A strongly-worded attack has been launched against the Scottish government’s decision to appoint a chairman to the new Crofting Commission.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott said a failure to allow crofting representatives to choose their own leader demonstrated a “command and control” strategy being exercised by the SNP.
His comments came after the commission’s new representatives met the Holyrood environment minister Stewart Stevenson for the first time this week.
Kathleen Sinclair, who was elected to represent Shetland, joined forces with her counterparts from Orkney, the Highlands and Western Isles for Monday’s meeting in Inverness – a day after the new commission officially came into being.
The new chairman is expected to be appointed later this year.
But Mr Scott demanded to know why the commission was not free to choose its own leader, and asked the government to justify its “domineering decision to interfere”.
“I strongly believe that the board should be trusted to select their own chairman. The Scottish government’s decision says it all about their ‘command and control’ attitude.
“What’s the point of having elections to select the members of the Crofting Commission if the SNP have already decided the chairman is going to be one of their own? I will be raising this in parliament and awaiting with interest the Scottish government’s justification for this typically domineering decision to interfere.
“Kathleen Sinclair won the Shetland crofters’ vote to be the industry’s representative on the Crofting Commission. I have no doubt Kathleen and her fellow commissioners are well able to choose any actively competent person from within their ranks who would command the confidence of the crofting community. But no, the nationalist government wants to control the appointment. How disappointing but not surprising.”
The new commission is largely made up of elected representatives. But those appointed to the commission board are Susan Walker, William Swann and one-time Scottish election hopeful for the Conservatives in Shetland, Sandy Cross.
It supersedes the similarly-titled Crofters Commission, and has been designed to meet the changing needs of crofting in the 21st century.
The changes mean the commission will have the power to regulate crofting to ensure lands are occupied and worked or, if not, made available to those who want to croft.