Land Reform and the Independence Referendum

The issue of land reform has been simmering on a low political heat amid the white noise of competing claims over Scotland’s constitutional future. Its source is the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG), appointed by the Scottish Government in July 2012 to develop “innovative and radical” proposals for greater diversity of ownership and ownership types in Scotland and support for communities in land acquisition and management.

The LRRG is not due to produce its final report until April 2014, which might look to some like an attempt by the Scottish Government to punt ‘the Land Question’ into the long grass ahead of the Scottish Independence Referendum in September 2014.

Viewed in that light, Johann Lamont’s speech at the Scottish Labour Party Conference on Saturday makes for interesting reading. It contains a policy commitment to extend the currently rural focus of the “community right to buy” contained in Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to also include urban communities. Continue reading


Margaret Thatcher: from Iron Lady to Green Goddess?

Margaret Thatcher’s apparent metamorphosis from Iron Lady to Green Goddess towards the end of her premiership has gone largely unremarked amid the deluge of commentary following her death.   Yet in October 1988 the then Prime Minister stood up to deliver her keynote address to the Conservative Party Conference in which she asserted that “we Conservatives… are not merely friends of the Earth – we are its guardians and trustees for generations to come.  The core of Tory philosophy and the case for protecting the environment are the same.  No generation has a freehold on this earth.  All we have is a life tenancy – with a full repairing lease.  And this Government intends to meet the terms of that lease in full”. Continue reading