Features

Should we fear a Mugabe-style land grab in rural Scotland?

The rise in Scottish nationalism may have implications for landowners and immigrants alike

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

Just under 100 years ago the headline in the Oban Times read ‘American family buy lodge and estate on the Isle of Jura’. They were my grandparents, who, although by then British, had both been born in America. They bought our lodge from the Campbells of Jura, who had had the misfortune to lose their heirs one terrible morning in the trenches of the first world war.

My grandparents were initially regarded with suspicion by the locals. Yet after investing in the estate, improving the crofters’ cottages, reroofing them from turf to slate, they became well liked within the community. They spent summers on Jura, and occasionally visited in winter. So did my father, my uncles and now my family — brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren and cousins. West coast Scottish estates require constant investment, but the beauty and ambiance of the place, the people and its culture have always made it all worthwhile.

My childhood was spent sometimes in the sun, more often in the wind and rain, playing cricket on the beach, pulling lobster pots, catching mackerel, worming for brown trout and catching the odd sea trout with a fly rod in the small spate river. Although my sisters and I occasionally looked with envy to our school friends who went off for exotic holidays on hot beaches, we would never have swapped our Scottish summer holidays.

Following the SNP victory, however, families like us worry that we will find ourselves regarded as foreigners again in our own country. The SNP manifesto promises ‘to ensure Scotland’s land reform debate focuses on how Scotland’s land can be best managed in the public interest to ensure it is of benefit to all of the people of Scotland’. The worry is that it will not actually be for the benefit of the local community but will hand power straight to the bureaucracy in Edinburgh. Under the SNP, governance has already been centralised there. ‘Benefit to all’ must mean all, not just special interest groups.

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Are we estate owners now to be nationalised or made to feel so unwelcome that we have to sell up in a Mugabe-style land grab? It would be a pity, but we are accused of owning too much. Are we really going to have to defend owning so many acres of hill when 500 acres of hill may be only worth the same or even less than one acre of good farmland in the lowlands of Scotland?

Is it because we don’t sound Scottish? We should not all have to sound like Rob Roy. If the SNP wants us all to speak with a certain type of Scottish accent, what does that say to the many hundreds of thousands in the immigrant community who have lived in Scotland for a long time but still speak with the accent of their birth? Are they not Scottish?

We worry that the SNP have concentrated power in the few. They brook no dissent. While I don’t agree with most of what the outgoing Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has to say, one has to admire the way he stood up and said it during the referendum and general election campaign — against the barracking organised by SNP supporters who turned up at all of his meetings and tried to shout him down. Hardly democracy in action.

We on Jura feel we have played our part in the community and invested in the future. One neighbour of mine is building an 18-hole golf course that will provide much needed jobs on the island. Another has built one of the largest water turbines in Scotland generating electricity. We want to build a new Jura distillery to complement the now very successful Jura whisky. The Jura distillery, reborn 50 years ago with the support of island estate owners, is now owned by a Philippine company. For the good of Scotland, we must continue to encourage foreign investment into the highlands and islands.

Scotland is different from England and, contrary to many views including those of the SNP, its rural policies already work well. In Scotland, there is a very effective right to roam. No hill is blocked off to walkers. Crofters have the right to buy their crofts and many have done so. Sea and golden eagles flourish in the islands, a testament to conservation by public bodies and by landowners. Seals and basking sharks swim in island waters. Deer flourish on the hills and trout in the lochs, both providing employment and local revenue.

We wait to see how the SNP actually implement their polices. We are up for the challenge of working with the SNP for the benefit of all in the community — if they will work with us. That is their challenge. The SNP won nearly all the Westminster seats in Scotland with 50 per cent of the vote — a remarkable feat for which they should be congratulated. But let them not forget the other 50 per cent who did not vote for them, whose voice still matters.

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William Astor joined the House of Lords as a Conservative in 1973.

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Show comments
  • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

    So David Cameron’s Father-in-law “lord” Astor, who for tax purposes “owns” 20,000 acres of Jura through a company registered in Nassau in The Bahamas, is feeling under threat from the SNP ??……. GOOD !!

    The SNP will soon have news for Astor, and the other 460 individuals who “own” the majority of the land in Scotland, and about time too.

    Before the usual rabble start howling on here about how terrible the SNP are for doing this, why should it be that Estates are left in their entirety to individuals when their siblings are entitled to nothing ?

    A simple correction to this will take many generations to have the desired effect, but over time Scotland’s land ownership will divide and divide again, so that 460 becomes thousands, then tens and hundreds of thousands.

    On another point, I wonder if Cameron will be targeting his subsidy junkie, tax avoiding father-in-law to pay his way ??…….We’re all in this together after all…………Aye right !!!!

    • Barba Rossa

      Excellent Post

    • Ceylon

      Astor is not the father-in-law of Cameron. Astor is the ex-husband of Samantha’s Cameron’s mother.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        ha….ha…… Nice try

    • Gerschwin

      This ain’t about hereditary laws. Nice try at a diversion though. This is Mad Jock McTavish with not just one but a whole bag of chips on his shoulders running todger out over the glens with his Shaka-Zulu spear, sporting a nice Zanu-PF T-shirt, freshly ironed and all that to claim (sic steal) his birthright (sic someone else’s wealth) from those nasty landowners (sic English type people) whilst big beaming Alex and Nicola (sic Robert and Jacob) cheer him on from their ivory palace in Edinburgh (sic Harare/Nkandla) because they’ve nothing else to offer except the usual invective of hate, lies and division that’s become the New Scotland.

      • Cath Ferguson

        And you call others chippy…

        • Felixthecat

          Cybernats Transform!!!!

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Britnat

          • Gerschwin

            Kerching! Lets got for rum and coke on this one lads!

          • Felixthecat

            Couldn’t give a fuck about the union to be honest, baiting cybernats is fun though. I love the self importance of people whose hail form a country whose population mirrors Kyrgyzstan.

            O FLOWER OF SCOTLAND…………..

          • chrisdarroch .

            A very poor baiter I must say.

          • Felixthecat

            Says the man who has replied to my comment three times in rapid succession, nope, nope no rise at all…

          • chrisdarroch .

            Hardly difficult. I can set my baits quickly.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Clearly a master baiter…

          • chrisdarroch .

            GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

          • chrisdarroch .

            After all her kingdom will be in big trouble once the Scots take their money away.

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            ha…ha…… The unmistakable smell of a bitter britnat !

          • 2fishypoliticians

            And you are so good at spotting bitter comments….I wonder why????? Hmmmmmmmmm

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Feel the pain of the SNP landslide you anti-Scottish bigot.

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Typically twisted anti logic from the Nats. Sorry chum, but there are some Scots who are also proud to be British too. Face up to the future and stop being so insulting and insular.

          • patrickirish

            Ugly language and ugly thoughts.

          • Jackie Dawson

            What a very sad comment, more child than adult.

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Why?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Because he is only interested in baiting people than commenting and debating on the subject.

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Not simply because he is not of a separatist nationalist persuasion???

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            As opposed to a bitter colonial Brit-Nat bigot who can’t deal with the fact that all of Scotland voted for the SNP……get it right up ye !!

          • 2fishypoliticians

            A really vindictive yet very cultured, in fact overripe reply from the Nat contingent. What a fantastic future is ahead for Scotland if that is the norm.

          • uphellyaa

            . . .or Denmark, or Norway, or Finland . .self determination is not to be confused with self importance. The self importance bit we will leave to the UK, as it manages its decline in influence in . . well just about everywhere really. Its quite irrelevant, but the UK population mirrors that of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        Your usual racist pish

        • Gerschwin

          Hoorah…run out of argument? No problem – call ’em a racist, homophobe, racist, blah, blah …Zzzzzzzz…

        • monty61

          One Special Brew too many this afternoon? Just like the 56 gormless eejits just arrived in the big smoke …

      • Malcolm McCandless

        Hyperbole is over-rated you know. You can stick your xenophobia where the sun does not shine. Surbiton I believe!

        • Gerschwin

          Hoorah…run out of argument? No problem – call ’em a racist, homophobe, xenophobe etc etc …Zzzzzzzz…

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            That’s what you are.

          • Gerschwin

            Kerching! It’s a drinking game!

      • Brian

        Dearie Dearie me you take cynicism to new heights

      • Jackie Dawson

        Wrong, it is about heredirary laws and if you don’t believe me read “The poor had no Lawyers” you might then understand the comment above, than the ramblings you put up.

      • Malcolm Kerr

        It IS about hereditary laws, Ger. The right of Primogeniture was abolished in England in 1925. It remains in place among Scotland’s archaic land laws, and is one of many ‘tricks’ through which the landed class oppose modernisation and the development which is regarded as normal in all other civilised countries.

      • Dudley_D_Watkins

        What a “sic”ening post.

    • Major Plonquer

      I own property too. In my case it’s Intellectual Property needed to use the Internet. If Scotland doesn’t respect the rights of property owners – whether that property is real or intellectual – why should I allow the people or the government of Scotland to use my intellectual property? Sauce for the goose, etc….

      • Mboyle1888

        Ridiculous argument

      • Jackie Dawson

        Eh ? You clearly have no idea what your talking about.

    • WFC

      So what exactly is being proposed?

      A reintroduction of feudal rules (in many parts of Europe) to the effect that property not bequeathed by Will will devolve on all children equally? In which case, the making of a Will, leaving it all to one, will defeat the proposal.

      Or will the proposal prevent landowners from passing on their property by Will? And requiring it to be passed to all children regardless of the wishes of the testator? In which case, it can be defeated by transferring the land to the eldest during the lifetime of the owner (with or without a trust in favour of the (previous) owner).

      How is this going to work without nationalisation? Whether overt or covert?

      • chrisdarroch .
        • WFC

          Interesting document, but (unless I missed it) it doesn’t refer to proposed changes to the system of inheritance.

          Whilst I am very sympathetic to the proposals re corporations, I would say that the tenor of the proposals seems to me to be “you can own it, but we will control it”. A property system which has unfortunate precedents.

          • chrisdarroch .
          • WFC

            Paywalled – but Google brings up similar articles.

            Afaict, it’s still at the discussion stage, and the only concrete proposal so far is to abolish the distinction between “moveable and immovable” property – which I presume to be what, in England, is described as chattels and real property (respectively) – is that correct?

            That is a distinction which is still made, but has no substantive effect, in England – whether wrt property disposed of by Will, or on intestacy. Does it still make a difference in Scotland?

            (The distinction, in (most of) England, used to be the presumption that the real property went to the heir, whilst the chattels went to the next of kin.)

          • chrisdarroch .

            Because I appreciate the style in which you have made your points and inquiries WFC, I will confess that I have read little of the land reform proposals.

            I would feel it wholly unfair to attempt to muddle through a counterpoint in the fair detail you present.

            I am not used to dealing with many who present fairly and so did not come prepared into this particular discussion.

            I hoped to use generalised principles as sufficient means to present with some fairness and integrity but you are asking for another level of discussion.

          • WFC

            Fair enough, and your feelings re the style of the debate are reciprocated.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Ask Andy Wightman, he is on the board for these changes.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Ultimately land reform must often mean a transference of ownership for diverisfication and greater “fairness”. Any system as skewed as our present one may be affected quite substantially by a govt desperate to progress.

            We may trust that sufficient regulation of intent may be introduced appropriately in time.

          • WFC

            “Fairness” and “progress” are both subjective terms.

            What they will mean, in any particular context, is whatever the people in control of the state want them to mean.

          • chrisdarroch .

            I completely agree. The matter of trust of one’s government is one seldom touched on.

            I have good reason to trust the SNP government at this time.

            If then, I had to place trust in a government and place my mark on a voting slip accordingly then why wouldn’t I do that for the SNP of all parties?

          • WFC

            Well the simple answer is that the SNP won’t always be in government: and whatever subjective measures they introduce to produce “fairness” and “progress” may come into the hands of your worst enemy.

            But the better answer is that I wouldn’t trust any government which requires my trust on such things. Any measures or proposals which depend on subjectivity for their interpretation are bad.

            This is not a criticism (only) of the SNP. Virtually the whole of the modern political class seem to be under the spell of this strange new belief that laws should mean whatever the enforcer wants them to mean.

          • chrisdarroch .

            After all. Laws that are found a poor fit in the future can be altered but there is more likelihood of that within the framework of a self governing Scotland than under the auspices of a UK govt.

          • WirralBill

            “Laws that are found a poor fit in the future can be altered”

            Except that you can bet the new vested interests that benefit from them will fight tooth and nail to maintain them, regardless of how damaging they may prove to be.

          • Muawiyah

            The Spanish Encomienda system on steroids!

      • Jackie Dawson

        It will make all children equal when it comes to the land, which means it wont just keep going to the one person in each family and over the years it will split the land ownership up more fairly. Also the estates who are not paying tax while running a business like shooting etc. They will no longer be exempt. John Major brought in a exempt for guns, this will be stopped. This will help improve Scotland.

        • Tom M

          That might be the intention of treating all siblings equally and that is how successsion laws in France work. The results aren’t all that pretty. Looking around there are numerous properties steadily reducing to ruin because the siblings can’t agree what to do with them and note carefully the size of French farms. They get smaller and smaller with fields spearated by miles because of succession laws. Law of unintended consequences I think.

      • Muawiyah

        The nastier the land and the less productivity it has in its native state only gets worse when inheritance laws do even divisions among heirs.

        Primogeniture keeps land together such that it is economically useful.

        I know people imagine that has to do with some bizarre notions of purity of birth order, but it has to do with intense poverty.

        An example: North Dakota is not owned by very many people. Tens of thousands of acres in a single farm are barely profitable. You divide that up and it turns to wasteland and scrub. Nobody wants to farm something where you can’t make money!

    • Barba Rossa
    • Jackie Dawson

      Yes and getting all the tax avoiding estates to pay their way for shooting and Grouse hunting. That will run into millions, this will help Scotland going forward

    • Tom M

      “…….Estates are left in their entirety to individuals when their siblings are entitled to nothing ?”
      That sounds like you want the same succession laws thay have in France. If you want to see just how that pans out in practice come and have a look at the numerous empty buildings falling into ruin and the ever smaller divided up farms all over France because of succession law disputes.

      • 2fishypoliticians

        Come on Tom M, the nats are driven by bitterness, jealousy as well as a 300+ yr old grievance of the union. There is no way that they are prepared to face any facts or use any common sense in facing things as they are. They are truly determined to destroy everything about the union, including any positive benefits, and deny any grave repercussions. Talk about biting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

        • Tom M

          I agree with what you say entirely but I was only commenting upon the likely effects of what SNP Ajockalypse said about inheritance law and how he thought it should include siblings instead of individuals. I pointed out they do that in France and there are many problems.

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Totally agree. Was being tongue in cheek. Apologies for any misundertstanding.

  • goodsoldier

    You can bet the SNP will want to nationalize the land of private estate owners. The SNP are disgracefully envious and will do everything possible to make them suffer, and will tax them to the hilt forcing many of them to sell. I hope this doesn’t happen for these estate owners manage the land beautifully and preserve the past. It’s probably too much to hope that the SNP will leave them alone. The SNP are communists, which means nasty, envious and mean-spirited. They don’t care about the poor, they just want to corral them, pay them off with benefits paid for by others, and give the semi-literate soft state jobs, all for the sake of holding power. I doubt they will build industry and encourage the nation to produce and profit.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      “Mean, nasty, communist, envious SNP”……………ha…….ha !!

      Look ya bitter Tory…… I rightly pay £3000 council tax for a modest house, with a small garden.

