Viscount Astor has blasted SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon over her plans to forcibly nationalise a million acres of privately owned land in Scotland, a move he has compared to Robert Mugabe’s ‘land grabs’ in Zimbabwe.
His comments have come over the remarkable Marxist-Leninist inspired policy of the Scottish government to buy under compulsion land on the pretext that its remaining in private hands presents a “barrier to local economic and social development”. How dispassionately this will be judged is open to question, as the Scots have set a target for redistribution – one million acres, an area size equivalent to six Edinburgh cities.
Writing in The Spectator, Viscount Astor, who is the Prime Minister’s father-in-law described how his grandparents, immigrants to Scotland who were treated with suspicion by locals when they bought land in Jura, came to be trusted as they invested in the estate and improved the condition of living for locals. Regretting his family could be repaid for this by being turfed out, he asked:
“Are we estate owners now to be nationalised or made to feel so unwelcome that we have to sell up in a Mugabe-style land grab?
“The worry is that it will not actually be for the benefit of the local community but will hand power straight to the bureaucracy in Edinburgh. Under the SNP, governance has already been centralised there. ‘Benefit to all’ must mean all, not just special interest groups”.
The release of power to regions formerly governed from London over the past century remains open to question, with former rebel leaders elevated to the position of tyrants and suddenly able to exact revenge on collaborators – real or imagined – with the old regime. Such was the case in former Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, where brutal dictator Robert Mugabe has presided over decades of land reforms and seizures.
Intended to redistribute property from a small number of wealthy white landowners to the black majority in the name of fairness, equality, and riches for all, the programme had the unintended, but entirely foreseeable side effect of turning Africa’s richest nation into one of the poorest. Once the ‘bread-basket of Africa’ which fed a continent with it’s food exports, it is now better known as a ‘basket-case’ of hyper-inflation, corruption, and starvation.
Like the landowners of Zimbabwe, who were at first promised the redistribution would leave them with livelihoods, but later found themselves chased out of the land of their birth, Viscount Astor believes he and others are being targeted because they are seen as not only being rich, but as being fundamentally different to other Scots. He wrote:
“If the SNP wants us all to speak with a certain type of Scottish accent, what does that say to the many hundreds of thousands in the immigrant community who have lived in Scotland for a long time but still speak with the accent of their birth?
“Are they not Scottish?’ West coast Scottish estates require constant investment, but the beauty and ambience of the place, the people and its culture have always made it all worthwhile. Following the SNP victory, however, families like us worry that we will find ourselves regarded as foreigners again in our own country”.