Poll: should Neil Oliver have been appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland?

Neil oliver crop

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There has been controversy after National Trust for Scotland (NTS) appointed TV historian Neil Oliver as its president.

The Coast star has provoked outrage among independence supporters because of his comments on nationalism and the SNP.

Many took to social media saying they will cancel NTS membership unless Oliver is removed.

However, the heritage charity has defended its choice, saying it is apolitical.

What do you think? Should Neil Oliver have been appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland?

Vote now and get the debate going by leaving a comment.

Graham Martin's photo

2nd October 2017 by Graham Martin 195 Comments

Should Neil Oliver have been appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland?

Poll results (total votes: 7364)

Should Neil Oliver have been appointed president of the National Trust for Scotland?

3rd October 2017 by Lok Yue

NTS appoints renowned historian and archaeologist as president of national charity for history and archaeology. Sounds rather sensible.

3rd October 2017 by Clare Cooney

Wouldn't it have been better to hire somebody who likes Scotland?

3rd October 2017 by Mel Spence

Firstly. I may have some disagreements with Neil Oliver, but, I think he will do a good job for the NTS.However, this was always going to be a reputational challenge for the NTS. They should have been out in front of it, proactively dealing with the inevitable backlash before it hit them. Instead they are on the defensive.Project Risk can kill your project Operational Risk can kill your organisationAll Third sector organisations should treat this as a cautionary tale, and check their own operational risk processes

3rd October 2017 by RealFreedom

@ Clare Cooney. Well that would rule out anybody who supports the nats separation fantasy.

3rd October 2017 by John Cassidy

All charitable organisations require a high profile to attract interest and funding. A well know individual with a strong track record on the historic landscape and environment is ideal for the post of president of the National Trust for Scotland. His politics are not relevant, his skills and history interests are.

3rd October 2017 by Colin Millar

Incredible that we can conflate the appointment of Neil Oliver and his expression of views in relation to the, now distant, Independence Referendum of 2014 and his ability to lead the National Trust for Scotland.Actually quite disgusted that it's event the topic of a poll to be honest.Are we all required to express our political views / preferences on job applications now? Wasn't there something in the Human Rights Act about preventing just this kind of thing happening?!Should we be checking his sexual orientation and any religious affiliations / views he may have before appointment too?

3rd October 2017 by Harry Brooks

The NTS claims to be a politically neutral organization. Mr Oliver has chosen to express his personal political views in a particularly strident and offensive way. In associating itself with one side of the current debate the NTS risks alienating half of the population whose heritage it claims to be safeguarding.

4th October 2017 by James Westland

Its not the fact that he is a unionist that is the problem Or that he's just another in a line of ProudScotButs. Its the fact that he has made some pretty intemperate and poisonous comments in the recent past about supporters of independence. There is something deeply unpleasant about this individual - he seems to have some sort of issues that, IMO make him unsuited to this role. The language of the academic and the researcher should be measured and sober. thats not what you get from this guy

4th October 2017 by Christine Cameron

His take on Scottish history is skewed and biased. He is no attribute to the NTS.

5th October 2017 by RealFreedom

@ F mackenzie. Anyone who reduces the Highland clearances to a simplistic migration v ethnic cleansing debate is no Scottish historian.

5th October 2017 by RealFreedom

@ Harry Brooks So the appointment of pro-independence Alan Cumming to be an NTS ambassador in America was fine? Despite his controversial views? The stench of hypocrisy from SNP trolls on this subject is nauseating.

5th October 2017 by ROBERT MCINTOSH

Much better for the NTS to have appointed someone that actually likes Scotland, does not 'emigrate' to New Zealand in a huff, can behave like an adult rather than a spoiled child and crucially is able to present a positive image rather than doing anything for the highest bidder approach - some of his historical ramblings have borne no reality to the truth to ensure a good 'story'

6th October 2017 by Sam

As the furore and your poll have been triggered by a political statement and stance Neil Oliver took. Could you please print the result of the poll you conducted when the President he's replacing, Jamie 16th Earl of Lindsay, a Conservative Peer was appointed to the post?Waiting with baited breath (although I'm certain it'll be in vain).

