Your picture of the Week

a stoat beside the bird hide at Yetholm Loch nature reserve
a stoat beside the bird hide at Yetholm Loch nature reserve

This stoat beside the bird hide at Yetholm Loch nature reserve was caught in the lens of Graeme Rae who told us: “Work has begun on a massive wind turbine being erected on the opposite side of the loch.

It could affect swans, geese – in fact all wildfowl, especially in the winter when they are aplenty. Osprey also visit the loch in the summer months.” Please email photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

SELF-DECEPTION AND REALITY

Referendums bring out the worst in a lot of people.

Divisive and ill-tempered campaigns seem to accentuate the differences between some, taking them ever further from any hope of common ground. The aftermath of these votes can be even worse as so often they result in the electorate broadly split down the middle, leaving a great temptation for those unhappy with the outcome to look for ways to overturn or ignore it.

So it was with Tony Blair’s intervention in the Brexit debate, with a rather muddled and contradictory stance that seemed to want to both recognise the result, but then call upon people to rise up to seek to overturn it. Worse still, in trying to make his case of just how bad Brexit could be, he said that the case for Scottish independence was somehow strengthened as a result.

Some might take comfort from Mr Blair’s remarks, but they would do well to remember how wrong he got both the facts and public mood over Iraq. In relation to Scottish independence, if the scale of our fiscal deficit, trail of public service crises and the evidence of opinion polls are anything to go by, Mr Blair is once again demonstrating just how far self-deception can take you from reality.

Keith Howell

West Linton

DISENCHANTED ELECTRORATE

Tony Blair (what’s he doing here anyway?) wants a second referendum on the EU and for Scotland to remain in the UK.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (in my opinion the worst leader in living memory with strong affiliation to the republican Left and Sinn Fein) wants independence and to remain in the EU.

I suggest that we stay with the original, democratically-agreed vote and the best of a (reasonable) bunch and trigger Article 50 by March, as promised to our friends in the UK.

The electorate is becoming increasingly disenchanted with politicians of all parties and will no longer listen to Remoaners. Stock market and trade figures are looking good in the UK, and the possibilities for free trade are endless – so let’s give it a go. He who hesitates is lost.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

TAKING US BACK TO YEAR ZERO IN TRADE

In the EU referendum the Leave campaign promised business that a free-trade zone from Iceland to Turkey “will not end” just because there was a Leave vote.

Fast forward six months and Prime Minister Theresa May declares – with no democratic mandate – that that free-trade zone will end with no certainty of an alternative. She is prepared to take the UK to a position where greater legal minds than hers, and those of Boris Johnson and Ruth Davidson, have shown that the only area we could negotiate a trade deal with before Brexit is the EU.

All of them are prepared to reject that and take us back to square one – a year zero in trade where World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs go up and bureaucratic barriers return. Overnight international competitors will be gifted a massive competitive advantage over Scottish businesses. Already other EU states like Ireland and Germany are circling to capture that international trade.

That just doesn’t affect businesses who export, but also the ones that rely on those companies and their employees’ incomes – less trade means less employees means less incomes going into local businesses.

To put what the UK Government threatens into numbers, a look at the current preferential trade we have is sobering.

The European Union single market has a population of 460 million – eight times bigger than the rest of the United Kingdom to Scotland; the customs union a population of 530 million – nine times bigger; agreements for preferential trade about to be finalised with other states amount to a population more than 670 million – 11 times bigger; where agreements are in place with other states amount to a population over 1 billion – 17 times bigger; and there are ongoing negotiations with an area of 4.3 billion people – 74 times bigger.

It took 60 years for the EU to create that web of trade deals worldwide and those numbers show the UK Government is prepared to take us back to that year zero in trade.

The Scottish Government has offered a compromise position – that we stay in the single market, but the attitude of Mrs May appears to be more concerned with keeping her party’s backbenchers happy.