      The 460 leeches that “own” most of the land in Scotland will shortly have to pay their rightful taxes……….instead of receiving millions in land subsidies from the rest of us.

      • Major Plonquer

        I thought the whole point is that Scotland doesn’t come close to paying its “rightful taxes” its fair share of UK tax and has to be subsidized by hard working people in other parts of the UK? Everyone in the world – except the Nats – can see this for ourselves with our own eyes and know this to be incontrovertible.

        • chrisdarroch .

          Scotland subsidises the English way of life and has for many decades.

          • Gerschwin

            What with? Heart attacks? lol.

          • chrisdarroch .

            ……….and thus you lose that point !

            Excellent.

        • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

          Scotland has subsidised England for over 40yrs, and ended up with a share of £1,500,000,000 debt as a result.

          Scotland, like England, is currently in deficit……i.e England doesn’t have a brass penny with which to subsidise Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter.

          Scotland will do just fine as an independent country, where every person will pay the tax that they are rightfully due……. and that includes the 460 tax avoiding, state benefit scrounging land grabbers who currently “own” over 50% of Scotland’s land.

          • Ceylon

            Well thats simply untrue.

            Per head spending in Scotland by the UK government is far higher than in England, despite far more taxes being raised in England.

            “In 2012-2013 Scotland generated 9.1% of UK tax revenues, and received 9.3% of UK spending back from Westminster. Despite this, Scotland had a budget deficit of 8.3% of GDP, higher than the UK’s overall budget deficit for the same period of 7.3% of GDP.”

            Only 1.5% of the UK’s tax revenues is based on oil and gas whereas it would be up to 20% of the tax revenue for an independent Scotland. With todays oil markets, and the fluctuations therein, good luck!

          • Brian

            Yeah like the Whisky export duty that makes England the largest exporter of SCOTCH Whisky in the world? Or the production of c10 Oil Platforms in the North sea that has mysteriously found its way into English figures. (Not really mysterious 6,000 square miles of Scottish sea was half inched ) BTW do they count the VAT that goes to the Treasury? The union has been a one way street of deceit and perfidy for 308 years.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Correct its a slight of hand which has been going on for many many many years

          • Jackie Dawson

            Update yourself …
            Can an Independent Scotland stand on its own two feet?
            John Jappy. CND

            As a civil servant in London, and being part of the establishment, I always accepted the general view that an independent Scotland would not be able to survive on its own without financial help from the London Exchequer.

            However, when in 1968 I was able to examine the so-called “books” for the first time, I was shocked to find that the position was exactly the opposite and that Scotland contributed much more to the UK economy than its other partners. This was, of course, before the oil boom.

            I realised that the Treasury would wish to keep this a secret, as it might feed nationalistic tendencies north of the border, which at that time were very weak. I took the decision to keep an eye on the situation to see how long it would take for the true facts to emerge, which I felt would only be a short time. However, the Treasury and the Establishment did an excellent job, aided and abetted by the media, to keep the myth about Scotland alive.

            In fact it took another 30 years before the first chink in their armour started to appear. This came unexpectedly on 13 January 1997 when, in reply to a series of questions put by SNP Leader in the Commons, Alex Salmond MP to the then Tory government, Treasury Minister William Waldegrave admitted that Scotland had paid a massive £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it had received since the Tories came to power in 1979 (ref: Hansard). Statistically this works out at £5,400 for every Scot.

            There were no attempts to refute these figures, which caused much embarrassment to the Tory Government of the day. However, the facts were quickly covered up by the Unionist controlled media.

            Then a year later with a Labour government now in power came a further bombshell. Following further promptings by the SNP, on 21 August 1998, Mr Salmond received a letter from the House of Commons Library (ref. 98/8/56 EP/rjt) which gave a table showing that based on Scotland’s GDP per capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the world’s wealth league. The UK was at 17th Place.

            When the Labour government came to power it announced a 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax. From my detailed knowledge of income tax, I felt that this was the worst possible thing that they could do, as extra monies would be needed following on from the Thatcher era, if they were to fulfil even a fraction of their promises to the electorate. I came to the conclusion, and I still feel that I was right, that this was done by Labour to prove to the voters of Middle England that they could match the Tories in tax cuts.

            Despite the disclosures of 1998, attempts to deceive the Scottish electorate did not end there. In March 1999 a Labour Party leaflet appeared which said that if the SNP were to forego Gordon Brown’s 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax, every family in Scotland would be £250 worse off. This became the major topic of a TV debate between Alex Salmond and Donald Dewar. Salmond tried to point out to Dewar that he was using the wrong figures. Watching the debate, I saw Dewar’s eyes roll in his head for a few moments but he carried on regardless.

            After the debate it took the Labour Party a whole week to admit that they were wrong. There was in fact a whole chain of errors which the Labour Party tried to blame on “printing mistakes”. However Labour could not deny the fact that in their calculations the UK average figure, which included the high wage earners in the city of London and the booming economy in the South East corner of England (which if I may say so were the result of the selfish policies of Mrs Margaret Thatcher), the figure used was almost double those of the average Scottish wage which at that time stood at £17,000 per year.

            Looking closely at the figures and taking the year 2006 as a benchmark, I found that Scotland had an annual relative surplus of £2.8 billion, which works out at £560 for every man, woman and child. In contrast the UK had a deficit of £34.8 billion.

            In November 2006, the UN published its annual “Human Development Index”. For the sixth year running, oil rich Norway topped the list, and won on such factors as generous welfare payments, education, high income and a long life expectancy. Norway wisely created an “oil fund” in 1995 which in 5 years reached a total of £250 billion, so that Norway sailed through the Credit Crunch.

            Who are the real subsidy junkies?

            Any lingering doubt that Scotland more than pays its way, or survives on subsidies, was dispelled by a report published in the Daily Mail on October 12, 2007. The Daily Mail, which by no stretch of the imagination could be described as a supporter of Scottish nationalism, devoted a whole page to the analysis of the report which was based on tax paid per capita as against spending; Northern Ireland received £4,212 more than it paid in tax, North East England £3,133, Wales £2,990, North West England £1732, South West England £978, West Midlands £931, East Midlands £185 and lastly Scotland £38. Only the South East corner produced a small surplus due to tax paid on the high wages within the city of London at this time (pre-Credit Crunch).

            Analysis

            It is no longer refuted that Scotland exports more per capita than the rest of the UK. In 1968 when I first discovered that Scotland was in surplus in relation to the rest of the UK, its exports could be broken down into whisky, meat, timber, fish, and of course tourism which is a huge hidden income. Those exports are supported by a population of only 5,000,000 as against 45,000,000 for the rest of the UK, quite a substantial advantage.

            With the oil boom, Scotland’s economy was transformed. Scottish oil has to date funded the Treasury with £300 billion, which has pushed Scotland up from 7th place in World Wealth rankings, had it been in control of its own resources, to 3rd place.

            On 29 May 2008, Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling admitted in a back-handed way, that Scotland’s oil revenue had been underwriting the UK’s failure to balance its books for decades. There is still 30 years of oil supply left in the North Sea (some 150 million barrels) valued at 2008 prices at 1 trillion dollars. This excludes the new fields being brought into production in deeper waters west of Shetland.

            Meantime whisky exports, which I listed in 1968 as one of Scotland’s top assets, have risen at a phenomenal rate. For example, whisky exports to China amounted to £1 million in 2000/2001, by 2012 they had risen to £71.5 million and have continued to rise.

            On the economies of Independence, Scotland has also 18 times its requirements in North Sea gas, which on current trading is more expensive than oil. The country exports 24% of its surplus electricity south of the Border, with much of the back-up by Hydro Electric unused.

            Even if nuclear is excluded, the future looks bright, the new Glen Doe hydro station on Loch Ness which was opened by Scotland’s First Minister last year can produce enough electricity for 240,000 homes. Further projects down the Loch which have now reached the planning stage will increase this to over 1,000,000 homes. Wind and wave energy will also contribute significantly in the future.

            No doubt as the time draws nearer to the referendum on Scottish Independence, politicians will do their best to distort the figures – but all that a UK politician needs to be is a good actor.

            Having worked on the preparation of UK National Budgets for most of my working life, it irks me when I hear the likes of Danny Alexander spouting forth figures condemning Scotland to financial disaster if it votes for Independence. He has no life experience of producing these figures, he is simply reading from a script given him by his Tory chums. They pull the strings. In fact I once met a Chancellor of the Exchequer who could not even work out the PAYE tax for his domestic employees. The only reason why he didn’t get someone else to do it was that he was ashamed of how little he was paying them!

            Amidst all the claims and counter-claims being thrown around at the moment, I am sure of one thing – if Scotland votes for Independence, those of us living north of the Border will not lose out.

          • Ceylon

            that is an opinion piece from a pro-independence activist – not a factual state of affairs.

            You can go back to the 1960s all you want, but the numbers show that at present, Scotland receives more in government spending as a proportion of its GDP than England. Facts are facts, opinion articles nontwithstanding.

            Please show the numbers that state this is not the current state of affairs if I’m wrong.

          • Brian

            TELT

        • Jackie Dawson

          You really know nothing……..you need better sources

      • Brian

        ooooh can we backdate it please?

    • Barba Rossa

      About Time the Tories understood. Taxation is the price of Civilisation. and paying our fair share is a duty not to be shirked.

      • Ceylon

        Yet countries with lower taxation like Canada seem to manage quite fine without exorbitant taxes.

        • JoeCro

          Independent Canada no less.

        • Gerschwin

          That’s because they haven’t deliberately engineered a horde of welfare dependant generations to keep voting the left into positions of power.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Who was this ‘engineer’ ?

            The SNP haven’t been in power for decades have they?

            Who failed to invest in the people and infrastructure of Scotland?

            Who failed to start an oil fund to protect us all from the vagaries of economics?

          • Gerschwin

            Why should you have an oil fund? You think you’re so special that the Shetlanders and Orkney Islanders should have to surrender their natural resources to the Scottish?
            I think not.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Did you actually just say that?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Yes they did…………

          • chrisdarroch .

            Where is the pension pot?
            Where is the oil fund?
            Why are we borrowing £2bn every week?
            Where is the investment?
            Norway has 75 ship yards
            Where is our investment?
            What happened to £300bn in oil revenue?
            Why is the current housing bubble of greater size than the one prior to the recent slump?
            What the hell is happening with all that student loan debt?
            Why is Westminster Governance not able to ensure provision to avoid any of the above?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Eh ??? do you really listen to yourself ??? Shetland and Orkney are not countries…….

          • Jackie Dawson

            Westminster…….

    • Jackie Dawson

      More nonsense.

  • hdb

    Should we fear a Mugabe-style land grab in rural Scotland?

    Not being one of the couple of dozen people in the country who have a large grouse estate: no.

    • Ceylon

      So if its not happening to you, its insignificant. Great attitude.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        The 460 are the ones that should worry……. as they are about to find out what it’s like to pay your rightful tax.

      • Cymrugel

        This country is one of the few in the civilised world that has no ceiling on land ownership.
        It is preposterous that in the 21st century a handful of people own vast tracts of a small country that they use occasionally as a private playground.

        • Ceylon

          I’m sorry how is this one of the few? Are your examples of the civilized world with brilliant and progressive property rights India, China, et al?

          The majority of the developed world in fact does not have ceilings on land ownership. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (four of the eight more developed countries in the world as per HDI) all similar systems to the UK concerning land ownership.

          Don’t just spew out falsehoods.

          • Cymrugel

            No. I was thinking of similar west European states, not third world giants or places like the USA or Canada with vast continental land masses and small populations.

          • Ceylon

            Well the “civilised” world you spoke of includes vast land masses with small populations (by the way the United States has the population of two thirds of the entire European Union, hardly small).

            The ‘civilised’ world is not limited to the boundaries of Europe.

          • tomjol

            Population density of the US: 35/km^2
            Population density of the EU: 115.8/km^2

            You were saying?

          • Ceylon

            What I was saying was that the point I was replying to which was that “This country is one of the few in the civilized world that has no ceiling on land ownership” is a piece of utter fiction and not based in fact.

            Your figures are utterly irrelevant to the false point the Cymrugel first made that Britian is among a mere few countries to have similar land laws.

          • tomjol

            I responded to your comment. Read my response in the context of that, not the context of whatever point you can drum up to which my figures are irrelevant.

          • Ceylon

            My comment was addressed at someone’s point.

            It was not a comment about this article in which case your reply would be fair.

            I wasn’t speaking to judiciousness or the fairness involved in the land laws which countries like the UK, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand share but the very fact that they are shared. Thats what I was “saying”.

            Hence the irrelevance of your figures.

          • tomjol

            Of course it’s irrelevant if you deliberately misunderstand…

            You said that the USA has a large population. In context, that was irrelevant, and I pulled you up on it. To then argue that I’m the one who’s saying irrelevant things is ridiculous.

          • Ceylon

            My saying it had a large population was not irrelevant in the least because I was directly replying to the comment “places like the USA or Canada with vast continental land masses and small populations” by Cymrugel, saying the very opposite (incorrectly). So again you’re mistaken. “In context,” that was not irrelevant – and what you were pulling me on is a figment of your imagination.

            I was, in both instances, disputing a point Cymrugel made.

            You’re free to make a random comment, but you went on to say “you were saying” … implying that you were someone invalidating a point I made, while you were in reality making an utterly irrelevant comment.

            Just face it.

          • tomjol

            Sigh.

            Protest too much, etc.

  • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

    Thanks to the SNP you’ll soon have to pay your rightful taxes like everyone else Astor…… and your days as a state benefits scrounger, both as a land “owner” and member of that affront to democracy called the House of Lords, are well and truly numbered.

    • GAM

      You talk about state benefits. Do you have the same opinion of all the Scottish farmers who also harvest state/EU benefits, many of whom whole heartedly support the SNP?

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        Every last one of the large land grabbers in Scotland is a Tory…….and every last one of them is a state benefits junkie, receiving millions from the rest of us.

        The SNP are about to put a stop to it.

        • GAM

          So, according to you, every farmer in Scotland is a “land grabber” and a Tory? Is that the opinion of the SNP?

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            I’m not talking about farmers…..I’m talking about the 460 Tory land grabbers that “own” over 50% of the land in Scotland.

          • GAM

            But what about the Scottish farmers who also receive vast subsidies from the state? Are they also “scroungers” and state benefits “junkies”?

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            This article has nothing to do with farmers.

          • GAM

            You referred to William Astor as a “state benefits scrounger”, presumably because as a landowner his estate receives government funded benefits. Do you also consider Scottish farmers, who also receive vast sums from the state, as scroungers, too? Simple question.

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Genuine Farmers should be assisted…… but everyone should pay the rightful tax for the amount of land that they “own”.

          • GAM

            So landowners who farm, just as Scottish farmers farm, cannot be considered “genuine” farmers? For you, it’s not actually how individuals cultivate the land which determines if they are ‘genuine’ farmers, but rather who they are? I.E. A Scottish farmer may not farm – in the traditional sense – at all, instead receiving subsidies (in a sense farming subsidies); yet a landowner may provide employment for locals, have livestock, farm crops etc. but cannot be deemed a “genuine farmer”?

          • GAM

            No reply to the below? As an unashamed classist, why so coy?

  • Sulpicio Galba

    Should we fear a Mugabe-style land grab in rural Scotland?

    Of course. When the Barnett subsidies are terminated, Nicola will need something to distribute to the unemployed faithful at election time, and barren hillsides are the only assets that will be available to her.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      Pish

      • Sulpicio Galba

        Tush

        • JoshuaCzajkowski

          If you didn’t know SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”, as the name suggests is one of those SNP cultists doing the rounds.

