Is it because we don’t sound Scottish?

This question has been asked, apparently in all seriousness, by a landowner* in a recent Spectator article.

A lot could be said about that article. I will restrict myself to one point in this blog, namely taking one straw man set up by the writer of the article, making sure the straw is nice and dry, adding something flammable, then setting fire to it. (In a figurative sense, of course.)

Readers of a certain vintage will hopefully agree with me when I lump this particular ridiculous question in with the comedic interview style of Ali G, when Sacha Baron Cohen’s character confounded (usually older and white) interviewees with the question, “Is it cos I is black?”

It is an effective question to ask, not unlike the devious cross-examiner’s question of, “have you stopped beating your wife?” It draws you into linguistic quicksand if you are not careful. So here is my careful response.

It is difficult to imagine a majority of elected parliamentarians would actually pass legislation to deprive people of land because of how they sound.

More importantly, Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Scots legislation must comply with, would prevent such overt discrimination.

So the question set deserves short shrift.

Of more interest here is the landowner* actually owns the land through a company registered overseas, as highlighted by land campaigner Andy Wightman. Now, imagine if the question had been, “Is it because my company is not registered in the EU?” As it happens, the ability of these companies to own land in Scotland is something that the Scottish Government consulted on, after the Final Report of the Land Reform Review Group made a recommendation on the point. Maybe William Astor should consider that issue, instead of whether or not he sounds like Rob Roy.

A few land reform stories have been popping up in the news lately. Anyone would think draft legislation is imminent.

About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
This entry was posted in ECHR, Land Reform and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Is it because we don’t sound Scottish?

  1. Do you not think that you have perhaps chosen to put a touch too much emphasis on what forms only one paragraph of a piece that is actually rather more concerned with the effects of SNP centralisation and which is questioning who the “all” the SNP talk about is?

  2. Silly boy, obscuring the wider point of the article like that!

  3. Although there is a place for discussing a possible rise in negative reactions towards English accents in Scotland and a potential correspondence with the rise of the SNP but that’s a whole other argument (and potentially blog post) that bares no relation to land reform.

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