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It is widely held that land reform in Scotland is key to liberating Scots from the most concentrated pattern of ownership in the developed world.
Former MSP, Rob Gibson delves into land reform to embrace the idea that to succeed, first you must remember what has created the problem, then revise the possibilities for change, and finally reclaim the land for the people who live here.
Rob was a student campaigner for crofting and land reform and decades later was elected to the Scottish Parliament. There he helped make far-reaching land reform laws.
Along the way he took part in many of the formative events and debates in Scotland’s land reform journey.
Rob campaigned while a student at university in Dundee (1968-73). The Federation of Student Nationalists held a (Isle of) Skye Crofting Scheme in September over several years from 1968 to 1995.
Rob first joined in 1970 as students were camping in a mothballed school at Colbost. He helped to plan a demonstration at Strollamus near Broadford in 1972 aiding local crofters to face down a new landlord.
The 1970s saw policy debates in hopes of a Scottish Assembly which was to be stillborn. Thereafter the 1980s and 1990s saw various campaigns recalling past struggles such as the Battle of the Braes, the formation of the Land League, and in 1991 commemoration of the 1948 Knoydart Land Raid.
Elected to the Ross and Cromarty District Council in 1988 until 1996, Rob pursued land and housing issues there and collaborated with land campaigners.
His role as a volunteer SNP environment and land reform spokesperson for the SNP ended with the election of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.
In 2003 he was elected SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands, re-elected in 2007, he went on to win the constituency of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross in 2011 and was appointed convener of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment committee.
He was deeply involved in the development of the 2016 Land Reform Bill and during those years Rob won best politician in The Scottish Green Energy Awards 2012 and politician of the year in The Nature of Scotland Awards 2013. These recognised his leading role in two inter- related fields.
Rob said: ‘I was determined to see more diverse land ownership and sustainable energy uses that empower local communities.
‘To that end, my involvement in land reform issues continues since my retirement from Holyrood in 2016. This book reflects on these decades of homing in on our goal.’
Reclaiming Our Land by Rob Gibson published by Highland Heritage Educational Trust, (HHET) c/o Gibson, Tir nan Oran, 8 Culcairn Road, Evanton, Dingwall IV16 9YT. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paperback, 324 pages include land reform timeline, references, 20+ illustrations and full index.
Price: £11.99 + £2.00 postage per copy. Overseas post pro rata.
It is available direct from the above address and will soon be available through independent bookshops.
Expected date for launch by HHET late December 2020/ New Year.
Pic cap: Former MSP, Rob Gibson delves into land reform to embrace the idea that to succeed, first you must remember what has created the problem.