The Cross Party Group on Crofting met on Wednesday night at Holyrood.
This followed the private meeting between Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary responsible for crofting, and all of the Crofting Commissioners. At that private meeting Mr Ewing told Commissioners that he expected them to rescind their decisions and issue an apology to the three grazings committees removed from office since December 2015.
One would have expected the Convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy, to have represented the Crofting Commission at the Cross Party Group meeting. However, he was nowhere to be seen at that meeting. Where was he? He was in Edinburgh (presumably in the very same building) earlier that very same day for the meeting with Mr Ewing. One assumes he would not have been able to get back to the Isle of Coll after that meeting to tend to his croft and would have been staying overnight in Edinburgh in any event?
As Convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy, has the particular responsibility of representing the views of the Board to the general public. This will include those attending the Cross Party Group on Crofting.
Colin Kennedy did not attend the last Cross Party Group meeting in June on the day when the Crofting Commission took a massive U-turn on their stance at Mangersta Common Grazings.
Colin Kennedy did not attend the last Scottish Government Crofting Stakeholder Forum meeting when the Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, announced her resignation.
Colin Kennedy did not attend this week’s Cross Party Group meeting when one would have thought he should have been there to advise that meeting of the outcome of the earlier meeting that day between Commissioners and Mr Ewing.
Instead Commissioner Murdo Maclennan attended this week’s Cross Party Group meeting, disclosed nothing about the earlier meeting with Mr Ewing and refused to answer questions verbally saying he would only do so in writing. However, after the meeting he appears to have released information to the BBC that again one would have thought could and perhaps should have been revealed first to the Cross Party Group.
Why is the Convener in hiding?
Why is the Convener not attending meetings on the Commission’s behalf and representing the views of the Board?
Is the Convener “unsuitable to continue” in that role given this clear dereliction of duty on top of and in addition to the abuse of power he has been accused of?
Presumably the Convener will have to come out of hiding for the Board meeting of the Crofting Commission at Brora on 28 September. Presumably after that meeting it will have to be he who gives the public apology to the crofters affected by the decisions to remove grazings committees from office. Thereafter he can perhaps go into hiding again especially if he takes the advice of the Chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Fiona Mandeville, who said:-
As the person who seems to be behind the on-going attacks on crofting committees, it would be appropriate for the Convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy to give the apology in his resignation statement.