Happy New Year to you all.

I love a good protest song so I was delighted to read, just before Christmas, that a song by Celtic pop-rock outfit Skipinnish had been named the best original work at the annual Scots Trad Music Awards.

“The Clearances Again” has been written in response to the Scottish Government’s plans to create highly protected marine areas where fishing would be restricted.

Lines in the song, which is about the destruction of the fishing industry by the Scottish Government include:

“But my life and my living must go.

For the fashions of urban ideals

Where passions of ignorance play

To the lies of political deals -

No care for the lives in their way.”


"Faceless grey suits from the cities,

They will not play games with our lives.

My song marks a fight for survival."

It's powerful stuff supported by a haunting video; it made the hairs on my arms stand up. What is more, it has the support of many of Scotland’s fish processors who, like the fisherman see their livelihoods being taken away.

As we enter the New Year we know that a UK wide general election looms and whilst First Minister Yousaf has said that he’ll treat the result as a referendum on devolution it will be interesting to see if Scotland’s fishermen and farmers agree.

We also know that 2024 will see, within the framework of the ‘wider land and agriculture change plan for Scotland’ the publication of Scotland’s National Good Food Nation Plan and the establishment of the Scottish Food Commission (SFC).

It is certainly my hope that with respect to the SFC that this will not be dominated by “Faceless grey suits from the cities” with their ‘fashions of urban ideals’ but will recognise and ensure that massive contribution that the country’s livestock farmers make to the economic prosperity of the whole of Scotland isn’t lost in a blizzard of green ideals that are needed to prop up the SNP / Green coalition and their ‘lies of political deals’.

Reading Deputy First Minister Shona Robison’s letter to NFUS President Martin Kennedy dated 29th November 2023 it appears that it is Scotland’s farmers that must be the ones who must bear the brunt of the impacts of “high inflation, increased pay expectations, economic uncertainty, and the ongoing cost of living crisis” through a reduction in budgetary spend.

And yet she simply doesn’t seem to realise that without Scotland’s farmers who is it that will feed the nurses, the police, the teachers, school pupils and the rest of the population. Furthermore, she fails either to understand or accept the vital role that you all play within the current need country’s need for food security.

Instead, she prefers to make a reassurance that “funds will be ring fenced and returned” to the agriculture and rural portfolio in future years, which is surely a commitment that given the current political and wider geo-economic uncertainties she simply isn’t able to stand by.

If ever there was evidence for Holyrood having ‘No care for the lives in their way’ then this is it.

So, join with Scotland’s Fishing community and take the words of “The Clearances Again” to the doors of power in 2024 as now the time to sing in protest the ‘song that marks a fight for survival’.