The Scottish Farmer seems to be confused by the Common Grazings Crisis.
They think that:-
The furore within crofting circles shows no sign of abating, as the impasse between the governing body, the Crofting Commission, and the industry representative body, the Scottish Crofting Federation, meanders on.
It is not an impasse between the Crofting Commission and the Scottish Crofting Federation. It is an impasse between the Crofting Commission and crofters. In particular the crofters directly affected by the decisions of the Crofting Commission to remove from office the members of three grazings committees.
One minute the ‘findings’ of Grazings ‘Constable’ Colin Souter is front page news. The next minute they are calling him Ian Souter.
The debate regarding the removal of this Ian Souter could they suggest “continue forever” as he has “support within the crofting community“. That will be 4 out of 42 shareholders!
One minute they are running a poll that shows that 96% of readers who took part considered that the Scottish Government should enact an independent inquiry into the workings of the Crofting Commission. The next minute they are running a poll on “should crofting put its house in order without government intervention?”
They think “the time has come for a line to be drawn and for a new Upper Coll committee to steer the way forward“. Probably not many disagreements there other than perhaps from Colin/Ian Souter and Colin Kennedy.
They think that “this decision would be much better taken without government intervention“. I’m sure it would have been but time has shown that there is a clear inability on the part of the Crofting Commission to accept its wrongs. If anything in recent weeks they have been going out of their way to make matters worse with the inexplicable quest via Colin Souter to find something, anything, to justify their actions in the first place.
This all on the back of the first government intervention when Fergus Ewing MSP made it clear than the government’s views were “diametrically opposed” to those held by Commission Convener, Colin Kennedy.
Despite this first intervention and rebuke the Crofting Commission, with Colin Kennedy still at the helm, steered into even stormier waters clearly not heeding what Mr Ewing had told them.
The result was undoubtedly going to be the need for Mr Ewing to intervene again. He did so before the latest poll from The Scottish Farmer properly got off the ground.
Again Mr Ewing has told the Crofting Commission they got it wrong. This time he has asked them to “swiftly resolve” the crisis in crofting of their making. He has also told them to apologise to the crofters they have hurt so badly and the expectation is that this apology must come from Colin Kennedy.
Mr Ewing has also instructed government officials to carry out a review of the governance of the Crofting Commission.
Yes, it would have been better for there to have been no need for government intervention. But week upon week of the Crofting Commission making the situation worse not better has left little option but for this intervention to take place. It has been very necessary and extremely justified.
I reckon that if Fergus Ewing is forced to intervene a third time (chances are that he will have to) it will be the last time he does so as by that stage heads will have to roll.
Crofting Commissioners should reflect on that when deciding their next move at their board meeting in Brora on Wednesday.
Hat Tip: With thanks to Donald Macsween for drawing this to my attention.