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Thank you Joshua, the bitter unionist who stated that he hopes Scotland fails.

            Google “Ajockalypse” and you’ll find out its racist Tory government origin.

          • The Bogle

            Boris Johnson no less.

            But please do not bandy the word “racist” about in this way. As Janet Daley wrote in a recent article: “But to call it racist (i.e. criticising numbers of EU migrants seeking work in the UK) is to debase the language: it is an insult to those whose lives have been devastated, or ended, by genuine racism. As a member of an ethnic minority that was almost annihilated by an actual racist regime, I find this trivialisation of the concept seriously offensive.”

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Point taken………Then there is a gap in the language to adequately describe vile bigots, such as Boris Johnson, who find it appropriate to make offensive remarks about other nations and its people.

          • Jambo25

            Then you should have enough knowledge of the kind of propaganda including the iconography which was and is used to dehumanise minorities. When I saw the poster campaign the Tories launched to stir up anti-SNP (Actually anti-Scottish) hatred it immediately reminded me of something and as someone who studied rather a lot of German history it wasn’t too difficult to remember what it was. It was cartoons straight out of Der Angriff, Der Sturmer etc. Now I’m not suggesting that anybody is readying ‘Transports’ to ship Scots somewhere very nasty. I am saying, however, that Crosby and co took UK politics and society in very dangerous directions.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Correct they did and Cameron went along with it. To try to scare your own electorate in this way was to treat them as fools and idiots, who are easily scared an lied too.

          • Jambo25

            What is almost as bad is that Labour did nothing to oppose it but ran scared from it or actually cooperated in the demonization.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Correct, the electorate really need to stop believing the MSM nonsense and find better sources of information.

          • Jambo25

            I think some on the right might start to think when the same scare and smear tactics are used against them over the EU referendum. Some of the brighter ones already know that this is likely. Wessex Man who posts on this site is a good example of this.

          • Jackie Dawson

            They cant control the internet, so Cameron is trying to force through TTIP which has a way of him doing this. He is really treating is electorate as idiots and sadly some still believe the BBC /SKY and the 5 billionaires who run our news papers. They really need to get better resources than those. Some just like to be ignorant and will tell you black is white to get a response. You cant help those people, they don’t want to know or don’t care. Hard to believe that England voted for its own poverty. Tories are going to have a field day. English don’t even realise that Cameron removed his duty of care on the H&S Act 2012, which means he does not have to produce a health care for the English. So they will run it down until people believe it has to be privatised….People really need to wake up to their games.

          • Gerschwin

            For god’s sakes, not this cr*p again, Django sees the lynch mob in the flickering candle light…hold on! It’s Mrs Djangers heading for the sherry bottle!

          • Jambo25

            I see you as a brain dead Troll.

          • Simon de Lancey

            Correction: a cowardly brain dead Troll – note the hidden comments.

          • Sulpicio Galba

            Thanks for the warning; but I have to say that SNP Ajockalypse has been impeccably courteous towards me, and has not threatened me in any way.

          • JoshuaCzajkowski

            Really? Well he called me a racist and a bigot out of the blue within the first two replies simply for arguing against independence.

          • Sulpicio Galba

            That is much the same reception as I got from some primary school teachers (on the Telegraph blog) for innocently making a suggestion about the need for children to learn multiplication tables by rote. My experience of Scottish nationalist bloggers is reasonably positive – “pish” is only mildly rude – while my experience of the rudeness and dogmatism of opinionated primary school teaches is rather discouraging and disconcerting.

          • Jackie Dawson

            No its actually the rooms the SNP have taken over from LIBS in Westminster…….

    • Jackie Dawson

      You should try reading the comments before coming out with something like this. Best to say nothing and let people think your a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.

      • Sulpicio Galba

        Do you ever listen to your own advice ?

        If you really think that my frivolity was serious, you desperately need to stand in front of a mirror and recite your little homily to yourself.

  • Ken

    I think Scotland has known land grabs before – they were known as the Highland Clearances. Hardly surprising that some Scots feel aggrieved even now.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      Well said

    • GAM

      As with most things, if it was only that simple…..

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        The Highland clearances were indeed “that simple”

        The greed of many of the ancestors of “The 460”, putting the people off the land to accommodate the more profitable sheep…… That Simple, and utterly shameful.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Of course.

    Police brought under national control.

    Intention to arm them as standard in the future.

    State handler for all children.

    Land grabs.

    National socialism lite.

    Can we please start building the fence, because either the Scots don’t realize what they’ve done or they do and are happy about it? Either way, it’s not going to end well for them.

    • Sunset66

      Police brought under national control. You mean the coming together of diverse police
      forces to save money when Greater London has a unified police force with twice the population

      Land grabs the reform of land laws into the modern world.

      The protection of children in a world shown to be full of predators

      And finally your national socialism jibe, the default insult of the Ukipper and Tory

      Scotland has changed , the people gave the SNP the mandate , accept the change or see your unionist politicans swept away

      How Scotland runs its affairs should be the Scottish people’s choice in or out of the Union

      Jim Spud Murphy no more
      Danny Alexander no more
      Margaret Curran no more
      Ian Davidson no more

      • Diggery Whiggery

        “How Scotland runs its affairs should be the Scottish people’s choice in or out of the Union”

        Never said otherwise, and how other people on these islands react to that should be there’s.

        “And finally your national socialism jibe, the default insult of the Ukipper and Tory”

        And German journalists apparently, but what would they know eh?

        “Police brought under national control. You mean the coming together of diverse police forces to save money when Greater London has a unified police force with twice the population”

        Greater London is not a nation the last time I checked. Oh and consolidation never ever saves money, whether it be in business or the public sector. Greater efficiency does, but that can be achieved either with consolidation or not. The two issued are independent. Now when you’re a politician you like to conflate the two things because it give you a good excuse to do what you want to do in any case for political reasons.

        “Land grabs the reform of land laws into the modern world.”

        Don’t be daft. Don’t just repeat the party soundbite, think for yourself and look at it critically. That goes for every political party and their policies by the way.

        “The protection of children in a world shown to be full of predators”

        Yep and many of the predators are doing the protecting. It makes sense for child predators to gravitate to jobs where children are plentiful and parents absent.

        • Cath Ferguson

          “And how other people on these islands react to that should be there’s”

          You’re very welcome to have Lord Astor and 400 others owning half your land. Just choose which bits you want to give him to replace anything he might decide to sell due to having to pay tax on it in Scotland, then pay him all the subsidies he gets for his Scottish land. No problem – totally up to you if that’s what you choose to do.

          • Diggery Whiggery

            You know that this reform will cost Scottish tax payers right? The SNP are not even sure how much it will cost. It’s going to cost you millions for little actual collective benefit.

            When did Scotland stop thinking and start emoting?

          • Sunset66

            We don’t value your views or advice

            The elected representatives of scotland will make those decisions

          • Diggery Whiggery

            In that comment I wasn’t giving you my views or advice, I was asking questions? Can only true Scots ask questions about Scotland now?

          • Sunset66

            When did the Scots stop thin,king?

            The truth is the Scots listened for 2 years as the unionista ran fear and smear stories that we were parasites and subsidy junkies and that nobody would trade with us and we would be like North Korea . That is a democratic developed modern country would fail.

            Now less and less believe the lies and the smears and still Westminster with one tory MP resist devolving real power to Hollyrood

            As for your thoughts if you insult the majority of scots who voted SNP by calling them Nazis without any evidence to back it up you shouldn’t be surprised that we are not intersted in your thoughts

            Do you think insulting scots strengthens your Union?

            It’s not that you are not Scottish it’s that your posts are nonsense

          • Diggery Whiggery

            I haven’t insulted any scots and I haven’t called any of them Nazis either. I’ve merely pointed out that the German journalist is right in that certain parts of the SNP package do smack of national socialism both in terms of policy and methods. He also pointed out the differences between Nazism and national socialism, but no-one wanted to listen to that either.

            You’re too busy being offended to be warned and therein lies the problem. When you finally wake up and realize that he actually has a point, it’ll be too late.

          • Sunset66

            How tiresome the default nazi jibe because it’s easy to change the national word to national socialist,
            50% of the voters voted SNP and this is the second term of govt for the SNP having been relected with a majority.

            The scottish people don’t think the SNP are Nazis so why do unionists believe they can only accept Westminster making all the major decisions about Scotland

            Let me give unionists a warning if you can’t accept that the home nations should be treated with equal respect and devo max genuinely devolved then your Union is doomed. The SNP train has been coming for fifty years and unionists have done everything posisible to delay or obstruct meaningful devolution

            If you stand in the way you will get run over.
            Why would scots tolerate constant abuse being deemed to be scroungers and subsidy junkies. London receives 86 % of all investment
            I look forward to the day a newspapers is taken to court for calling the SNP nazi
            It is an unacceptable insult to SNP members and a gross insult to the 26 million
            who died durung WW2

          • Cath Ferguson

            Why not look to places like Eigg to see what community ownership can look like, and what local people can do with land when they do own it.

          • Diggery Whiggery

            I’m sure you’re right and as long as Scottish taxpayers are prepared to pay for subsidizing the ‘sustainability’ of huge areas of Scotland that were previously in private hands, that’s fine.

        • Sunset66

          Gosh your response is poor
          Re the police if you knew anything you would know that there were countless police chiefs and deputies on large salarys covering areas that an inspector would manage in Strathclyde.

          But very specially your response that german journalists see the SNP as similar to nazis is sheer bunkum

          The Snp are civic democratic nationalists . I challenge you to find any speech or statement from the SNP which is of the blood and soil variety
          During the referendum and this recent election the police have stated there was no trouble whatsoever

          They have been around since the 60s as a serious political party with countless councillors and mps . They have never been accused of malpractice
          You clearly no little about Scottish poitics

          Goodness knows who would want to be in a union with a mean spirited Britnat like you

          • Diggery Whiggery

            “The Snp are civic democratic nationalists”

            All things to all people eh?

            “Re the police if you knew anything you would know that there were countless police chiefs and deputies on large salarys (sic) covering areas that an inspector would manage in Strathclyde.”

            And if you knew anything about government, you would know that this reform will not save anything. But it will consolidate the police, which will eventually be armed, around the national government.

            “I challenge you to find any speech or statement from the SNP which is of the blood and soil variety”

            The point that German journalist was making was that National Socialism wasn’t just about blood and soil. Nationalism on its own is not a necessarily problem but when you mix it with socialism it always ends badly.

            He knows what he’s talking about. If you don’t want to listen that’s fine, but we’ll see where you are in a few years.

          • Sunset66

            I bet you believe in the illuminati and aliens making crop circles

            The drive of the SNP is that they believe that the mishandling of Scotland for countless decades can only be sorted out by decisions being taken on Scotland

            Over the last five decades Westminster incompetence and corruption has seen Scotland fall behind thats why they want Scotland to be independent not because they wish to invade the Wales in some master race dream

            As for socialism in my lifetime that brought the NHS higher education for the disadvantaged and security from unemployment

            Of course believing in rule Britannia , the royals, Eton nd the Lords isn’t nationalim in your world, no it’s just the way things should be.
            The SNP are not nazis if you can’t provide any evidence it is just a smear from a troll

            The scottish national party is the party of scotland like the scottish national gallery is the gallery of Scotland

          • Diggery Whiggery

            “I bet you believe in the illuminati and aliens making crop circles”

            No, why?

            “The drive of the SNP is that they believe that the mishandling of Scotland”

            Yes I know what they believe, but whatever you think has happened to Scotland has happened to large swathes of the UK. I’m not arguing against Westminster incompetence, only the Scottish tendency to see themselves as special victims that need special solutions.

            In any case when 75% of legislation comes from the EU, it could be argued that much of the incompetence came from somewhere other than Westminster and that won’t change if you leave. You’ll be cutting out the middle man, but to think that German and French politicians would have a greater concern for Scotland’s wellbeing than other UK politicians is laughable.

            If you want independence that’s fine, but that’s not what the SNP is offering. The SNP don’t want it. They want maximum power for minimum responsibility. They’ll always need a nasty Tory upon which to blame their own shortcomings.

            “As for socialism in my lifetime that brought the NHS higher education for the disadvantaged and security from unemployment”

            And it rapidly became clear that none of those things is sustainable which is an unavoidable consequence of civil servants spending money that is not theirs on services that they do not use.

          • Sunset66

            Oh so if the rest of the UK outside of the SE we should suffer too and just say well it’s shit here but he’ll it’s shit in Hull too

            Nothing like 75% of legislation comes from the Eu.

            So the SNP doesn’t want independence .
            I have news for you it’s the core of their reason for existence
            I suppose fighting for a referendum and then campaigning for 2 years was just a smokescreen
            Socialism is unsustainable but neo con policies have been so successful , the utlilities, the banks, railways

            Your post was just a rant

  • Derek

    What would the SNP do with the land? Give everyone in Scotland an acre of boggy, midge infested swamp or a barren hill? There is a reason Scotland is largely so sparsely populated, the maximum economic value of the land is largely its current use ie scenery preserved by landowners.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      Pish

    • JoeCro

      Absolute rubbish, this notion that most land in Scotland is worthless bog is a myth. The landowning classes are very good at protecting their interests.

      • Cath Ferguson

        “this notion that most land in Scotland is worthless bog is a myth.”

        Exactly. And if it is, that doesn’t speak too highly for the landowners, does it?

    • Gerschwin

      Scotland is sparsely populated because once you put aside the mulchy glossy tourist advert piccy-wiccies of wild mountains, rivers and cheerupy Celts in folksy garb the reality are dumps like Paisley and Greendykes and the only thing anyone wants to do is get the hell out.

  • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

    Diggers Whiggery….Start digging then ya idiot.

  • Cath Ferguson

    “We worry that the SNP have concentrated power in the few.”

    Yet you’re the one defending around 400 families owning half the land of Scotland.

    ” They brook no dissent.”

    Says a hugely wealthy Lord (who we, the taxpayers pay £300 a day for that) writing in a major national magazine. Just who is it that “brooks no dissent” from getting their own way? You and others like you have had it your own way for 300 years and longer. What you have now is a little bit of popular, democratic dissent. And you hate it and would prefer it quashed.

    • Cath Ferguson

      btw my Gran was from Cleethorpes and as children we spent many happy summers on the beach there. Can I have it please? I’m sure that entitles me to not only feel like a genuine Cleethopser but also own the whole place.

      • Ceylon

        Except his family already owned the land he was vacationing on… don’t see how your anecdote qualifies as a comparison…

        • Cath Ferguson

          My point is it’s wrong regardless. The idea that we shouldn’t have progressive change because of some wealthy peers summer holiday memories is as nonsense as that my holidays in Cleethorpes entitle me to own the whole place. No one should be entitled to own vast amounts of land for summer holidays.

          • Ceylon

            The point made was not that he should be entitled to the land because he had vacationed there, but rather, that he ought to be entitled to the land because it was purchased legally by his forefathers, who legally passed it down to him. Be it a modest house or an estate, that which is legally bought and passed down does not seem to be a great injustice.

            If the government is so intent on changing the undoubtedly odd scenario in which a handful of people own a great deal of Scotland, the only right way to go about changing that would be to legally and amiably purchase the land in the name of the government, and then do with it as they (and the people of Scotland) see fit.

      • Brian

        As you play shinty Cath on the beach in the glorious summer sun?

