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Who will buy it? An oligarch? A crook? A banker? As ever, money will decide.

Byline: BRIAN WILSON Former Labour minister and veteran campaigner for land reform

In 1902, a very rich man - Sir Charles Cayzer - bought large lumps of Scotland for each of his six children who thus became masters of all they surveyed.

As landlords, they achieved dominant roles over tenants and communities within their new domains.

It sounds a primitive concept - when wealth can buy not only an asset but authority and influence over the lives of ordinary, decent people. To achieve that status, the landlord was required to pass no test of suitability, far less have a single vote cast in his favour.

The bad news is that the same primitive concept prevails today and absolutely nothing is being done to change it.

After eight years, the current Scottish Government have not lifted a finger to advance land reform.

The limited progress of the previous decade has ground to a halt.

Even then, the "community right to buy" was confined to crofting estates in the Highlands and islands where the powers of landlordism were already constrained and land values lower as a result.

The rest of rural Scotland, where the heavy hand of the "big house" still prevails, remains untouched by legislation.

In counties like Angus - where Kinpurnie Estate is for sale - the free market still operates without let or hindrance.

Nothing has changed since the 19th century when titans of the industrial revolution followed Queen Victoria into regarding a Scottish estate as an essential status accessory, mainly to pursue "sport".

If ever there was a distinctively Scottish issue crying out for the attention of Holyrood, then this is it.

If a fraction of the time spent obsessing about the constitution had been devoted to the practical measures of land reform, then rural Scotland could be a much livelier, more democratic place than today.

But land reform was consigned to the box marked "too difficult".

It involves taking on powerful vested interests and upsetting the myth that all Scotland is one big happy family where "Jock's as good as his maister" and the interests of landlords and tenants are as one.

Oh no, they're not - never have been and never will be.

So who will buy Kinpurnie and who cares? A Russian oligarch? A money-laundering Scottish crook? An oil-rich Arab? Perhaps a banker with bonus to spare? The certainty is only one factor will decide the outcome - money. Just as it did in 1902.

If there has ever been a distinctively Scottish issue crying out for the attention of Holyrood, then this is it
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2013
Previous Article:No topping us now.

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