Communications and public relations are a necessary part of modern political life. Indeed, getting your message over often absorbs more time and effort than the content of the message itself. So, when the First Minister, Alex Salmond, was invited to speak at the AGM of Scottish Land and Estates, I assumed that he would have a well-thought through political objective. I tried to ascertain what this might be and was told by an SNP insider that the invitation to speak “seems to have come about as a result of a door-step invite at some occasion. I am not lending it great significance”.
Thus it was no great surprise (to me at any rate) to read an anodyne and vacuous speech which contained no challenge to the established order and to landed hegemony. I hope the Scottish Government are pleased with the headlines they got in the Scottish landowners in-house journal. I presume this is what they wanted since, if they didn’t, they should sack their communications and strategy staff. The editorial by the Chair of Scottish Land and Estates could not be more triumphant (and see further coverage here and here). Salmond has been well and truly nobbled (and according to the last paragraph some sort of partnership is being negotiated between landowners and the government). Land reform is off the agenda.
A stinging endorsement for tenant farmers.
This should be required reading for the poor, misguided souls who genuinely believe that there is anything remotely radical or progressive about either Salmond or Nationalism.
It’s a pity Brian Wilson has to reduce this important issue to party-political sniping; Labour’s record on this is nothing of which to be particularly proud, so it is not the best place from which to throw stones.
As a misguided soul myself, I think the evidence is conclusive that the Union and current constitutional arrangements are extremely unlikely ever to provide the context within which to address the issue of land ownership in Scotland.