SLICK CITY-BASED lobby groups are dominating rural policymaking in Scotland, at the expense of experienced countryside workers, who are being ignored.

Motivated by that complaint, those rural workers are this week staging a mass online protest, and demanding a 'new politics' that will take greater account of their contribution to Scotland's economy and environment.

The Rural Workers’ Protest 2021 – #RWP21 – has been organised for March 19 by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Scotland’s regional moorland groups, replacing a long-postponed physical mass gathering at Holyrood, which was originally timetabled for last Spring.

But just because its online, Friday’s protest is not aiming low. The intention is that it will span 15 hours, during which gamekeepers, shepherds, fishing ghillies, deer managers, businesses, international visitors, chefs, butchers, individual farmers, equestrian interests, anglers, falconers, pest controllers, and wildlife photographers will use image, text and video to vent their frustration at their lack of proper representation in Parliament.

The key demand of the day is that, after May’s Scottish elections, a specific cross-party forum should be established at Holyrood where politicians can hear rural workers’ issues first hand and practical demonstration events can be planned.

“There have been issues and decisions in this Parliament which have made rural workers feel marginalised by the type of politics we now have in Scotland,” said SGA chairman, Alex Hogg.

“The Edinburgh Parliament feels distant from many people on the ground. Practical experience seems to hold less sway than presentations by slick lobby groups, campaign videos and emotive messages which often misrepresent important issues.

“Scottish Government are no longer getting out to see the heart of the matter in these areas and people are growing tired of sending emails and letters that often don’t even get acknowledged," said Mr Hogg.

“They deserve a better say and for the vast contributions they make to rural Scotland to be reflected in policy. They need a different kind of politics and it must start after the election.”

As well as a cross-party group at Holyrood, the protest is also seeking a review of countryside access legislation, so that the freedoms currently enjoyed by the public are matched with responsibilities to respect land and river workers’ rights and property.

The protest's organisers also noted that poor broadband coverage in some rural areas had meant that some participants have been forced to resort to phoning messages for others to post online on their behalf.

“Whatever logistical challenges we have faced, it is vital that people will get the opportunity to send a message to Scottish Government,” said Lianne MacLennan, of the event's co-hosts, Scotland’s regional moorland groups.

For more on the protest, or to show support, go to