Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE
Professor Mark Shucksmith is the Director of NISR. In 2009 he was awarded an OBE for services to rural development and to crofting in the New Year Honours. Last month, at the Centre for Rural Economy’s 21st birthday celebration at Alnwick Castle, he reflected on the Crofting Inquiry which he chaired.
One day in November 2006 I received a phone call asking if I would like to chair the Scottish Government’s Inquiry into the Future of Crofting. It would be like the 1886 Napier Commission and the 1955 Taylor Commission, but wouldn’t be called a Commission to avoid confusion with the Crofters Commission. (You’ll gather that crofting is characterised by complexity!) The Labour/Lib Dem Coalition Government wished to reform crofting, but their ideas had been defeated in the Scottish Parliament and heavily criticised. A new vision was urgently needed, and many thought the crofting system was being fatally damaged. How could I refuse?