to understand crofting and what crofting is all about one has to have been in study for a good while. It also helps if a person was in study along with a person from a generation that crofted without subsidies, the real crofters that took their living from the soil, paid their way in society, and also paid a ransom in rent to a landlord, who most of the time resided in England, or worse Edinburgh.

Security of tenure was won for crofters in 1886, and the next Act came in 1955 and the most in that Act was that you had to be like a Tom cat – remain in residence or no further than 16miles from your croft, which is what a person was capable of walking in a day. This nonsense remains till today!!

The other part that had influence from the 55 Act was grants for fencing. This had a big impact on crofting as the crofter was able to fence each other from traditional grazing, as grass was better than any money, it is the Holy Grail of crofting.

Like one guy said about an aged uncle: “He would rather eat the grass himself than see someone's stock eating it.”

Next came the Act for buying your croft tenancy.

Next came the IDP, the first of European funding £20 million that was squandered by the agriculture staff of SEERAD. This money went into second hand tractors and machinery, fences and drains, apportionments of the Commons, reseedings, breaking up of traditional grazing lands aided by the desk jockeys of the Crofters Commission staffed by retired policemen – very little went into buildings or infrastructure, then the Scottish Office claimed £11million for administration and the scheme went flat. Look back from today if a lesson is to be learned, probably it was as unpleasant as a fart!

The 1993 Act was hailed as the Act to solve all problems, but the problems were not be solved by writing on paper – consideration has to be given to the players that can understand the unwritten rules of the game, that's where fault lies!

Many Acts have been written since 1993 and they have all failed to solve the problem. It is like adding masts to a sailing ship, when one knows that an engined ship is more efficient.

The same can be said about the Scottish Office when they place civil servants that have been sidelined to ticking boxes in some corner of St Andrews House, then promoting them to be in charge of thousands of crofters, when they haven't been given any training or haven't an iota of what task is in front of them, and the only way they know is to form cliques and hope the 'nod and wink' will sustain them through the muddle they are going to create!

Most of my life in crofting, the powers that be went out of their way to break up tried and tested communities till they realised that they went too far!

Now the swan song is community buyouts. Sadly this, if it had been supported in the fifties, would have worked, but there are very few crofters that are community minded nowadays, and plenty me, me, me.

And yes older ones to teach the young how to eat your own grass.

Angus A Macdonald,