The SNP and the Land Question

jjCc2qkBzsCAc1M51au9Z889jgHuId_0smbm3aqk464One photo sums up, for me, the extraordinary events that took place in Aberdeen on Friday. In it, an SNP member is asking an embarrassed-looking young man to autograph his conference pass, saying “‘I’ve never got an autograph before, but I just had to get yours!”. The embarrassed man is Nicky Lowden McCrimmon, and shortly before I took the picture he was being cheered by a standing ovation of almost 300 SNP members.

We were at the ‘Our Land’ meeting – an unofficial fringe event of the SNP’s autumn conference – and earlier that day Nicky had led delegates in a vote to reject the watered-down land reform bill. “When you have radical land reform, then we’ll sign up to it” he told party leaders.

570 delegates agreed with him, and the motion supporting the current bill was rejected. It’s worth bearing in mind that this almost never happens, and certainly can’t have been expected by SNP leadership. It means that any amendments which will – undoubtedly, now – be brought forwards in the coming months will have to be very carefully considered. Minister Aileen McLeod, backer of the defeated motion, promised to listen to delegates concerns.

McLeod is the first minister to have land reform explicitly included in her portfolio – a sign of the SNP’s much-hyped commitment to a ‘radical’ land reform plan.

The growing pressure for reform was bolstered by the referendum debate. The stark inequalities that damage Scottish society so much were a frequent topic, and few statistics hit you so hard as ‘432:50’ – around 432 interests own half the private land in Scotland. That private land, incidentally, makes up 89% of our 19 million acres. Community ownership accounts for 2%. Just one man, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, owns 1% of Scotland.

Memories of clearances, and current battles with derelict land and evictions give the debate an emotive tone too – sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Land became one of the central issues in the nation-wide discussion on Scotland’s future – helped undoubtedly by the ability of commentators like Lesley Riddoch to coherently and passionately describe exactly why all this mattered so much.

So when, post-referendum, all eyes were on the SNP, they jumped at the chance to be the ‘party of land reform’, even using the word ‘radical’ to describe their agenda. This isn’t a word you would really have heard from this party until very recently, and it’s fair to point out that they’ve not exactly been land reform advocates in the past either. So campaigners greeted the announcement with curiosity but a fair degree of scepticism. Would the SNP really deliver on an issue that requires bold, redistributive measures?

As recommendations and consultation came and went and draft legislation appeared, these sceptical voices were proved right, much to their dismay. Despite the high-pitched fury coming from certain landed interests and their newspapers over ‘Mugabe-style land grabs’, the bill represented nothing of the sort. The detailed, powerful proposals of the Land Reform Review Group had either appeared watered-down, been dropped from the bill, or never even made it into the public consultation in the first place. Where was the upper limit on landholdings so strongly recommended by the LRRG? The commitment to establishing a system of land value taxation? The re-establishment of business rates for sporting estates was welcome, as is the (vague) proposal for community purchase of mismanaged land. But these are sticking plasters.

The fact that 750,000 acres of Scotland will still be held in tax havens by a global, untraceable elite, is inexcusable. The removal from the bill of a measure which would have tackled this is partly what’s caused such anger among SNP members and land activists, as now even the UK government have stronger proposals for this problem.

It is suspected that the reluctance is coming from hesitant and risk-averse lawyers in the Scottish government – a poor approach for a government committed to any sort of meangingful social change. Corporations, said Robin McAlpine, take the attitude that if you aren’t winning, you need better lawyers. We can do that too. The minimum pricing policy has resulted in lengthy court battles for the government – but they were willing to go ahead regardless, because they believed it to be the right thing to do. Why is this courage lacking when it comes to land reform?

Another group looking for radical reform were tenant farmers. The whole of the agricultural holdings review – a lengthy, complicated process with so much at stake – has been addressed in one chapter of the draft Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2015. For farmers living under threat of eviction and rent hikes, hoping for the automatic right-to-buy that their European counterparts enjoy, the draft bill was a crushing disappointment.

A stunned silence filled the church hall when tenant farmer Andrew Stoddart addressed the 300-odd attendees of the Our Land meeting. He explained that on 28 November he faces eviction from the land he’d farmed for 22 years, and will receive little compensation despite investing nearly half a million pounds in Colstoun Mains Farm over that period. The previous night Andrew had appeared on Channel 4 News, interviewed by Alex Thomson as part of his excellent report on land reform in Scotland. Asked what his children will say about the situation, he broke down in tears. Andrew’s three kids are at the local primary school. His farm employees, who will also have to leave, have children too. The factor and landlord are immensely wealthy men with great influence in the local area. Feudalism, it seems, survives still in East Lothian.

The current land reform bill will not help Andrew and the countless others in his situation who can’t speak out. It won’t change the fact that Scottish land can be bought and sold on a whim by those who hide behind shell companies in the Bahamas. It won’t make land affordable and accessible. In seeking ‘balance’ and compromise, the SNP have inadvertently sided with those who have the most power – but luckily they’ve got the most incredibly clued-up, strident membership. No one could doubt the strength of feeling on Friday night’s meeting, nor the clear message sent to party leadership. These SNP activists are a hugely potent force, and they demand a radical land reform bill worthy of its name. The coming months will be very interesting indeed.

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  1. bringiton says:

    We cannot empower communities to self develop unless we give them control of the resources to do so.
    That starts with land ownership.
    Without that local communities continue to be hostage to the whims of land owners whose interests seldom coincide.
    Well done delegates.
    Let’s see plan B from the SG.

    1. Mike says:

      With community and local land ownership you’re still giving over the land to an authority. In the case of local land ownership probably your local council.
      If your local council is run by any of the pro Union parties then the land will effectively be owned by a political party and run from London.

      Just a thought you may wish to consider.

      1. Dubh says:

        Mike why would it be handed over to the local council? Communities have been organising themselves and developing their communities for buyouts. They don’t just hand it over to the Local Council.

        Look at the Community Land Scotland website for a list of communities who have organised themselves.

        1. Mike says:

          In which case all your advocating is land grabbing from one private ownership into another. Piracy in other words.
          You either believe in state land ownership or private land ownership. You want private land ownership with discrimination. Seriously?

          1. Aonghais says:

            Community ownership is not council ownership. Do your homework Mike and look at the existing examples of community ownership. Your posts are following a very familiar theme and I suspect you are against radical land reform?

      2. Dubh says:

        “Community Land Scotland was established in 2010 as a response to the need for a collective voice for community landowners in Scotland. It is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

        Our current membership includes Scottish community landowners – owning and managing approx. 500,000 acres between them – and aspiring community landowners of varying shapes and sizes throughout Scotland.

        We represent these existing and aspiring community landowners to reflect their views in promoting changes to legislation to empower communities, while acting as a point of contact for any communities in Scotland who wish to find out more about community land ownership.

