The announcement by Alex Salmond (your report, 25 July) of the setting up of a group to investigate and report on land reform in Scotland stirred deep feelings of déjà vu.
I was part of the Scottish Land Commission set up by Alex Salmond which had its report accepted by acclamation at the SNP’s national council in 1997.
Since then there have been 15 years of stasis, stultification, procrastination and prevarication from the SNP, and a tame acceptance of Labour’s insipid and now failing land reform measures of 2003.
In my opinion Alex Salmond, John Swinney and Roseanna Cunningham have particular culpability for this.
To this day, we have a situation where the SNP has even accepted the oxymoron of Scottish national parks not being owned by the Scottish nation.
This is only one disgraceful example of a land tenure system that has asphyxiated social, environmental and economic progress in Scotland for centuries. It has long been noted that Scotland has one of the greatest concentrations of private landownership in the fewest number of owners anywhere in Europe, if not the world.
It is such that is the basis of one of the most inequitable distributions of wealth in the western democracies. The famous 7:84 Company’s satire and title was based on the fact that in Scotland 7 per cent of the population owned 84 per cent of the wealth.
They could not have done that in Fennoscandia, but they could come back to modern Scotland and make as vicious an indictment of the current SNP administration as they did of the then Labour one.
So I trust the findings of this new group will be treated with more respect from the SNP than its own Scottish Land Commission was, that we will see a willingness to see integrated, land tenure, land use and local government reform to achieve a desired strategic solution and that we will see individuals gain control over their own lives and not placed under a new landlord-ism of quangos, non-governmental organisations and quasi-Soviet collectives.
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