I was up at an ungodly hour this morning to pay a visit to the Scottish Parliament for the debate on the future of crofting. It was worth it though…

Not that there was much debating going on, for once MSPs were unanimous in their acceptance of the Committee of Inquiry on Crofting’s report which was published this week. In the debate at Holyrood, MSPs of all parties warmly commended the radical conclusions of the report and it was most gratifying to see and hear such cross party consensus and recognition of crofting’s contribution to community, environment, food and future within the Scottish rural economy.

Particular praise is singled out for the SNP’s statements, particularly Michael Russell and his positive introduction and conculsion in the chamber but also the Labour party’s admission that they got it wrong during the last Executive and will make doubly sure they get things right for crofters this time round.

SCF Parliamentary spokesman Norman Leask said:

“It is remarkable that a subject as contentious as crofting produced such a consensus amongst the politicians. All speakers accepted the recommendations of the report, although, quite rightly, some were keen to see the detail worked out.

There was on all sides a genuine appreciation of the social, economic and environmental benefits of crofting and of the huge contribution it can make to rural development.”

MSPs were keen to see the parts of the report that could proceed without legislation implemented without delay. The Scottish Government promised to work on the necessary legislation over the summer having admitted that the three days to absorb the radical proposals set forth by Shucksmith was not enough to react fully particularly with regard to governance. However the foundations appear to have been laid for a new era in crofting and a positive future.

(There also appeared to be a good deal of support expressed today for extending the traditional crofting communities further  afield which may (or may not!) appeal to Ol’ Stoney, an “unofficial” crofter in Aberdeenshire who talks the talk and certainly walks the walk but by matter of legalities of the 1868 Act is not classed as such in the eyes of the Powers That Be).