        Broadly, we work to represent the Scottish community landowning movement in different arenas of associated activity.

        Our key objectives are to:-

        Facilitate the exchange of information, enabling groups to learn from each others’ experience and successes
        Promote the growing importance of the community landowning sector to Scotland
        Reform The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to simplify and strengthen powers to communities
        Encourage community groups to register an interest in land
        Work with communities to ease the process of communities taking ownership of public land
        We are members of the International Land Coalition which seeks to support community land rights and land reform movements around the world.”

        1. Mike says:

          How does that make you any different to any other private land owner?

        2. Frank says:

          I would like someone to explain the difference between the exclusive right of a private individual to own and use, say 5000 acres and the same exclusive right of a “community” to own and use the same 5000 acres. It seems to me that whether it is the individual or community who have the exclusive right to own and use then everyone else is excluded. The result would be that instead of 400 individuals owning most of Scotland we would have 4000 (exclusive) communities. I should make it clear that I am not talking about arable land or family farms, the land of which will at present be used fairly efficiently. I am talking about land that once produced forests but which is now used primarily for the exclusive enjoyment of a handful of wealthy sportsmen.

    2. Frank says:

      A few months ago Kenny MacAskill, in his column in the Herald, lamented about the fact that we couldn’t get meaningful land reform while Scotland was a member of the EU. So given its commitment to EU membership I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of land reform from the Scottish Government.

  2. Terence callachan says:

    Is there an active group I can join in this quest for land reform in Scotland ,I would like to support and help them.

    1. Jason MacGilp says:

      #OurLand

  3. Valerie says:

    Good piece. As a member of SNP, I feel this is something I need to get up to speed on. I understand some of the issues facing rural areas, but no idea how reform might be applied in an urban setting.

    I think I will be like lots of party members – not quite sure if we can contribute. I do read any pieces by Lesley Riddoch, but I’m getting all my info piecemeal.

    1. Ron Greer says:

      I recommend reading the Scottish Land Revenue Group material on their website and of course keeping up to speed on Andy Wightman’s blog.

    2. Frank says:

      The land issue is far more important in urban areas than rural, as urban land is the most valuable land. The easiest way to address urban feudalism is through land value taxation (LVT); that is, have government collect its revenue from the rental value of land and abolish taxes on wages and trade.

      Here are some words and phrases you can research: Henry George, geoism, georgism, land value taxation, Progress and Poverty.

      Land value “taxation” is actually a misnomer, as it is not taxation in the sense we know it. It’s a collection of economic rent, a user fee market participants are willing to pay for land access. (It’s what landless tenants already pay, but to private landlords instead of the rightful owners of community land: the community itself.)

      1. Ron Greer says:

        well said Frank, hope Mike can get his head round it, better than John Swinney and the SNP can

      2. Frank says:

        LVT appears a good idea at first glance but if you take time to consider all the implications then it is not so good. Among other things it is basically a tax on existence, a tax you must pay before you can put a roof over your head or a tattie on your plate. You would have to pay it for the rest of your life with no rebates and if you can’t pay it then you would have to downsize. Since all costs are passed on to the consumer farmers would find themselves in a tight corner. At present their land isn’t taxed but a LVT would mean that it would be. In a market that is open to imports this added cost may mean a lot more would go out of business or we would have to give them additional subsidies – which would defeat the purpose of LVT. There is much more to consider. The only fair tax is one that is based on profit/income.

        1. Dougie Blackwood says:

          As it stands we have a profit tax for businesses but it turns out to be voluntary. A good accountant and some shuffling of costs and outgoings and all profit magically disappears beyond reach. Ye canny shift the land.

          1. Frank says:

            Profits disappear and no tax is paid because loopholes are created. Are you saying that it is impossible to close these loopholes?

          2. Dougie Blackwood says:

            As one loophole is closed several more are created. There are many thousands of pages of tax law and every one provides an opportunity for an inventive accountant to avoid tax. Charge tax on all land owned, occupied or used without exception other than by proved personal hardship.

            Many people, especially the rich dislike paying what is due and will avoid it at almost any cost. A land tax will encourage owners to dispose of unprofitably used land, reduce the cost of buying and provide the opportunity for others to improve or develop.

            These are win, win scenarios.

  4. Mike Vickers says:

    Read Andy Wightman’s book – The Poor Had No Lawyers (Who owns Scotland and how they got it). Nothing has changed.
    Yet.

    1. Dougie Blackwood says:

      It’s a book that horrifies anyone with the welfare of the common man in their heart.

  5. Fran says:

    If you think of land reform in terms of housing, it affects everyone- urban and rural. To get involved check out the Scottish Land Action Movement : scottishlandactionmovement.org

    1. Valerie says:

      Thank you!

  6. Mike Vickers says:

    People and Land are the two sides of the same coin for Scotland. We need a more democratic currency.

  7. AlanWebster says:

    The land must be owned by the people who live and work on it not by absentee landlords who hide behind offshore tax havens.
    Tenant farmers must be given the right to buy and landowners must accept this is the 21st century and huge areas of Scotland must not be a playground for a few rich families.
    The SNP government are the only hope for real land reform and they must take this chance or they will never be forgiven

    1. Mike says:

      You either believe in the principle of individual land ownership or you don’t. You seem to believe in the principle of individual land ownership but you want to discriminate on who or how many are allowed to own land.
      That is a paradox and contradiction which opens up more problems than it solves.
      I think the only solution is to pass over the ownership of the entire Land of Scotland over to the Parliament of Scotland ensuring the continued sovereignty over Parliament belongs to the people and not the Government.
      A constitution which allows the Parliament to lease the land as it sees fit all the time instead of just in times of National emergency.
      Getting ownership of the land however is going to be a legal nightmare if the principle of democracy is to be upheld and land grabbing avoided.
      That’s the problem with privatisation. Once something is privatised within a democracy its a real bugger getting it back from its “Legal” owners.

      1. kininvie says:

        There’s an available half-way house, which is that if you want to own land, you pay for the privilege (through tax) and, in principle, the more you own, the more you pay. That is a blunt weapon of course – but it allows Government the freedom to adjust its priorities (agriculture/sustainable development/ repopulation/use of urban land banks) with a mix of suitable incentives, allowances, or penalties.

        1. Frank says:

          Ownership of land is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right (see the “Charter of Paris” 1990) and if you want to ration it via taxation then the wealthier you are the more you can own which takes us back to the present position. As for the government having freedom to adjust its policies with incentives, allowances etc., that sounds like a bureaucrats dream. We want less meddling bureaucracy, not more. Any land policy must have as its goal long term objectives based on the welfare of the people and of the land and that are not subject to political whim and I would suggest that the best people to take care of that would be the occupiers of the land.