6th October 2017 by Freddiemac

Poll mirrors the indy vote intentions. Good support for a highly respected man.

6th October 2017 by Adam Brown

This is quite staggering that this poll has been put up on this site. Have a word with yourselves

6th October 2017 by Alastair Osborne

Did you run a similar poll on his predecessor Lord Jamie Lindsay the former Tory Minister in the Scottish Office

6th October 2017 by James Dalgliesh

WHY NOT ????

6th October 2017 by william smith

would have preffered some one who actually knows their Scottish history

6th October 2017 by Mik Johnstone

i could almost get over the fact he doesn't like Us Independence supporters... but i'm not gonna, however, it's the fact he thinks the Highland Clearances were a jaunt off to a foreign land to settle, is damned right ignorant ...

6th October 2017 by Janice Preston

Shocking that a so called 'historian' can describe the Highland clearance's as voluntary emigration.....disgrace and not fit for the job

6th October 2017 by Kit Hood

The charity may claim to be apolitical but Neil Oliver is anything but! His views are not Scottish and describing the Highland clearances as 'emigration' is unforgivable. He should not have been given a job like that with those views.

6th October 2017 by jackie ballie

Resign now

6th October 2017 by terri mcintyre

For me Mr Oliver's attempted whitewash of the Highland Clearances is offensive as a descendant of people cleared off Strathnaver in the north Highlands his description of enforced eviction was offensive.

6th October 2017 by Jane Devlin

Neil Oliver is brilliant and a great ambassador for Scotland

6th October 2017 by radders


6th October 2017 by Isabel Walker

His blatant dislike for Scotland speaks volumes

6th October 2017 by Margaret Kay

Mr Oliver works to the detriment of Scotland - sure the position with NTS should have been given to someone who actually likes Scotland

6th October 2017 by Morag Lawson

Why would someone so anti Scottish be given this position?

6th October 2017 by Lorna Gillespie

The National Trust is supposed to be politically impartial. This excuse for a Scotsman has been quite blatant about what his politics are ! That I can tolerate, this is a democracy after all but I agree that his disgusting comments about the highland clearances are unforgivable.

6th October 2017 by Douglas Allan

The National Trust for Scotland is quit rightly apolitical, Mr. Oliver is historically NOT, the current spread of numbers in this survey would suggest he has already damaged the organisation.

6th October 2017 by David Martin

This vote should have been restricted to native born Scots, ie no English or any other nation for that matter. Born in Scotland of Scottish parents.

6th October 2017 by Lorna Boyce

Someone who cares so little for his country and its people should not be in such a position

6th October 2017 by Bill Smith

This guy represents everything that has kept Scotland as a subservient nation to Inglistan . He complies and encourages the false premise that we are a union of equals when in fact we have alien cultures and values to our southern neighbours. Having lived in inglistan for 20 years but now returned to Scotland 25 years ago I can back up this statement with facts . He is a quisling,

6th October 2017 by Henry McMillan

Already cancelled my membership!

6th October 2017 by Morag Dobbie

This man is a traitor to Scotland and should never have been offered the post

6th October 2017 by David Francis

"We have to re-open Plato’s argument that we should claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."Exactly why the very, very, very Intolerant Mr Oliver should NOT be employed by the NTS.

6th October 2017 by ian hardie

This man has expressed his political allegiance to a foreign Government and has also made a mockery of his so called own people. He is not welcome in Scotland and is not suitable for this position, i have therefore cancelled my membership

6th October 2017 by ScottC

It's only an apolitical appointment if he now backs out of all political comment. I don't believe he'll be able to resist

6th October 2017 by Mo Bowman

As the appointment has provoked such outrage-NO he should not have been given the post.It has brought the Trust into disrepute!

6th October 2017 by Gwyn Moses

The NTS says it is not political but appoints someone with controversial political views who has offended almost half the population and will find working with the Scottish government difficult because of his views about the SNP. It almost looks deliberate. Remember that this follows the debacle of bullying small Scottish companies by trademarking geographical features, wasting member subscriptions on lawyer fees. The NTS seems to have lost direction.