    • The_greyhound

      The indictment of the centralising and autocratic, not to say corrupt, SNP stands. Ineptly governed by a a bunch of hysterical nationalists, Scotland is rapidly becoming the poorest part of northern Europe, heavily dependent on a massive subsidy from England.

      • Cath Ferguson

        The SNP wish to de-centralise the UK. For that you call them hysterical nationalists! And you’re willing to believe the subsidy junky myth (backfiring propaganda) despite the desperation of the wealthiest elites in London and the UK not to decentralise power to Scotland. Safe to say you don’t really know much about it?

      • Jackie Dawson

        More nonsense…….

    • Jackie Dawson

      Read “The poor had no Lawyers” by Andy Wightman, he will give you all the answers, for anyone wanting to know about Scotland’s land. Its interesting to see who stole Scotlands land and how its been managed since.

  • misomiso

    IF you want to fight the SNP you need an independent Right of Centre Unnioist party to contest the Nationalists for Scottish identity.

    I don’t know what is going in on the minds of the Scottish Tories, but you guys will lose EVERYTHING unless you try and shift the political dynamic, and the Tories will always have no credibliity as long as they are tied to London.

    You don’t have any right to complain until you guy realise this.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      Blue Tory, Red Tory, Yellow Tory, UKIP (BNP) Tory……………..We reject you.

  • ohforheavensake

    “Are we estate owners now to be nationalised or made to feel so unwelcome that we have to sell up in a Mugabe-style land grab?”

    No.

    Next question?

  • Cymrugel

    Sorry but this is going to be a very hard sell even to Tories.

    Scotland is owned by a tiny minority of people who get generous tax breaks effectively for leaving the land standing idle. Miles of hillsides that should be covered in natural forest are left barren through burning so that a few hundred people can shoot grouse once a year.

    We have a land ownership system that is the most antiquated in Europe and which is not best placed either to develop the economy or to protect the environment. It is simply stagnation posturing as tradition.

    The estates themselves are nothing more than the hangover of ethnic cleansing from the clearances. You can hike through miles of hills and valleys in the highlands without meeting another soul, yet pass countless ruins where the natives used to live and work before being driven off to make way for sheep and sport shooting. It is not a natural wilderness but a man made wasteland.

    Whenever an estate has been forcibly bought out by a local community that community has almost immediately begun to grow and develop after years of decline, or at best stagnation.

    You are not going to be made a stranger in your own land; just no longer allowed to act like a medieval aristocrat surrounded by serfs.

    Deal with it.

    • JoeCro

      Great post, more equal land ownership will bring people back to rural Scotland and bring prosperity and jobs.

      • James

        Because all those big hills are such nice places to live, right?

        • ohforheavensake

          Oh, dear me. You’ve never been to Scotland, have you?

          • Cath Ferguson

            Like so many who comment on Scotland…

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Why is it that everyone who is a unionist is always derided as someone who knows nothing about Scotland? A very insular self-defeating attitude that is quite frankly, wrong.

          • Adam Johnston

            Why is it Unionists always say Why is it that everyone who is a unionist is always derided as someone who knows nothing about Scotland? A very insular self-defeating attitude that is quite frankly, wrong’. When is this instance the reply given to the post in question was quite frankly, correct.

          • 2fishypoliticians

            Your lack of sense, both grammatically and logically says it all about the Nats’ outlook…. and that’s without considering the validity of the arguments being put forward. Truly brainless and pathetic.

          • Adam Johnston

            Truly brainless and pathetic, indeed, since the grammar was yours and you are confusing logic with your own opinion. Typical Unionist and Panda party tactics .
            ;’ indeed it could reduce because of loss of public ‘rights of way’. This argument has no validity in Scotland, It has no logic, in fact it is nonsense.
            Clearly the Panda’s want to defend the non dom and/or tax subsidised 532 owners of 1/2 Scotland by attacking ‘Nat’s’ so tell me, in pish poor grammar if you fancy, how is the old ‘why oh why are Nat’s’ bad bad bad argument working out for you ?

          • 2fishypoliticians

            No, dear Adam, I was actually referring to the part of your reply outside the quote marks. By way in your last reply, you need to get your possessive apostrophe marks in the right place. Your last ranting comment suggests your mind has gone completely off the rails, or perhaps it wasn’t on them to begin with. Goodbye.

          • lobotomisedjournalist

            Well, hardly any Scots live in the Highlands and Islands, so they are as foreign to the lowlanders and city dwellers as they are to most English. This Nationalist smugness and arrogance reveals an ill-bred temperament as well as a deluded sense of belonging. You shouldn’t have any say about the wild areas unless you have a real connection there. Most of those in the cities don’t.

          • Noel Darlow

            What on earth is an “ill-bred” temperament?

            People who go on about “breeding” must be at least two centuries behind the times.

          • Jambo25

            No they are not. I spend half the week living in rural Dumfriesshire and its as underpopulated as large areas of the Highlands. People here are no more foreign to me than people living a few miles away from my Edinburgh house who live in West or East Lothian. I am no more foreign to someone from New Galloway than a chap who lives in Moniaive. All the Highlands constituencies and 2 of the Borders ones are now SNP seats.

          • Muawiyah

            By American and Canadian standards hardly any Scots at all live anywhere near Scotland ~ as we more progressive sorts know it, ALBA!

        • The_greyhound

          You won’t see many nationalists offering to live on those lovely hills. There would be nowhere close by to cash their giro cheques.

        • rtj1211

          Trust me, they are as beautiful as anything on earth. You can run on some, walk on some, climb on some, climb ice on some in winter, you can see for 100 miles on a fine day, you can develop humility at the force of nature (most notably 70mph horizontal spindrift or driving rain) and you can see vistas to bring tears to your eyes.

          If you want any child of yours to develop character, then send them to roam the hills of Scotland. If they are energetic, feisty, tough and resilient, they will absolutely have a ball…….

          • davidofkent

            Of course they are all that. At the moment, anybody can enjoy them walking the hills etc. Unfortunately, they are only good, in purely economic terms, for sheep and a few head of cattle. Tourists can already come and spend their money so that won’t improve; indeed it could reduce because of loss of public ‘rights of way’. It will take a while before the Scottish people realise that the SNP are selling them pups.

          • fatweegee

            do you know much about public access rights in Scotland?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Nonsense…….

          • Jackie Dawson

            Agreed……..its life changing.

          • Caractacus

            Bollocks on a stick. Send them to Wales. Our hills are better than your hills. No sodding midges for a start.

      • The_greyhound

        It’s drivel, like so much nationalist propaganda.

        This isn’t about more equal ownership, but about the power of the corrupt SNP, the most centralist and authoritarian force in British politics today.

        • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

          ha….ha….. You truly are a colonial britnat clown.

          • GAM

            Is being unpleasant a shrewd Nat campaign tactic to annoy RuK into wanting separation, or are you and many other cybernats genuinely so?

          • Kennybhoy

            Aye. I have speculated previously hereabouts that he is a unionist false flag operative. On the presumption that he is for real I have invited him to broadcast his keech as far and as wide and as loudly as possible! :-)

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            ha….ha……. Turn it up ya kid on Tim…. HH

          • Newton Unthank

            Let’s hear you defend the SNP’s centralisation of the police and fire services, then.

          • eclair

            Speaking as a colonial britnat clown, even the SNP in all its selfmade glory cannot steam into ownership of Scottish land or any other land as things stand in the UK politically and legally just now…suggest you stuff the white pudding in batter somewhere nice and comfortable and take a seat at the back.

        • Jackie Dawson

          Utter ranting nonsense….

        • speedyreidy

          Shut up idiot.

      • davidofkent

        They will, of course, have nothing to live on unless they bring their own sheep and their own tourists.

      • Jackie Dawson

        Even just the correct managing of deer and grouse, will make such a difference, along with real tree planting and removing the shooting exemptions for this large estates. If they are running a business like the local hairdresser they should be paying their way.

    • Mboyle1888

      RE: The most antiquated land ownership system in Europe- believe it or not, feudalism was only abolished in Scotland in 2004. Institutions like the Church of Scotland were still “earning” tens of thousands a year from feudal land contracts.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4048529.stm

      • Jackie Dawson

        Yes , people don’t realise just how its tied into land contracts. You should read “The poor had no Lawyers” will open your eyes.

      • Cymrugel

        Indeed.
        Hard to believe and yet it is so.

    • monty61

      I’m no Gnat but I’m 100% on board with this. Nice post.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        No….. You are a bitter Brit-Gnat with 1 MP in Scotland

    • Jackie Dawson

      Agreed, the land is not being worked / managed correctly. Scotland is owned by third parties, not by Scotland. By people who stay in other countries who have no responsibilities to the people living there. The land reform will change things for the better in Scotland and if your a Landowner doing the right things, you will have nothing to worry about.

    • anton mcgrath

      Absolutely! Well put too. The whining sense of M’Lord Astor’s entitlement is typical of those who assume it is their god given role to better the lots of the serfs …

    • Curnonsky

      Just as everywhere else this sort of confiscatory “land reform” is imposed, all the best properties will wind up in the hands of well-connected McComrades – as in Uganda, Nicaragua, or any other backwater ruled by corrupt nationalist demagogues.

      • Cymrugel

        Yes of course.
        Anyone who wants to change anything must be a mad extremist.
        Far better to leave the whole of Scotland as a rich mans playground.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        Utter pish you bitter, colonial Brit-Nat bigot.

    • Dale

      Best comment I’ve ever seen in the Spectory!

    • Steve

      Agree, Great post. Astor is a prime example of a ‘special interest’ not ‘benefiting the community’. His rant against land reform is laughable.

      Note that Tarbert Estate is owned by Altar ­Properties
      Limited in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.

    • defective unit

      If the reason it is left standing is due to generous tax breaks, then why not just remove the tax breaks rather than violating someone’s property rights?

      • Cymrugel

        That will happen too.
        Personally I don’t think anyone has the “right” to own half of Sutherland or wherever.

    • Willard BINNS

      Can’t imagine too many Weegies, or incoming Geordies, would sacrifice their entitlement to benefits to take up a career in crofting…; might appeal to some industrious Poles etc…

      • Cymrugel

        Actually there is a ajor shortage of land for crofting.
        Don’t be such a snobby arse.

    • Caractacus

      Land grabs worked so well in Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

      • Cymrugel

        A couple of hundred people own most of Scotland.
        Imposing a land ceiling is hardly a land grab.
        What advantage is there to Scotland in having most of its area owned by a few toffs who shoot grouse on it and register the pace overseas?
        Genuine question.

      • PetaJ

        And a lot of other countries too.

    • Fraziel

      Great reply.I voted No and dont agree with a lot of SNP policy especially on education ,The Police and state guardians but they are right on the money on this one and i bet the public will be massively behind them too.

    • Chris Golightly

      Cymrugel: Very well said. Extremely well put. The perfect riposte. The Mugabe comparison is most ill-advised and the man shall not be allowed to forget that. The Scotland he describes seems slightly lop-sided to say the least! The SNP result was precisely “Democracy in Action”. A vote against Mr. Cameron et al and what they would continue to mean for the vast majority of Scottish people. David, George and his little team speak very much with forked tongues. One must always look to what they do and not at what they say. There have been faults on both sides leading to the split. But at the end of the day if all this utterly pointless dysfunctional dislike and discord leads to Scottish Independence it will be a very sad day indeed.

    • Muawiyah

      1702 was a very very very good year for Virginia ~ that vast area between the NY/PA state line and the VA/NC state line (as drawn originally by King Filipe II/III pursuant to instructions in the Treaty of London -1604)

      Virtually ALL of the Alexander clan came here then, and those that didn’t arrived later on ~ about 1730 ~ and all those who came then went to the same places the Alexanders who came between 1611 and 1638 went ~

      The “natives” continue to do well ~ as do all the other clans from the Islands. Going back further we find the earliest clans, cousin to the Alexanders, arriving in Madeira… then Sierra Leone ~ from the clan properties in Galiza (Galicia and Braga). My own surname, in three of its most common spellings (those folks all being highly illiterate) is scattered across the globe retracing the discoveries and settlements wrongly credited to Portugal! A modern gazateer on the internet allows everyone to look up every neighborhood, ancient or modern and what a picture that is for that European THRUST into the world.

      American settlement and the depopulation of the Celtic Fringe (Alba, North Wales, South Wales, Scota, Brittany, Galiza, Wales and Cornwall) ~ go hand in hand, detail by detail, even down to the common custom of RENAMING every place after the old place ~ and maybe changing some spelling here and there.

      The natives are not coming back. Give it to the Pakis for all that. The weather is much better in North America! (Oh, and Cuba)

      • Cymrugel

        what a load of tripe

        • Muawiyah

          Thanks to the British mismanagement of America we Scottish, Irish, etc. descendants were there when you really needed us…..

          Can you imagine America without almost ALL the Celts!

  • JoeCro

    If the millions of acres of land in rural Scotland ‘owned’ by a few hundred individuals is such poor quality why are they so desperate to hold onto it? Scotland has the most unequal land ownership in the developed world, it is not something to be proud of, governments should be free to legislate to change this dreadful waste of Scotland’s natural resources. Bringing Scotland into line with our European neighbours would bring huge benefits to the majority and regenerate the rural areas of Scotland.

    • Gerschwin

      Natural resource?!? Nope. It’s not a natural resource. And bringing Scotland into line with our European neighbours? Really? Name them, name their laws, state the impact and effect of those laws on land, state the history and background to those law – you haven’t a clue. You’re just making it up as you go along and running to Wikipedia when you get caught out, which you’ll do right now.

      • Cath Ferguson

        Land is not a natural resource? Really? And as for other countries, Scotland has the most outdated and unequal land ownership of any developed country, so you can go any look at any other one you choose as a case study comparison. You might want to start with places like Norway and Sweden though.

        • Gerschwin

          Aha Cath darling, this is where the meat rubs the marrow – define outdated, define unequal – what does up to date look like? What does equal look like? You don’t know, no one knows, that’s the beauty of it. It looks like whatever you want it to look like but only when you’ve bled it all dry.

          • chrisdarroch .

            If you have to descend into philosophy and ask for definitions of the highly relative and actually utilitarian then you are losing the debate.

            Apart from that however. The land is not alive enough to be bled much. It is being wasted for subsidy.

            The only blood letting is that of the tax avoidance scams etc perpetrated by these landowners.

          • The_greyhound

            Gerschwin is doing a fine job of trashing the nationalists’ hysterical nonsense. It’s your sad mates that are on the defensive. As usual.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Wrong.

          • Cath Ferguson

            400 people owning half the land in Scotland and the House of Lords are two the first places you’d look for a picture of “outdated” and unequal, dearest heart.

          • Gerschwin

            And your definition sweets? And what does ‘equal’ actually look like or is it just as much or as little as you want to get your thieving little hands on – do tell.

      • Jackie Dawson

        It will make a huge impact to the people who reply on it, not just as a holiday home. The people who own these estates but pay little to no tax on it or run businesses and pay no tax on it. The guns and shooting done, pay no business tax. So if the local hair dresser has to pay, they should to.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      Well said

    • Major Plonquer

      Without respect for property rights – real or intellectual – Scotland or any other country will be an international pariah. The comparison with Mugabe is 100% correct.

      • Brian

        You recognise pariah very well. Is it self awareness in the same way as your nom de plume?

      • Jackie Dawson

        wrong…….

    • Jackie Dawson

      They don’t farm it, get tax breaks on it.

  • John Carins

    Get out now whilst you can.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    People like William Astor have no place in a modern Scotland. They represent the past and not the future.

    • Patrick Roy

      Now you’re sounding like a racist, classist, AND a sociofascist. Who DOES belong in Scotland?