    2. ben madigan says:

      the land of ireland for the people of ireland – that was the call of the Irish land league and the Irish parliamentary party in the 1880s.
      Scotland is catching up.
      I suggest the same rallying call! The land of Scotland for the people of scotland!
      Then, at the time, after much discussion etc., legislation was pushed through in westminster for ireland, various land Acts came into law. After independence (1921) , tenant farmers still paid rent/mortgages to English landlords.
      Anecdotal evidence: In Co Kerry I met a farmer who finally got his hands on the deeds of his farm in the mid-1970s (and was grateful his English absentee landlord had included fishing rights for a river that ran through his property). Bear in mind generations of his family had farmed there as tenant farmers for over 100 years.
      Let’s hope Scottish land reform will move land more quickly into the hands of the Scottish people

  8. tartanfever says:

    Enjoyed the article, thanks.

    I would just highlight your passage on the alcohol minimum pricing case as it’s way more protracted and complicated than you mention and would provide a good grounding on what kind of action could be taken via European legislation.

    Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is hitting a crucial stage. After 3 years it is being considered by an Advocate General who will then pass his report on to judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union. At present it’s not looking too favourable for the Scottish Government case, with the Institute for Alcohol Studies describing the advocate general’s guidance as living in the past, describing the argument between trade and public health as ‘the tail of free trade to wag the dog of health.’

    The advocate generals advice is held up by the court in 9 out of 10 cases.

    So the argument of health over free trade seems to be heading the way of not only the drinks industry but of the European Commission, who are also working against an introduction of minimum pricing.

    In the case of radical land reform, i would expect a massive campaign to take place against the Scottish government case. Remember, minimum alcohol pricing is backed by the Westminster government. I think they would become vehement opponents of an equivalent scenario over land reform.

  9. Jason MacGilp says:

    Andrew Stoddart’s story brought a tear to my eyes at St Mark’s church last night. Our goal of a new, Fairer Scotland means we must do better. We can do better. Never mind brave, let’s be bold and reach out for a generational shift in land reform. There is a great opportunity now to strengthen the Bill AND bring forward other new proposals for the manifesto. Yesterday was a big day.

  10. Clive Scott says:

    This whole issue will be a massive media distraction come Indyref2 despite it having minimal doorstep interest where most voters live. Activists would better spend their energy coming up with answers to currency and pension questions that figured pretty highly in the minds of the 55% who voted No. Once independence has been achieved then issues of who owns what, taxes payable, and land use can be tackled.

    1. Jen Walker says:

      The issue isn’t important because of independence, it’s important in its own right. You seem to be suggesting we should stop talking about it or making the case to those in power in Scotland simply because it might be inconvenient in some future independence referendum (whenever that actually happens). Even if independence was achieved who knows what sort of government would actually be in power at that point and what their views on land reform would be.

      And what if contrary to expectations a second referendum never happens? Do we just sit down and shut up forever while whichever government we have in Scotland does what it likes? The campaign for independence should never be used to silence those calling for radical change in Scotland.

  11. Kenny says:

    Clive – that’s a very dangerous attitude. Would you say the same about educational attainment? Scotland’s poor life expectancy statistics? “Oh, don’t worry about all the dead young men in the east end of Glasgow. We can deal with them AFTER independence!” It’s horribly complacent. More to the point, what if independence never happens? What if, after a few years, people look at the SNP and can see them doing little, matching the media narrative of a party obsessed with independence and ignoring everything else to pursue it? What if support for independence falls? What do we all do then? Land reform is an issue we need to tackle NOW. We’re hundreds of years late to the party on these issues – most countries had revolutions to get rid of their medieval land laws – and we need to start making the changes NOW.

    More to the point, land reform is an issue that can contribute to support for independence. Lots of rural voters didn’t support independence. Many poor people didn’t support independence. They either didn’t see what could be achieved or felt they had too much to lose. Engendering support for the SNP through changes that really improve people’s lives and show how different systems of governance can transform the country will show people that the SNP and the independence movement really do know what they’re doing and have a clear path to a better country. It will also help to root out some of vested interests that worked so tirelessly to fight for the union.

    On the proposals themselves, there certainly needs to be an accurate and transparent register of land ownership. In the process, it might be worth looking at how some of that land was acquired and perhaps looking at compulsory purchases to restore some of the land that was stolen from the people and the Church over the years. A historic theft is still theft and the victims’ descendants are still paying the price. Some sort of restitution might be nice.

    On land value taxation, I have no idea why the SNP hasn’t jumped on this. A sensible land value tax would be the perfect replacement for the council tax, but it could be so much more. Firstly, it would stimulate development because suddenly it would cost speculators money to squat on land until its value rose. Secondly, it is by far the most stable, predictable and fair method of taxation possible. Thirdly, if it is set at an appropriate rate, it can be used to slightly increase the Scottish Government’s income. That can then be offset by a cut to the basic rate of tax when those powers arrive. Over time we can increase the LVT level while continually reducing income taxes. Not only is this a much fairer way of raising revenue for the government, but it also makes Scotland a much more attractive place to live, work and do business.

    1. Mike says:

      You are absolutely wrong on LVT. It is no better or less regressive than Council tax or even poll tax.
      There is no way to Tax land in a progressive fair and measured way.
      How do you tax the land a block of high rise flats sit on?
      How do you divide the payment in a fair and progressive manner if those who live in the flats have different levels of income and resources available to them?
      Any taxation not based on the ability to pay is regressive and immoral.
      Irrespective of the issues surrounding LIT I am deeply disappointed that the Scottish Government dropped the proposal because it is the only form of local taxation which is based on the ability to pay and not generic. A taxation that doesn’t take into account individual circumstance is just plain wrong and is nothing short of extortion.

      1. Kenny says:

        The owner of the land that block of flats stands on will pay the LVT for that plot. It would presumably be split across the rent of the tenants, who would no longer be liable for council tax – which IS highly regressive. If one person in the block owns their flat, they’ll pay a proportionate share. Ability to pay is not the only measure that matters. It’s a tax on control of an asset – some even refer to it as paying rent to the nation for using its land. It’s much fairer than something like council tax, which taxes you based on the value of your house even if you don’t own the house, so a council house that happens to be in a wealthy or desirable area will cost more in council tax than the same house in a poorer or less desirable area. That’s not fair to anyone, really.

        1. John Digney says:

          Kenny – you’re absolutely right, and LVT is the obvious solution to the contradiction that Mike correctly recognises between individual ownership of land and discrimination as to who owns it. With LVT it is for you, not the government, to decide how much land (and of what value) you wish to own. If you want a larger amount or a land parcel of greater value than the next person, you pay more. It’s your choice, and you are free to exercise your ability to choose according to your ability to pay.

