Walter Baxter snapped the heather in full bloom from Newark Hill, looking towards Foulshiels Hill in the Yarrow Valley.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
IT’S NO LONGER FOR ENGLAND TO DECIDE
Graham Holford (“Blaming Westminster”, letters, August 17) chooses to accuse me of “plumbing the depths of hypocrisy”.
He then admits he did not see the letter from Paul Singleton which prompted my reply. This may explain the inconsistencies in his letter.
The central point remains that Theresa May’s arrogant and divisive government, by continually ignoring the particular needs and opinions of all parts of “our precious United Kingdom of Great Britain”, is in danger of derailing the fragile peace which has existed in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement. With her hard-line attitude to Brexit, the Prime Minister also risks breaking up the very United Kingdom she professes to cherish so much.
I’m afraid any hypocrisy lies with Westminster.
To quote renowned author Andrew O’Hagan, in his ground-breaking lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival recently: “Britain has mismanaged itself out of existence.”
Previously a committed supporter of the United Kingdom, he now realises that it is time for our country (Scotland) to take its rightful place in the world.
Mr Holford then goes on to wrongly assume that I speak for the SNP. I have already made it clear that I am not, have never been, and do not intend to become, a member of the SNP. What I do believe, however, is that this proud nation of Scotland deserves the opportunity to manage its own affairs, just like any other country, and to take on, and resolve, the many challenges our country faces, creating a fairer and more equal country in the process.
No doubt there will be problems, but they will be our own problems and we will solve them in the interests of all who live and work in this country of ours. The time is over when England decides what is best for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, while totally disregarding all our unique needs and differences.
With independence, we can at last have a government, whatever colour it may be, that we have voted for – not one imposed upon us.
I would also recommend Mr Holford reads chapter 11 from Anthony Barnett’s book, “The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump”.
He writes (as an Englishman): “There is a simple way for us English to be free. Just ask the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish to take their fate into their own hands.”
In this way England can become a democracy for the English, with its own parliament, making its own laws and co-operating with its neighbours in a spirit of mutual respect.
I could not agree more.
NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE VIBES
The mood music around the latest discussions between Scottish and UK ministers over powers being repatriated from the European Union as part of Brexit says much about the two sides’ prime motivations.
Scotland’s Brexit minister, Mike Russell, chose, as ever, to portray the UK position as negatively as possible, with repeated talk of a “power grab” and dire warnings of an “attack on devolution”.
Meanwhile, UK ministers say they are looking for “a positive and open dialogue”, stressing that new powers will come to Scotland.
The stark contrast comes from one side having a weather eye to a possible future independence referendum, for which purpose no opportunity to stir grievance can be missed. The other seeks the best Brexit outcome for Scotland and every part of the UK, which does require some UK-wide arrangements to ensure a coherent approach overall.
Simply put, one side places the SNP’s interests first, and the other wants Scotland and the rest of the UK to prosper together.
A QUESTION THE SNP MUST ANSWER
Is the republican Scottish National Party prepared to publish an irrevocable letter of intent to the people of the United Kingdom on the monarchy remaining as head of state before Indyref2?
The above has been requested many times and until a reply has been received one can only conclude that an eventual republican state is envisaged. During the last general election campaign, two young ladies from the SNP asked for my vote.
My reply was: “Were they aware that they represented a republican party who wanted to rid us of the monarchy?”
They denied this, of course, and said they “would leave the SNP if it was a true fact, along with many others”.
One consoling fact is that truth always prevails and it won’t be long before this happens.
If you believe in the monarchy, don’t vote SNP before the above has been clarified on TV and the media as it is our constitutional and democratic right to be honestly informed.
LEARNING FROM A CLASSROOM BAN
Borders Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne has urged the Scottish Government to overhaul its 2013 guidance on the use of mobile devices in schools.
Education has plummeted under the SNP-dominated administration which previously said it was “unreasonable and impractical to attempt to impose a ban on mobile devices in schools”.
New research by academics at the London School of Economics concluded that restricting mobile phones “subsequently experienced an improvement in test scores”.
Any responsible parent could have told them that, so why is the Scottish Government so complacent?
The majority of parents would welcome a ban, with only the usual suspects complaining that their child’s human rights were being breached.
Time for responsible parents to demand change.
‘GREEN RELIGION’ V ‘THE DENIALISTS’
I see the anti-green brigade are out in force (letters, August 17).
