Tha Murray MacLeoid ag ràdh gu bheil an spiorad a bha beò ann an 1888 a dhìth a-rithist

Leis an dàrna chroit anns na Hearadh air a’ mhargaidh airson £200,000 – agus a h-uile coltas gun tig a reic airson sin – tha e coltach g’ eil pàirtean dhe na h-eileanan air a dhol a-mach à reusan le prìsean.

Tha an tarraing ann an taobh an iar na Hearadh furasta a thuigsinn, ach tha na prìsean air a dhol a-mach a rian

[English-language version below]

Cuimhnich nach eilear a’ ceannach an seo ach còirichean na croite fhèin. Ma tha iad airson atharrachadh sam bith a dhèanamh – brùid de thaigh a thogail mar eisimpleir – feumar cead fhaighinn bho Choimisean na Croitearachd.

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Chaidh a’ chroit an ath dhoras a reic bho chionn ghoirid airson prìs gu math nas àirde na £200,000 agus chan eil an tè as ùire air a bhith air a’ mhargaidh ach ùine bheag agus tagradh air a dhol a-staigh mar-thà.

Beagan shìos an rathaid chaidh taigh a reic son £300,000 agus cha do rinn na daoine càil ach a leigeil gu talamh. Cha robh iad ag iarraidh ach an làrach. Aig na prìsean sin, tha taobh an iar na Hearadh a’ dol mar Kensington.

Leis na seallaidhean àlainn agus na tràighean fada brèagha, tha an tarraing furasta a thuigsinn – gu h-àraid às dèidh daoine a bhith beò fo ghlais – agus le tràigh Losgaintir air a h-aithneachadh gu tric mar tè dhen fheadhainn as brèagha san t-saoghal, tha aire gu leòr air an sgìre.

Tha e duilich a bhith ro chruaidh air daoine a tha, a-rèir an t-suidheachaidh phearsanta aca fhèin, airson brath a ghabhail air seo. Chan ei iad a’ deànamh ach rud a tha nàdarrach dha mac an duine.

Ach, tha grunn nithean mun seo a tha draghail.

Sa chiad dol a-mach, agus cha mhòr gun leig a leas a ràdh, ach chan eil teaghlach òg sam bith a tha an urra ri cosnaidhean anns an sgìre gu bhith comasach air na prìsean sin a chur a-mach – no fiù ‘s càil coltach ris.

Mar sin, tha coimhearsnachd agad, mar tha a’ fulang le dìth-cothroman eaconamaich agus crìonadh-sluaigh, a tha a’ dol na àite dha seann dhaoine le tòrr airgid.

Far a bheil sin a’ tachairt – agus tha e – tha thu a’ call spiorad na coimhearsnachd; tha an t-àite ag atharrachadh agus chan eil slighe air ais ann.

San dàrna àite tha ceist ann a bheil siostam na croitearachd idir ag obair.

Nuair a thàinig Achd na Croitearachd a-steach an toiseach ann an 1888, às dèidh nam miltean a bhith air am fuadach às na dachaighean, bha e ag amas air dearbhadh gum faigheadh na daoine fuireach air an fhearann agus am fearann sin obrachadh. Chan fhaigheadh na h-uachdaran air am fuadach agus ‘s e gnothach gu math radaigeach a bha sin aig an àm.

Chan eil moran coltas aig 1888 ri 2021 – ged nach biodh ann ach nach eil sinn an-diugh beò ann am bochdainn is cruadal – ach tha na prionnsabalan air an deach achd croitearachd a stèidheachadh fhathast fìor: sin na daoine a chumail air an fhearann agus coimhearsnachdan a chumail beò.

No sin a tha còir aige a bhith a’ deànamh.

Tha e soilleir gu bheil a bhith a’ reic chroitean air a’ mhargaidh gun chrìoch air prìs no gun rian ag obair an aghaidh croitearachd agus na coimhearsnachd farsainge. Chan eil duine a cheannaich dhà no thrì de dh’acairean aig £200,000 a’ dol gan cur iad fhèin an sàs ann an obair an fhearainn.

Feumar seo atharrachadh ann an lagh ach tha e a dhìth, fiù ‘s ged a bhios e gu math connspaideach am measg iadsan a tha a’ dol a chall a-mach ann an a bhith lìonadh nam pòcaid.

Tha an t-àm againn spiorad radaigeach 1888 a dhùsgadh a-rithist, mus bi sinn air ar sàrachadh buileach glan le tuilleadh ‘s a’ chòrr bodaich is cailleachan Kensington.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

With the tenancy of a second croft in Harris on the market for a ridiculous £200,000 – and looking like it will easily fetch the asking price and beyond – it seems the local market in parts of the islands is reaching levels of absurdity.

Consider for a moment that this is not outright ownership that’s for sale. It is, as suggested, merely a tenancy and any changes – such as building a lovely big mansion, for example – will have to be approved by the Crofting Commission, which regulates all croft land.

The neighbouring croft recently went for a figure that is understood to be well over £200,000 and the second one has only been advertised for a matter of days and is already “under offer”.

A house just down the road sold for £300,000 – only for the new owners to raze it to the ground. They just wanted the site. At these kinds of prices and indulgences, west Harris is fast becoming a Kensington-on-sea.

With its majestic scenery and long-stretches of unspoilt golden sands, it’s easy to see the appeal – especially after lockdown living – and with Luskentyre beach regularly voted one of the best in the world, it’s getting as much attention as it can possibly need or want.

It’s difficult in one sense to be overly critical of those who, for whatever personal circumstances they find themselves in, want to cash in. They are simply exploiting an opportunity.

But there are several other important factors to be taken into consideration here.

Firstly, and it should hardly need to be explained, but no young family reliant on local wages is going to afford that kind of outlay – or anything remotely close. It is simply beyond their financial comprehension.

So you have a community, already suffering from the economic challenges that come with the periphery, and already wrestling with the depopulation of its working age, rapidly descending into an exclusive retirement retreat for the wealthy.

Under such a scenario, and it is already happening, the community fabric is changed indelibly.

Secondly, there is the question of whether the crofting system – memorably and not inaccurately described as a whole heap of complex legislation surrounding a small tract of land – is fit for purpose.

The original Crofting Act of 1888 was designed to offer families in the Highlands and Islands, in the wake of mass enforced emigration, a secure tenancy to eke out a living. No landlord was able to force them off the land, thanks to the introduction of what was at the time incredibly ground-breaking legislation.

While the circumstances of 1888 and 2021 are far removed both in time and circumstance – we hardly live in the absolute poverty of 150 years ago – the principle of why crofting legislation exists remains: namely, to keep people on the land and to keep crofting communities vibrant.

Or at least that’s what it should be doing.

It is quite clear that an unadulterated trade in croft tenancies on the open market is clearly working against the interest of the wider community and crofting. It is doubtful that anyone purchasing a few acres for £200,000 has much intention of working it agriculturally to any great degree.

It will require a change of legislation but it’s clear that the trade in crofts as is needs to cease, even if it will prove controversial among those who will be denied their lucrative heirloom. It’s time to resurrect the radical spirit of 1888.

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