6th October 2017 by Peter Barlow

Neil Oliver has re-framed the forced expulsion of *people* from their homes (the Highland Clearances) as 'mass migration'. He has referred to the desires of nearly half of the voters of Scotland (possibly more after the Better Together lies have been exposed) as 'cancerous'. He is rudely political, misinformed (or perhaps just dissembling) and divisive. He isn't even a Historian!As such he has no place heading a non-political 'National' Trust.

6th October 2017 by Gill Lange

It was himself who made his persona political. He, and only himself, made political comment knowingly placing himself on the political sphere. Was he not asked about this at his interview or was it not deemed relevant that he made his political views publicly known?

6th October 2017 by sue cheadle

Just goes to show how out of touch the nts is.No surprise really.

6th October 2017 by Alfred Deegan


6th October 2017 by StarryTowers

Wrong to appoint a divisive political character who has voiced his very strong views on the subject of independence. Not helpful to the NTS as it immediately alienates a large section of the Scottish public. In his opinion further debate on the subject is a "cancerous presence", he doesn't appear to believe in democracy in this fast-moving and changing situation. Being so opposed to so-called cybernats is very confrontational to people who happen to be in favour of independence and own a computer.

6th October 2017 by iain

I'm not a member, but have often been a patron. I'm also a specialist on corporate governance in both profit and non profit sector - specialist as in 25 years experience in Scotland and internationally. Frankly, the NTS decision and attitude leaves me shaking my head in astonishment. NTS is a national body and should not be in any way partisan in the independence debate. With Oliver in the top job, that's impossible.

6th October 2017 by Mo

NTS should employ someone who is au fait with Scottish history. The appointment of Neil Oliver will negatively effect them. Many Scots will cancel their subscriptions.

6th October 2017 by Stu

A president should command respect from everyone and be neutral and above petty mendacious arguments. Sadly, Oliver 's political position make me pretty certain he should not hold such a prestigious position championing Scotland's heritage when he shows so much contempt for the opinions of a large portion of it's citizens. He may hold strong views about the union and it's preservation but in his lofty position in the public eye he's afforded by the BBC he should practise the fine art of keeping his opinions to himself, it may serve him better, although, I doubt it.

6th October 2017 by Heather

Major failing on NTS for trying to appoint a President who re-wrote the Scottish Highland clearances for the BBC ????

6th October 2017 by Don Walker

I am greatly saddened that such a controversial figure is now ensconced in this position. He shattered my view of him with his outrageous view of Independence during th3 referenda , when it would have been wise to stay neutral. Thus ailienating half of his fan base. As we no he is not a historian he is a propagandist , giving a warped view of history.

6th October 2017 by Mrs V.Nelson

An obvious impartial, qualified and experienced representative should head this organisation. I am NOT re-newing my membership, because of this. If an egocentric,hair tossing shampoo ad.wannabe heads such an important position-your organisation is doomed. Stop chasing/courting celebrity

6th October 2017 by Garry

Total kick in the teeth for Scots who do support independence, this guy keeps stocking the flames of division, will the next president be Alex Salmond?

6th October 2017 by gordon ross

A clearance denier. Tries to say that the old and infirm being burned in their beds was "emigration"

6th October 2017 by Annette Kupke

Irrespective of where one comes down on questions of Scottish politics, the NTS should not have appointed someone who was the source of so much controversy.

6th October 2017 by batman

he's a weedy wee bawbag

6th October 2017 by George Penman

I do not approve of his political stance but his academic skills are in the top 10. So as a president of the NTS he is a good choice but there is one better his sidekick Tony Pollard would have been my FIRST choice.

6th October 2017 by Lorna Shiels

This reaction to Neil Oliver's appointment is embarrassing. Next we'll be seeing burnings of JK Rowling's books. I detest nationalism and how it's divided Scotland.

6th October 2017 by BLMac

It's bloody stupid to appoint someone who has pissed off half your potential donors and clientele. Obviously a politically motivated reward.

6th October 2017 by David Macqueen

The NTS must have known this appointment to be controversial to say the least. There must have been candidates they passed over who would in no way have lost them the members they are now losing. Baffling!!

