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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Potent Alternative History and Analysis of Scotland
This is a refreshing, original, challenging and important analysis of contemporary Scotland, its past, present and future.

It will challenge many of your most central assumptions. That land ownership and land reform are about rural areas. That this has nothing to say about Glasgow and Edinburgh. That Scotland is an egalitarian country, unlike class-divided,...
Published on 20 Oct 2010 by Mr. G. Hassan

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3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Going
But for all that, an interesting read. Learn how the legal profession, royalty and sycophants stitched up the common man.
Published 8 months ago by Ilpyondanshim


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Potent Alternative History and Analysis of Scotland, 20 Oct 2010
By 
Mr. G. Hassan "The Bungo Boy" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a refreshing, original, challenging and important analysis of contemporary Scotland, its past, present and future.

It will challenge many of your most central assumptions. That land ownership and land reform are about rural areas. That this has nothing to say about Glasgow and Edinburgh. That Scotland is an egalitarian country, unlike class-divided, hiearchical England. That the days of feudalism and power acting with impunity are long over.

Wightman is an expert on land ownership, but he and this book are about much more. In short, what he is addressing is how power is exercised in Scotland; in our past and to this day. The forces of reaction - from feudal barons to the present day 'great and good' constantly usurp others rights, taking from the commons and individuals.

And what Wightman beautifully challenges - in detail - is the Scots blindness to this because of our old comfort story of being an egalitarian nation. What this has masked is that Scots dont want to face up to issues of power, privilege, abuse and exclusion. Yes we love going on about some mythical wrong done to a group in the far distant past, but real misuses of power - involving complexity, the abuse of the law and due process - well forget it.

This is an important book on every level, and a book I am proud Andy has had the time and inclination to write. It is up to the rest of us to begin a national debate about what to do about it.

Gerry Hassan
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely essential reading, 19 Oct 2011
By 
Ms. Fiona Allen "catlover" (edinburgh, uk) - See all my reviews
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This is the sort of history we didn't get taught in school; probably because it has the capacity to stir the emotions at the way the Scottish poor became the Scottish dispossessed poor. It's fascinating reading, but it's also enough to make you want to storm the barricades!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Poor Had No Lawyers, 15 Mar 2011
By 
M. Delahoy (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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A fascinating book full of lot of analytical data. The author clearly knows his subject and as a Land Law practitioner I can see that Scotland has been very slow in registration of its Land Titles which has aided a minority to control large swathes of land. Compulsory Registration should be passed by the Scottish Parliament for all land in Scotland by a specific date. The author's description of the Common Good Fund and the mismanagement of it by the Local Authorities makes interesting reading. The Burgh's again typical of people's greed.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious of what has been going on north of the border in relation to land ownership for the past 800 years.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 21 Oct 2011
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Well!.... It would be hard to better the first review, which must presumably have been written by one of Mr. Wightman's best mates. But I am not going to disagree, this is a masterful, scholarly, meticulously researched book which should sit on every bookshelf in Scotland, right next to Tom Johnstone's "Our Scots Noble Families".

Having waited a very long time to read this book, I was spellbound. However a word of caution for "kindle" readers. Some of the maps, charts etc are incredibly detailed but on a kindle they are "awfy wee" and of course they are in black and white. Given the stature of this important book I now intend to buy a hardback copy. People will still be reading this book in 100 years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity, 7 April 2013
This review is from: The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland and How They Got it (Paperback)
An extremely well presented book
A very good read
Exposes some interesting history of who owns what and how they got it
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scottish Land Grab, 10 Feb 2013
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An excellent history of how the Scottish aristocracy built the law around a method of protecting their great land steal after the reformation. Good resume of current land law and its need for reform.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading in schools, 21 Mar 2011
By 
Ms. Fiona Allen "catlover" (edinburgh, uk) - See all my reviews
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This is the sort of history we didn't get taught in school; probably because it has the capacity to stir the emotions at the way the Scottish poor became the Scottish dispossessed poor. It's fascinating reading, but it's also enough to make you want to storm the barricades!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'The Poor Had No Lawyers', 27 Mar 2011
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A fascinating insight into the ownership of land in Scotland. Parts are a bit 'legalistic' for a lay person, but in general it is very readable.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important new perspectives on Reformation, 20 Aug 2011
By 
Alastair McIntosh (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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SEE ALSO REVIEWS TO HARDBACK EDITION ... all the other reviews of this book (5 at present) have been posted to the hardback edition which is out of print and the 2 books have not currently been linked. The hardback revies, of which mine here is a replicaiton, can be viewed at The Poor Had No Lawyers

