Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Land ownership and the Scottish effect

This is an interesting audio clip if the idea of rectifying some of Scotland's hugely imbalanced land ownership system where (last time I looked) it seemed that less than 10 per cent of the people own more than 80 per cent of the land. Lesley Riddoch is an advocate of land reform and also an advocate of renewable energy. She is concerned for example that any benefits from renewables at present will go straight to the pockets of large landowners (pointing out that around one-third of Tory MSPs currently benefit from them).

However it is what she says around eight minutes into the clip that explains why I am posting the link here. In the course of writing a book she cites an anti-poverty campaigner called Cathy McCormack who 'proved because she managed to team up with some academics to prove how dampness could be at the source of the Scottish effect, because it weakens all the organs of the body over a lifetime'.

Well! I learned something like that when I was at school in the 1970s – how dampness and bad housing were at the root of the public health crisis in Scotland. Somehow along the way, the explanation morphed into a public health crusade on people's habits, and immense pressure brought to bear on making people see themselves as the author of their own misfortunes, particularly when it comes to ill health. The fact that Scots are paying disproportionately high prices for fuel, when they need more of it to sustain living standards that are achieved without fuel expenditure in warmer climates, is a real cause of concern for public health, but will you catch ASH Scotland campaigning for Scots to have more influence in landownership and use decisions, or in any meaningful way to be in charge of their own destiny?

The piece in general talks about how Scots seem resigned to the fact that their land is there to be milked for value by 'absentee landlords', and whatever form of fuel we rely on, the people enriched by it are the owners of big companies and corporations or (in the case of renewables) large amounts of land. Lesley Riddoch's co-presenter points out that no change in the fuel regime will be achieved without both independence and withdrawal from Europe (where corporations appear to rule).

I haven't done the sums on renewables, but it seems that choice of fuel is a smaller consideration than who controls the prices that people pay for fuel, and how much is charged. All decisions that will sway the independence referendum, if campaigners can persuade the Scottish people that they will be more relevant to political processes by voting yes than they are at present. Time will tell.


Jay said...

I'm certainly no expert on Scottish housing or dampness, but I can speak from first-hand experience that living in a damp house (one where mould grows easily and rapidly) caused a host of respiratory issues, including asthma.

Now, since ASH and co. love to promulgate that the poor are more likely to be smokers, and if we assume that the poor live in damp-ish houses, then it may be that smoking and ETS are not the issues but the house itself.

And that's the trouble with every study on smoking and ETS, in that it fails to take in both home and work environmental factors. This drives me nuts. A coal miner, for instance, is much more likely to have respiratory issues than some fat cat in a sealed, air-conditioned office...

Anonymous said...

Well said Belinda, and well commented Jay.

Smoking, poverty, damp housing, malnutrition, isolation and illhealth go together.


Strange that they've concentrated on blaming the one thing that is "lifestyle choice", thereby moving the blame on to the individual.

Rosemary Williams

WhatHouse.co.uk said...

Not sure could withdraw from Europe and still see same money pumped into renewable energy as much funding comes from Europe.

new homes in Scotland

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