reasons for No vote wanted
Last month The Southern published a letter from me suggesting we could have a debate on next year’s independence referendum by inviting people to submit contributions from different sides of the debate to these columns.
Last week you published a letter from Michael Wilson of Clovenfords which provided an opinion on the subject. I thank Mr Wilson for that, but the substance and tone of the letter was so poor that I hardly think we can consider it the start of any sort of meaningful debate.
Mr Wilson accused the Green Party, who featured on the Yes side in a recent BBC debate, of “seeking to exploit an unholy alliance with the SNP”.
No, Mr Wilson, the co-operation of different parties in seeking proper self-government for Scotland is just that – co-operation. When we argue for the same outcome, it’s better that we campaign together, is it not? – Better Together, or is this a concept Mr Wilson is unable to understand?
He then went on to repeat the old chestnut of Scotland relying “almost entirely” on tax income from the “dwindling and volatile” North Sea oil and gas industry.
Scotland does not, and will not after independence, “rely” on revenue from oil. Our current economic output per head is comparable to the rest of the UK.
Oil revenues are (or should have been) a major bonus. They have underpinned the UK economy since oil and gas was first discovered all those years when we were constantly told they were “dwindling” and it would be best if Westminster handled them on our behalf.
The result of Westminster handling this on our behalf?
You simply need to compare our situation with that of Norway, the country whose waters also delivered an oil boom at the start of the 1970s. Norway today has an oil fund which, at $760billion, is estimated to be the largest sovereign wealth fund on the planet.
Scotland, by contrast, has a share of UK national debt of more than £900billion – and an oil fund of nothing at all.
Incidentally, according to data recently collected by Oil and Gas UK, capital spending in the North Sea is forecast to reach its highest level in 30 years, with offshore operators planning long-term investments of almost £100billion. Hardly signs of a “dwindling” resource.
Mr Wilson then makes references to “intolerant nationalism”, “economic, social and structural ruin” and “bigotry, narrow-minded ideology and the desire for absolute power in a smaller pond”. Is the fact that Denmark, Holland or Norway run their own affairs evidence of “bigotry” and a “narrow-minded ideology”?
Mr Wilson choose to refer to “outbreaks of violence fuelled by intolerant nationalism in the Balkans”.
The peaceful Yes campaign for Scottish independence has nothing whatsoever in common with the violent ethnic nationalism of the recent Balkan wars, and it’s nothing short of disgraceful that Mr Wilson tries to imply a connection.
Putting all this nonsense aside, however, what Michael Wilson is doing is not arguing, but ranting.
Could someone on the No side please – without resorting to smearing, insulting or ranting – provide me (and other readers) with persuasive reasons why we should not vote to become an independent country?
Surely editorials in a newspaper should be both non-partisan and accurate.
Neither of these qualities were present on October 10 in what was supposed to be a tribute to Michael Moore’s dignified departure from the office of Scottish Secretary.
It was partisan because it used the editorial largely as a means to attack the Conservatives.
It was inaccurate because it implied that the opposition to the SNP’s attempt to destroy the Union was a Conservative initiative, whereas Better Together is led in Scotland by the Labour Party with the united support of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. It was also inaccurate because it claimed that the Borders had rejected the Conservatives, whereas Borders electors are represented in the Scottish Parliament by John Lamont, and at local level there are more Conservative councillors than anywhere, except in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway, whilst the Conservative candidate (John Lamont) has reduced Michael Moore’s majority at each of the last two general elections.
A staggering result
The staggering result in last Thursday’s Tweeddale West by-election requires analytical comment.
The Liberal Democrats were front runners, but lost out to the Conservatives whose vote, on the basis of first preferences, increased by 31 per cent. The votes for the other main contenders slumped – Liberal Democrats by 46 per cent, SNP by an astonishing 54 per cent, Labour by 40 per cent and the Borders Party by 32 per cent. UKIP had a derisory 43 votes.
It would be interesting to hear the views of your readers, particularly those resident in the ward, on the reasons for this dramatic result.
One must not read too much into the result of a single local government by-election, but if the trends in this contest were to be extrapolated, even fractionally, across Scotland, the impact on the political landscape would be major.
David S. W. Williamson
Protecting young people
As many of your readers will be aware, young people in Scotland are still taking up smoking at an alarming rate.
Research conducted by Cancer Research UK has estimated that nearly 20,000 young people in Scotland are taking up the smoking habit every year – that’s 55 young Scottish lives put in danger every day.
With the vast majority of regular smokers – more than 70 per cent – beginning smoking before the age of 18 and with around 50 per cent hooked before the age of 16, it is clearly important to make tobacco products less attractive to children and young people.
