It was previously raised on this blog that the statement made by Crofting Commissioner Murdo Maclennan after the board meeting on 17 August was fairly unintelligible.
This was a statement made by him, on behalf of the Crofting Commission, following discussion by them of the letter from Fergus Ewing MSP, the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for crofting, on the Commission’s handling of the common grazings debacle.
That statement was made by Murdo Maclennan in English. He made another statement on the same day to the media in Gaelic. That Gaelic statement was broadcast on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal’s Aithris an Fheasgair on 17 August 2016.
The Crabbit Crofter has made as accurate a transcription and translation into English from Gaelic as he could of this statement, and that as follows:-
…that was in the letter and…um…and…eh…the Convener made…eh…he brought the letter to the board…about it…as I said…as…as…every public board is anyway…there will be different opinions…and we came…we talked about it and we came to the conclusion…everyone in the…everyone in the Commission was behind…as I’m saying…and accepted it.
Unfortunately in these two villages that…they didn’t come to an agreement…there wasn’t an agreement…between the people who raised the topic and…and…eh…the township committees themselves but…but that’s past now…and…and we are working eh with…as in Upper Coll…we have got a Constable who is working with crofters in the village…and…and…I am finding out he is working well with them…eh… unfortunately …I said that it was…it came to this…but we think we did the right things for the township.
Well, no better or any more understandable than the statement made in English!
Interesting that in this statement Murdo Maclennan speaks specifically about an apparent lack of agreement in two villages (there were actually three involved: two on the Isle of Lewis and one on the Scottish mainland) but “that’s past now”.
It may be in the past in the Commission’s eyes but it is what Fergus Ewing’s letter was all about and crofters still want answers as to why the Commission took the action that they did and assurances that they will never do so, in such circumstances, again.
The Commission’s current policy on this matter, in light of the letter from Fergus Ewing MSP, must be made clear and this statement goes nowhere near doing so.
Murdo Maclennan says “we have got a Constable”. Is this, yet again, the Commission thinking the constable is their man on the ground rather than an independent party distinct from the Commission who simply takes the role of clerk/committee?
In any event the grazings constable in question is illegal! If the Crofting Commission are now accepting that they got it wrong, in light of Fergus Ewing’s letter, does it not follow that they are accepting that they got it wrong in relation to the appointment of constables?
The Crofting Commission, via Murdo Maclennan seems to think that the illegally appointed constable in Upper Coll is “working well” with the crofters in the village. Certainly not the message being given out loud and clear by many of the crofters in the village who have stated that to date they have “only been co-operating with the constable under duress”.
Also Murdo Maclennan said, on behalf of the Crofting Commission, that they think they “did the right things for the township”. That is not what the majority of crofters or the Scottish Government seem to think. Also is that statement actually reflected in the massive U-turn the Commission took over Mangersta?
All and all it still seems to be a shambles. The Crofting Commission appear to say, perhaps reluctantly, on one hand that they agree that they got it wrong (i.e. in support of the Scottish Government position) but on the other hand they still think that they did the right thing. Those two viewpoints cannot sit easily side by side.
However, the statements made on behalf of the Crofting Commission by Murdo Maclennan, both in English and in Gaelic, are far from clear in any event and are open to misinterpretation.
The Crofting Commission must, in all the circumstances, publish a written statement in clear English and Gaelic (each one being a direct translation of the other) that sets out their actual position on the matter. This should, in any event, have been done as a matter of course immediately following their board meeting last Wednesday.
Update: 3 September 2016
In the West Highland Free Press yesterday a letter was published from Murdo Maclennan under the heading “Partick twang” to blame. It reads:-
I refer to the comments of Ms Mandeville of the SCF as reported on the WHFP website on 19th August and her reference to my “apparent assertion after a recent board meeting”.
As she does not disclose her source of information I assume that she is referring to my post-board interview with BBC Alba. My Gaelic is nuanced through a Partick twang and she has clearly misinterpreted my public statement. I did state during the interview that the Commission conducted a debate followed by a motion, which I moved, being carried unanimously and without dissent. In any public body vigorous debate is surely to be encouraged and not disparaged.
Sorry, Mr Maclennan but that goes nowhere near resolving the confusion you have already created – It may in fact have caused more!
Do the Commission take the view that they have done nothing wrong despite the letter from Fergus Ewing? A simple “Yes” or “No” in English, Gaelic or Partick twang will suffice.