Tha e na mhasladh g'eil na h-Uainich ann an Alba a' dèanamh cron poileataigeach
[English-language version below]
Bu chòir dhan fheadhainn a tha beò air an dùthaich agus a tha ag obair faisg air an àrainneachd a bhith gu math taiceil dhaibh; an fheadhainn a tha a' faicinn len sùilean fhèin an atharrachaidh a tha a' tachairt agus an cron a tha e ag adhbhrachadh. Ach, chan ann mar sin a tha e, ann an Alba co-dhiù.
Bha mi a’ bruidhinn ri fear bho chionn ghoirid. Chan urrainn dhomh innse cò e, ach tha e fìor eòlach air cùisean fearrain agus air coimhearsnachdan aig an iomall.
Bha e ag innse dhomh gun robh e aig co-labhairt far an robh Lorna Slater a’ bruidhinn agus nuair a thàinig e gu bhith a’ còmhradh mu dheidhinn na Gàidhealtachd, ‘s ann a thuirt i gum bu chòir a fàgail aig craobhan, beathaichean fiadhaich agus cruinn-ghaoithe.
‘S dòcha nach b’ e seo a thuirt i buileach, no nach b’ e a bha i a’ ciallachadh; ged as e duine glè chiallach agus earbsach a bha ga innse dhomh.
Ach tha e dìreach a’ dearbhadh na puinge farsainge: g’ eil na h-Uainich ann an Alba a-nis air am faicinn mar nì a tha ag obair an aghaidh dhaoine a tha airson fuireach agus bith-beò a dhèanamh air an iomall.
Tha e deuchainneach. Na Fìor Sgìrean Glèidhte Mara. Craobhan a’ dol air fearran a ghabhas obrachadh airson biadh. Na milleanan mòra de dh’airgead poblach a’ dol gu uachdarain is companaidhean eadar-nàiseanta airson mòinteach a sgeadachadh, gun ghuth air na coimhearsnachdan. Sgeamaichean blàths thaighean gun chiall airson àitichean mar na h-eileanan far a bheil fuachd is uisge is seann dhaoine. ‘S e liosta fhada a tha sin airson dìreach dà bhliadhna anns an Riaghaltas.
Tha fhios gum bi e math gu leòr dhan SNP cuid dhen choire airson nan gnothaichean as miosa fhàgail aig stàrsaich an com-pàirtichean anns an Riaghaltas – smaoinich air Daibhidh Camshron is Nick Clegg – ach chan eil sin idir gu maith na h-Alba, agus gu seachd àraid, dha na coimhearsnachdan dùthchail.
Agus chan ann mu dheidhinn poileasaidhean uaine a tha seo. Tha am pàrtaidh ann an co-bhanntachd Riaghaltais glè dhòigheil ann an iomadh dùthaich: An Ostar, A’ Bheilg, A’ Ghearmailt agus, tè a bu chòir a bhith na h-eisimpleir dha Alba leis cho coltach ‘s a tha sinn ann an iomadach dòigh, Èirinn.
Tha sin cho nàdarrach ’s a ghabhas. Leis an t-saoghal an impis gluasad gu dòighean-obrach ùra a tha nas bàidheile dhan àrainneachd, tha sinn a’ cur feum air guth làidir – agus gu cudromach – ciallach, bho na h-Uainich.
Ach, gu mì-fhortanach, chan e sin a tha againn ann an Alba. An t-aon rud a tha Lorna Slater agus Pàdraig Harvie air sealltainn, ‘s e agus nach bu chòir dhaibh a bhith faisg air na dreuchdan cumhachdach. Agus tha sin a’ dèanamh cron air cùis na h-àrainneachd.
I’m not sure what political advisers the Scottish Greens employ – given their performance, maybe none all – but there must be some internal collective scratching of heads at how on earth the party has ended up in the position of being seen as the enemy of rural Scotland. It’s a bit perplexing, if not dispiriting. Those who understand the countryside, those who can see the changes in the environment and can see at first hand the damage being wrought by it, ought to be natural bedfellows for the Greens and their cause.
But, instead, with just the briefest exposure to power through a coalition with the SNP, they have managed to alienate great swathes of the people who should be naturally sympathetic followers. The party and their acolytes may dislike any analogies involving gun sports, but feet and shooting come to mind.
Take the following conversation I had with someone recently. Their identity has to be kept under wraps due to their profession, but suffice to say it’s someone highly experienced in countryside matters and very well educated. They told of being at a conference where Lorna Slater was one of the speakers. Let’s say it was to discuss rural development to keep it general.
They said that when it came to discussing repopulating the Highland glens, Ms Slater stated, quite bullishly, that it would be better for no one to live in these areas at all, to leave them for trees and rewilding and wind turbines. It’s entirely possible that some of what she said has been lost in interpretation or in its nuance, or quite possibly, too, that it was just a poorly communicated message. Or maybe she just suffered from a complete sensitivity malfunction. Who knows.
But the wider point is that educated and rural professionals now see the Greens as working against the interests of those who choose to live and work in the countryside. It’s maddening. Highly Protected Marine Areas. Planting trees on land fertile for food production. Lining the pockets of rich landowners and multinationals for peatland restoration without community involvement. Heat efficiency measures that don’t work in rural areas. It’s quite a damaging list in just two years of having two junior ministerial briefs.
It will well suit the SNP to deflect blame on the junior Greens for some of the worst government excesses – think David Cameron and Nick Clegg – but it hardly serves Scotland, and clearly not its rural hinterlands. The issue is not with Green policies per se. Versions of the party exist in coalition in many developed countries across the world: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and, in what serves as a direct comparison to Scotland given population size, culture and geography, Ireland, too.
That’s only right and natural. As the world stands on an environmental precipice, with many of us ready to embrace the radical change that's needed to mitigate disaster, we need a good, strong – and, importantly, sensible – Green voice. The difficulty is that that’s not what we have in Scotland and the only thing that Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie have helped confirm is that they should be nowhere near high office. Surely there must be enough sensible Greens in Scotland to realise the damage being done, not least to their own cause.
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