      • The Bogle

        It sounds like: “He that is not for us is against us.” Doesn’t a democracy allow for alternative voices?

        • Patrick Roy

          What democracy? Hear the drumbeat of sociofascist nationalism, xenophobia, preposterously nostalgic longings for yesteryear, leading to eventual economic isolation. Hope they can work on those tourism numbers.

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Fud

          • Patrick Roy

            Thud, another deer down.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

        Those who rightfully pay their due taxes.

        • Major Plonquer

          Aha! So you mean the English belong in Scotland. Everyone in the world knows Scots don’t pay their fair share and are subsidized.

          • chrisdarroch .

            We have underwritten your world.

          • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

            Utter pish you Anti-Scottish bigot

          • Gerschwin

            Kerching! Bring another round of drinks!

          • Stewart Dredge

            ….a situation which, unlike William Astor, you would no doubt like to change. Of course, Scotland is not “subsidised” by anyone but it is odd that those who believe it is also seem to be the ones who constantly argue for the status quo.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Wrong, Scotland has paid higher tax then the whole UK over the last 34 years.

        • Patrick Roy

          Go to cold hill in Scotland. Repeat the words “Barnett Formula” 100 times. Stop. Notice how quiet it is. And how cold.

      • Malcolm McCandless

        Sounds like you have run out of “ists” there. I prefer realist myself.

        • Patrick Roy

          Hope you have lots of tour”ists”.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Very much what Mugabe and his gang said all along about the “white settlers” who actually built Rhodesia and made it remarkably prosperous – and peaceable, until the terrs came along.

    • Grant Melville

      I don’t know. Scotland requires investment, and investment from within communities. Wealthy estate owners who’re willing to invest in developments which provide employment in the local area – surely that can’t be a wholly bad thing? Golf courses and distilleries provide jobs and draw tourists. In my view, it’s better that the people developing these things are rooted in the community (even if they’ve only been there for a couple of generations), rather than someone from foreign parts dropping in and putting everybody’s backs up, à la Donald Trump.

      • chrisdarroch .

        A Phillipine company owning the Jura distillery isn’t that local of course but investment can be a managed process and as long as this is done well local or not, it shouldn’t matter too much.

        But the issue is not with investment per se but with the investees ownership of giant tracts of land that they are receiving tax breaks and subsidies from while preventing others from using that land more effectively for less dubious and more productive purposes.

        • Grant Melville

          Yes, exactly, investment can be done well even from afar, particularly when it’s in existing institutions. Emperador Inc isn’t, of course, alone in the international community in owning a Scottish distillery, and most of our distilleries are in foreign hands. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say categorically that that’s a bad thing.

          I see what you mean about land-use. I’m not in the business of land management, so I’m probably missing something key, but I do wonder what on earth one could use most of the hilly upland moorland parts of Scotland for anyway? They’re not much good for grazing, I don’t think they’d be particularly good for forestry either, and they’re free to use for recreation as it is. I studied a bit of ecology and habitat management at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, and I seem to remember that grouse-moor is generally a pretty good habitat in terms of species diversity: it ain’t a barren wasteland anyway. I’m sure there are untapped resources there, but my concern would be that the bonnie face of Scotland might be irrevocably changed (perhaps not for the better) with sweeping land use reform.

      • Cath Ferguson

        You really think Lord Astor is “rooted in the community” in Jura? He owns it (or his kids do) via a non-taxpaying trust overseas and visits in the summer.

        • Grant Melville

          I would say that, although he personally isn’t living and working on the island, he does have a family connection through his grandparents. It may not be a particularly deep root, but it’s a root nonetheless. And investment is investment. Paying taxes as well would be an added bonus, but I think we have to take what we can get. What I’m getting at really is that the Astors and their counterparts throughout Scotland do more good than harm.

    • HJ777

      What are you proposing?

      To expel people you think “don’t belong in a modern Scotland”?

      What if someone decides you don’t belong?

    • Jackie Dawson

      Astor has a fear of change, he has ruled his roost for so long, he is entrenched and knows no other way.

  • The Bogle

    When the bold kindred, in the time long-vanish’d,
    Conquer’d the soil and fortified the keep, —
    No seer foretold the children would be banish’d,
    That a degenerate Lord might boast his sheep:

    Fair these broad meads — these hoary woods are grand;
    But we are exiles from our fathers’ land.

    From: Canadian Boat Song

    But would the descendants of those cleared from the Highlands have wished to return to Scotland or did they fashion a better life in Canada than if they had remained in Scotland?

    • JoeCro

      Do the descendants of slaves living in the United States have a better life then those that remained in Africa- probably. It does not mean however that slavery or the ethnic cleansing of the Highlands was correct.

      • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”
      • The Bogle

        At the time of the Clearances, 20000 people lived on Skye. Today some 8000 do. The Clearances cannot be justified, but do the figures not indicate that the Highlands could not sustain such a large population? Emigration would doubtless have taken place, but it was the eviction that was wrong.

  • Mirrorballman

    Was this written by Samantha Cameron’s stepfather??

  • Eddie

    “Is it because we don’t sound Scottish? We should not all have to sound like Rob Roy. If the SNP wants us all to speak with a certain type of Scottish accent, what does that say to the many hundreds of thousands in the immigrant community who have lived in Scotland for a long time but still speak with the accent of their birth? Are they not Scottish?”

    This is one of the most empty-headed pieces of casuistry I’ve seen in a long while. Was there no better way to pad-out the article?

  • Andrew Leslie

    Whenever this subject arises it always provokes more heat than light, and Mugabe is usually referenced to throw land reform proposals into a bad light. It might be more useful if people, such as the author of the above, stopped making groundless assumptions and actually read what is proposed. A good starting point is this: http://www.andywightman.com/briefings/docs/briefing_7.pdf

  • http://weourselves.com/ Christian Wright

    William Waldorf Astor III, 4th Viscount Astor is worried that forthcoming legislation requires that surviving siblings have equal equity in the inherited estate, rather than it being claimed in its entirety by the eldest son.

    Now, is that a land grab by the Scottish Government? The government will take no land. The law will insist that the land property, the estate, be fairly shared between the off spring of the deceased owner, REGARDLESS OF THEIR GENDER OR BIRTH ORDER. What exactly is William Waldorf Astor III’s problem with that? This is 2015, not 1815.

    Mugabe-style land grab? Really? Where?

    I will say that the 4th Viscount Astor demonstrates remarkable chutzpah in this brazen attempt to mislead. If you could melt that essence down, it would comprise naught but several stone of brass neck and a few trace elements. Neither residual ethic nor any mark of moral principle would be found.

    “But let them not forget the other 50 per cent who did not vote for them, whose voice still matters.”

    Are you implying that that 50% supports your continued unjust and soon to be outlawed feudal practices? They don’t.

    No Viscount, your voice will be given the weight it deserves, along with the rest of the 1% who between them own half of Scotland.

    • WFC

      This is a very Britain-centred view of history.

      Large parts of Europe had the inheritance system you are proposing – that’s why there are so many “counts” and “princes” from places like Poland – including parts of England, Wales and Ireland: see (eg) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavelkind

      Why don’t you look to see how well the system operated in those places, before congratulating yourselves on having invented an inheritance system which has been around since time immemorial?

      • chrisdarroch .

        I didn’t see any self congratulation on having invented the system !

        • WFC

          The “this is 2015 not 1815” rather implies that he believes this to be a brand new “progressive” inheritance system, rather than a return to one which is as old as the hills.

          • tomjol

            I think it implies that he thinks the system as it currently exists is out of date, nothing more.

            What exactly is your point? Just discrediting other commenters?

          • chrisdarroch .

            I concur.

          • WFC

            My point is, where is the analysis of what happened in those places where this proposed change was, for a very long time, the norm?

            Was it all sugar and spice, and all things nice?

          • tomjol

            I’m all for making policy based on evidence, but am struggling to see any downsides to this proposal in 2015. Personally I would go much further but no doubt that makes me a dirty pinko wet leg.

            Furthermore, if that was your point, you should have made it earlier instead of attacking things that weren’t said. Nobody claimed to have invented anything.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Agreed. @WFC You were disingenuous not to admit that you had made an erroneous inference but instead went on to repeat and abbreviate your main point.

          • WFC

            Three points, really.

            (1) it’s been done, but there is no indication that the results have been considered

            (2) the concept that the current system is “out of date” doesn’t square very well with replacing it with an even older system (hence the inference, reasonably drawn (IMO), that they believe they have invented a brand new system); and

            (3) far from being “progressive”, this – together with some of the other proposals being mentioned – would actually take Scottish land law back to (English) feudal (and some pre-feudal) land tenure: when land title was conditional, rather than absolute, and carried express responsibilities (to the Crown and/or Church), and it’s alienability and devolution was controlled by the powers that be.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Point (1)
            You have already indicated your own lack of knowledge on any proposals so I cannot see how you could have determined that there has been insufficient result considerations

            Point (2)
            Again, you are not sure which system is really replacing anything here and have intimated a concern over unstudied outcomes elsewhere in Europe while simultaneously implying your own lack of knowledge as to the quality of those very outcomes. The reference to your inference on invention remains unsupported.

            Point (3)
            Cannot fairly comment on this as I have insufficient knowledge of the systems mentioned.

          • WFC

            I was discussing the proposal as stated by Christian Wright.

            I agree that I don’t know where he got it from.

            I also agree that I’ve made no study of the places where all children inherited equally, but I am not proposing to introduce a similar system. For all I know, it might have had much better consequences than primogeniture (although “better” depends on what you mean by “good”).

            But I do think that those proposing this change might want to find out.

          • WFC

            Have you looked for any “downsides”?

          • tomjol

            Sigh. Not in great detail, on account of my not being that invested in the idea.

            Thanks for confirming my original suspicion, anyway.

    • Jackie Dawson

      Well said……

  • chrisdarroch .

    I put a nicer roof on the crofts around me and fixed that path from my mansion to the beach so that I could photograph the sharks and seals a’basking.

    Don’t look at the grotesque volume of my ownership and the subsidies I receive for wasting land.

    Look at my photies of the playful seal pup what !!

  • Peter Stroud

    Surely the SNP would not be so stupid. Or would they?

  • Molly NooNar

    It is nice to see the wealthiest worried, quite frankly, that if they don’t up their game they may get some unpleasant surprises. By that I don’t mean that they are in danger of a land grab or any punitive regime imposed upon them that unfairly targets them for their wealth- this is just scaremongering, nor would I even support that. What I mean is that the wealthiest should be ambassadors for the system that they cling to and claim ‘gives prosperity to everyone.’ Because why would anyone support this capitalist system that produces wealthy people that doggedly oppose the public interest, cover up and distort the truth for the benefits of their businesses and shareholdings, and seek massive influence over the media (see the Telegraph and Peter Oborne’s resignation) and politicians to control the agenda to favour their interests exclusively? We have seen with fracking as an excellent example, the massive rise in ‘Lords of the manor,’ these great estate holders threatening the poorest and crushing them in order to get a nice fracking payday. How nice to see the tables turning. Well boys, now you’ll have to prove you actually do work for the public good, that is until you manage to squirrel your way into the SNP so they end up like the rest of the political parties (some might argue this already is the case- Donald Trump being a good example).

    If businesses do not work for the benefit and sustainability of the environment and public health then it must be wholly reformed so that it does. Of course, this won’t happen under a Tory government and this fear of the uber rich is now palpable as they desperately try to convince Labour that it lost the election due to its anti-wealth policies (despite evidence to the contrary). This is another sign that the wealthy don’t want to face up to the reality of working for the public good, instead they want to control the politicians and the media so that they serve at their leisure. It’s time someone challenged the status quo, a big up to the SNP if they start the shake-up so desperately needed.

  • James

    The SNP are a disaster for Scotland – they’ve decimated the state education system, decimated the further education system north of the border, trapped people in dependency and scapegoated the successful – and yet somehow they don’t get the scrutiny they deserve. Is their dumbing down tactic working already??

    • chrisdarroch .

      Hahaha !!! Students in England leave their courses with an average of £45,000 in debt. What a great gift to the future of your children. Usury.

      • James

        Hahaha !!! Not like it functions like debt: it doesn’t come up on any credit ratings, gets reimbursed if you don’t pay it off, and you don’t get some hoodies with baseball bats coming after you if you miss a payment. To all extents and purposes, student debt acts like a tax. Remind me why there are proportionately much fewer disadvantaged students at Scottish universities?

        • chrisdarroch .

          I think you will find it is not only a burden to students and seen as a burden by prospective ones but that in time it will likely progress towards the kind of very dominant burden that the kids in the US experience where it does affect your credit situation etc.

          There are already new tax levels added to the debt in England.

          In addition, there are affects on the public purse which are hidden.

          Where is the money coming from?
          What affect do the mass write offs have?

          • James

            The entire UK has a problem with people going to uni to do piss poor degrees which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and accumulating student debt in the process which they’ll never, ever pay back – but tuition fees do need an overhaul anyway. Not having tuition fees clearly doesn’t help the most disadvantaged in Scotland though.

          • chrisdarroch .

            I agree. This is a problem. The young have increasing difficulty in finding a future. It has not been provided them and so many turn to the fiction of higher education for improving their employability.

            That is dreadful.

          • James

            Meeja Studeez? Just go to ITN or similar aged 18 and get a job….
            Tuition fees should be a link between uni and student, so the student agrees to pay a certain amount of their income after uni up to a certain amount to their university. Makes it more personal and means universities have more interest in producing quality students. The universities that can’t do this close down or rebrand and don’t charge tuition fees.

          • chrisdarroch .

            I think it should be free but that the Unis should be supported by other means and quality regulation.

            I feel the same for students. A social pressure to quality is better than a pure financial pressure.

          • Jackie Dawson

            How does NOT having debt at the end of their education, not help the most disadvantaged ?

          • James

            How does the most disadvantaged not going to university in the first place benefit them? The higher tuition fees that universities charge go towards helping the least well off get in – ie those who pay subsidise those who normally wouldn’t.

      • JoeCro

        The SNP are not responsible for English higher education policy.

        • chrisdarroch .

          No. But if you are to compare the policies of the SNP with the rUK then this matter alone is a huge credit to the SNP promise to keep higher education free.

        • Jackie Dawson

          No but it if they can hold the government to account and try to stop putting the kinds in debt it will be a good thing

    • Gerschwin

      Of course they’ve trapped people in dependency, they will trap as many as they can, it is their will and intention to do so, as the Labour Party have done in the past, it’s how the left get into power – raise the spectre of the Tory Bogeyman and throw the poor endless state dependent scraps then sit back and watch them turn out and vote for you. SNP have learned well from Labour.

      • chrisdarroch .

        The SNP are the only party to attempt to provide quality in support for the poor and in support for the progression of the poor.

        Not only the poor however.

        They are centre left and will respect business, the need for entrepreneurship and wealth generation.

        • Gerschwin

          Is that Page 3 of the manifesto?

      • chrisdarroch .

        Tories tend to extract wealth and filter it up to ever smaller groups. It is the natural result of the Right just as the far Left is similarly unworkable.

        • Gerschwin

          Nonsense. Tories create and cherish wealth, provide platforms for advancement, take the poor out of dependency and push them into productivity, and they don’t stand for the kind of aggressive sentimental self-pity that’s become the new Scottish trademark – they made Scotland, you’re just too full of resentment to understand it.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Tories do create and cherish wealth but that process is tapered towards a niche grouping.

            Any platforms for advancement come at a price which is usually a tax, designed to extract wealth primarily and quality secondarily, which ultimately becomes self defeating and leads to bubble economics.

