Letters to the Editor

Independence

Why Scotland needs to go its own way

Recently, the SNP at Westminster put forward an amendment that would have transferred to the Scottish Parliament responsibility for tax credits, which would have enabled the Holyrood government to provide relief for many Scots from the worst effects of George Osborne’s austerity cuts.

To the surprise of almost no one, Labour MPs voted with the Tories to defeat this SNP amendment, not because they thought it to be a bad idea in itself, but simply because it proposed transferring powers to Scotland and because it had been put forward by the SNP.

Whatever became of the old Labour party that was formed all those years ago to fight the corner of less well-off people?

This kind of nonsense will continue until we achieve independence and can introduce policies that will benefit Scotland and Scots.

Ruth Elford

Dunbar

Hares

Leave to those who know best

It beggars belief that the so called “experts” have just realised that hares are nocturnal (certainly more active under the cover of darkness).

Why can’t commonsense prevail and can we not leave the countryside in the safe and sensible hands of our local keepers, shepherds and farmers?

All these wildlife groups – Hare Conservation, Badger Watch, etc., etc. – are giving advice to government officials when they can’t get the basic schoolboy knowledge correct – i.e. “Hares are nocturnal”, in black and white that means “easier tae coont in the derk”. This is a schoolboy error by experts who should know better.

Please, please can we leave well alone and leave our hills and countryside to the local countrymen who live and work in it, and ken it best!

Keith Robertson

Kettleshiel

FORTH BRIDGE

Bridge drama taking its toll

As the Forth Road Bridge drama unfolds and more details about repair management and funding cuts come to light I can’t help thinking of the time when we all paid our £1 toll fee.

Most of us probably welcomed the abolition of the toll as proposed by the SNP in May 2007 only weeks after being elected into government. Yet parliamentary agreement ensued that legislation on mandatory bridge levies had to be revoked thus removing statutory means of raising maintenance funds.

Ironically, the speedy removal of the tolls came less than 2 years after a major investment in a state-of-the-art upgrade of the Toll Plaza.

Had it stayed in place, it would by now have generated an estimated revenue of £120 million – a nice cash boost to keeping the bridge in good health. There really is no such thing as a free lunch and in the end election gifts always come at a price.

Regina Erich

Stonehaven

Not very neighbourly

Once upon a time, there was a man called Mr SNP and he had a bridge.

Then another man called Mr Health and Safety warned him that the bridge might not be safe and he should build a new one.

Mr SNP dutifully started, but as he did, his neighbours, Messrs Labour, Green, Lib Dem and Tory started to ridicule and criticise him for the endeavour. “You don’t need it,” they said. “It’s too expensive,” they said. “It’s a vanity project”, they said.

Mr SNP was sad, but kept on building. The bridge was well on track to be delivered on budget and ahead of time when Mr Health and Safety closed the old one because it wasn’t safe.

Then Mr Labour and Mr Tory started to criticise Mr SNP for not doing anything about it, because they were quite quite mad (Messrs Green and Lib Dem might have said something too, but by this point no one cared).

A few years later, Mr SNP had a nice new bridge, a parliamentary majority and a jet pack for the weekends. His neighbours moved house. No one missed them.

The End

With acknowledgement and thanks to Chris Murray, who wrote 99% of this – he put it so much better than I ever could.

Natasha York

Jedburgh

SNP

Nationalists and criticism

Bosco Santimano sets about vilifying David Steel, dismissing the Lib Dems and Labour in the process, with all the certainty of a true believer (letters, December 10).

No doubt for nationalists the failures inherent in the SNP’s mismanagement of critical aspects of our health service, education system, police and infrastructure are all figments of everyone else’s collective imagination.

Equally, when someone such as Lord Steel, with the great credibility that comes from an accomplished political career and an unquestioned passion for Scotland, warns that the SNP’s centralising and controlling instincts are undermining Scotland’s democracy, it clearly hits a nerve with the SNP’s followers.

Their first thought is to mimic First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred approach of seeking to ridicule opponents, rather than properly address the issues they raise. Of course, accepting criticism with an open mind does not rest easy with an SNP government that chooses to use its power to neutralise the Holyrood committee system rather than allow it to fulfil the intended purpose of holding the government’s performance to account.

There is no doubt that the SNP has been riding high of late, but as they try to mock opponents fairing badly in elections and opinion polls, they would do well to remember that their own party will surely feel the force of political gravity before too long, all the quicker if they continue to turn a blind eye to their own shortcomings.

Keith Howell

West Linton

FM’s Christmas card trick

You have to hand it to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, she doesn’t miss a trick.

Even her Christmas card is a masterpiece of spin.

Most demographic groups voted “No” in last year’s independence referendum, but arguably the most troubling segment for the SNP was women who, in particular, had little truck with the party’s independence dream.

So no predictable statesman-like pose on the steps of Bute House for Ms Sturgeon. Instead we have a card designed and illustrated by nationalist sympathiser Mairi Hedderwick featuring Katie Morag, a much-loved character from her books.

Thus the SNP leader targets her Christmas card directly at women and, chiefly, mums who’ll have fond memories of reading these stories to their children. Memories that doubtless resonate with quite a few dads too.

Ms Sturgeon, workaday housewife that she is, can just be spotted dressing her Christmas tree in Bute House’s hallway. A prominently-displayed gift is wrapped in a saltire, reminding us that, for Ms Sturgeon at least, our national flag is a symbol of separatism as well as Scotland.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll be on Nicola’s card list this year.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

shopworkers

Union’s plea to customers

For many this is always an exciting time, but in the last few shopping days it can be frantic trying to get everything ready for the big day.

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

A recent survey showed that every minute of the working day a shopworker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked. Shopworkers report that incidents are more frequent throughout the festive period when shops are busier, customers can be stressed and are more likely to take out their frustration on staff.

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union, is running a Respect for Shopworkers campaign, asking customers to ‘Keep your Cool at Christmas’. It’s a simple message, but remembering that shopworkers are working extra hard at this time and treating them with respect will mean that everyone can have a happier Christmas.

John Hannett

(general secretary)

Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw)

Climate change

Developing nations cash in

To the relief of those with a financial interest, the climate conference in Paris reached agreement which seeks to keep global temperature rises by 2100 to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, but to strive for 1.5C.

Pledges for CO2 reductions already given will not meet the 2C target by 2030.

Developing countries opposed any outside body monitoring their industrial activities and emissions on the grounds that this would violate their sovereignty, so instead COP21 agreed a five-year cycle for countries to review and potentially raise the level of pledges. Upwards? – Never.

It was reported that 134 developing nations are “happy” with the deal. They are “happy” because they will get a slice the annual $100billion Green Fund, funded solely by developed countries, to help developing countries cope with climate change and adjust to a low-carbon economy.

How much will instead be syphoned off for personal use?

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

thanks

Melrose Rotary Club raffle

On behalf of the Rotary Club of Melrose, I am writing to thank all those who bought tickets for our festive raffle which was drawn on Saturday during the Christmas parade.

Winner of the first prize of £200 was Viv McDonald of the Ship Inn, with Alan Banner winning the £100 second prize.

The total raised was a magnificent £1,285, and after expenses it means that £985 will be shared between international, national and local charities.

So a very big thank you to all of you who purchased tickets, to fellow Rotarians for all their efforts and to Abbey Wines for their generosity in supporting this venture.

David J. Dalglish

(treasurer, Rotary Club of Melrose)