Letter to the Editor, Stornoway Gazette
I noted your recent article headline of an alleged £25 million pound aid package for crofters.
The headline was misleading as there is no £25 million package of support for crofters. Would that there was.
The government has only now responded to serious concerns from crofters and farmers for recognition of their plight following the foot and mouth outbreak in England, despite the plight of the industry being apparent for many, many weeks.
Their belated response has been disappointing to say the least.
What they eventually announced was less than half what had been sought and included a re-announcement of the sheep welfare scheme within the total.
That welfare scheme was itself so late, despite the pressing of the Labour Party in Parliament, many crofters had already cut their losses and got out and the fund announced by government is unlikely to be even half spent.
The Labour Party in Parliament pressed and voted for a more generous scheme than that agreed by government and also expressed its strong disgust that, rather than do what was right by our hard pressed crofters quickly, the minority nationalist government let crofters "swing in the wind" while they used the plight of the industry for a few more days to help pick another fight with Westminster.
The minority nationalist government needs to recognise it has huge resources at its disposal, twice those Donald Dewar had, and that it is a government, not a pressure group.
I hope that in future they will act more quickly, more decisively and more generously in support of our crofters.
I am happy to correct the record as some may have been misled by your headline and some of the content of your article.
Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP
9 November 2007
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