Magazine article The Spectator

The Right to Buy

Magazine article The Spectator

The Right to Buy

Article excerpt

It is easy to imagine Lord Attenborough making a film about a group of Scottish crofters buying land from a reluctant noble. But in reality the noble lord is himself an aggrieved laird. He is angry that, having agreed a price of £1.6 million for his Bute estate, the Scottish authorities then intervened and insisted that the community be granted the right to buy the property for £1.4 million.

There are few subjects more certain to raise the hackles of wealthy English property-owners than Scottish land reform. If it is not 'worthy of the Bolsheviks' it is almost certainly a 'Mugabe-style land grab'. Yet rather fewer objections are made about its urban cousin: leasehold reform. There is, however, no fundamental difference between Scottish crofters granted the right of first refusal to buy, at a price determined by a government valuer, the land which they have farmed for many years, and leaseholders in Belgravia granted the right to acquire the freeholds of the houses and flats in which they live - again at a price determined by government officials. …

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