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.

A brilliant stone sculpture, designed by Will MacLean and Marian Leven, commemorates land raids of a century ago and the recent community buyout of the island estate that will open a new door.

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?

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)

Today’s contrasting images come on the day that over 30 Palestinians died in Gaza. They included the Dallo family in Jabalia refugee camp – that’s right a refugee camp – who lost 11 members when their house was attacked by Israeli rockets (see first image below). The BBC headline over this story is “Death toll jumps in Gaza crisis“. One wonders what the headline would be if 11 civilians were killed in a Palestinian rocket attack in Tel Aviv. “World leaders condemn terrorist atrocity” perhaps?

Israeli missile strike on house in Jabalia refugee camp

Palestinian rocket attack on “Israeli” city of Ashkelon

Other images from today from Electronic Intifada (including demonstration in Edinburgh).