          1. Ron Greer says:

            indeed John, both you and Kenny are correct and I think Mike is faecal matter stirring from a reactionary position.

          2. Mike says:

            Absolute garbage.

            No matter how you try to dress up LVT its just council tax with the added problem of how to split the value of payment between properties on a measured piece of land. Then of course there is the problem of how to measure the piece of land for value purposes. Its size its location.
            Take a piece of land with several blocks of flats sitting on it where do you set the boundaries? under each block? under 2 blocks? Do you keep each parcel of land the same size or do you have massive discriminatory differences is size and area? How does that affect the value? How do you make it fair and balanced?

            LVT is a bigger joke than the Poll tax and certainly the council tax. Never mind it being equally regressive its unworkable! Cant be balanced and can never be fair.

            Love to see you try to show balance and fairness in assessing the value of different parcels of land in terms of occupier taxation.

        2. Mike says:

          “The owner of the land that block of flats stands on will pay the LVT for that plot. It would presumably be split across the rent of the tenants, who would no longer be liable for council tax – which IS highly regressive.”

          But LVT wont be any less regressive because its still not based on an ability to pay! Your adding a price onto somebodies rent whether they can afford to pay it or not!

          ” If one person in the block owns their flat, they’ll pay a proportionate share.”

          Exactly! So where does the progressive bit come in?
          They will have to pay whether they can afford it or not! That’s regressive!

          Ability to pay is not the only measure that matters.

          YES it absolutely bloody well is! Try living from a position where you cant afford the price of living before uttering such utter breathtaking ignorance!

          It’s a tax on control of an asset – some even refer to it as paying rent to the nation for using its land.

          I’m still waiting for the progressive bit! The People are the Nation not the land! You’re saying people should pay tax because they exist. The Native Americans had the right idea about land it belongs to nobody and everybody!

          “It’s much fairer than something like council tax,”

          No it bloody well isn’t! Its exactly the same tax only labeled differently! Its an asset tax! A tax on a necessity! You have to live on a piece of land somewhere you have no choice so if you’re taxed for doing so then its extortion!

          ” which taxes you based on the value of your house even if you don’t own the house, so a council house that happens to be in a wealthy or desirable area will cost more in council tax than the same house in a poorer or less desirable area. That’s not fair to anyone, really.”

          If you cant afford to pay a tax it doesn’t matter how proportional or disproportional it is relative to anybody else!

          Unbelievable.

      2. Ron Greer says:

        nice try, but it can be seen through. What level of local income tax would be ‘fair’ and why? Collecting land rental values ( not strictly a tax in fact) is 100% fair because land value( as distinct from building value) is 100% generated by society and not individuals. What level of state expropriation of labour( income tax) would you draw the line at?

        1. Mike says:

          Fair in terms of the ability to pay means it doesn’t matter what the value is you can either afford it or you don’t pay it! That’s progressive.

          1. Ron Greer says:

            So progressive State robbery of labour you mean. Why would 4.9% be too little, 5.1% too much and 5% be just right?

      3. Ron Greer says:

        you don’t tax the land the house or block of flats stands upon, you just collect the societally created land rental value from it. The total CT bill from a block of flats is already divided among the inhabitants. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but very few poor people own lots of land or any land of high value, but richer people do. Do you think someone who owns a Porsche should pay more than someone who owns a Ford for the same parking space. Should someone earning £40K pay twice as much as someone on £20K for the same hotel room or litre of petrol?

  12. David Allan says:

    Congratulations to Nicky McCrimmon for having the courage ( absent from so many ) to challenge the SNP leadership on the issue of the Land Reform. There are other issues where the Party has failed to match the Referendum Rhetoric , the Railway Public ownership issue , the Anglian Water issue , the CalMac Tender issue , the Ineos Grangemouth/Fracking situation , the silence on Longannet and energy policy, the failure to attract Manufacturing ( refer 700 jobs new Hitachi Plant County Durham ) .

    “Judge us on our record” – many are!

    1. Mike says:

      To be fair they are working within the constraints of a Devolved and not fully Independent Parliament. They have powers in principle but no way to fund or budget these powers without FFA.
      How can they afford to buy out the railway service in Scotland while funded only by the Barnett expenditure?
      They are forced to balance their budgets every year and cant do so if they cant borrow to fund extra budget responsibilities like reversing Privatisation.

      You cant compare the running of a Devolved Government / Parliament with that of a fully Independent Government / Parliament.

      The UK Government have devolved responsibilities while simultaneously refusing to devolve the funding to pay for them.

      Surely you knew that?

      1. David Allan says:

        Mike my understanding is that the Scotrail franchise only requires to be ended. My point is that anecdotal evidence is growing that the SNP Leadership are being exposed as less than radical on a growing number of issues.

        1. Mike says:

          No there are EU legal issues regarding the Scot rail franchise. Because of the previous administration the Scottish Government is tied by EU regulation to put out bid tenders on public services.
          Its the same with Scottish water. Labour royally screwed Scotland by signing up to legislation which prevents public services being run publically forcing them to be put out to Private tendering.

          1. David Allan says:

            Mike , why we are always told that Govt are tied by actions off previous administrations or EU legislation , it’s time to challenge and perhaps explore ways to reverse previous decisions, not merely continually using them as convenient excuses for inaction. Find and exploit loop-holes they exist.

            The absence of any challenge and acceptance of the status quo on many of the issues I mention smacks of complacency. While we unfortunately remain part of the UK , exploiting the better together theme we should use our new influence at Westminster to promote changes in legislation beneficial to Scotland.

            I’m afraid I can’t see any evidence of a willingness to tackle the big issues. E.G Is our Westminster Group lobbying the Tory government to intervene and maintain a UK/Scottish Steel Industry?

      2. Gordon Adam says:

        “They have powers in principle but no way to fund or budget these powers without FFA.
        How can they afford to buy out the railway service in Scotland while funded only by the Barnett expenditure?”

        Why would FFA, which implies a cut to our budget in comparison to Barnett, increase the Scottish Government’s ability to fund new policies? The gap between what we receive under Barnett and a strict interpretation of FFA is somewhere around £5-7 billion (we’ll know the figure for sure in March when the latest numbers are released).

        I’ve got no idea why anyone thinks it would give us more money in comparison to the status quo. I can just about see an argument for it being a good idea in a broader qualitative sense but in quantitative terms it’s got no merit whatsoever.

      3. Ron Greer says:

        Wrong yet again and I agree with Andy Wightman in respect of their being sufficient capacity with the devolution settlement (s) to allow the SNP gov. to collect LVR from Scotland’s territorial area and reduce/replace taxes such as council tax and income tax as a consequence indeed as a need. ( to stimulate economic activity)

        1. Mike says:

          So you want the power of Devolution to mean the power to extort the population. No wonder you’re a unionist blogger.