We welcome the passing – at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg earlier this month – of draft legislation aimed at addressing the crucial responsibility that we have to protect young people from the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The parliament backed a proposal for all cigarette packs to carry a health warning covering 65 per cent of their surface and that fruit, menthol flavours and small packs should be banned.
In order to attract a new generation into the lethal habit, the tobacco industry has included additives and flavourings in tobacco products aimed to encourage new smokers by masking the unpleasant taste, adding a characterising flavour and making it easier to inhale. Slim cigarettes and lipstick or perfume-style packets are being targeted at girls and young women by creating an impression of glamour.
The new legislation is not a case of dictating to the Scottish consumer what they can or cannot buy, but to oppose the tricks of the industry to mislead the young. We want tobacco products that look and taste like tobacco.
We believe that the prevention of tobacco-related disease in Scotland’s next generation must be our primary concern when it comes to regulating tobacco.
David Martin and
Members of the European Parliament (Scotland)
The EBDA Award, instituted in 1977 and now in its 37th year, celebrates innovation, skill and enterprise within the communities of north Northumberland and the eastern Borders, the area in which the old Eastern Borders Development Association was so effective in promoting regeneration during the 1960s and 1970s.
The 2012 award was made to Simpsons Malt Ltd, but the shortlist also included local groups, voluntary organisations and individuals.
Nominations are invited from anyone – organisations or individuals – in the award area for the 2013 award. It will be made to a person or an organisation who, or which, through skill or effort, has made an outstanding contribution in social, economic or environmental fields in the 12 months leading up to November 30, 2013.
Further details may be obtained from the EBDA website – www.ebda.btik.com or by phoning 01289 382541.
Closing date for nominations is December 9.
E. O. Cawthorn
Appeal from Pacific islander
I am trying to get in contact with my cousin’s offspring, David Andrew Heard, who was born in May 1962.
I was born in Hawick and visited Selkirk whenever I could. Sadly, I lost touch when my parents moved to New Zealand in 1953.
When we came back to the UK we lived in Winchester, where I met my husband. My husband and I, along with our two children, moved to NZ in 1966, stayed there for 28 years and in 1994 we left the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in NZ and relocated to the south-west Pacific island of Vanuatu where we have lived ever since.
For the last 30 years I have been working on my family tree and trying to find those relatives I have lost touch with.
I am the new national fundraising manager for the Mission to Seafarers Scotland, the largest international marine charity.
The mission’s work takes place in and around Scottish ports and largely goes unnoticed by the local community. But we provide welfare services, and practical and emotional support for seafarers in need at a time of crisis, regardless of rank, nationality or religious beliefs – very often, we are their only lifeline.
More than 90 per cent of all goods we own in Scotland are delivered by seafarers, three of whom tragically die at sea each week. As a small island nation, Scotland has a strong history and empathy for seafarers, and have an understanding of the perils faced on long sea journeys.
In order to continue our work in Scotland, we must raise funds to support seafarers’ welfare. We are currently recruiting volunteers to help with a range of fundraising activities across Scotland. We are appealing to local schools, workplaces, community groups, churches, and all types of clubs and associations to come forward and volunteer their time, be that a few hours, a day or a week.
If you or your group are interested in helping the Mission to Seafarers Scotland, please contact me on 07799 901868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
I would like to thank everyone who supported my Macmillan coffee morning on September 27.
To all who donated money and home baking, tombola and raffle prizes, and, of course, my friends who worked hard on the day when £2,338.30 was raised, thanks to the generosity of the local community.
I would like to thank all who recently attended the coffee morning at Glenfield Court sheltered housing in Galashiels.
The residents, along with their families and friends, raised the magnificent amount of £475 which they’ve donated to Aberlour Options – Borders, which works with children with learning disabilities.
I’d like to extend my thanks to the residents, and in particular Margaret Gibb, George Rae and Ann Naysmith, regular fundraisers, for their fantastic work in organising the coffee morning and raffle.
Aberlour Options – Borders
On behalf of Borders Hospital Radio, I thank all of you who generously donated towards headphone sets during our 25th birthday celebrations on October 1, and to businesses and individuals outwith that day.
We realised the sum of £1,240.
A magnificent sum raised
On behalf of the Borders branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, I would like to thank everyone who helped, contributed and attended the annual coffee morning in Jedburgh on October 5.
The magnificent sum of £952 was raised and will be used locally to support those affected by M.S. Once again the folk of Jethart and surrounding areas have shown their wonderful generosity in helping worthy causes.