Wednesday, 15 April 2009

'Crofting Reform Not A Distraction' - Gibson

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has slammed Labour MSPs who try to divert attention from the mess into which crofting sank under previous governments by blaming the SNP Government for implementing key Shucksmith proposals to stabiles crofting population and end the sell off of good crofting land for profit.

He said,

"Highland Labour MSPs think that crofters have a short memory. It was Labour and LibDem ministers in 2007 who attempted to remedy the mess their abortive crofting reform bill left behind. When they set up the Crofting Enquiry under Prof. Shucksmith they sought solutions to the forces undermining crofting. Next month the SNP Government will reveal its law changes to achieve that. Now is not the time to halt that process."

"The current economic crisis is only the tip of a huge iceberg of unresolved problems for crofting which the SNP Government inherited from its predecessors. How can Labour be so crass as to propose that law reform will ignore this economic reality? Crofting can only succeed if fair transport prices are assured for livestock. Also the catastrophic population decline of the Western Isles of 18% in 20 years indicates that the problems have not just arisen through the Downing Street Downturn of the last six months."

"The offer of Labour MSPs to work with Scottish ministers on their terms is merely a headline grabbing distraction. When some of the Shucksmith proposals were accepted by the SNP government and are revealed next month that will be the basis for planning a sustainable future for our least favoured areas.

"LFASS and the SRDP were both planned by Labour and LibDems in the government before 2007. Crofting reform needs to stabilise human lives in the crofting areas as a first step, so absenteeism and bloated land sales of croft land must be curbed and new entrants encouraged to work the land. In a world needing food, the crofters brand will only succeed when comprehensive croft reforms are decided in Parliament."

"New Labour and LibDems can carp all they like, crofting is reaping the whirlwind of their mismanagement which the SNP Government will try to sort out."


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