An open letter from Rob Gibson MSP
The last thing crofting needs in 2009 is another LibDem peddling Victorian platitudes. 129 years after the 1886 Crofting Act its strengths and weaknesses are all too apparent in today's conditions.
Those of us long involved in ways to make crofts viable and improve Highland land use don't need insults about lack of understanding of Highland issues. [letters 31 July] . Seeing the neglect, absenteeism and misuse of our most basic resource which the Highland Land League strove to save for the people 100 years ago, we need no potted history from Alan MacRae that ignores forces such as the wider economy, planning and food prices that affect crofting beyond Crofting law.
Let him remember that his LibDem minister Ross Finnie and four successive Labour deputies totally delayed and finally botched croft reform from 1999 to 2006. They were forced to set up the Shucksmith Enquiry which the SNP inherited. Awkward truths on the state of crofting and croft regulation were revealed.
The SNP seeks long-lasting solutions and is working with crofters and the Scottish Crofting Foundation to find the best way forward. During the passage of the 2006 Act the SNP voted with JF Munro to get a partly elected Crofters Commission. This was vetoed by the majority of Labour and LibDem MSPs.
Today we have the opportunity to make good the time lost to crofting by LibDem and Labour blunders. Insults are petty. It's time to make clear what active crofting needs in the way of transparent regulation without added burdens. Petitions are all very well, positive ideas to sustain crofting in the 21st century are much more constructive.
Rob Gibson SNP MSP
Highlands and Islands
4 Grant St., Wick