A TRADE association is facing criticism for highlighting the opinion of one B&B owner who compared the Scottish Government’s short-term let licencing scheme to the Highland Clearances.

The Scottish B&B Association has been calling for ministers to delay the implementation of the scheme, which will require landlords of short-term lets to display energy performance ratings on their listings, have adequate buildings insurance, and conform to fire and gas safety precautions.

It is due to go live on October 1 after already being delayed by six months.

However, some in the industry claim the scheme will decimate Scotland’s tourism industry, with many owners thus far failing to apply for a licence.

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Yet just weeks after one anti-STL campaigner was fiercely criticised for comparing the scheme to a “pogrom”, the Scottish B&B Association posted a comment from a B&B owner on X/Twitter which compared the scheme to the Highland Clearances.

It stated: “We unfortunately will not be continuing after 1st Oct as a direct result of the draconian requirements demanded now by the Scottish government.

“We liken it to a modern day version of the 1750 Highland Clearances which, in our opinion is going to destroy the unique Scottish hospitality that we have in the Highlands.”

The comment was re-posted by two Conservative MSPs – Edward Mountain and Miles Briggs – after the party forced a vote in Holyrood to delay the legislation, which was subsequently defeated.

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Dr Allan Kennedy, a lecturer in Early Modern Scottish History at the University of Dundee, said such comparisons could cloud the reality of historical events and their impacts. 

He told The National: "Invoking examples of traumatic historical events like the Highland Clearances can be deeply offensive, threatens to coarsen public discourse, and tends to obscure historical understanding - if we're constantly contorting history to suit contemporary political goals, then it becomes very difficult to talk objectively or accurately about the past.

"At the same time, making spurious comparisons like this is often totally counter-productive, since it makes the person employing them look ridiculous and it therefore becomes far harder to take their wider argument or concerns seriously.

The author and National columnist Gerry Hassan said such comparisons did not help the sector’s cause.

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“The age of OTT indignation and inappropriate historical comments,” he said.

“Would be helpful to keep comparisons to ‘Highland Clearances’ out of discussions of the B&B sector. Doesn't help the B&B cause/sector one bit.”

Others on social media suggested the comparison was "offensive" as the Clearances were perpetrated by landlords, not against them.

"Ah yes, the famous anti-landlord Highland Clearances," one user responded. "It’s bugger all like the Highland Clearances," another wrote.

And University of Glasgow historian and author Ewan Gibb said: "In the 1980s, parallels were drawn between the plight of industrial communities facing closure and mass unemployment with the Clearances. Most famously in the Proclaimers anthem, Letter From America.

"Now, it is the landlord class itself which faces the same fate!"

The Scottish B&B Association and the Scottish Conservatives have been contacted for comment.