Am Bratach No. 202
August 2008


Letter to the editor

Oran a’ Phetition

Over one hundred years ago Màiri Mhòr nan Oran remarked that her people had become so strange that sorrow was wheat to them. Despite this many of her contemporaries stood up to fight for their rights on the land which brought the Clearances to an end. What they achieved was security of tenure based upon residency and working the land. These are principles still upheld by the recent crofting reform recommendations, although described in modern legal terminology as burdens. What a shame on some crofters that these founding principles appear to be eclipsed by Thatcherite commodity-based interest. These interests by their nature require decrofting, and this cannot contribute to the future of crofting..

Sibhse tha cho fiosarach am Pàrlamaid na tìr
Thoiribh dhuinn na h-àirighean, na mullaichean ‘s na frìth

A local song from those troubled times makes a cry for land and democracy, and now that some measure of it is on offer in the crofting reform recommendations, by way of elected representatives to regulate crofting, what do the pages of the local papers fill with but a call for its rejection in the name of our forefathers who, “sweated blood and tears to create crofts” (Northern Times, July 25). As a descendant of the Muie Martyrs who still works the very land fought for, as well as an elected representative of the Scottish Crofting Foundation (SCF), I feel a duty to say what I can in defence of crofting and Highland culture. I also object to any attempt to somehow subvert the achievement of our crofting forefathers to support a free market.

If SCF membership feels that giving the SCF boat a good rocking is what is needed than that is a healthy thing, and many good points have arisen out of the meetings held throughout the Highlands and Islands; points which will be carried forward in the consultations to come. It is up to us all to carefully consider what future we would like to see for crofting. Finally, since the petition scribblers mentioned above want to rewrite history, why not rename and rewrite the song quoted above. In fact in a gesture of generosity, I’ll even do it for them:

Oran a’ Phetition
Sibhse tha cho fiosarach am Pàrlamaid na tìr
Thoiribh dhuinn na h-àirighean, na mullaichean ’s na frìth
’Son taighean-samhraidh ’s laraichean gan creic aig a’ phrìs as àird’
Dhan donais le mo nàbaidhean, gu math fad beò a bhios mi.

Alasdair MacMhaoirn
Muigh Shios
Sgìre Raoird

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