Rural Workers Portest 2021: what is it about?
PUBLISHED: 13:18 19 March 2021
The Rural Workers Protest 2021 addresses the policy vacuum within Scottish Government when it comes to what rural workers need
(All words taken from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association who are heading this protest, behind which we stand wholeheartedly)
Why the Protest?
Rural workers of land and river need a new politics. A politics that works for them. This is not what they are getting.
Workers in traditional rural industries are the engine room of our countryside. Increasingly, the political class in Edinburgh are detached from what they, and their families, need to continue to deliver for Scotland.
Laws are passed with insufficient engagement with rural workers. MSPs now very rarely visit the homes and workplaces of rural workers to see the issues they face, first hand. Letters and emails go unanswered. Power is centralised in Edinburgh.
Traditional ecological knowledge of rural workers, passed individual to individual, is poorly reflected in Bills and their interests have become marginal to perceived ‘popular’ appeal and activist appeasement.
The Parliament has been allowed to become fertile ground for suited lobbyists, animal rights groups and connected Environment NGOs with a capital address and access to public funding.
A policy vacuum exists within Scottish Government when it comes to what rural workers need. This has to change.
Rural policy is too often dictated by emotive campaigns and template e-activist polls misread as a proxy for ‘public interest’. These reflect the ideology of a group and the larger populations of the Central Belt, not sound policy for rural working people in scattered areas.
Once a party with an eye in the countryside, the Scottish Government’s blueprint for a working countryside has been influenced by heat and populism not vision or leadership.
Rural workers are suffering. In this Parliament, their interests have been subjugated for the political support of the Scottish Green Party representing less than 1% of the consistency vote.
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Holyrood operates in a bubble when it comes to traditional rural workers of land and river. This is threatening jobs, families, community and the health of industries which remain major sources of employment, cohesion and economic stability.
Rural workers are delivering food security, habitat, waterway and wildlife management at landscape scale, tourism outputs and vital services needed in remote communities, often free of charge.
They deserve better.
#RWP21 Unite on Land and River
The 5 asks
On behalf of all those who are standing up, on river and land, for a new politics for rural workers in Scotland, here are the 5 initial asks of Scottish Government. Thanks to you all from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Scotland’s regional moorland groups. Unite on Land and River.
1) That Scottish Government backs the establishment of a cross-party group to hear rural workers’ concerns, first-hand.
2) That Scottish Government affords equal weight in law making to local and indigenous knowledge, respecting its own (missed) Target in Point 18 of the Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity.
3) That Scottish Government commits to a robust and open auditing of publicly-funded conservation projects, ensuring measurable returns for tax payers. If targets are not met- the cash returns to Scottish people.
4) That Scottish Government commits to a review of Access so that the positive freedoms are matched with similar responsibilities. The Countryside Code should become part of the school curriculum.
5) That Scottish Government addresses the clear findings of 2 Parliamentary inquiries into salmon farming and delivers a public timeline for actions.