Samantha Cameron's stepfather Lord Astor compares Nicola Sturgeon to Robert Mugabe

He believes Scottish 'land grabs' make the SNP like Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF

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The Independent Online

Nicola Sturgeons' party has been likened to Robert Mugabe by Samantha Cameron's stepfather.

In a Spectator article entitled "Should we fear a Mugabe-style land grab in rural Scotland?" the fourth Viscount Astor - who is David Cameron's father-in-law - wrote of his fear of being forced out of his home country under SNP reforms.

The Scottish Government plans to change the law of succession, which may pressure current owners to sell their property. Sturgeon has argued that land should be "an asset that benefits the many, not the few".

In Scotland, 432 people own half of the private land in Scotland, but Viscount William Astor believes that doesn't factor in the nature of the land they own.

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David and Samantha Cameron

He wrote: "Are we really going to have to defend owning so many acres of hill when 500 acres of hill may be only worth the same or even less than one acre of good farmland in the lowlands of Scotland?

"Is it because we don’t sound Scottish? We should not all have to sound like Rob Roy. If the SNP wants us all to speak with a certain type of Scottish accent, what does that say to the many hundreds of thousands in the immigrant community who have lived in Scotland for a long time but still speak with the accent of their birth? Are they not Scottish?"

Writing about the community involvement intrinsic to maintaining an estate, Astor added that maintaining a Scottish estate was an expensive endeavour and a labour of love.

"West coast Scottish estates require constant investment," he wrote, "but the beauty and ambiance of the place, the people and its culture have always made it all worthwhile."

 

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, embarked on his controversial land grab programme in 2000 to redress the balance of land ownership after white colonisation. However, the campaign has been criticised for being violent and relying on intimidation tactics. Under Mugabe, white farmers have been forced off their land without compensation.

Astor is a hereditary peer in the House of Lords and deputy chairman of Silvergate Media - a children's TV production company.

His father - the third Viscount - was alleged to have had an affair with showgirl Mandy Rice-Davies during the Profumo scandal.

Rice-Davies made the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations aged 19. When told that Astor had denied the affair she responded: "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"

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