My song marks a fight for survival, a Mayday call we cry,’ sings Donald Francis MacNeil, a fisherman from Vatersay in the Outer Hebrides. ‘We will stand for the rights of our children; we will not let our islands die’. Invoking the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, the social ramifications of which still reverberate today, isn’t something MacNeil does lightly. Earlier this year, proposals to reform regulation of Scotland’s marine waters provoked a ferocious backlash from communities from the Mull of Kintyre on the west coast all the way north via the Outer and Inner Hebrides to Orkney and Shetland. The Scottish government was forced into a humiliating retreat, announcing in June that it was abandoning the plans.

Many islanders viewed the plans for a network of highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) as being as existential as the events of 200 years ago, when thousands of people were evicted from their land at gunpoint. The proposal may now be in tatters, but the whole affair picked at an open wound.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Transport Matters

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