My head tells me not to respond to William Loneskie and Clark Cross, but my gut, as if I had been presented with a pair of cream doughnuts on a platter, wins out. Both correspondents suggest I am a member of a religion. Initially, as a confirmed atheist, I found this a trifle hard to swallow, but giving it a second thought I rather warmed to the idea.
A religion based on the belief that man-made, carbon-based emissions will alter the atmosphere to the detriment of life, the founding fathers (and mothers) of which creed are the 98% of scientists working in the relevant fields sounds rather attractive. Of course, we’ll need a god. I don’t suppose we can just choose one, so maybe Darwin and Dawkins can fight it out. Every god needs an antithesis – I imagine him as large, golden, breathing fire and brimstone, and inhabiting a huge, white house.
If the “green religion” is based on a creed supported by nine out of 10 scientists, then the non-believers – those following the minority, must, by definition, be members of an obscure sect. Let’s call them “The Denialists”.
So far, so good, but then Clark Cross spoils it all by posing the question: “SNP, by any chance?”
Well, that’s just going too far. To save lengthy explanations, I refer Clark to my series of letters pre-election, in which I exhorted the Borders electorate to vote for the only credible unionist candidate. This stance is not necessarily evidence of Conservatism – what it does show is a distrust of the combination of nationalism and socialism.
Sarcasm, they say, is the lowest form of wit. What they don’t say is that it’s never the most appropriate.
More than 250,000 people in Scotland are living with Type 2 diabetes.
It’s a serious condition which can lead to life-limiting complications if people are not supported to manage it well. Diabetes is complex and it requires careful management every day in order to stay healthy.
If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you will undoubtedly have a lot of questions and may feel overwhelmed by all the information that is out there.
At Diabetes Scotland, with support from Scottish Government, we are developing a Type 2 diabetes education pack which is currently being trialled in a number of GP practices. Our aim is to provide all the information you need in an easy-to-read guide that can be kept and used as you require.
We’re looking for people who are living with Type 2 diabetes to advise on the content of our Type 2 education pack and help make sure it meets the needs of people who are newly diagnosed.
If any of your readers are living with Type 2 diabetes and would like to become involved with this project, please email me at email@example.com or telephone 0141 245 6380.
TAKING STEPS TO SHOW SUPPORT
Every year, 3,700 people in Scotland are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Luckily, when my mum was diagnosed with the disease it was spotted early when survival rates are higher and she has now recovered.
Physical activity plays an important part in stacking the odds against a bowel cancer diagnosis and as a keen walker myself, I’m delighted to support Bowel Cancer UK’s Walk Together. Walk Together is a sponsored five-mile walk to bring people together so that they can show their support for those undergoing treatment, remember loved ones we have lost and raise funds to help stop bowel cancer.
It’s for people of all ages and abilities.
Sign up to Walk Together in Edinburgh on Saturday, September 23, or to receive a fundraising pack with everything you need to hold your own memorable walk, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk/walktogether
TV presenter and Bowel
Cancer UK patron
MEALS DECISION LEAVES A BAD TASTE
I was upset and concerned to learn that Saltgreens residential home in Eyemouth would no longer be providing fresh, home-cooked meals on the premises.
As a regular visitor, the staff are highly praised for the meals they provide – this including home baking. Saltgreens is renowned for its high catering standards.
The decision to move to an external supplier, whether it results in frozen meals brought in or meals made seven miles or so away, is not in the best interest and well-being for the residents in Saltgreens.
Saltgreens is owned by Scottish Borders Council and care is provided by SB Cares. I would be interested to know if this decision had been open to public consultation.
If I was in the position of moving to Saltgeens residential home and paying the very high cost of living there, I would expect to have fresh, home-cooked meals.
The only ultimate solution to the problem of Jihadist terrorism is to defeat the ideology.
There is no mystery about the perpetrators’ motivation, because they repeatedly announce it.
The terrorists’ reasoning goes like this:
1) The Quran is a revelation from Allah, and Mohammed is a moral example; 2) These teach us to attack unbelievers.
In media and political debate, it is almost always step 2 that is attacked. However, having studied the relevant texts, I believe that step 1 is actually the weak link in the argument.
However, out of an understandable desire to avoid offending ordinary Muslims and a fear of reprisals from Islamic extremists, the first step is rarely critiqued.
It is vital that we facilitate open discussion of Islam, including its central tenets, if we are to fully engage with jihadist ideology.