          Instead of giving over the power to extort through extra taxation it would be more beneficial if the UK Government handed over the actual taxation raised in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament instead.

          Why would any Scot think that was not the way to go?

    2. Capella says:

      It is illegal, under the 1993 Railways Act, for the Scottish Government to allow a UK public body to provide railway passenger services. Only UK private bodies can bid for rail franchises. Abellio, however, is a Dutch state company and it is legal to award the contract to them.

    3. Allan Thomson says:

      As we (perhaps understandably) digress into talk of rail buyouts and the relative fiscal merits of FFA and Barnett in funding change projects, let us pause and recall the words the lady has written regarding the Land Reform proposals

      “any amendments which will – undoubtedly, now – be brought forwards in the coming months will have to be very carefully considered.”

      Should amendments with more teeth emerge It will be difficult to escape the conclusion that they could and should have been included initially or that the whole issue has not been “very carefully considered” in the first place. At that point, comparisons with the moratoria on Fracking and UCG (which emerged after a somewhat lengthy gestation period) may seem pretty valid.

      The notion that ultimately all land should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament with the assurance of sovereignty over Parliament being assigned to the Scottish people is not one I would care to take issue with. As with any other significant change from the status quo which has been mentioned here, it will not be sought without great consideration of just how attainable it might be.

      Meantime there is clearly a feeling in the ether, that where the Party leadership are concerned – occasionally more could be done. As they revert to the drawing board the SNP leadership may do well to consider that pragmatic but substantial stepping stones to final solutions on the opposite bank of Land Reform may also prove to be a causeway to the recently requested trust they so clearly cherish.

  13. Tony Rozga says:

    Great article, the SNP must get radical, there are huge areas of Scotland where complete communities are in the shadow of a single absentee laird. The learned helplessness within can be quite shocking, although people are now finding their voice. Without varied and mixed ownership there is absolutely no point in Scotland gaining independence. It would possibly make these areas worse,as lairds and their agents would have to adopt a water tight policy to cling onto power. Land reform must come now and it has to start with tenant farmers right to buy, then we can get compulsory croft creation. What on earth are the SNP afraid of? The lairds are all Tory voters. Land is devolved, let’s do it, let’s make loads of us owners of farms, crofts, community allotments, woods, piers, rivers, local show field. Transform young locals into decision makers rather than migrants, confidence would soar as we build our communities again, then Scotland’s independence would be so normal, so obvious.

    1. Jen says:

      Thanks for your comment Tony. Was great to see you on C4’s report. Without people speaking out about the situation where they are, we wouldn’t be getting anywhere with this campaign.

      Jen
      http://scottishlandactionmovement.org

    2. muttley79 says:

      I agree Tony. The SNP leadership deserved to get a much needed wake up call over land reform. They had an open goal and missed it. Hopefully they will think about it, and return with amendments, and we can have enact a Land Reform Act that we can proud of.

      1. MBC says:

        Fantastic comment Tony. In Norway the ‘bondekultur’ of small independent farmers on family owned farms was the bedrock of 19th century nationalism in Norway that eventually secured independence in 1905. These culture of these sturdy independents, couthy, clever, egalitarian, infinitely resourceful, humble, and community minded folk is still the bedrock of modern Norwegian identity and the genesis of its social democracy.

    3. Ron Greer says:

      Tony, yes well indeed ‘what are the SNP afraid of?’. Derek Pretswell have been providing them with information and comparisons with the Norwegian model since 1984, both directly and through various presentations ( public and inhouse) radio and TV programmes. I served on the Scottish Land Commission set up by Alex Salmond and whose report was accepted at National Council in 1997. They have been lobbied extensively by Andy, Lesley, Scottish Land Action etc and recently John Swinney had a meeting with the Scottish Land Revenue Group at his constituency office. The result has been 30+ years of prevarication, procrastination and obfuscation from the hierarchy, with the most culpable, in my opinion, being John Swinney, Roseanna Cunningham and Mike Russell. The best attained has been a two sentence-one paragraph dismissive piece of no substance. So after joining the Party in 1981 after a study trip to Iceland, I resigned after 30 years. I can hardly articulate my Schadenfruede over the way the membership sent the hierarchy homeward, with their Union Jack pants down , to think again. Thanks to all concerned.

      1. Mike says:

        Because LVT is as equally as regressive as Council tax and is not based on an ability to pay which is crucial in a Democracy when determining Taxation and taxation values.
        LVT is in fact no different to Council tax in any respect at all.

      2. muttley79 says:

        I thought it was Fergus Ewing who was against land reform the most in the SNP. I thought Roseanna Cunninghame was relatively left wing, and that Mike Russell might have been more sympathetic to land reform, given his constituency. Whatever is the case there the SNP leadership appear to not understand the potential and significance of land reform. Or perhaps they do and they are resistant for some reason.

  14. john young says:

    I say eff the EU/Westminster auld labour rules and regulations,go for the jugular and face them down show the people of Scotland that we are going to “fight them on the beaches”,show some real bottle for once and not keep hiding behind “itwiznae me mister” it wiz that big boy,just go out and do it ffs.

  15. wullie says:

    Grab the land back in the same manner as the land was grabbed from the people.
    Whats good for the goose is good for the gander, just because someone has held onto something belonging to someone else for years does not mean that they own it

  16. Mike says:

    “Mike , why we are always told that Govt are tied by actions off previous administrations or EU legislation , it’s time to challenge and perhaps explore ways to reverse previous decisions, not merely continually using them as convenient excuses for inaction. Find and exploit loop-holes they exist.

    Because its an indisputable and unavoidable FACT! When the Labour party were in control they had full control over both Parliaments and were able to implement reserved as well as devolved policy over Scotland. The existing Government can only reverse devolved policy and only if it can be funded by devolved revenues. The EU legislation can only be challenged at a UK level. You know this! So why pretend you don’t?

    “The absence of any challenge and acceptance of the status quo on many of the issues I mention smacks of complacency. While we unfortunately remain part of the UK , exploiting the better together theme we should use our new influence at Westminster to promote changes in legislation beneficial to Scotland.

    No it smacks of Devolution! The disadvantages of devolution to be precise! The Scottish Government is fighting tooth and claw for more and more powers and the revenues to fund them. Again you know this so why pretend you don’t?

    I’m afraid I can’t see any evidence of a willingness to tackle the big issues. E.G Is our Westminster Group lobbying the Tory government to intervene and maintain a UK/Scottish Steel Industry?”

    Yes you can but choose to pretend you cant! The media and the opposition are in full whinge and whine mode over the SNP “Picking fights” with Westminster. We read about it everyday spun as SNP bad of course but still see it as the SNP challenging the status quo on anything and everything!

