Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Pulling the wool over our eyes.

My sincere apologies for not having written for such a long time.

The long drawn out winter compounded with the long drawn out battle with the estate left me feeling wearied and wondering if there was any point in trying to continue against their stubborn attitude and point blank refusal to undertake their legal obligation  to provide us with a wind and watertight house.

Well, the sun finally came out, the duffle coat came off, the lambs made their entrance into the world. The sheep were turned out to grass which only started to grow a couple of weeks ago.
The fields were ploughed and sown with oats and barley, the others with grass and once all the Spring work had been done, my fighting spirit returned with a fury.

I had time to catch up with the news today whilst sitting with crossed fingers that my car would pass its MOT retest. The bits which were held on with bailer twine were frowned upon and fixed properly and the myriad of annoying but ignored bits all got sorted out. It was like waiting for Higher results and I felt just as thrilled when I was handed the certificate which announced my car legal.

So, while we were out farming and working, it appears that the tenant farmers of Scotland had been hoodwinked and betrayed en masse.
A rather expensive and dubious group of non farmers, led by an ex Moderator of the Church of Scotland (big wealthy landowners who cannot stretch the Widow's mite to Scots yet managed to build a luxury hotel in Beirut)....after collecting information on Land Reform from many sources, they, in their wisdom decided that they would not bother with tenant farmers but pass that on to the lairds themselves.

The same lairds who have done such a marvellous job in maintaining tenant/laird relationships, the lairds who like to own the land but prefer if others do the dirty work and lairds like ours who could not organise getting blootered in a bochan if they were transported in a whisky tanker.

What should our family do when we have a problem ie no roof, no water no electricity in the farmhouse belonging to the laird and his 'agent' absolutely refuses to communicate with us to the extent that he informed new neighbours to "Ignore the Otter Family as if they did not exist".

Our testament to existing on this farm lies outwith the farmyard. Our long hours of work show in the crops growing and healthy stock.

This arrogant and blinkered attitude has become the norm to these people and there are tenant farmers all over Scotland who genuinely suffer, usually in silence through fear, at the hands and deeds of rogue landowners.

Not all landowners are bad, far from it, yet the examples of good tenant relationships, good housing, potable water on private supplies, good land management are few and far between.
Not every landowner wants the land spoiled by wind farms and the subsidy which is trotted out as ' for the benefit of the community'. What benefit and what community? Let's not beat about the bush here, the money is for them, not the ordinary person.

If these landowners are so desperate for money, why won't they sell the farms to the tenants who have worked the land, sometimes for generations?

The entire land reform issue appears not to be about the people, it is about money, power and greed - and these are not qualities I have ever encountered in a tenant farmer.

The truth is, they want our land, not for  farming, hell no - just import food. Cover the countryside with massive wind farms, let the farmhouses decay and build houses that the working Scot cannot afford, isolate communities and turn Scotland into a playground for the wealthy non tax payer.

If the Scottish government and the LRRG think for one minute that the tenant farmers will roll on their bellies and submit to those who have made their lives hell for generations....they have made a very grave mistake. 'Sex up' a Clearance all you want but we have learned from experience...

I propose that a proper Land Reform group is formed. No landowners, no groups with a hidden agenda. I would love to see Andy Wightman consulted, hear Lesley Riddoch's Scandinavian ideas, speak with tenant farmers like ourselves who work and understand land management and who want to buy our own farms so we can invest in the future.

The government thought they could pull the wool over our eyes.

They forgot who produces the wool.
They forgot who turns the wool into tweed.
They only saw the tweed jackets. Those expensive jackets seasoned by 'fual'.

We need to be independent of these jackals in jackets, stinking of 'fual' and feudalism.

We need to be independent.


  1. Yay Go Girl. All the very very best with your endeavors. With determination like that you can only succeed.

  2. Thanks Rosie. Your support and positive words help to spur me on!

  3. Andy Wightman WAS consulted by the LRRG before it even issued its call for views from the general public. It's also worth noting that, in his 21 page submission to the LRRG, Andy managed only *nine words* on agricultural tenants. There were more pictures in his submission than words for agricultural tenants!

