IT’S an anniversary that should not have passed us by: 200 years ago Patrick Sellar, factor of the Duke of Sutherland, stood trial for arson and culpable homicide.

The legal indictment of that case, one of the notorious documents of the Clearances, listed the now ingrained folk memories of that period: forced evictions, the burning of land, the destruction of historic communities. Sadly, it’s dangerous to believe that such abuse of power is consigned to the history pages. Last week land reform campaigners rallied outside parliament against the modern clearance of tenant farmers.

The Paterson family, over 20 years the occupants of Glenree farm on Arran, will be evicted next week due to the decision of wealthy landowner Charles Fforde, following a "mediation" agreement. This story followed the same pattern as the Colstoun Main eviction scandal last winter, when Andrew Stoddart and his family were evicted after 22 years on their land.

You may remember when SNP members rebelled against their leadership over the weak Land Reform Bill, which – among many faults – did not go far enough to safeguard the rights of tenant farmers. Little is set to change, yet.

The reality of these struggles is that the law permits the dominance of power and wealth – where born-to-rule lairds like Charles Fforde can act with arrogance and impunity. This should no longer be tolerated in modern Scotland.

Fforde, a descendant of James II, Mary Queen of Scots and Emperor Napoleon III, has a remarkable record of extreme behaviour. In 1998 he was arrested and charged by police after a “bust-up at the home of a tenant farmer,” newspapers reported. A year later he was condemned in parliament by Labour minister Allan Wilson over Arran Estates’ profiteering from students and the local church.

The Telegraph said Fforde faced charges of racism for comments claiming the UK was experiencing a “demise … into a mongrel race”. His father held senior policing roles in the white supremacist states of Rhodesia and South Africa.

His more recent submission on land reform was packed with right-wing rhetoric. He compared the Scottish Government to North Korea and described the moderate proposals as “insane” 16 times. Clearly his time at the elite Gordonstoun boarding school was spent without a thesaurus.

But eloquence is an unnecessary addition to inheritance where feudal property concentrations cling on.

A vast estate brings quick wealth in many forms – from deer shooting, property letting, or leasing back the use of your land to public bodies.

When Fforde’s most recent wife missed a ferry in 2014, he blocked the slip-way with his car and demanded to see the captain. Police intervened. Pointing out that his estate owned the foreshore where the incident took place, he admitted he got “a bit upset”.

Do these personal and political feuds matter in the wider country? I think they do. It reflects the entrenched privilege of a Scottish aristocratic elite, which hides behind its lawyers and bureaucrats while caring little for the security of those they evict. Unsurprisingly, Fforde hasn’t replied to any of my attempts to contact him over the eviction scandal.

Those familiar with land reform lobbying will also be aware that Fforde is far from an exception to the “Lords, Earls and Dukes”, as Rob Gibson described them, eager to push hard on the brakes of any serious reform.

Even the lobbyists for big landowners have admitted it has been “too easy” to caricature private estate owners as “arrogant dinosaurs”. It remains unlikely, however, even with this new-found self-awareness, that they will make any serious attempts to change the realities of power, wealth, and inequality that stem from the feudal make-up of vast tracts of Scottish land ownership.

Instead, people in Scotland outraged by the treatment of hard working tenants like the Patersons will have to take action to address the injustice – at a local level and nationally in law.

Arran provides a clue for the way ahead. Fforde's giant family estate was downsized, slightly, during the 20th century when it was liable for taxation.

With a new Land Commission established in the new year and the land register gradually filling in its gaps, it will soon be time for Scotland to follow the revolutions and constitutional transformations that swept away the lazy aristocrats of many continental European nations.

The Land League, which once fought injustice and abuse, is needed once more to fight evictions and to bring security, hope, and fair taxation to our land.