I cycled over to see my big brothers yesterday, he lives in Tayport, he had booked a table at the local pub for us so we sat out in the beer garden reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ which mostly weren’t. Our meals arrived, my steak pie in a jam jar, with a piece of the traditional Scottish puff pastry sticking out the top, my brother’s Haddock and chips arrived on a piece of Welsh slate, at least I had a plate. We both looked at the food then at each other and almost simultaneously said
“It’s different”. Many things were spoken off.
On my return home I sat up until 2 in the morning finishing, Andy Wightman’s book Scotland: Land and Power. In the book, Andy said this,
Reforming the system may involve going beyond the measures outlined in this book. The way in which land is traded, used, abused, financed, subsidised and developed has reached levels which no civilised society should tolerate. The following advertisement recently appeared in the Financial Times:
For the price of a flat in Fulham you can create your own wooded estate paid for by government grants – Net income for 10 – 15 years with inheritance tax/Capital Gains Tax advantages, protect the environment and establish new wildlife habitats, sporting and family enjoyment.
This scheme, the ‘Farm Woodland Scheme’, is intended to assist farmers to diversify into forestry – a commendable and worthwhile endeavour – but is being promoted as a get rich quick scheme for wealthy investors who can buy a farm, be paid to plant trees on it, enjoy a government-financed net annual income of 7-12 per cent of capital invested, and capital asset which again is tax-free!
There should not be much bothered finding takers. As the trouble farmers leave the hills, the ‘Caledonian Initiative’ hit the road visiting Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to drum up interest in Scottish land. The solicitors, Tods Murray and land agent John Clegg have created a travelling one-stop-shop where rich businessmen will be shown the range of land for sale in Scotland.
Nowhere else in Europe could such an unregulated market have sway over so much land. What is really scandalous is that so much public money can get thrown at Scottish farms, not for the Scottish farmers, but for people already seriously rich retreat on the back of British taxpayers money and tax breaks.
The first thing that came to mind on reading this was what happened when land, that had once been allotments and council homes in London, that were swept away for the Olympic Games to be held there. The People of course we’re told that the homes would be replaced and yes ‘some’ would be affordable housing. After the Olympics were over houses were built on the land, but only advertised and promoted as buy-to-let investments in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
I certainly remember Economic Forestry promoted a similar scheme to the one being promoted above. High earning snooker players in 1980 were the target then, they were told they could invest in land in Scotland, plant trees on that land with grants from the British government and of course it was a tax break at the benevolence of the British taxpayer.
Back to blethers in Tay Port. My brother told me how his son had been working in Vietnam for a charitable company that we’re building homes for the homeless people of Vietnam, the building were prefabricated in NZ and shipped out, my nephew’s job was to oversee the work and under him, he had 33 natives of Vietnam. For reasons unknown to me, the work was to stop for six months, whereupon all the man would all be paid off.
After a discussion with his boss back home he found that his wages were such that by reducing his wage by only 50 per cent, over the six month period, he could safe the jobs and livelihoods, of the 33 men under him, and since they all had families to support suggested this to his boss.
Now apart from why and how this happened, if half the wage of one man is equal to that of 33 Vietnamese, what hope is there that industry will ever move back to the UK from overseas, and what hope is there that these workers overseas will ever be able to have decent wages and life chances and standards of the western world?
We know that Brexit has changed the face of Scotland. We know that the deal that Boris has done with NZ will make Scottish lamb more expensive and that Scottish hill farms will no longer be sustainable, more so when the EU subsidies, that Boris promised will remain after Brexit are withdrawn, land, that may have been farmed for generations by the same family will be sold off to inverters from Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, who will plant trees on it, (and not hardwoods but conifers that will have little commercial worth in 15 years time). Is this really what Scottish farmers (among the biggest section of people in Scotland to vote for Brexit) really voted for.
Come on Nicola extract your head from your arse and let’s have land reform in Scotland, and as I see it, the only route open to the radical change that will bring that about is Independence, the people of Scotland are waiting and they will not forgive you, for continually kicking this into the long grass.