This week, an outfit called Scottish Rural Action produced a document with the crass title: “21st Century Clearances – What Does Brexit Mean for Rural Scotland?”
No fewer than three panjandrums of the Scottish Government turned out to launch it, including our Brexit foghorn, Michael Russell, who is not unrelated to the organisation.
This project was “supported” by the Scottish Government – which I assume means “paid for” – so what a relief when it concluded Brexit is the greatest of our problems, even though it does not yet exist.
In truth, by far the biggest current challenge for “rural Scotland” is the erosion of public services created by the cuts to local councils. My own local authority has seen a 20 per cent cut to its funding over the past five years. Is Brexit to blame for that?
Supposing a bus-load of Bulgarian workers arrived tomorrow, there would be nowhere for them to stay. Like everything else, social housing is geared to a centralising mentality, taking people out of truly rural areas.
I chair a company which gives work to over 200 people in a very rural area. Brexit per se is not a huge problem but “no deal” would be appalling. If it comes to the crunch, which side of that argument is Mr Russell on?
There is no policy framework or philosophy in Scotland which prioritises the periphery. No policy on job dispersal. No policy on population retention. No policy on decentralisation of services.
If the Scottish Government wishes to “support” a report into these deficiencies, I can offer my services but I doubt if three SNP Ministers will turn up to hear the conclusions.