Aileen McLeod out – Andy Wightman MSP in!

Field-to-Fork RHShow 2015_BASCScotland will be getting a new Environment Minister as former MSP Dr Aileen McLeod has lost her seat.

While it’s sad when someone loses their job, we’re not sorry to see Dr McLeod go. Her record as Environment Minister was wholly unimpressive, at least on the ‘wildlife’ aspect of her portfolio. Her inaction since she took the post in November 2014 has earned her the nickname ‘Dr Doolittle’ amongst regular blog commentators.

Notable failures include:

Her failure to make a decision on whether to grant additional investigative powers to the SSPCA, even though the public consultation ended 20 months ago in September 2014 (see here).

Her failure to make a decision on whether beavers should receive legal protection, even when she knew pregnant beavers were being shot by landowners (see here).

Her claim that red grouse killed on driven grouse moors are healthy (they’re not), natural (they’re not) and sustainable (they’re not) (see here).

Her claim that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association has helped ensure the Scottish Government implements ‘best practices of conservation and wildlife management’ (yes, really!) (see here).

Her claim that Community Pay Back Orders are an effective alternative to custody for those convicted of wildlife crime, even though there is no evidence to support this (see here).

Her repeated (and perhaps most infuriating) rhetoric, rolled out after every incident of raptor persecution, that action was being taken to combat the criminals (e.g. see here and here). Yes, action was being taken but not nearly enough and not nearly fast enough.

There was one notable success – her acceptance of the recommendations made by the Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group calling for tougher penalties (see here).

We wish her well in whatever she does next.

The issue now is who will Nicola Sturgeon put in to the role of Environment Minister?

Weds 3rd June CopyIn other election news, we’re delighted to see that Andy Wightman has been elected to Holyrood as a Scottish Greens MSP. Best known for his long-term research and outspoken campaigning on land reform issues, his new role probably won’t be welcomed by many of the country’s large estate owners or their representative bodies because there is nobody better informed (and now well placed) to hold the SNP to account over their land reform measures. Andy is also extremely well-informed about the environmental and social problems associated with the intensive management of driven grouse moors, as he demonstrated as senior author on a report on this issue last year.

Congratulations Andy, we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish in this role!


29 Responses to “Aileen McLeod out – Andy Wightman MSP in!”

  1. 1 Carrie
    May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I am so over the moon about Andy Wightman getting in. He’s just exactly what this country needs!

  2. May 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Andy Wightman’s appointment is really great news. Well done Andy; I am asking for complete clarity on the role of government CAP subsidies in all land matters and clear compliance to environmental objectives as defined in EU and UK wildlife law, there needs to be a clear understanding on the part of landowners that public monies are lost if that compliance is not achieved, we need to reverse the injustice that smallholdiings are not supported under the CAP, lets say a 5000 euro payment for families trying to live sustainably, in Wlaes the scale is 3 acres in Scotland it should be larger, we need to look at a taper and quite simply to cap from large estates and move into environmental agri environment and sustainable forestry budgets.

  3. 3 michael gill
    May 6, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Seeings as the SNP are two seats short of a majority and the Greens support independence, it would make sense for the SNP and the Greens to form a coalition … and make Andy Wightman Environment Minister.

    • May 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I totally agree, even as a long term SNP member, I think that would make total sense. I don’t think any of the main parties, and I include the SNP, take environmental issues seriously enough. A Green environment minister is just what’s needed!

  4. 5 Damion Willcock
    May 6, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Congratulations Andy Wightman. All power to you.

  5. 6 against feudalism
    May 6, 2016 at 10:25 am

    As an snp voter, I am pleased with this result, and especially pleased with the green result. I agree, Andy Wightman getting a seat is very important and encouraging. Hopefully the snp and greens will work together, and properly tackle the appalling wildlife crime in Scotland. And I do have some hope that land reform will continue, and that a form of land value tax will be implemented, the best way to change the pattern of land ownership in Scotland.

  6. 7 Secret Squirrel
    May 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

    They were never going to make a decision that may lose them support in rural areas in the run up to an election – I suspect we’ll see action on the beaver and SSPCA issues soon.

    • May 6, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Agree, but the SSPCA decision should have been made 20 months ago – nowhere near election time!

    • 9 Andrew
      May 6, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Don’t fool yourselves that an appointment will be made solely in the interests of the environment. Management don’t want underlings that rock the boat and cause the bosses to look ineffective.
      The clue is in the name – politician. A long time ago Enoch Powell said the first job of a politician is to get re-elected.

