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Crofters Party

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The Crofters' Party' was the parliamentary arm of the Highland Land League. It managed to elect five MPs.

The Highland Land League had started in the Isle of Skye and in 1884 protest action was much more widespread with many thousands of crofters became members of the Highland Land League. A number of candidates stood with the Highland Land League's backing in the 1885 general election.

The MPs elected with the backing of the Highland Land League formed themselves into the Crofters' Party, although they were also known as Independent Liberals. The MPs were:

  • Donald Horne Macfarlane, Argyllshire
  • Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, Inverness-shire
  • Roderick Macdonald, Ross and Cromarty
  • Gavin Brown Clark, Caithness
  • John Macdonald Cameron, Wick Burghs (allied with the Crofters Party).
  • A year later Parliament created the Crofters Act which applied to croft tenure in an area which is now recognisable as a definition of the Highlands and Islands The Act granted real security of tenure of existing crofts and established the first Crofters Commission which had rent-fixing powers. Rents were generally reduced and 50% or more of outstanding arrears were cancelled. The Act failed however to address the issue of severely limited access to land, and crofters renewed their protest actions.

    At the same time there was a shift in the political climate: William Gladstone's Liberal government fell from power; the new Conservative government was much less sympathetic to the plight of crofters and much more willing to use troops to quell protests. The Liberal Party appeared to adopt and champion Land League objectives and, as a distinct parliamentary force, the Land League fragmented during the 1890s.

    References

    Crofters Party Wikipedia


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