Yesterday I attended a sponsored walk for the Green Party to get Andy Wightman elected and draw attention to land reform issues. The day started with a crowd of Green Party and RISE party members, as well as land reform protestors, gathering at the Towns Gate in Dalkeith. We then went on a peaceful walk of protest in front of the Duke of Buccleuch's house and around his grounds. Fortunately, the sun was shining which made it a great day for a bit of walking, awareness raising and fundraising.
Dalkeith park is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch who recently decided to charge people £1 entry. Protesters I spoke to were concerned with the moral issues of charging people to enter this area of land, as well as relating this event to the wider issues concerning land in Scotland such as tax avoidance, lack of transparency and the inequality created by patterns of concentrated, private ownership.
It was great to see a member of the Berwickshire Granarchists join the walk with a sign asserting the need for land ownership transparency. this is particularly on topic considering the recent article by Andy Wightman about the Duke of Buccleuch's links with Cayman Island registered company Pentland Ltd. I also met Euan Hyslop who was filming the walk as part of his ongoing documentary project on land reform, which he is looking to co-produce with Commonweal.
It was fascinating to encounter the diverse groups and projects bringing to light their unique perspective on the need for land reform. It leaves me optimistic the momentum for change will continue through 2016 and beyond.