  7. 10 Alan Johnson
    May 6, 2016 at 11:44 am

    A definite step in the right direction. McLeod was a loser both at ministerial and at a personal level. My attempts at correspondence always resulted in either a reply from her staff or nothing at all.

  8. May 6, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Sadly, we still have Fergus Ewing, the estates and keeper’s pal, with an increased majority….but we no longer have Jim Hume in the Borders, also no friend of the fight against wildlife crime.

    • May 7, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I wouldnt be surprised to find that Ewing had been working to prevent Dolittle doing something. I really hope he loses his appointments and gets sent to the rearmost backbench.

  9. 13 Dave Morris
    May 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    No other First Minister has had a Parliament so capable of delivering a 21st century land reform programme. The arrival of Andy Wightman for the Greens, combined with the return of Labour’s Pauline McNeil and the Lib Dems Mike Rumbles is a potent mix. Wightman is Scotland’s leading expert on land reform; McNeil delivered the world class right to roam legislation in 2003 while Rumbles knows exactly how to deal with excessively powerful landowning interests, from Balmoral to the obscure, Cayman Islands based lairds. These political heavyweights, combined with re-elected SNP land reformers like Roseanna Cunningham and Stewart Stevenson can make all the difference. It is up to the First Minister to pull this expertise together and ensure that all of Scotland’s land and water is used for public benefit not private greed.

    Dave Morris

    • May 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      Well pleased with yesterday’s Scottish Greens result; not sad to see the departure of an apparently so ineffectual minister; really encouraged by this comment’s informative perspective on the strengths of the MSPs with potential to be involved in conservation issues, thanks. I would only add that the FM should also ensure that public benefit includes the future: not living beyond the sustainable means of this country.

  10. 15 I C T
    May 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    What a relief to be rid of McLeod. Very, very pleased for Andy and for the likes of Roseanne! Come on now Nicola, give Scotland a decent enviromental strategy & legacy, but that doesn’t mean carpeting our internationally renowned scenery with inefective wind farms!

  11. 16 Chris Roberts
    May 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    So pleased that the worst environment minister we have ever had has gone, she showed herself to be, like Fergus Ewing, the ‘estate and keepers’ friend. Looking forward to much more positive action during the next parliament.

  12. 17 Jack Snipe
    May 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Is there not a possibility Aileen McLeod could continue as a list MSP, or am I not fully grasping the system? I certainly hope she doesn’t, but it’s hard to identify anyone from SNP who’s likely to do a better job. There appears to be a shocking absence of anyone in the party with an ecological bent. There is a real danger that nature conservation will now go even further down the Scottish Government’s order of priorities. Sad to see Sarah Boyack losing her seat, as her heart was in the right place. Andy Wightman’s election as a Green MSP is the main hope so far, and this could be very interesting.

  13. 19 BSA
    May 6, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    The Greens got the list vote of many independence supporters who wanted to push the SNP on land reform and the environment. If the Greens renege on independence, which looks quite possible, they will take green politics down with them, which would be a tragedy, a lose/lose.

  14. 21 AnMac
    May 6, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    As others have said. Interesting times ahead and I hope that Andy Wightman is given the opportunity to make a ‘real’ difference.

  15. May 6, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Please Aileen can you take Karen Hunter with you.
    I feel like i’m in an episode of Yes, Minister every time i write to them.

  16. 23 Marco McGinty
    May 6, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    I have to agree – Andy Wightman being elected is a massive boost for those of wishing land reform, and I do agree that he would make an excellent Environment Minister, however, I think it is highly unlikely that there will be an official SNP-Green coalition.

    Dare I suggest that Paul Wheelhouse be reinstated as Environment Minister?

  17. 24 George M
    May 7, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Andy Wightman has received just reward for a long and arduous struggle against the full force of the Establisment .. and, it must be said, admirable aided by Leslie Riddoch. Hopefully this opens a new door through which light will pour.

  18. 25 dave angel
    May 7, 2016 at 9:37 am

    It seems strange that Dr Doolittle wasn’t also on the list system, given that she had such an important brief in the Scottish government and given that her seat was always going to be something of a marginal.

  19. 26 marc
    May 7, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Well done Andy.

    At last a bit of sanity and hope.

    Won’t miss Dr Donothing……like so many was scared to upset landowners/sporting estates. Had so many opportunities but didn’t have the confidence to deliver.

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