            It’s a form of Ritalin economics.

            Their wealth creation does not support the idea of fairness for more people and thus the tapering of wealth distribution and eventual inconsistency in quality across tho board which leads to bubble popping economies.

          • Gerschwin

            Well, many thanks for your McEconomics theory. Meanwhile, in the real world real people with real jobs earn a living, put food on the table, take the family on holiday, fix the roof, buy a couple of plants for the garden and don’t worry about intangible rubbish like fairness because they know it’s just a left wing excuse to take their salary.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Tell that to the many who are without pension provision and the many who work to live, just.

            Tell that to the many who are indebted and who eventually will have to pay for healthcare.

            Your argument is only sound in soundbite form.

            The numbers belie the theory.

            If you cannot supply security and quality of opportunity and life for a greater majority of your citizens then your political philosophy is not functioning well.

          • chrisdarroch .

            Tell it to the increasing numbers of working poor.

            To the students realising that they will have to move countries to find opportunity or that they were duped into debt for a degree that brings no real workplace advantage.

            To the increasing numbers of low paid.

            To the many who realise that their savings are decreasing in value in the bank.

          • Krusty

            What shite you speak.

          • Jackie Dawson

            You talk nonsense, that’s why austerity is not working. Wealth trickles up, people with no money spend what they have. People with money save it, send it abroad…

      • chrisdarroch .

        Tories like hoards of poor too as they are easily manipulated and may not even vote.

      • Jackie Dawson

        Nonsense…….

    • Jackie Dawson

      nonsense..

  • Barba Rossa

    At Least the SNP will do something about the “Reservations” .. now it is within their power to do so… We didn’t expect much of the Tories.. but Labour to their eternal disgrace again sided with the Tories…

    How dare those Jocks come down here and influence our decisions.

    https://www.facebook.com/shaun.moore.9/videos/vb.100000652158274/990450340986695/?type=2&theater

  • ohforheavensake

    Just realised: you’re David Cameron’s father-in-law, aren’t you?

    I now feel even less sympathy for you.

  • Fried Ch’i

    Landowners, i.e. the Church.
    Who will step forward and say they care about them, today?

    • ohforheavensake

      Hopefully nobody. We’ve moved on, which is a good thing.

      • Fried Ch’i

        Well, at least the current [edit: vice-]chair of the 22 is now also Church Commissioner ex officio. Beats a Muslim of Pakistani descent fulfilling that role, doesn’t it?

  • dba_vagabond_trader

    Agenda 21, the modern version of land clearances.

  • Crebwyll

    Land Grabs? Isn’t that you guys’ specialty?

    • justejudexultionis

      It is a Tory speciality. They have sold off just about every UK asset to their Cayman Islands chums. Traitors.

  • Stewart Dredge

    “We worry that the SNP have concentrated power in the few. They brook no dissent. ” This from one of a handful of landowners who own Jura! Have these people no sense of self-awareness at all?
    Is William really saying that new distilleries, roaming deer, rights of walkers to roam and trout lochs can only be delivered by land owners like him? Is he really saying that the management policies he and his fellow landowners have delivered recently amount to a sustainable socio-economic system for Jura? Scotland’s eighth biggest island has a population of only a few hundred and is owned mostly by landlords who live elsewhere for most of the year.
    My wife is from the neighbouring island of Islay and we know many people who were born on Jura. Remaining on the island into adulthood, to live, work and bring up their own children in a viable community on their native island was never an option for them. Is that something to boast about, William Astor?
    The Scandinavian countries are also blessed with wide open spaces and their more modern forms of land-ownership have created vibrant, sustainable, diverse local communities all over the area. Scotland needs to learn from their experiences and the first step on that path must be a radical reform of its own near-medieval land ownership system.
    One last word on the subject of comparing Nicola Sturgeon to Robert Mugabe. It is this kind of daft, negative, scaremongering hyperbole from the SNP’s opponents which exposed the lack of creative vision at the heart of broken old Britain. Empty scaremongering was a major factor in raising the Yes vote from about 25% in the opinion polls at the start of the year to 45% in September 2014 and was key to the SNP’s gaining 50% in 2015. Clearly it is easier to demonise Nicola Sturgeon as a Mugabe figure than engage on the fruitless task of trying to persuade Scots that an 18 hole golf course or another foreign-owned distillery will save Jura but if William Astor wants to retain influence in Jura and Scotland he should cut out the puerile insults and prepare to sit down and engage with Ms Sturgeon and her popular, democratically-elected government.

    • justejudexultionis

      What do the likes of Astor care for the poor or ordinary people? Their god is money and they think only of themselves, the godless hypocrites.

    • Hamburger

      Please explain a more modern means of possessing land than legal ownership.
      As far as Scandinavia goes, their system is vey similar to yours.

  • Mboyle1888

    *Yawns*

    Tory Lord playing the victim card and trying to imply (without much substance) that land reform is racist/ xenophobic.

    The “Mugabe-style” rhetoric is hyperbole at its worst.

  • Perseus Slade

    Hey the English were dispossessed of the land by the enclosures of the nobles too.
    Time they gave it all back and it was shared out fairly.
    Where is Wat Tyler when you need him?

  • The_greyhound

    Scotland remains part of the UK, and its mickey mouse administration entirely under the control of the UK Government. It’s too poor to afford fiscal autonomy, let alone independence, and there remains no evidence that if either were offered, it would be acceptable to the electorate.

    The goose stepping creeps of the SNP may squawk about land redistribution, but as we have learned over the last eight years, their talk is cheap.

    The SNP delivers nothing.

    • SNP “AJOCKALYPSE”

      A pathetic comment from a pathetic colonial britnat bigot.

      • Gerschwin

        Colonial Britnat bigot…Hoorah! Charge your glasses lads that’s three more fingers down the hatch!

        • justejudexultionis

          Are you nuts?

          • Gerschwin

            Those too are always good for a drinking game! Chocs away!

      • justejudexultionis

        So true. Their hatred of Scotland and the north of England is palpable. Their ignorance even more so.

    • justejudexultionis

      ‘It’s too poor to afford fiscal autonomy’ —

      By that ‘logic’ the Republic of Ireland is not a viable state and should be returned to British rule.

      • Cath Ferguson

        By that logic the bankrupt UK shouldn’t be independent and should be begging Brussels to take control fully.

        • justejudexultionis

          By your logic all countries that are not England (or, indeed, merely the southern portion thereof) are to despised for the hubris of asserting their historical and cultural autonomy…

          You madam, are an imperialist.

    • Jackie Dawson

      Yet they took 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland so that really under minds your comic comment.

  • Meanwhile In Scotia

    I have every sympathy in the world for William Waldorf Astor III, 4th Viscount Astor – life is so unfair on him!

    • justejudexultionis

      It must be awful being so rich!

  • justejudexultionis

    ‘We worry that the SNP have concentrated power in the few. They brook no dissent.’ —

    What a joke. Scotland has feudal levels of land ownership, the most unequal distribution of land in the entire western world. Literally half of Scotland is owned by just 500 people. It is entirely right that these vast estates, which serve no purpose other than to provide trivial sports amusement for the international rich and landed aristocracy should be brought back into community ownership. This is not communism, it is natural justice, a necessary correction to hundreds of years of persecution, exploitation and ethnic cleansing of the Gael.

    Tha m’fhearann saibhir. Tha m’fhearann SAOR.

    • The_greyhound

      The fascistic nature of the SNP, its hatred of dissent, the free press and freedom of expression are beyond dispute.

      You omitted to mention that the persecution, exploitation and ethnic cleansing of the Gael was in all cases perpetrated by the Gael. But there, one wouldn’t expect a nationalist to know, let alone acknowledge, anything about Scotland’s past.

      If you advocate “returning” the land to the highlanders’ descendents, now American, Canadian and Australian citizens, you should say so. Otherwise people will merely suspect that you are proposing a land grab by the useless but power hungry Holyrood mafia.

      On a positive note, I must say it’s nice to see you are still keeping up your Irish language studies. Stick at it : you may one day become proficient.

      • LG

        What? the Countess of Sutherland a gael? Now I didn’t know that…

      • justejudexultionis

        Those ‘Gaels’ whom you allege to have persecuted other Gaels were, by the late eighteenth-century, hardly Gaels at all, having abandoned their former customs and allegiance to their kinfolk, as well as their ancient Gaelic language, in favour of the alien customs and governmental system imposed on them by an Edinburgh government entirely subsumed within the Westminster imperial system. To describe the Highland chiefs who carried out the Clearances as being in any sense ‘Gaels’ is clearly risible and contrary to all the evidence. The Highland chiefs of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were merely agents of the British state, determined to wipe out the ancient Celtic societies in favour of some bogus tartan fantasy invented by romantics such as Scott.

  • rtj1211

    I guess the ultimate question is what level of ‘barriers to entry’ you want to have in Scottish landowning. The more concentrated the ownership, the smaller the number of people who could take on land, which is either good or bad depending on how you see it.

    The other question is always: ‘if as a private landowner you do not come close to optimising revenue returns from the land, to the detriment of the economy of the country, why should it be solely your decision to decide how to carry on in future?’

    My take on these things is that if there is an issue it is because the perception is, right or wrong, that the landowners are taking the proverbial pisch……..

  • justejudexultionis

    These huge estates in Scotland should be rewilded to their original natural state. The Caledonian Forest used to cover most of the Highlands. Such a project would be a massive boost to tourism and clear away these artificial estates with their absurd ‘sports’ culture.

  • The_greyhound

    The article misses a key point. Scotland isn’t going anywhere – it doesn’t have a political future as an entity at all. The nationalist failure has left the country deeply and bitterly divided.

    Dung heaps like Dundee can take their independence – no one will miss them – but the largest (in a physical sense) part of Scotland has chosen, and will chose, to remain part of the United Kingdom.

    So how little Jimmy Krankie chooses to divide up her back yard with Fat Slags for Independence and the rest of her adhesive-abusing supporters will be of little or no concern to the rest of us.

  • paulus

    A system of primogeniture appear to the modern eye as an iniquitous system
    especially when bound to an emotive subject such as the highland clearances, a
    traumatic and still resonant experience for the Scottish people and their descendant’s scattered all over the World. And only a hard heart could not listen to it.

    However, the arguments stated at the time of the clearances still hold true. An ever dimshing land holding in an adverse agricultural environment
    would have seen a subsistence living turn into famine situation within a few
    generations.

    Ireland, where division of the land went to all siblings, rapidly saw peoples inheritance turn into little more than a cabbage patch with famine and blight devastate the entire population.

    Land held in that business model is not a resource it is a trap and a
    burden, as we can observe today in less developed parts of the World.

    An emotive subject is rarely held to reason. But one benefit that has emerged from Scotland’s land holding arrangement is that the Land itself has been kept in a state of nature.

    Stewardship by hereditary principle has gifted Scotland a natural and undisturbed
    highlands, it has by default exercised a duty in the steward to maintaining the
    natural environment, an environment that is a jewel in the Scottish crown.

    Although, not a profitable endeavor compared to other forms of investment
    return, the land holding has to be of a sufficient size for Landholder to feel
    a sense of obligation to maintaining these estates, so therefore, in a sense
    the Land has an obligation to the family who takes on this stewardship.

    Diminish the viability of the holding and the obligation between land and
    land holder will be broken and in that situation the Scottish people would
    suffer an immense loss.

    • MickC

      A reasoned and sensible contribution to an extremely emotional debate.

      I was once told that most Scottish estates make little or no profit, and generally have to be subsidised by their owners (if they are wealthy enough to do so). Are there any figures on this?

      If the estates are broken up, the various owners will be holding a small amount of a factory which cannot survive except as a whole entity.

      • JoeCro

        If there is so little money to be made why are the ‘owners’ of this land so desperate to hold onto it?

        • MickC

          I’m not sure they are desperate to hold on to them. Some owners sold before the pre-emption laws took effect. For some, I think the “prestige” of having a large chunk of land must be a factor in continuing to keep them; but those are the really wealthy. The smaller ones will presumably sell.

          Also I don’t actually know the economics of the estates, which is why I asked if anyone could refer to any real figures.

          It is difficult to see what can be done with large amounts of vertical land, other than the present use. Tourism is already a major industry; could it be increased without destroying what people actually go for?

          For myself, I think Scotland is a fantastic country, nice people, good food, great scenery….and I was pleased it gave the Westminster elite a good kicking. And I go for a week every year and spend quite a bit of my hard earned there.

          I just worry that the good will be destroyed trying to get rid of the bad.

    • JoeCro

      The Highlands are not a natural landscape, the appearance of the hills as they are now was created and maintained by the activities of people.

  • fatweegee

    What a load of drivel

  • Auldreekie

    “Following the SNP victory, however, families like us worry that we will
    find ourselves regarded as foreigners again in our own country”

    I laughed out loud when I read that. I’m Scottish born and bred, lived all my life here – well over half a century. I’ve been educated in its schools and more than one of its ancient universities; I speak its languages, know its culture inside out and participate in it; know its countryside from end to end and coast to coast; have no need of a map or directions in any of its cities. I also know my Scottish ancestry over several hundred years.

    Despite this close familiarity with Scotland – or maybe because of it! – I’ve never heard of this guy who thinks Scotland is his country, far less encountered him.

  • jdchristie

    If it goes ahead the golf course on Jura’s Ardfine Estate will be private. It would be built on what was a working farm. The farm manager and his family had to leave the island when the new estate owner closed the farm. The loss of a family is a big deal for an island with a tiny population of 180. The new owner also closed the Jura House gardens which was one of the main attractions on the island. Whatever the merits of the Scottish Government proposals I am surprised that critics would cite the experience of Ardfin in defence of the status quo.

  • John M

    Of course the SNP would have to justify any land-grab policy with thier record in power where Alex Salmond was more than happy to try and accomodate his chum Donald Trump…

    • Jackie Dawson

      Its not a land grab………

  • LG

    This is such drivel. Where do I start?

    “Sea and golden eagles flourish in the islands, a testament to conservation by public bodies and by landowners.”

    Apart from the landowners’ gamekeepers who are poisoning them.

    “Is it because we don’t sound Scottish? We should not all have to sound like Rob Roy.”

    Is this some sort of inverse snobbery? We don’t care how you talk. It’s the stultifying effect of massive inequality of landownership that’s the problem.

    “…families like us worry that we will find ourselves regarded as foreigners again in our own country.”

    So, you live on Jura? I thought you lived in London. My bad.

    “Are we really going to have to defend owning so many acres of hill….”

    Yes, I hope you are.

    • Richard

      Are all landowners’ gamekeepers doing the poisoning, or only some?

      • Jackie Dawson

        Different types of poisoning, from not caring for it, leaving it to go unattended, not allowing people to use it, not allowing proper use of it. Only keeping it for tax avoidance / or not paying business rates, for a business they are running on it. i.e Game hunting, Grouse shooting etc.

        • Richard

          Sounds a bit like prime London property, these days. Is there a good economic argument for changing? I mean, it may be better on a moral footing to prevent this from happening, but what would the repercussions be?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Could be, but we want to do it better, make the land work for the people. Hopefully the estate owners will help…some will not. Either way Scotland is changing….for all not just the few.

          • Richard

            I am all in favour of change where it will improve, but have seen more examples of change benefitting only a new few, rather than the many.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Which examples are those ?

          • Richard

            Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia… And those are only the ones I know about. Many of those new people are either party officials, or the Chinese.

          • Jackie Dawson

            and your claiming Scotland these countries are the same..