6th October 2017 by Allan Moffat

Oliver is divisive and as a member of NTS for over 20 years, visit every weekend, 2 of my family will now not renew and more will follow losing revenue with long term consequences . He hates Scotland and Scottish people which is not a good look, reverse the decision if you have common sense.

6th October 2017 by Alan Knight

Neil Oliver is not fit to be president of anything. ALSO, HE IS NOT A HISTORIAN! His nauseating views on Scotland. the Highland Clearances and independence make it clear that he is a Brit Nat, dedicated to suppressing the real truth about Scotland. He is a disgrace, and quite frankly so are the NTS, another organisation who exist only for themselves and their conservative friends, and do not represent the people of Scotland. Shame on you!!

6th October 2017 by Terry Mac

Neil Oliver called the Highland clearances a "migration" and presented Scotland's history from an English perspective in a very patronising and disrepectful manner. Then he just made stuff up.

6th October 2017 by Andrew Hepburn

He’s not fit to hold a position that has Scotland’s heritage interests given his anti-Scotland stance.

6th October 2017 by Jim Cunningham


6th October 2017 by David Francis

To be honest - this was a very, very Political Appointment by NTS. To give such a high-profile job to a loud-mouthed, foul-mouthed Bitter wee British Nationalist, was always going to alienate most Scots - as this poll clearly shows

6th October 2017 by Mark Richards

I feel we are getting infiltrated,I'm not exaggerating,honestly I do,this reeks of "jobs for the boys" type attitude.I haven't read yet who is responsible for this guy getting near the place,a rich tory perhaps! No ,it's downright ridiculous and most of insulting.

6th October 2017 by Dave Shand

Neil Oliver has alienated pro independence movement by his outspoken views of the SNP and key members of the party. In his role as President even although it is largely ceremonial how can he possibly represent those members. Additionally he appears to interpret the history of Scotland in a strange British context -odd for an archeologist

6th October 2017 by Graeme Cummng

I am an NTS member and guide. I do not accept that a man with widely publicised toxic views on Scotland can be acceptable as an Ambassador for an apolitical organisation.

6th October 2017 by Lady Caroline McLean-Smith

I do believe we would be better with someone who actually LIKES Scotland and am shocked that he should even be considered after he said the Highland Clearances were EMMIGRATION--.never mind his anti-Scotland political views----he has twisted facts on our history ad nauseum to suit his own agenda. NO NO NO.

6th October 2017 by Stevieboy

Sorry, but Oliver is not a qualified historian, nor is he fit to represent such a prestigious institution when he has such forthright political views and also has a tendency to rewrite history to fit those views.

6th October 2017 by Oor Deb

Mr. Oliver is a polarising figure whose insulting attacks on nearly half the voting public of Scotland make him unfit to hold this office

6th October 2017 by Ian

This sad excuse for a mans disgusting comments about the highland clearances are unforgivable

6th October 2017 by Mary Dale

The man's politics are inappropriate for this organisation.

6th October 2017 by Serena Arif

Appalling appointment for an apolitical position. Someone who has spouted hate towards a chunk of Scottish society and has rebranded the Highland Clearances.

6th October 2017 by Sean Gallagher

Just no. He puts the country down to further his career.

6th October 2017 by Stuart

Neither renowned or a historian. Very poor choice, would rather have had an academic and/or someone who is politically neutral. Not happy, and I'm their target market.

6th October 2017 by Patricia Fergus

He once claimed that the people from the highland clearances were actually migrants. Does not know his Scottish history !

7th October 2017 by J Connolley

No turncoat should have this position.

7th October 2017 by Scott Mackay

Neil Oliver has insulted more than half of Scotland's population in my opinion and his appointment to the post says a lot about NTS.

7th October 2017 by Malcolm Brown

Much as I disagree with the man, and I daresay, actively dislike him, he IS entitled to his opinion. What is wrong is NTS putting him in an exalted position where his opinion will be heard over that of the general public, who in many cases, possibly even the majority, have radically different views. I say sack him NOW.

