Scottish Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Rhoda Grant, has accused her SNP opponent of “insulting the intelligence of the crofting community” with his comments on major issues that they currently face.
Mrs Grant said: “I am genuinely astonished that Alasdair Allan had the brass neck to speak as he did about the shambles for which the Scottish Government, of which he has been a member, is solely responsible.
“Many crofters are still waiting for their CAP basic payments which have been sitting in Edinburgh for six months because Nationalist Ministers have squandered £180 million on a computer system that does not work.
“Even worse, it was the SNP which decided that there should be three land classifications in Scotland, at the behest of the big farming lobby and to the massive disadvantage of crofters and hill famers. This was a decision totally devolved to Edinburgh so there is nobody else to blame.
“We heard absolutely nothing from Alasdair Allan when that crucial issue was being debated. More recently, we had an official document called The Future of Scottish Agriculture which, according to the Scottish Crofting Federation, ‘barely recognised the existence of crofting’. Again Mr Allan was silent."
Mrs Grant said that his call for a new Crofting Act was an admission that the one passed by Holyrood only four years ago had been “a huge waste of time because the SNP refused to address the real issues while adding enormously to the bureaucracy faced by crofters”.
The Labour candidate said: “The height of SNP radicalism was to change the name from Crofters Commission to Crofting Commission. They completely ignored the recommendations of the Shucksmith Report and the empowerment of crofting communities. Instead, they imposed an unnecessarily complex and costly registration process.”
Mrs Grant also pointed out that Mr Allan’s support for reintroduction of loans under the Crofter Housing scheme was “wholly unconvincing” given that it is only two months since the Scottish Government announced the outcome of its review of the scheme.
“Did he have anything to say about loans during that process?”, she asked.
“The feedback which I get from constituents is that the scheme is still difficult to access and is helping far too few young people in crofting communities to build houses in the places where they want to live and work.
“As on so many issues directly affecting the Western Isles, Mr Allan has been completely silent on the challenges facing crofting” said Mrs Grant. “For him to turn up during an election campaign with comments which run completely counter to what his own Government has actually been doing is insulting to the intelligence of the crofting community.”