    They are the only mainstream party who wants to take full and absolute control over everything Scottish from Westminster and transfer it to Scotland! That is undeniable! You cant say the same for so called “Scottish” Labour “Scottish” Conservative or “Scottish” Lib Dem now can you?

    So why pretend different?

    1. Elizabeth Thomson says:

      I, admittedly, am not up to speed on land issues/reform, but, I find Mike’s proposal that land ownership should be in the hands of the Scottish Government interesting. Communities could then be given control of the land on a lease basis to make use of as they see fit.

      Would outright community buy outs result in the same situation as we found with local authority right to buy housing, i.e. selling on for huge profit at a later date?

      1. Mike says:

        Yes exactly! The Parliament owns the land the people own the Parliament. The land can be leased on a project by project basis or community on community basis. We already lease the land our houses and flats in the cities sit on.
        Handing the land over to community private enterprises is no different to handing it over to a Tory Landlord. Its just a transference of authority.

        1. Ron Greer says:

          a State that is powerful enough to give you everything also has the power to take everything away from you. What about the State charging you 100% income tax, as well as owning your clothes, house and land?

          1. Mike says:

            Did you choose to deliberately miss the part where the people are sovereign over their Parliament?

          2. Mike says:

            In a democracy the people are the State! I know you didn’t realise that being a citizen of the UK of GB and all but yes that’s what actual Democracy means.

  17. Fiona Johnston says:

    Minor when compared to Andrew Stoddart but an issue nonetheless that prevents development, closes down communities etc.- ” The Ransom Strip” . This should be tackled in Land Reform Act. Not only rich landowners use this ” control” to stop progress.

    Example known by me ….Currently family being asked to pay £30,000 plus cost of creating a Bellmouth for a strip of land – 9 meters long by less than a third of a meter. This is a farm track verge, not of agricultural use. For 40 years sought planning permission for family home. Prevented by local council policy ….”no building in the countryside”. As a result the local shop closed, the school closed, Y farmers, WRI, bulb show, youth club etc all stopped, no homes for young families and much more was lost) Thanks to Changes by gov., planning now granted. However with condition to create Bellmouth. Landowner still ” controls” as amount asked for taken from budget for house means budget for house knocked.

    Researching this issue I am very concerned at how widespread this undemocratic “controlling” of whether a community survives or any development is allowed is. Needs to be addressed. Rural communities particularly ” haudin doon” by this. However, I have learned that developers also use this tactic when building suburban and other developments to prevent any other developer muscling in on their investment area. There will be much more I know nothing about….examples please to the gov to make them aware.

  18. David Allan says:

    Mike afraid all l am seeing is SNP huff, puff and lots of bluster. We are doing what Labour do in Holyrood carp and winge, Lets make suggestions propose amendments and have the Scottish media report and discuss fresh ideas and solutions to problems that show SNP’s genuine willingness to achieve a goal.

    e.g. Hitachi Rail Europe receive UK Government Aid to establish a new plant in County Durham, was Scotland and Scottish Enterprise in the ball park? lf we were bidding for this inward investment, (Hitachi received first order from Scotrail) why did we fail? If we failed to make any endeavour to attract Hitachi to Scotland then why.

    If the SNP have any ambition for Scottish Manufacturing Sector they should be shouting from the rooftops highlighting , if through devolution or EU legislation we have somehow been disadvantaged and as a result been unable to compete with England.

    700 plus jobs to the “Northern Powerhouse” that ain’t Scotland. We missed out again.

  19. David Allan says:

    The Land Reform opportunity hasn’t been exploited grabbed to anything like what is possible indeed as many commentators say “its been watered down” the activist named in the above article may well share my opinion,having expressed his view and received warm applause for so doing. It shows that many are disatisfied with the lack of meaningful results.

    1. Mike says:

      What do you mean by “exploited” and “grabbed”? That’s the language of piracy. There is legality to consider over the transference of land ownership from private to public.
      You cant just grab somebodies land from them and claim it in the name of State within a Democracy because that’s despotism. If you can grab land like that then you can grab ownership of the people who live on the land just as easily and we are back to feudalism and slavery.
      The land will have to be bought out which means public funding will have to be made available. Under Devolution there is no spare funding as there is no borrowing and a budget that has to be balanced. No wonder its watered down. You cant expect a poorly sourced and funded Devolved Government to act like an Independently fully funded and sourced Government.

      1. Ron Greer says:

        Why would it be poorly resourced, if it were to collect the land rental values from the 30% of the land surface of the UK, 50% of the marine solum and 70% of the coastline that is Scotland?With only 9% of the UK Population, that gives Scotland one of the best resource to population ratios in Europe

        1. Mike says:

          Who would pay it? Who could afford to pay that much tax on that much land?

          1. Ron Greer says:

            how can people pay that much tax on their incomes? You are confusing rent with tax, to add to your confusion over the State and society being the same thing when it is not. How are you getting on at the SLRG site http://s420649894.websitehome.co.uk/SLRG ?

  20. Mike says:

    Aonghais
    3 hours ago
    Community ownership is not council ownership. Do your homework Mike and look at the existing examples of community ownership. Your posts are following a very familiar theme and I suspect you are against radical land reform?

    No its just private land ownership no different from eh Private land ownership. What you want is to take the private land ownership from one private land owner and give it to others who will become the new private land owners. How is that supposed to change anything?

    Private to private land ownership is not radical land reform its just business. You sell the land between Private owners. How on earth is that radical or reform? Come on! If you are serious about radical land reform then you have to support radically reform land ownership by giving it over completely and absolutely to the public via the Parliament. Make the Parliament the sole Landlord and the People sovereign over Parliament.

    That’s radical land reform anything else is just pseudo land piracy for personal gain and profit.

    1. Quakeawake says:

      Please could you explain how the ownership of land by the communities who live on that land and who are obliged to use the land as an asset for the whole community, through democratically elected representation, is the same as private land ownership, which subjects the land to often absent individual, usually profit driven use?

      1. Mike says:

        Obligated how? The only way you ensure obligation is to apply authority. So who applies the authority? In the specific case of land ownership You can have either a Private authority i.e Landlord or a public office authority. i.e the Government.

        How many different ways do you need that explained to you?

  21. Mike says:

    David Allen

    “Mike afraid all l am seeing is SNP huff, puff and lots of bluster. We are doing what Labour do in Holyrood carp and winge, Lets make suggestions propose amendments and have the Scottish media report and discuss fresh ideas and solutions to problems that show SNP’s genuine willingness to achieve a goal.

    e.g. Hitachi Rail Europe receive UK Government Aid to establish a new plant in County Durham, was Scotland and Scottish Enterprise in the ball park? lf we were bidding for this inward investment, (Hitachi received first order from Scotrail) why did we fail? If we failed to make any endeavour to attract Hitachi to Scotland then why.