          • Richard

            No, I am merely saying that I have seen far more examples of change not benefitting the many. That is how leaders are able to work up the nationalist cause, but it is not what actually happens. In my general purview, that is.

          • Jackie Dawson

            I would agree with you if we were discussing those countries. however its Scotland and how 50% of it is owned by third parties…..and how land reform will help all or a lot of the people of Scotland.

          • Richard

            Each country argues for its own exceptionalism. I am rather cynical about these sorts of arguments, and that secession could necessarily bring about such improvements. In my opinion it would simply make Scotland another grant-recipient from the EU. I have observed hard-left type socialism at work in many countries, and it is never able to produce what it sets out to produce. The unfortunate thing (value judgement announcement) is that humanity is divided into people who have and those who don’t (in all ways) and they have to work together. It is not possible to separate them, just as the human race could not exist without both genders.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Can an Independent Scotland stand on its own two feet?
            John Jappy. CND

            As a civil servant in London, and being part of the establishment, I always accepted the general view that an independent Scotland would not be able to survive on its own without financial help from the London Exchequer.

            However, when in 1968 I was able to examine the so-called “books” for the first time, I was shocked to find that the position was exactly the opposite and that Scotland contributed much more to the UK economy than its other partners. This was, of course, before the oil boom.

            I realised that the Treasury would wish to keep this a secret, as it might feed nationalistic tendencies north of the border, which at that time were very weak. I took the decision to keep an eye on the situation to see how long it would take for the true facts to emerge, which I felt would only be a short time. However, the Treasury and the Establishment did an excellent job, aided and abetted by the media, to keep the myth about Scotland alive.

            In fact it took another 30 years before the first chink in their armour started to appear. This came unexpectedly on 13 January 1997 when, in reply to a series of questions put by SNP Leader in the Commons, Alex Salmond MP to the then Tory government, Treasury Minister William Waldegrave admitted that Scotland had paid a massive £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it had received since the Tories came to power in 1979 (ref: Hansard). Statistically this works out at £5,400 for every Scot.

            There were no attempts to refute these figures, which caused much embarrassment to the Tory Government of the day. However, the facts were quickly covered up by the Unionist controlled media.

            Then a year later with a Labour government now in power came a further bombshell. Following further promptings by the SNP, on 21 August 1998, Mr Salmond received a letter from the House of Commons Library (ref. 98/8/56 EP/rjt) which gave a table showing that based on Scotland’s GDP per capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the world’s wealth league. The UK was at 17th Place.

            When the Labour government came to power it announced a 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax. From my detailed knowledge of income tax, I felt that this was the worst possible thing that they could do, as extra monies would be needed following on from the Thatcher era, if they were to fulfil even a fraction of their promises to the electorate. I came to the conclusion, and I still feel that I was right, that this was done by Labour to prove to the voters of Middle England that they could match the Tories in tax cuts.

            Despite the disclosures of 1998, attempts to deceive the Scottish electorate did not end there. In March 1999 a Labour Party leaflet appeared which said that if the SNP were to forego Gordon Brown’s 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax, every family in Scotland would be £250 worse off. This became the major topic of a TV debate between Alex Salmond and Donald Dewar. Salmond tried to point out to Dewar that he was using the wrong figures. Watching the debate, I saw Dewar’s eyes roll in his head for a few moments but he carried on regardless.

            After the debate it took the Labour Party a whole week to admit that they were wrong. There was in fact a whole chain of errors which the Labour Party tried to blame on “printing mistakes”. However Labour could not deny the fact that in their calculations the UK average figure, which included the high wage earners in the city of London and the booming economy in the South East corner of England (which if I may say so were the result of the selfish policies of Mrs Margaret Thatcher), the figure used was almost double those of the average Scottish wage which at that time stood at £17,000 per year.

            Looking closely at the figures and taking the year 2006 as a benchmark, I found that Scotland had an annual relative surplus of £2.8 billion, which works out at £560 for every man, woman and child. In contrast the UK had a deficit of £34.8 billion.

            In November 2006, the UN published its annual “Human Development Index”. For the sixth year running, oil rich Norway topped the list, and won on such factors as generous welfare payments, education, high income and a long life expectancy. Norway wisely created an “oil fund” in 1995 which in 5 years reached a total of £250 billion, so that Norway sailed through the Credit Crunch.

            Who are the real subsidy junkies?

            Any lingering doubt that Scotland more than pays its way, or survives on subsidies, was dispelled by a report published in the Daily Mail on October 12, 2007. The Daily Mail, which by no stretch of the imagination could be described as a supporter of Scottish nationalism, devoted a whole page to the analysis of the report which was based on tax paid per capita as against spending; Northern Ireland received £4,212 more than it paid in tax, North East England £3,133, Wales £2,990, North West England £1732, South West England £978, West Midlands £931, East Midlands £185 and lastly Scotland £38. Only the South East corner produced a small surplus due to tax paid on the high wages within the city of London at this time (pre-Credit Crunch).

            Analysis

            It is no longer refuted that Scotland exports more per capita than the rest of the UK. In 1968 when I first discovered that Scotland was in surplus in relation to the rest of the UK, its exports could be broken down into whisky, meat, timber, fish, and of course tourism which is a huge hidden income. Those exports are supported by a population of only 5,000,000 as against 45,000,000 for the rest of the UK, quite a substantial advantage.

            With the oil boom, Scotland’s economy was transformed. Scottish oil has to date funded the Treasury with £300 billion, which has pushed Scotland up from 7th place in World Wealth rankings, had it been in control of its own resources, to 3rd place.

            On 29 May 2008, Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling admitted in a back-handed way, that Scotland’s oil revenue had been underwriting the UK’s failure to balance its books for decades. There is still 30 years of oil supply left in the North Sea (some 150 million barrels) valued at 2008 prices at 1 trillion dollars. This excludes the new fields being brought into production in deeper waters west of Shetland.

            Meantime whisky exports, which I listed in 1968 as one of Scotland’s top assets, have risen at a phenomenal rate. For example, whisky exports to China amounted to £1 million in 2000/2001, by 2012 they had risen to £71.5 million and have continued to rise.

            On the economies of Independence, Scotland has also 18 times its requirements in North Sea gas, which on current trading is more expensive than oil. The country exports 24% of its surplus electricity south of the Border, with much of the back-up by Hydro Electric unused.

            Even if nuclear is excluded, the future looks bright, the new Glen Doe hydro station on Loch Ness which was opened by Scotland’s First Minister last year can produce enough electricity for 240,000 homes. Further projects down the Loch which have now reached the planning stage will increase this to over 1,000,000 homes. Wind and wave energy will also contribute significantly in the future.

            No doubt as the time draws nearer to the referendum on Scottish Independence, politicians will do their best to distort the figures – but all that a UK politician needs to be is a good actor.

            Having worked on the preparation of UK National Budgets for most of my working life, it irks me when I hear the likes of Danny Alexander spouting forth figures condemning Scotland to financial disaster if it votes for Independence. He has no life experience of producing these figures, he is simply reading from a script given him by his Tory chums. They pull the strings. In fact I once met a Chancellor of the Exchequer who could not even work out the PAYE tax for his domestic employees. The only reason why he didn’t get someone else to do it was that he was ashamed of how little he was paying them!

            Amidst all the claims and counter-claims being thrown around at the moment, I am sure of one thing – if Scotland votes for Independence, those of us living north of the Border will not lose out.

          • Richard

            Did you post this before the referendum, if I might ask, not that it has anything to do with what it states?

            I am wondering: was this wealth created by economic activity, or was it a valuation of property and exports such as oil? In the case of South Africa, there were mass inflows of capital after the changes there in 1994, but unemployment increased, leading to the government having to introduce a sort of welfare. This is because the money went into investments, but not into creating jobs. Is this a similar situation? The scale of economic activity in Scotland surely cannot be that great, with so relatively small a population?

          • Jackie Dawson

            That was a Tory Government employee, who fully understands the vast vast resources of Scotland. The activity in Scotland is being held back by Westminster, keeping the brakes on. Scotland has more oil untapped and a new Claire field coming on line 2017, Scotland is a very rich country, being held by the throat by Westminster. Question, why would Westminster want to hold on to a country pulling it under ? Now you know why ? MSM has under played Scotland for years, driven by Westminster governments. Both Tory and Labour.

          • Richard

            Nationalism (meaning the sense of it being a separate nation) therefore is the driving force. Independence is the natural outcome of that feeling. “Holding it by the throat” expresses that sentiment. Would you feel the same if it were not as wealthy as you suggest?

          • Jackie Dawson

            Scotland is a separate nation, we are neighbours not hostages. Because of the mismanagement of Scotland’s resources by both Westminster governments we have decided we can do a better job of it. We will be neighbours who will make decisions for our own nations. But still visit at Christmas….if you get my meaning. I have never met any Scot who hates the English, that’s just the media spin to control the English electorate. It doesn’t work in Scotland as well. If we were not as wealthy, they wouldn’t have mismanaged our country as they have. They probably would have let us go many years ago.

      • LG

        No, only some. But Astor’s piece inferred that landowners are responsible for the ‘flourishing’ of these beautiful protected species. I think you’ll find landowners were the reason they needed protection in the first place. And they still suffer regular poisonings.

  • Richard

    Nationalism doesn’t care about economics, or what is best for the country in question. It works on a different type of thinking. Many countries which demanded, and then received, independence in the 1960s were far better under colonial rule in terms of measurables (economic indicators, healthcare provision, and the like) than they are now, but that didn’t mean a thing. They were after their own particular ethnicity or culture or whatever the “nation” in question meant, being in charge. That is what it is all about: Scotland for the Scots, and they define what the term “Scots” means. A good example of this is their call for increasing immigration, and their particular pride in their Third World immigration – which doubtless costs them more in benefit payments – but their probable dislike of English immigrants. It’s all about “not being English” and showing that, at any cost. Economic arguments are posited simply to make the desired outcome seem more rational and palatable.

    • Jackie Dawson

      No that’s you…….not the Scots. The British Nationalism is it ?

      • Richard

        I am an outsider in this particular matter, being British by ancestry, which included both parts. I speak of nationalism in general, from my experience, in Africa.

        • fatweegee

          so absolutely nothing like Scotland at all then.

          • Richard

            I see things in common. One is how easily people are swept up in a sort of euphoria of how much better it will be, and how old grudges are used to fight new battles.

          • fatweegee

            Based on no personal experience of Scotland – be as well giving us your observations on wee green men on Mars

          • Richard

            And of course the Hungarians were nothing like the Czechs, or the Polish like the Romanian, or the Zimbabweans like the Angolans, and so on. History is there to be learned from, not simply ditched because it was something that “belonged” to another group of people.

          • fatweegee

            Comparing Scotland to any of them is like comparing apples and pairs

        • Jackie Dawson

          So your telling the Scots what they define and why they do it and your an outsider……???

          • Richard

            I am speaking about nationalism in general, as you may have noted from my comment. All nationalist movements share traits in common, one of which is to ignore economic arguments. Why do you think there are one million Africans at any one time trying to cross the Med to reach their former “oppressors”? The same from Pakistan, India, an infinitum.

          • Jackie Dawson

            Yes, Scotland is not trying to cross the boarder to reach England or Ireland even. So bringing this a bit more home, Scotland can make different decisions…

          • Richard

            I was merely using that example to show that economic arguments have no impact on nationalism. As far as nationalists are concerned, “true *insert nationality*” will only care about the concept of nation, and not be swayed by economics. “Better be free than be a fat slave” is usually the type of reasoning.

          • Jackie Dawson

            The economics are not the same….and its not nationalism as I said.

          • Richard

            In some cases, from what I have read, and what you tell me, that would indeed seem to be the case. However, some of the arguments used by the SNP were that Scotland would be better off economically with secession. Now that oil has fallen dramatically, that argument is probably defunct, but it doesn’t stop their machine. The reason for that is that what they and their supporters want is something else. They want “Scotland for the Scots” and dress it up as something else.

            Nationalism is a common human aspiration. I am not arguing that is it bad, just that it should be seen for what it is, which I think is very much lacking in the whole debate.

          • Jackie Dawson

            SNP never said Scotland would run on oil, oil was an extra always has been, as we have never had it. No they don’t want Scotland for the Scots otherwise they would close the doors, when in fact the doors are wide open. Its not Nationalism, that’s what MSM has mislead the electorate for a fear campaign

          • Richard

            It is nationalism, but nationalism of being able to define who and what “Scots” are. Very few nationalisms are closed-doors these days (well, those with low birth-rates, in any event) but they do wish to mould new immigrants into their own shape to create some sort of continuity with their own culture. As I say, that is quite a common aspiration. Where it is ignored or circumvented, like in England these days, social problems follow.

          • Jackie Dawson

            When was the last time you were in Scotland ?

          • Richard

            About twelve years, more or less… I am sure there has been massive demographic change there since then, as in the rest of the UK.

  • Sten vs Bren

    “we are accused of owning too much”

    Guilty.

  • Torshavn Tim

    I suspect that “we” on Jura does not include you, Lord Astor. As for your neighbours, let me see. One is indeed building a golf course, world class too. But to do so he has closed a farm, resulting in a family of six having to find work and a home off the island. And other properties are being vacated to ensure the exclusivity of the development, which will not be open to the public. And the hydro scheme on another estate is purely a money making venture, and will bring no benefit to the island. You can see the access road from the ferry, in the form of a large scar across the face of a previously pristine landscape. Of the six or seven estates on Jura, only one has a working residential landowner, a genuine contributor to the community who will have no fear of land reform, despite not having the Scottish accent to which you curiously refer. I’m not branding you all as bad people, far from it, but let’s stick to the facts. I really don’t mind if you and your landowning pals carry on the way you do, but please don’t pretend to be anything other than what you are. You are not facing the Taliban, but a democratically elected government. I hope you get used to working with it, and in so doing enjoy getting to know your real neighbours. I’m sure they’d like to get to know you.

    • Malus Pudor

      Wow… what an absolutely brilliant put-down and response to the arrogant Astor…

      And I can’t wait to be shot of the Scotch and all their normal mealy-mouthed whinging….

      • justejudexultionis

        And the rest of humanity cannot wait to be shot of the Home Counties and their perpetual hunting after money…

  • daivdhf

    “The SNP won nearly all the Westminster seats in Scotland with 50 per cent of the vote — a remarkable feat for which they should be congratulated. But let them not forget the other 50 per cent who did not vote for them, whose voice still matters.”

    I would not hold your breath for that “other 50%” to back up your landowner/laird point of view on who should own Scotland.

    The vast majority of Scots I have met in my 60 years of living in this absurdly beautiful Country, have been of the firm opinion that it should NOT be the miniscule, privileged, rich, non-representative clique which you so condescendingly defend.

  • dolusbonus

    Astor is Dave’s stepfather-in-law, isn’t he…

    This is an exquisite style of lobbying…..

  • Haver

    Tell us William Astor, who in the SNP said you had to speak with a Scottish accent?

    What have seals and basking sharks swimming in Scottish waters to do with you owning land? Are you and your ilk claiming credit for them being there?

    Why did you consider it undemocratic that Murphy shouting at people from a crate in the street was harangued back by onlookers who disagreed with him. Is it the case that, in your mind, it’s only democratic as long as people agree with your/Murphy’s point of view?

  • thetrashheap

    If the Scots don’t want to be serfs anymore it’s time they left the union.

  • Paul Coyne

    Oh come on! “We should not all have to sound like Rob Roy. If the SNP wants us all to speak with a certain type of Scottish accent, what does that say to the many hundreds of thousands in the immigrant community who have lived in Scotland for a long time but still speak with the accent of their birth? Are they not Scottish?”. Get real – criticise something real, but cool your jets on the fantasy!

