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Scotland - Land and Power: The Agenda for Land Reform

by Andy Wightman
(Book Review)

" Show the people that our Old Noblity is not noble, that its lands are stolen lands – stolen either by force or fraud; show people that the title-deeds are rapine, murder, massacre, cheating, or Court harlotry; dissolve the halo of divinity that surrounds hereditary title; let the people clearly understand that our present House of Lords is composed largely of descendants of successful pirates and rogues; do these things and you shatter the Romance that keeps the nation numb and spellbound while privilege pricks its pocket".

Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland
From Our Scots Noble Families, 1909 (reprinted 1999, Argyll Publishing)

What is Land Reform?

Why is it needed?

Will the new Scottish Parliament really make a difference?

Scotland – Land and Power is a highly readable and uncompromising argument for land reform. It argues passionately for nothing less than a radical, comprehensive programme of reform and rejects palliative solutions which treat the symptoms and not the causes of inequalities and injustices in the current situation. Andy Wightman explodes the myth that land issues are relevant only to the far flung fringes of rural Scotland and questions mainstream political commitment to land reform.

Commissioned by the Democratic Left Scotland, this controversial and provocative book clarifies the complexities of land ownership in Scotland and, helped by entertaining cartoon illustrations, makes a compelling case for dismantling existing landed power structures and promoting a pluralistic land owning democracy.

The journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch provides a foreword to the book and cautions that the present process is being unduly rushed. Like Wightman she is wary that the Scottish Executive’s recommended solutions may not be fully appropriate nor have the expected outcomes that legislators anticipate.

Chapters include:

bulletFirst a Bit of History
bulletScotland – A Feudal land at the Onset of a New Millennium
bulletSo What is Land Reform?
bulletThe Politics of Land Reform
bulletA Critique of Existing Proposals
bulletA Land Reform Programme
bulletAh But
bulletFurther Reading

This is a very accessible, comprehensive and well argued book. It is quite simply essential reading and perfectly timed – for Scotland’s legislators to get up to speed on what radical land reform is all about.

Scotland – Land and Power: The Agenda for Land Reform

Andy Wightman, 126 pages, 1999
Published by Luath Press Ltd, Edinburgh
ISBN 0 946487 70 7
Price 5.00