7th October 2017 by Duncan Laing

Neil Oliver is an Archaeologist NOT a Historian. Neil Oliver is a well recognised UK fundamentalist. Neil Oliver has been called out by Scottish AND English Professors of History and Archaeologists for twisting and subverting History to suit a British agenda rather than reporting THE TRUTH and separating the very obvious differences between Scottish and English History. Neil Oliver's version of History is one of the main reasons the BBC's future has been called into question. Neil Oliver is roundly HATED in Scotland because of his very obvious "British" agenda... Maggie Thatcher would have been a better choice for the post ffs .

7th October 2017 by Dennis Nicholson

Trust organisers are either totally out of touch or politically biased or both. A divisive choice, unpopular with a very significant proportion of the people they represent.

7th October 2017 by David Clater

Your real poll question should be "Should Third Force News really be demeaning itself by running this biased, vindictive and divisive nonsense?"

7th October 2017 by Craigie Watson

Thanks for pandering to the nationalist mindset. The "outrage" that has been seen on Twitter and such places gives a pretty clear view of what upsets the keyboard warriors. That is to say, Mr Oliver has opposed their position and should therefore to be blacklisted by all "good" Scottish organisations.

7th October 2017 by Rosemary Meechan

Neil Oliver's opinions are cancerous and divisive. He should stick to facile, misleading documentaries and Coast - to for the brain dead,

7th October 2017 by Joan Blanch

if the NTS are apolitical they shouldn't appoint someone who is so politically against independence. They should appoint someone who is apolitical (sitting on the fence).

7th October 2017 by Brian Mulrine

The man is a British Nationalist bigot, incapable of anything other than a Unionist understanding of History.

7th October 2017 by Ronnie

If NTS is truly apolitical they should not be appointing a president who regularly 'shoots his mouth off' on matters political. He's a self-aggrandising ego tripper.

7th October 2017 by pkay

Surely it would have been better to appoint an actual historian, which Mr Oliver is not.

7th October 2017 by Elizabeth Maxwell

The National Trust for Scotland would have been better choosing an ambassador who actually cares about Scottish history. Neil Oliver has proved his disdain for Scotland and its history by his inaccurate and biased television programmes

7th October 2017 by Billy McBun


7th October 2017 by Dan Doherty

If it’s apolitical why appoint an individual who has already used his media profile to appraise us all of his own political views? Regardless of what those views are. There are plenty of Historians who concentrate on their profession and not their own image and political views.

7th October 2017 by helen

What a lot if bitter nationalists there are, though thankfully a minority. Empty drums always make the most noise. On the Highland Clearances Neil did not claim they didn't happen and to use the term migration in regards to large numbers of people moving to another area is in fact grammatically correct. Nationalists offended by everything, ashamed of nothing.

7th October 2017 by T Huckle

I'm a member.....he meets with my approval.

7th October 2017 by brian mcardle

Instead of informing us of our past ,he take political swipes at those elected,also stating that the Highland Clearances were just folk leaving is so much mince ,even i was taught that clans were thrown off lands shipped abroad ,all for sheep to be moved in a total disgrace

7th October 2017 by Barry Hamilton

Totally inappropriate appointment.

7th October 2017 by Jenny Gunning

Whilst Neil Oliver has every right to express his own particular political preference, he has rather unusual historical perceptions too, which must be considered by the National Trust inasmuch as the effect these perceptions will be bound to have on the way the Trust presents Scottish history. Also, by appointing such a controversial figure, the Trust cannot then call itself apolitical, as it must be affected by the views of it appointee.

7th October 2017 by brian mcardle

Last guy in the job was a Tory ,i may loathe the Tory party and its members ,but not once disd i hear the Lord express such ignorance of the Highland Clearances ,what next mr Oliver?,promoting CAMPBELL`S soup in Glencoe?

7th October 2017 by Michelle Kane

Most definitely yes and totally agree with Colin Millar comment re Human Rights Act.

7th October 2017 by Eleanor Murray

The NTS is a membership organisation> Anyone could join and vote at the AGM if they genuinely cared about the future of the organisation. Personally, while I think the choice was naive, I am pleased to see a move away from Dukes and Lords holding the role. I would have been more pleased to see a women in the role, such as Margaret Bennett, but it is not up to me.