  • Noel Darlow

    Mr Astor has a big problem. In order to maintain the status quo, he has to argue for the preservation of privileged elites. That’s (rightly) not going to get anywhere in a democracy so he has to obfuscate instead.

  • Pacificweather

    Spectator strives for DM readers with QTWTAIN journalism.

  • Nick

    Erm……nobody seems to have mentioned the laws regarding ownership. If I buy a house in Scotland then I have bought it from a seller to whom I have paid money as a consideration for the bargain. The house is registered in my name, as is the garden, drive, whatever else may be attached.
    Please save me the arguments of land being stolen centuries ago etc. If Lord Astor’s family has bought and paid for the land, then it’s theirs. Deciding arbitrarily to deprive them of it is no different to somebody knocking on my front door and telling me to pack up and leave as the government has decided to give my house to somebody else.

    • LG

      No one is suggesting what you are suggesting

  • Juragal

    Regardless of your political views, there are a few points in Lord Astor’s article that I take issue with and I feel need to be put into perspective. 1. “We on Jura….” – I live on Jura and he certainly doesn’t speak for me, or anyone else here I have spoken to. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t consulted with anyone who lives here either when making this bold statement. 2. Yes there is going to be a golf course and it would be great if that one day creates employment here but presently, in the current construction phase, they have brought the majority of the workforce over from elsewhere. They will leave when it’s finished. 3. The hydro schemes. They’re great – green energy, not really that visually invasive etc etc. BUT Lord Astor makes it sound like Jura and it’s people benefit from the existing schemes. If we do, I must have missed something. All the money the owners make from the feed in tariffs goes straight to them and only them. Now that’s their right – they own the land and paid the money to build it in the first place, but he shouldn’t be trying to make it sound like it was done as a favour to Jura. Maybe if some of that money was donated to the Care Centre, childrens’ play park or any other local community initiative then I would feel differently, but as far as I am aware it doesn’t ….. 4. Crofters being able to buy their crofts. That is a whole other post…..

  • http://marathon.bungie.org/ Gheritt White

    “But let them not forget the other 50 per cent who did not vote for them, whose voice still matters.”

    To re-purpose a Tory phrase, “don’t be a bad loser.”

  • john

    Once again the SNP are looking like the true heirs of Braveheart and other Scottish fighters. Please put the boot in on the Anglo colonialists and send them back to the Home Counties. Freedom for Scotland!

  • john

    Got to love it when the nobs try to show they are just like everyone else.
    Puts me in mind of the Private Eye cartoon of Lord Home when he said he lived among miners. The cartoon showed him in grouse hunting gear above ground while the miners toiled in narrow tunnels beneath.

  • Mike

    English monarchs had made several attempts to seize control of the native Welsh territories, it was not until Edward’s war of conquest against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (“Llywelyn the Last”) of 1277 to 1283 that this was achieved on a Lasting Basis!

    Welsh= Original Briton
    Irish= Original Briton
    Scottish= Original Briton

    English = Angle/Saxon/Norman
    British = Proud of being colonised by Angle/Saxon/Norman

    • justejudexultionis

      The UK was always an English Empire within the British Isles. However you present it, it has been a cultural and economic disaster for Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall.

      • Precambrian

        Yes, we nasty English closed down all the Pasty farms and Clotted Cream mines.

    • terence patrick hewett

      We are all related to each other you ass:

      Let us construct a simple mathematical model:

      Given that everyone has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents et al: and if we assume for convenience that there is a re-generation every 20 years, then after 100 years we have two to the power 5 antecedents which equal 32 ancestors.

      Go back 200 years then we have 2 to the power 10 antecedents which equals 1024 ancestors. Go back 400 years and we have 2 to the power 20 antecedents which equals 1,048,586 ancestors. Go back 1000 years and we have 2 to the power 50 antecedents which equals 1.12 trillion antecedents.

      Everyone has this ancestry: it is a physical impossibility not to have: the
      implication is: since there have never been anywhere near that many people born in these islands: that we are all related to each other; we all have common ancestors; apparently inc*st is best!

      To define where we “come” from 1000 years ago to within 15Km as some
      newspapers claim, is utter tosh. Only that one of your many genetic markers can be traced to an area inhabited by a small number of your trillions of
      ancestors. The Scot or Englishman may equally “come” from Arbroath as Andover.

      Finally: genetic markers tell us that we are all largely descended from those people left stranded on these islands which formed when the ice retreated
      some 10,000 years ago which links us ancestrally to all the peoples of Europe: so after 10,000 years; in Britain we all have 2 to the power 500 antecedents which equals 3 trillion-trillion: which is a very large figure indeed: in comparison there are estimated to be 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Going back further to our ancestral links with Europe we generate a figure so great as to change the implication into a certainty that we are all related. What price Daniel Defoes’ Mongr*l Race now?

      And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know
      not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

      The answer to that question is “Undoubtedly Yes”

      • Mike

        The only thing my Anglo/Saxon/ Norman brother kept was oppressing the Irish, Scots & Welsh!

        & Now his guilty Conscience is worried that we will use the same unjust tactics against them!

        Not that he should worry about “Land Grabs” he should worry about the consequences of the threats he made towards Scotland if they gained Independence

        (PS I am talking about the 1% of the Anglo/Saxon/Norman Elite that the Astors are part of, not normal English people that have been oppressed a little less than the Natives)

    • rob232

      The Scottish have always been famous for this kind of thing. I can remember reading literature as a kid (spy, detective or adventure stories). The action moves to Scotland and the hero is at lunch with a Scots family where discussion is about the advantages of the pure Scottish race as opposed to the mongrel English race. This was meant to form part of their charm to the reader.
      I remember some years ago in the Spectator a Welsh writer in an article stating it was immoral for English people to buy houses in Wales because they contaminated the purity of the Welsh race. You couldn’t make it up.
      What is it about these people that they think they can be so racist and that everyone must think they’re so sweet.

      • Mike

        “The Scottish have always been famous for this kind of thing”

        What? Land Grabbing from the English???

        Its immoral that England can buy Wales/ Ireland/ Scotland if it deliberately crippled their economies & oppressed the people!

        I’m not even saying its your fault. It isn’t the modern White Americans or the modern Germans fault for Slavery or the Holocaust. But to think the actions of their ancestors don’t have a rippling effect to this day is unsurprisingly Typical English Ignorance & Arrogance!

        • rob232

          What silliness! To whom do you think are speaking when addressing the mongrel English races? From where do you think our ancestors came? There are barely 5 million people in Scotland and Ireland also has a similar population.The populations all emigrated to other parts. England is full of their descendants. We are all related.

          • Mike

            The Astor’s are of German Origin & came to the UK from the USA. We can go back to Adam & Eve if you like, but it doesn’t mean I consider a brother who Steals Land, Oppresses People, Destroys their History, Language & is then fearful that we might use the same Corrupt methods against them, my Brother!

          • rob232

            Racism is a nasty thing. If you’re looking for social justice then concentrate on that. But racial hatred is unproductive even when directed against imaginary ghosts.

          • Mike

            Excuse my apathy towards England’s concerns of land grabbing Scots & racism… I wonder how much land was stolen & how many people were slaughtered or oppressed by your English/ British Empire?

            English Ignorance doesn’t seem to comprehend that “You cant build on an Inherently corrupt foundation!”

          • rob232

            As I said racism is very unpleasant. And difficult to argue against as you always have to struggle with all these nasty little labels and loaded adjectives.

          • Mike

            Too Arrogant to see the Irony of your statements!

            My Japanese Girlfriend laughs every time I tell her you call me Racist!

          • rob232

            She won’t laugh so much when she knows you better.

          • LG

            Couldn’t help but laugh at your comment. “Racism is a nasty thing.”

            From the person who kicked off with: “The Scottish have always been famous for this kind of thing.”

            For which you provide evidence of some book you read as a kid, in which some fictional characters have a conversation.

            You will no doubt be blind to your unintended irony.

          • rob232

            I didn’t kick off with anything. I responded to someone. The ‘pure race versus the mongrel English’ is a constant theme in literature. Look it up if you interested. The article by the Welsh writer Jan Morris was published some years ago in the Spectator.
            I was merely replying to a rather abusive reply. The writer spent some days thinking of some kind of retort and this was the result. I am not interested in racist slanging matches about the ignorant English. I would be most embarrassed to write such things in support of an argument and so should he.

          • Mike

            “writer spent some days thinking of some kind of retort” Haha

            Sorry to disappoint you, but I didn’t rely because… I have a Life!

            My Japanese Misses says You agreeing with Astors statement is like her agreeing (Which she doesn’t) with Japanese articles of their fear of being invaded by the Chinese (Even though they’ve never invaded Japan, but we all know Japan invaded China) Or being mistreated by “Racist” Chinese (We’ve all heard the Stories of the Japanese treatment of POW’s)

            Talk about the pot calling the kettle black… & the Pot is both too Arrogant & Ignorant to ever see it!

          • rob232

            You are going off at a tangent. As I previously indicated I am not interested in engaging in some kind of racist slanging match. It’s nice you have a girlfriend to talk to and I would suggest you address your more polemic views to her.

      • Muawiyah

        Just North of the Wall the Scots there seem to have an ancient strain from India ~ from about 1500 to 2000 years back ~ it’s upwards of 30%

        Easy to believe. Read St. Gildas ~ the only prolific British writer in the 6th century. He was preaching AHEMSA ~ with a sprinkling of Christian doctrines. Dude was probably from that church/university there with the linga collection ~

    • Muawiyah

      More recently the Norman records have been demonstrated by DNA studies of the UK population to be quite accurate. A small Anglo Saxon population of German ancestry rode atop a broader base of original Celtic people in the area encompassed by their several kingdoms, but the base population had much more in common with the Irish, Welsh, Cornish and non-highlands Scots than with any German group.

      Wasn’t much different than the day in the early 500s when King Ad gave up the family farm (and everybody moved to Cornwall)

      The two major Cornish migrations to Brittany have been demonstrated through DNA studies.

      When William sailed to England to conquer it, he really did take along an army that was, for all practical purposes, ethnically identical to the Cornish right down to the emblems they were, the blankets they wove, and the language they spoke. Even the few Frenchies along for the ride didn’t speak French ~ they spoke a Gallo popular in Western France (which wasn’t really France in those days). The Normans did not need to conquer Cornwall anyway ~ the Domesday Book excludes Cornish and Welsh holdings from what I understand from those who’ve studied in detail.

      The Celts did Britain ~ and still run the place ~ but they give credit to the Anglo Saxons for contributing a more robust language which is more similar to Chinese than any European language. So, yeah, thanks Brits ~ good job there!

  • Malcolm Kerr

    We are familiar with “Mugabe-style land grabs” in Scotland, having experienced these over many centuries. How else could we have ended up with a few hundred individuals owning over 50% of our land mass, giving us the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in Europe? The SNP doesn’t mind how anyone speaks; Jim Murphy milked the publicity around a few individual hecklers for all it was worth; and the SNP gaining 56 of 59 seats in Scotland is the result of a ridiculous electoral system which it has always opposed and continues to oppose. The land reform being asked for is only what is normal in every other western European country.

    • Muawiyah

      A NOTE: During Communism Poland managed to maintain 90% private ownership of land. Nederland, absent Communism, has never had less than 90% public ownership of land.

      There is NO European “normal” ~ there’s only history and reality and that varies from place to place. Scotland has Highlands (fit for national parklands/large private preserves and cows) and it has Lowlands (fit for urban settlements and cabbages)

      Deviations from that standard of use would be abnormal. I’ve flown over the place several times and it’s pretty severe ~ no wonder my ancestors wore more than one blanket!

  • Barba Rossa

    Don’t these Astors have a hard neck comparing Nicola to Mugabe…Rather like comparing the Astors to Hitlerites seeking Lebensraum.

  • Dogsnob

    Hasn’t this already been done hundreds of years ago?

  • Steve

    Has Astor no shame?

    Does he not realize that he along with the 432 people (that’s 0.01% of the population) who own half the land in Scotland, many of them, like himself, now shielded by foreign tax havens, are the people who beneited from a “Mugabe-style land grab” in the 19th Century? If not, I suggest he start by reading Andy Wightman‘s book, The Poor had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland and How They Got it.

    • Muawiyah

      BTW, WE do not want it back! Keep it!

  • Charles Hatvani

    I wonder if the de-forestation of Scotland is due to this absentee owner/not-caring-for-the-country system.

    • Muawiyah

      The deforestation has to do with The Little Ice Age and the need for wooden ships in the 1500-1800 period ~ they denuded the place. That was one of the major forces behind UK ambitions in America ~ to secure Ship’s Stores (pine tar and timber).

      If Scotland has any trees today that is due to herculean efforts by a few to get them to grow. I’m sure there are maps somewhere that identify dominant species back before 1500 ~ might be possible to re-establish the same ones provided the thin soils haven’t all blown away.

  • TommyCastro

    It’s not about who will best manage the Land, it’s about envy and revenge.

  • mikewaller

    No doubt the guy is sincere but articles like this really are a gift to the SNP who are desperate to convince the world that the land interest is still the top dog in the UK, a parlous state of affairs about which only Jock and the Jockettes are brave enough to do something. Of course, it is a crass over-simplification but when did that get in the way of a good political story?

  • Nuahs87

    My home region of Dumfries & Galloway is still heavily owned by the same families that owned it 500 years ago. I can’t stand the SNP, but a fool can see that we need land reform. Certainly I wouldn’t support the government just taking all the land – the military and Forestry Commission have more than enough already – but if the right reforms are made then the region may halt its 160 year decline.

  • PetaJ

    Should we fear a Mugabe style land grab in Scotland?
    Yes, and a Mugabe style result as well.

  • Mike Scott-Hayward

    France did some of this SNP stuff – on inheritance, for example. Does French agriculture not struggle compared to the UK – too many small farms driving up EU subsidies and CAP.

    • Muawiyah

      Spain almost lost its dairy industry back in the 1960s due to hoof and mouth disease ~ they killed almost every sort of breed of anything with a hoof.

      More recently they’ve begun resurrecting some of the more ancient farmsteads that were successful with dairy cows ~ and one secret was secure land titles. I don’t know that the new owners have Celtic names, but their farms do ~ supposedly they’ll be able to control for disease with a large zone across the middle of the country (presumably Portugal is doing the same thing) because some of the African diseases of concern are almost airborn ~ they can live in dust that gets kicked up by the wind.

      Scotland’s less desirable property (and isn’t most of the place less desirable than almost anything on the planet when it comes to farming) can certainly be resurrected for dairy farming, and if Spain can do it anybody can.

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  • Member of old Jura Family

    Hi,

  • Member of old Jura Family

    Hi,
    This is the second time i have tried to comment on Lord Astor’s article. Maybe this time ir will be transmitted.
    i would simply like to ask his lordshop a number of questions:
    1. How would he account for the drastic drop since 1900 in the Jura population if it isn’t a direct result of the establishment of sporting estates on Jura?
    2. How many cottages/houses on his estate has he or his immediate forebears allowed to be ruined and uninhabitable becaiuse of neglect?
    3. How manyy crofts on his estate has he or his factor persuaded the hereditary crofter to sign up to decrofting, thus returning the croft to estate ownership?
    4. What positive part has he or his family ever played in the Jura community?
    5. How much did his forebears, in common with another titled Jura landowner, pay for their “hereditary” title?

    I don’t expect an honest answer!

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