  4. neil, I believe the text reads "I propose that a proper land reform group is formed".
    By this, I mean a body of people who are not going to be wooed by lairds.
    Many of us trust Andy Wightman and several others to argue and deliver an accurate land reform proposal.
    There are certainly more than nine words on agricultural tenants in his book, "The Poor Had No Lawyers" and those of us who have the intelligence to understand the subject, did not need pictures.

  5. I have the intelligence, Otter, but I don't have your trust.

    The STFA spoke of their incredulity at the LRRG report. My "incredulity moment" was months earlier when I read Andy Wightman's submission to the LRRG - why did he soft pedal meaningful reforms like agricultural tenants in favour bimbling on about having the Land Register free in public libraries?

    I can only imagine he's building up to a political career and doesn't want to frighten any horses in the interim!

  6. neilscountryfile - no you don't have my trust.

    Why are you pointing the finger of blame at Andy Wightman when you really ought to be looking more closely at the integrity of the Scottish government and the LRRG.

  7. Also neilscountryfile, your blog does not exist, the link shows there is no such page.

    1. GO, my name is Neil King. My Google log-in includes my wife's name and she is more reluctant than I to have her name made public on subjects she has no involvement with so I tried to sign in with my Wordpress log-in which is in my name alone and usually produces a little picture - as for example when I comment on Andy's blog. I don't know why I don't get the same here - maybe because this isn't a Wordpress blog. Anyway, it's no more sinister than that!

      I am criticising Andy (not sure I'm "blaming" him - well I suppose I am in a way) for having made an inexplicably lame presentation to the LRRG. To use your phrase, it most emphatically did NOT "deliver an accurate land reform proposal".

      I have no reason to question the integrity of the SG or the LRRG - they may be wrong or misguided but I don't doubt their integrity.

  8. Neil - my sincerest apologies to both you and your wife.
    You have both been very supportive to our family in the past and I am sorry if the tone of my reply appeared rude.
    This blog entry has has realised an enormous amount of proper hits and many emails have come in as a result, the majority of them positive.

    I did not recognise and could not access your blog... When I click on the link, a message appears saying "Sorry,but you are looking for something that isn't here". I could not find the page on Google either.

    I am confused by the decision made by the LRRG. They had the ultimate say and whilst I know that it is still an ongoing process taking many opinions into consideration, the dismissal of the tenant farmers was baffling.

    Personally, I feel that Andy Wightman has done more work than any one else in Scotland in illustrating the feudal conditions some tenant farmers are forced to endure. Many of us have seen that he has put in the hours of research, travelled the country, spoken, Tweeted and published his book: He has earned the trust of the tenant as he has seen the conditions for himself.

    The LRRG were invited to our farm but did not reply. Our MSP was not interested in visiting. Their apathy makes you wonder if there is an alternative agenda.

    Meanwhile, we still have to endure these hellish conditions every day. We are so restricted to the whims of the lairds, we cannot diversify, have to use ancient sheds, rent another house from an equally inept landowner, ship in gallons of fresh water.

    I have found the past few months very difficult indeed, soul destroying. Our family had hoped something positive and modern would have been decided by the LRRG but the lairds got their way and the tenant will have to comply as they have done since the 1700s.

    This is not the modern Scotland we hoped for.

  9. No need to apologise. The blog linked to in my comments above doesn't exist (or rather it exists but I've never written any entries in it). I think this is under my Google sign-in which I've edited to be just in my name.

    On your next post, I've added a comment with an idea to reform agricultural tenancies but without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I should have added to that that no amount of legal regulation can deal with unreasonable people or people who won't communicate with each other. Just as divorce laws can't cure an unhappy marriage. And unhappy marriages are not a justification for banning all marriages.

    Personally, I think part of the problem is that the LRRG's remit was just too wide. They couldn't have addressed every single aspect of land tenure. They had to make a choice about what to concentrate on. Some people were bound to be disappointed about what was left out. Richard Lochead has given political commitments that absolute right to buy is off the agenda so maybe the LRRG said to itself "What's the point in wasting our limited time on something we know the Government is bound to reject, let's choose something with a better chance of success." Maybe that was a wrong tactic on the part of the LRRG but I prefer to think in terms of such cock-ups rather than conspiracies.