On Saturday night I was invited to a meal out at a friends house. I was told a couple would be there who work for two big charities that have huge land holdings all over Scotland and the rest of the UK . The girl had been invited to give 'expert' evidence to the committee looking at the next round of land reform proposals and I was told by my host I would be interested in what she had to say. On being introduced I reminded myself not to judge a book by its cover-she had face piercings with enough steelwork to sink a ship, hair twenty different colours and scarily a tuft of hair hung over one eye tied with two pigeon feathers. I knew we were in for an interesting chat. Eventually the host steered the conversation round to land reform and off she went." The committee " she began , realise that a Mugabe type land grab would make the new Scottish Government very unpopular internationally so they had to come up with ways to get the land of Scotland into community ownership. This relied on getting values to plummet so the land fund and communities could afford it. Vast estates used for field sports she said were an easy target as all the value was in the sport. First she said we will nationalise Deer, Salmon and Grouse, landowners would have to buy a license to take them. Re institute sporting rates at say £600 per head for these species. Alter the tax system by bringing in an annual property tax on individuals with more than a garden and abolish capital and inheritance tax reliefs. Watch she said as these ' Lord Snooty' types rush to get rid of their thousands of ill gotten acres. What about the impact on gamekeepers or others working for these estates or the other tradespeople who rely on the influx of Southern money to keep the economies of these often isolated communities afloat I asked. They would find work with the new local committees set up to run the now community -owned holdings. These communities would also appoint members to do any wildlife management or controls and the land would no longer be a playground for the rich.
This is all possible she said without a Yes vote in September , it will be rolled out within the next two years . Of course the charities she and her partner represent would be exempt from all this and next they would look at the prospect of having farming also controlled by local communities . Intensive farming she said has resulted in a raping of the land producing food crammed with pesticides , hormones and antibiotics. Smaller community run farming is the way forward she said.
I sat stunned. Usually I would dismiss such talk as idealistic wish list building but these folk have the ear of our parliament and the politics of envy is powerful. Looking at how this would progress is depressing. I feel like emigrating especially as she often justified what she said by stating " it's the will of the Scottish People" . Surprise surprise both she and her partner are English.