Of course texts allow for various interpretations, but the expression of a religion is steered by its foundational documents.
One of the objectives of Islamic fundamentalists is to restrict freedom of speech, silencing criticism of Islam. They must fail.
Scottish Family Party
THE FUELLING OF UNFOUNDED FEARS
I really didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at William Loneskie’s letter (“On the road to radiation risk”) in last week’s Southern. Laugh because it was so inaccurate, or cry because he probably believed what he was saying was true.
Put simply, the UK Government does not plan to scrap all petrol and diesel vehicles in 2040.
If Mr Loneskie had bothered to actually read the proposal, it was to stop selling new petrol and diesel vehicles from that date. He’ll be able to run any Land Rovers or Subarus he buys before that date for as long as he likes, although the likelihood of higher road tax and availability of petrol or diesel might make that more difficult.
Lithium ion batteries full of poisons? Yes, they are full of lithium.
If he is so worried about the range of batteries and the time taken to charge them, why not go down the hydrogen fuel cell route. Quick to fill, longer lasting and already in use in several bus fleets and other commercial vehicles. Have a wee look at companies like ITM which manufacture both the cells and the plant that produces hydrogen. Hydrogen technology has moved on a bit since The Hindenburg.
As to Mr Loneskie’s fears about electromagnetic radiation, I hate to increase his fears, but it’s all around him constantly. While the electromagnetic spectrum includes gamma rays and X-rays, it does also include visible light and radio waves.
Not really sure what radiation Mr Loneskie thinks batteries emit. As far as I can see, The Renault Scenic has a starter motor, not a starter battery, so puzzled at the response he got from the manufacturer.
I also note he is concerned about work going to Germany or China, but is happy enough to buy a French car.
As to the effects on hearts, I take it he also proposes taking the batteries out of folk’s pacemakers.
West High Street
MEASURES TO CUT DEATH TOLL
Councillor Tom Weatherson asks what can be done to reduce death on Borders roads (Southern, August 17).
For a start, I suggest Scottish Borders Council reviews its policies on cutting visibility splays onto main roads, maintenance of road signs and provision of adequate road markings (continuous double-white lining on the approach to hazards are noticeably absent on the region’s roads).
Roadside potholes represent a real risk to safety, even to local drivers who know where to swerve to avoid them.
If more attention were to be given to signage on main roads in the Borders, it is possible that serious accidents might be reduced.
PARENTS AND THE WARNING SIGNS
Now that children are back at their desks after the school summer holidays are over, it’s important that parents of those with asthma keep an eye out for the early warning signs of an attack.
Youngsters are at a much greater risk of having an asthma attack when they’re back at school, partly due to exposure to triggers such as cold and flu viruses. In fact, the latest hospital admissions data showed that children in Scotland were 68% more likely to be rushed to hospital following an asthma attack in August than in July.
Every 10 seconds, someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK, and three people die from asthma every day, so it’s important for parents to spot the signs of an asthma attack early.
You should book an appointment with the GP or asthma nurse if your child is: using their reliever inhaler (usually blue) more than three times a week; coughing or wheezing at night; feeling out of breath and struggling to keep up with their friends.
Parents who have concerns about their child’s asthma can speak to our expert nurses by calling the Asthma UK helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm), and find more information on how to protect their child when they’re back in school by visiting https://www.asthma.org.uk/back-to-school
(head of helpline and nurse manager at Asthma UK)
CUTS WILL HARM THE ENVIRONMENT
It’s welcome news that nearly 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions have been saved by a shift from air to rail in recent years as a result of changing behaviour in domestic travel patterns.
Much less welcome is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to cut Air Passenger Duty with the specific intention of increasing the number of Scottish inbound and outbound flights.
Not only will this SNP policy be environmentally damaging, it will, in its first year result in a £190m tax loss.
With the severe decline in educational standards over the past 10 years on the SNP’s watch, surely Ms Sturgeon can think of a better way to spend our money than environmentally-damaging tax cuts for better-off frequent flyers?
I am collecting any used postage stamps, old mobiles, stamp albums and cigarette cards for the Blue Cross charity.
The Blue Cross looks after unwanted and abandoned animals. Without our help to support this charity, many of the creatures we all love would be put to sleep.
Therefore, I would be grateful for your support in respect of the aforementioned items which can be turned into funds for a good cause.
Please send your items to me.
75 Kingsley Road
Kent ME15 7UP