    If the SNP have any ambition for Scottish Manufacturing Sector they should be shouting from the rooftops highlighting , if through devolution or EU legislation we have somehow been disadvantaged and as a result been unable to compete with England.

    700 plus jobs to the “Northern Powerhouse” that ain’t Scotland. We missed out again.”

    You’re still ignoring the reality. Deliberately it seems. The Scottish Government cannot fight against EU regulation because EU membership is reserved at UK level!

    The Scottish Government has done nothing but attract inward investment at record levels since 2007! And that’s with the burden of devolution hampering them at every turn.
    The last Administration had no devolution burden because they controlled both Parliaments! Yet they failed to attract a third of the inward investment the present Scottish Government has attracted during their term in office.
    I don’t know the details of the Hitachi bid but it seems to me to be a singular issue being used deliberately to make a generalisation.
    No Government wins every time. The measure of Government is how many times they win relative to lose and this Government wins far more than they lose when it comes to inward investment because they are Scottish based in Scotland and not Scottish controlled and run from London!
    That’s what makes all the difference when it comes to actual motivation and consideration.
    No body controlled and active from London is going to consider anybody outside of London as a priority! That’s just a cold hard fact proven time and time again in the UK.
    Only those who actually live and work in Scotland are motivated to work towards attracting inward investment. Why would anybody else be motivated more?

    1. Gordon Adam says:

      With respect, Mike, this is a bit of a crude argument. There are countless factors that affect FDI and the pattern hasn’t been linear since 2007 – e.g. there was a drop in 2008 and 2009, followed by a rise in 2010, another drop then another rise. I know it’s tempting to throw statistics at the other side like it’s a game, but it’s really not possible to just assign credit/blame for FDI to governments in that way.

      It’s also pretty circular reasoning – e.g. if FDI in Scotland is at a low level one side will blame the SNP while the other side will claim it’s a sign of our disadvantaged position in the UK and a reason to be independent. Alternatively if FDI is high one side will cite it as an advantage of being in the UK while the other will claim the SNP should get all the credit. It’s a discussion nobody can really win because it just gets spun one way or the other.

      What is true to say is that both Scotland and the UK perform strongly on FDI by European standards.

      1. Mike says:

        You’re entire non point is irrelevant in terms of the fact that when the “UK” does well it does well for London and the SE of England because that’s where the power and influence resides.
        The UK “Doing well” isn’t a sign that the whole of the UK is doing well at all. Its very selective and narrowly focused.
        The UK is unbalanced in every way. socially economically structurally influentially.
        If Scotland doesn’t fight its own corner nobody else in the rest of the UK will fight Scotland corner. Certainly not any so called Scottish politician working for a party which is run and controlled outwith Scotland. Not if he wants to remain a London controlled Politician working in Scotland.

        That’s not a crude argument that’s the simple reality of being the ethnic under represented minority within an unbalanced farce of a disunion.
        We cannot be democratically served as a small minority within a Parliament heavily dominated by a foreign influence. That is a simple cold hard fact of reality.

  22. john young says:

    I wouldn,t “invest” in large overseas projects they have a finite life,they will almost certainly dump you whenever,encoursage home grown innovators/thinkers encourage small businesses that can employ locals and be sustainable,stop the whining asap get intae them face them down challenge them on every issue,call up the msm/bbc to Holyrood and grill them as to the lies and spin force them at every turn if we don,t then we will once more sink into servitude.

    1. C Rober says:

      Does one remember when in the late 80s and early nineties American , Chinese , Taiwanese , Korean industry did pop ups in Scotland?

      I say popups , because like you mentioned they soon went once the tax incentives etc dropped off.

  23. MBC says:

    What an uplifting article. Real progress.

  24. C Rober says:

    Land reform from SNP is a joke , if not subterfuge.

    They deliberately play to lose , in order to win votes on persecution complex sympathy. I will never trust the SNP when it comes to land in Scotland , heres why.

    Example – North Ayrshire , grade 1 famland , Lorded ownership.

    Worth 5k as farmland , historical denials under a Labour led council for planning , SNP add it to the LDP , against their own multiple policies , against hundreds of objections , then its worth 10 million to developer and landowner.

    SNP council funding the repair of same Lords walls on separate estate.
    Snp ignore the Community council objections , something they triumph.
    Snp ignore historical denials of previous applications for site use for housing.
    Snp ignore the housing need and demand survey stating no urgent need , future need met by supply and demographics.
    Snp ignore 300 plus objections for a 20 percent increase in housing.
    Snp allow the TERM infill to be abused , land is external to village footprint , supposedly impartial reporter to parliament says to redraw boundary – which suits developer , not the only case of the lack of impartial view from the reporter.
    Snp ignore that the Council held 35 acres of land earmarked for sale for housing that could have filled the LDP , with more suitable locations and less cost to the council than rural.
    SNP MSP denies having any complaints about its Suggested inclusion , despite being contacted by one action group to attend a meeting. Local labour MP , at the time though had a inbox full of correspondence.
    Snp will have to increase class sizes against policy with increased housing which is at capacity already.
    Council , Snp led , SNP chaired LDP committee multiple failures in operation , including the chair not directing members on policy and taking directions from the council planning dept.

    What about the Local Msp happy that it will take 117 years to build enough council housing to remove the waiting list?

    This when the council had more than enough land offered for sale to private developers to build new council stock. Happy enough to tout like a pimp the SNP (non)supply of affordable housing in the area , at 230k a pop , which is over 10x the median main earner take home pay.

    Yeah Snp and land reform , next someone will say Gary Glitter is a good babysitter.

  25. john young says:

    I tend to agree with C Rober,far far too much whingeing and the Establishment know this they know their opponents better than themselves they have had hundreds of years to get to know our characteristics and they are not favourable to us.They know that we will crumble at the first sign of adversity and the SNP do not look as if they have the bottle for the fight,clever politicians no doubt but we have had years of that ilk and where are we now?Angus Robertson allows Neil to piss all over him,I didn,t see the Hosie interview but from what I can garner he didn,t fare to well either,we need to know they are lying and expose them on camera as liars,stop fcuking about or they will bury us again!

