Thursday, September 01, 2011

Help the Tenant Farmers

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP
I've recently been made aware of Scottish tenant farmers. Did you know that half of Scotland is owned by just 500 people? It would appear that many of these 'lairds' are not doing their duty by their tenants; tenants who tend the land, protect it from the ravages of the elements, and work it with love and tenacity. Tenants who can be evicted from a farm that a family has worked for 120 years in 28 days and placed in a B&B.

I find that shocking and shameful. You can read about the GentleOtter's efforts to stay on the farm worked by her husband's family for over a century at her blog, The Farm at the Back of Beyond.

I am writing about her blog to support her efforts, and I have taken the extraordinary, for me, step of writing to the Rt Hon Alex Salmond, MSP who is aware of GentleOtter's situation. If you are horrified by the plight of these Scottish (and English - their situation is no better apparently) tenant farmers, do write to him too and let's get some pressure building up from the grass roots.
Dear Mr Salmond

I have been reading about the plight of the Scottish (and English) tenant farmers, and find their situation quite shocking.

For people who are tending the land, looking after it and making it work, and asking only that the landlords respect their work and behave decently, it is a disgrace that they are treated so badly. When we read about criminals and foreign prisoners citing the Human Rights Bill to preserve their right to decent treatment, how can we let Scottish landowners treat their tenants so disgracefully?

No running drinking water, no heating, no repairs to keep out water and damp - what sort of law allows these landlords to get away with this feudal practice in the 21st century. Scotland is not Africa, yet decent hard-working families have no rights, their work is not valued or respected, and they can be thrown off a farm their family has worked for 120years in 28 days. 

Mr Salmond, please consider the plight of these people who are not asking for the earth, who do not wish to go on benefits or scrounge off the state. These are salt of the earth members of society, the sort who made the UK such a force throughout history. Please do what you can to set in motion reforms to bring the medieval laws up to date, to stop the lairds circumventing their duty, and to improve a situation which is shameful.

I have never written to a politician before, but I'm so aghast at the living conditions and imminent eviction of a decent family that I felt compelled to contact you.

Yours sincerely
Sarah Hague