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Nicola Sturgeon and Robert Mugabe

Summary:
Robert Mugabe died four days ago on the 6th September 2019. He will be remembered for his human rights abuses, corruption and his disastrous land reform.Nicola Sturgeon is definitely not Robert Mugabe, but we can identify some similar themes within their ideologies. The SNP are known to be massive fans of land reform. They promise a new vision for Scotland with "a target of one million acres of land being in community ownership by 2020." However, there appears to be something much more sinister going on. The SNP claim the aim of registration is "to ensure that Scotland’s land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few, and that our system of land rights promotes fairness, social justice, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity for all in our rural and urban

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Robert Mugabe died four days ago on the 6th September 2019. He will be remembered for his human rights abuses, corruption and his disastrous land reform.

Nicola Sturgeon is definitely not Robert Mugabe, but we can identify some similar themes within their ideologies. The SNP are known to be massive fans of land reform. They promise a new vision for Scotland with "a target of one million acres of land being in community ownership by 2020." 

However, there appears to be something much more sinister going on. The SNP claim the aim of registration is "to ensure that Scotland’s land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few, and that our system of land rights promotes fairness, social justice, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity for all in our rural and urban communities." Once again, we see that hateful phrase, ‘many, not the few”, soaked in the petrol of identity politics, attempting to burn down the last remaining structures of sensible political debate. They rely upon creating an ‘other’ who they can struggle against. This article by the Spectator written in early 2015 predicted how reforms would seek to make landowners ‘foreigners in their own land’ as well as centralise control to Edinburgh. We have increasingly seen this especially with the powers given to Scottish minister discussed further below. 

In Zimbabwe the government had a policy of compulsory land seizures and transactions long before the violence that erupted in 2000. In 1992, legislation was put in place that said that the government could acquire any land that it saw fit as long as there was some financial compensation, replacing the concept of "willing buyer, willing seller" which had been Mugabe's previous land reform policy. 

The situation in Zimbabwe subsequently went from bad to worse - eventually culminating in open violence against landowners and farm workers. While we do not yet see the Duke of Buccleuch or the Duke of Atholl being openly threatened or lynched, the SNP are becoming emboldened by land reforms in the islands and there is increasing hostile questioning of 'who owns Scotland' by many online. 

At the ASI we have nothing against cooperatives. Indeed, we have recently penned a piece in praise of them (here). However, if cooperative land ownership works so well why is it necessary to force it? If it is an efficient system and markets perform properly then we would naturally see many community land ownership schemes opening up. I am sure that many of the schemes do indeed work very well and the original right to buy was a great idea, allowing communities to be at the front of the line to buy the land just before it went on the market. But imposing a collectivist economic system from the top has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.   

The whole process is also clouded in smoke and mis-information. Despite websites such as the Community Ownership Support Service claiming that "it is not a forced sale of land" the 2016 Act is clear that the right to buy does not require a willing seller and Scottish ministers can force landowners to sell.  If this is not a forced sale of land then I propose the ASI should be allowed, for the price of 50 pence, to purchase College Green for the purposes of ‘sustainable development’ to turn it into an open-air BBQ and bar area.

All of these highlight just how ridiculous the SNP policies are. For the sake of Scottish agriculture, the basic right to own property, common sense and the principle of learning from mistakes made before in history we hope that this system of land reform will be stopped and that property rights respected.

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