I just want to say well done, yet again, Andy Wightman, and what struck me as most significant about this book, given my own areas of research, is the new light that you shed on the manner in which Scottish landed power may have come so quickly over to the Reformation, not so much out of spiritual conviction, but because they saw a land grab in the carve-up of monastic properties. That takes Max Weber's Protestant ethic a step further by far!

My old friend William Kingston who was at Trinity, Dublin (you may recall he was cited in that Ecolgist paper we wrote many years ago with Dan Morgan) held the view, based on his monastic researches, that monasteries were the first corporations - the idea of corporate personhood having been devised to hand on property amongst communities of men and women who had renounced owning property privately. But the capitalist corporation usurped that principle. Now land is handed on via family companies and "trusts" while used as a tax dodge to write off as an "expense" the costs of running their sporting hobbies and holiday homes. The land rover goes down as a tax expense, as does, no doubt, the cost of the airline ticket to go and "manage" the festering pile (of peasant tenants). A travesty - you and I know because the likes of us get people ringing us up now and again in despair at having their lives messed around at the whim of some laird's narcisstic fancy. You have done sterling work in exposing it down the years. A knighthood to you when the Scottish Parliament is so empowered, I say! Go well ... A.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Time for Scotland's Land Tenure to move into the 21st Century, 30 July 2014
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I first got interested in who owns Scotland after meeting a less than friendly landowner and a couple of similarly miserable gamekeepers while out hill walking. Every Scot knows that the country is owned by a small group of individuals who have exercised nothing short of despotism over "their" land and the people on it. In this book Wightman lays out in forensic detail how this all came about, starting with King David and subsequently more fully developed by the national hero, Robert the Bruce, whose credentials as saviour he comprehensively debunks. Kings (or chief warlord) decided they held all the land and handed it out to supporters to keep them onside, and removed it if they fell out. Several of the great landowners of today, such as Buccleuch, came about their huge holdings in just this way, as Buccleuch's website makes clear.

Wightman points out that the distribution of land by this means was fundamentally undemocratic, but worse was to follow as the aristocracy, who to all intents and purposes, was the "government", created laws that enabled them to steal land from the Church and, later, from the common people and subsequently to legalise this theft. You might think that such theft would by now be outlawed, but no, it is still possible to steal land belonging to someone else or "no-one", or is Common Good. The Law and lawyers have been culpable in enabling this grotesque charade in which the vast majority of Scotland was transferred into the ownership of a small clique, who benefitted from arcane and archaic laws, such as primogeniture .

As the author argues few countries in the world allow the obscenity that is Scotland's outdated system of land tenure in which the ordinary people who live and work on the land have no say in ownership, sale or management. Part of the problem is to do with our political system, which is fundamentally undemocratic, in that privilege, money and class still matter more than ability. Land tenure can be seen as a microcosm of this political world in which the principles of fairness and equity have been displaced by the principles of greed and self-advancement.

Even the reforms that have taken place, such as to Crofting in the late 19th century, which covered only 6 counties, and more recently when the Scottish Executive took power have been half-hearted and timid and so hedged around with complexity and obfuscation that little has really changed. This is all supported with extensive quotation of facts and figures. Even the not-for-profit organisations come in for criticism, as they are simply another form of large landowner denying local people a real voice and power.

Finally, Wightman offers a programme for change, of which, the Land Value Tax while being the one reform which could be the most effective is also the one which is least likely to be implemented by politicians.

This is a book which should be read by everyone with an interest in Scotland’s democracy and by every politician at national and local level. If Wightman didn’t exist someone would have to create him.
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The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland and How They Got it
The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland and How They Got it by Andy Wightman (Paperback - 1 May 2013)
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