  26. Gordon says:

    In this 21st century, must Scotland be treated like a mediaeval land of serfs, different from any other developed state? Why should the indigenous population be allowed to use only 11% of their available land? As more and more SNP members become more politically aware of this topic, they are becoming enraged. To produce economically priced housing in Scotland, we need land. To crush an increasing population into a progressively overcrowded Central Belt will only bring about house inflation as precious land prices rise. What’s the difference between charging a modest acreage tax for all land owned in Scotland and builders charging for the increasing cost of land?
    The Scottish Government could earn £170 million/annum from private landowners by charging a modest £10/acre. The Duke of Buccleuch would be paying £380,000 for his modest 2% of Scotland. This would force land owners to make use of their land rather than leaving it idle. It may eventually cause them to relinquish it as a bad investment. The footprint of even a large house is only 0.5 acres, which would amount to £5/per annum. For a block of 8 flats/4 levels, maybe one tenth of an acre footprint, it would be 12.5p/flat/annum, hardly enough to break the back of even the poorest tenant.
    All this is beside the point. There are several members of our branch of the SNP who are now considering leaving the party because of the lack of land reform policy.

    1. muttley79 says:

      I am not sure why people are thinking of leaving the SNP over land reform, when the vote went against the leadership at conference at the weekend. They were effectively told to get their act together and enact a radical Land Reform Act. Surely it would be better to wait and see what happens with the amendments to the Bill going through Holyrood.

    2. C Rober says:

      Gordon , from when I was deeply interested in housing nothing much has changed , apart from the actual availability of land for development which has increased , while the availabilty and manufacture of new has decreased , causing price increase. We are talking nearly 30 years here.

      Other than a couple more New Towns , there is no need to unwantedly expand villages , making super commutes for the rurally priveleged that can afford the lifestyle , funding new motorways , trainlines , from the public purse to increase their quality of life over the original villagers themselves?

      There is still millions of unoccupied rooms in unused houses in the UK , thousands of meritable buildings in city centres with protection orders being left to rot , even antique schools and hospitals ripe for redev that councils have bulldozed – just like the hundreds of thousands of old council stock.

      You cant tell me this isnt the protection of the wealthy few , the banks/property devs/landowners , whom are in collusion to protect and control the supply and demand chain. This includes politicians themselves , whom make legislature both to limit the supply and therefore set the pricing , and is now showing the SNP themselves are complicit showing they are Tartan Tories of old once more

      As I mentioned in my above post Scottish councils have at their disposal hundreds of acres of land , which would address the real AFFORDABLE housing market , ie not 230k a house which is more than 10x the take home main earner median wage.

      So why is it not being offered to individuals for building their own , outwith developers , where they can claim vat relief , reducing their cost of home ownership? Then merely set legislation on resale to 3x median wage , which will be under the original cost to build , keeping the home affordable.

      Instead the SNP continue fallacies like first time buyer grants , from our taxes to developer pockets , when they could effectively make the councils themselves coop bank mortgage holders offering self builds?

      But the bigger question , Why is it that this land not being used to build council housing in the first place? After all council land , why not council housing?

      A s.i.p house , bungalow style , can be up on council owned land for 50k , using modified building tech already available , using local labour , and semi local suppliers , or even better to empower the labour force of the councils …..to back when they actually built homes , repaired them etc , rather than using contractors and national private housebuilders like barrat etc.

      Hollyrood are giving councils millions to fund the lacklustre social housing building scheme.

      These homes cost the council around the same as what is classed as Affordable developer built housing , when you consider the cost of 50k vs 230k that wold be nearly 5x more supply for the same money ….. but the big benefiter here is the developers , not the home owners or council renters , or the tax payer that is effectively funding it at the expense of something else.

      But instead Councils continue sell off the land to private developers , making banks richer , developer shareholders richer , and use the developers to supply 1 house instead of 5. This is the SNP privitisation dirty little secret , tax payer owned , sold off to developers.

      Something is wrong with housing , or those that control housing in Scotland.

      Faffing about , blaming Westminster is not good enough , neither is it fair that the SNP and Hollyrood set the rules , claim community empowerment , then ignore both of them to suit.

      Housing needs more than words , it needs true community empowerment , so far neither the SNP or Hollyrood has shown that , mouthed it aye , shown it naw.

      Your idea on super taxation of land owners though shows merit , if a bit light.

      Ideally you would want a sliding scale , the more land you have the more you pay in percent , bit like stamp duty. Then add on non dom taxation , empty home taxation , second home taxation , and of course a socially derived bedroom tax geared towards houses with more than 5 bedrooms , again in a sliding upward scale , with a rural premium.

      Then of course we can start on the developers themselves , limiting profit to 15 percent , which is decent on former council land , if not all land.

      But do we really expect the SNP , BluLabour and the Tories to enact austerity taxes on the rich , ie those that have doubled their wealth since the financial crash? No neither do I.

  27. MBC says:

    I think tenant farmers should have the right to buy. If right to buy was OK for council housing stock and now housing associations why not for productive farms in which the tenant has invested?

    1. C Rober says:

      Nail and head.

      Why so much bluster put into fair trade , while our own farmers are dwindling , working for banks 18 hours a day , supplying supermarkets under cost with milk , meat and veg.

      They should also have the ability to harness wind energy for own use without objections from nimbys.

      Only in the west can we shout fairtrade about coffee bean farmer , meaning a price increase , whom is making more profit a year on land they own , than a considerable percentage of Scottish Farmers do on land they dont.

      RTB for famers , all for it.

      Rtb for housing that too with a little modification….. How else are SNP mps meant to make a third income.

  28. arthur thomson says:

    As this stream of comments has developed it has become increasingly obvious that in eight years of devolved government the SNP has failed miserably to solve all of Scotland’s problems.

    The magic wand party is the only answer.

    And it is apparent from some of the lengthy comments that there are people here who actually know what party that is. They just seem too shy to spit it out with the rest of their bile.

    Just a wee thought though. How come that magic wand wasn’t used at some time in the past 300 plus years?

  29. willie says:

    The issue of land ownership is not something that the vast majority of Scots wake up every morning thinking about.

    It’s actually for most folks a total non issue. That however is not too day that it is not an issue.

    It is however an incredibly complicated issue and the right to property, to own it, to sell it, to beqeath it is an extremely legalistic area in which to effect radical change.

    Sounds though from what many of the minority focus land reformers say that nothing short of Marxist confiscation of the land in it’s entirety will do – and that the SNP are to be damned for not doing in 8 years what previous administrations didn’t do in over 300.

    So its boo for the SNP then from these demented idealists then. Maybe they could demand that the SNP magic up renationalisation of the gas, the electricity, the telephones, shipbuilding, the airline, the oil company BNOC, the railways and much more while they’re at it.

    Seven years of a devolved administration is a long time when you do the difficult immediately and the impossible a little bit later.

    Personally I think this government in Hollyrood has achieved great things in 7 years and that it has much more to achieve.

  30. David Allan says:

    It’s the pace and willingness and effectiveness of legislation that’s now being questioned! I wonder how many SNP candidates and MSP’s have even read Andy Wightman’s “the poor had no Lawyers”.

  31. James says:

    Many farm tenants whose family has farmed on the same farm for generations would love to be able to buy their farm . Unfortunately they do not get the chance .

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