit from the land should go to all“”

    A return to Henry Goeorge and LVT?

  8. “On this day in 1453 Constantinople fell, bringing an end to an autocratic empire that lasted some 1500 years. Good morning. My name is Alex Salmond and the people of Scotland are at the gates.”

  9. And I can tell you this: my campaign slogan for the 2014 independence referendum will be ‘Devo-Max for the People’s Republic of Clacks – freedom from the Holyrood hegemony’.

  10. Blindmanonhorse

    Without a house of lords, to shout the people down, land reform will not be as difficult