All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The new Highland Clearances - Rachman style.

Highland Clearances (detail)Image by gillfoto via FlickrHow would you like to live on a farm which your family has worked for 120 years, for which you pay your rent, in full and on time, on which you pay council tax.....and where your landlord has removed the electricity supply, your water is polluted with e coli, and the main house is classed as uninhabitable, because the landlord refuses to make repairs?

How would you like it that the landlord, having reduced the house to that state, can have it declared uninhabitable, with the result that you have to move out in 28 days to council accommodation...a B and B somewhere in town... with the news that should you resist, your children will be taken into care avoid them having to live in a house rated as uninhabitable?

Can you believe that this is happening in a first world country in the twenty first century?

Read Gentle Otter's blog about her life in rural Perthshire, then please write to the Alex Salmond at


 and let him know how shameful it is that Scotland's devolved government could once again be described as 'a parcel of rogues in a nation' in that it allows this to happen.

If you have any links with the media...please use them.

We don't want more families singing a modern equivalent of the Canadian boating song

    “From the lone sheiling of the Misty Isle,
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas;
but, the blood is strong and the heart is Highland,
and we in dreams behold the Hebribes.
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  1. James Boswell - not to mention William Wallace - must be spinning in their graves.

  2. I hope lots of people blog about this and write to Alex Salmond. These people should not be forgotten - without their work on the land it would all go to rack and ruin.

  3. Thank you so much for your post, highlighting this injustice - not just GentleOtter, but many other tenant farmers are living in substandard conditions, scared to speak out.

  4. On behalf of our family and the tenant farmers who live in poor conditions, may we thank you for this wonderfully written article.

    It is so heartening to know we are receiving such incredible support and it makes the fight easier.

    One day soon, we will be free of feudalism.


  5. Steve, and if it was happening in Africa we'd have 'The Guardian' doing it's nut....

    Sarah, it emphasises what is wrong with our society...we throw people doing something worthwhile to the wolves, pretending that the 'sportsmen' who wreck what they have worked so hard to preserve bring 'value' to the country...

    The question is...what do we do about it apart from trying to interest our masters in the financial and political nexus that pretends to be a system of democratic government / the very nexus that is allowing these people to be persecuted.

    MmeLindor, I had had no idea that the legislation had changed in the 90s, and even less that our society had reduced hard working people to such a condition.
    I do hope people with more clout than me will do something to help.

    GentleOtter, you're in for a hard fight..and I wish I could do something practical to help.
    I'm contacting the Scots community in Costa Rica, small though it is, to ask them to write in protest.
    Mony a mickle maks a muckle..

  6. Thank you for high lighting this. I shall be contacting Alex Salmond today.

  7. Very close to my heart is this. Thank you for promoting and sharing this story and ‘Gentle Otters’ plight, for us all to see. I’d never heard of the ‘Highland Clearances’ before, either from a historical viewpoint or as is clearly happening right now in the not so civilised 21st century, in Perthshire. I’ve just turned up a web link to this site , which for me, paints an impressively comprehensive potted history of the Highland Clearances, including a number of directly related governmental/political issues, concerning the plight of the tenant farmers in the last couple of decades.

    Do you know if the ‘Gentle Otter’ is contactable by email Fly? There is no email address listed on her blog. I can ask her via a comment on her blog of course, but I wondered if you were maybe already in touch with her.

    Apart from hurling a mail at Alex Salmond before the night is over, I’d like to contact The Guardian news desk and suggest they pick up the thread of their plight here and perhaps try to do so with the celebrity muscle of Billy Connolly & Sir Sean Connery in full support as well. Both these stars are devoted supporters and fund raisers for victims of poverty and injustices, very similar to the nightmare that ‘Gentle Otter’ is experiencing right now. But I don’t want to actually contact the paper before asking her first, for all manner of reasons, which only ‘Gentle Otter’ is in a position to consider, and so on.

  8. Bish Bosh Bash, a dreadful situation, isn't it?
    I don't have an e mail address...I came to the blog through 'a Taste of Garlic' - and a million brownie points to Keith for publicising it.

    I agree on the steps to be taken...but what Gentle Otter wants to be done I don't know and I would hate to step on her toes and possibly compromise action she is already try her comments box.

  9. Back from a trip down south, I see that the world has not improved in my absence. Thanks for posting this, Fly: I've just sent an email to Alex whatsisname.

  10. Pueblo girl, hideous that the law allows people to be treated as if they are less than nothing.

  11. It's a scandal i've already seen highlighted elsewhere, Fly, but the more coverage the better. Spending part of every year in the Northern Highlands as I now do, the very word clearances raises the hairs on the back of my neck, it is so much part of the history of the area.

  12. Perpetua, I was appalled.

    And, as yet, no sign of the promised reply from Alex Salmond...why am I not surprised?

  13. This is so terrible. I had no idea. I'll check out the sites you mentioned.