Before the EU referendum, the Scottish Conservative leader agreed that thousands of Scottish jobs were “reliant” on exports to the EU. Just after that referendum she said she wanted the UK to stay in single market – even if it meant free movement.

Now she totally agrees with Mrs May and acts as if she can say what she likes and get away with it.

This May Scottish business has an opportunity to send a message to both Mrs May and Ms Davidson that they do not support being taken over this cliff edge.

Any votes the Conservatives get at the local government elections will be used by them to claim they have the endorsement for this strategy.

Businesses north of the border can send the message that they want the Scottish Government’s compromise and won’t be taken for fools by the UK Government.

James MacDonald

Oban

DEMOGRAPHIC SEGMENTS

So how is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon getting on targeting one demographic segment after enough in a relentless search for votes to support her UK break-up dreams?

First it was promises that EU immigrants were welcome in Scotland, even though the UK Government has never said they’re not welcome to stay – and Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly stated her desire and intention to protect the rights of EU citizens living here.

Then the nationalist leader moved onto women and, in particular, mothers with her baby-box giveaway. The downside is that each box is now costing £500 and the SNP has missed out the crucially important part of the original Finnish scheme – supporting would-be mums and dads with extra guidance and coaching.

So it comes as little surprise that both EU immigrants and women voted strongly against separation in 2014.

Who next then? What about the sick, vulnerable and the elderly?

How about a battle-bus telling us, once we’re free from the burdensome yoke of British imperialism, there’ll be an extra £350m per week spare for the NHS?

No? Why not? It worked well enough last June.

After all, Ms Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP establishment, just like Nigel Farage, can promise us anything and then laughingly dismiss it with a highly-appropriate Gallic shrug the day after we’ve voted.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

FAITHFUL IN POLL POSITION

How refreshing it was to take part in an election with a difference recently.

As a result of electoral boundary changes, members of the Baha’i faith in the Borders were able to participate in their annual unit convention for the first time in several years, held at the Baha’i Centre in Albany Street, Edinburgh. Baha’is from the Selkirk and Peebles area were delighted to have the opportunity to take part in consultation with their fellow believers, as well as to vote in person by secret ballot, and not as previously, by postal vote, the latter being the only method available to those unable to attend.

Two delegates were elected, in a prayerful atmosphere without any electioneering or canvassing. They will attend the national convention to elect the nine-member UK governing body of the Baha’is of the UK in Stoke at the end of April.

The Borders communities look forward to hearing feedback from them in due course, especially about plans for celebrating this historic bicentennial year of the birth of the prophet founder, Baha’u’llah.

Zoe Turner

Peebles

FAULTY CIRCUIT BREAKER BLAMED

We are sorry Alex Davison did not enjoy his train trip to and from Edinburgh to watch Scotland beat Ireland at Murrayfield (letters, February 16).

However, please allow me to explain what happened during this disrupted journey and the steps we take to minimise the impact on our busiest services.

The 10.01 service from Tweedbank to Edinburgh on Saturday, February 4, developed a fault with a circuit breaker. This was in no way related to the number of people on board, but it did cause the brakes to apply and the train to come to a stand on a number of occasions.

As a consequence of this, the train had to terminate at Eskbank. We arranged for another service to make an additional stop at Stow, and arranged with both Lothian and First buses to accept rail tickets for their services, to ensure everyone got where they needed to be.

In addition, anyone delayed by more than 30 minutes was entitled to compensation for the inconvenience under the industry-wide Delay Repay scheme.

Six Nations match days are always exceptionally busy and we plan for this as best we can, using every carriage available. As you will appreciate, we have a finite number of carriages at our disposal.

The earlier fault and the sheer volume of people travelling undoubtedly made it an uncomfortable journey, but I do want to assure you that the safety of our customers is our absolute priority. We would never let the train depart if we thought that it was unsafe.

Every train has a second member of staff scheduled to be on board to check tickets and ensure the safety of customers. However, if a train is full and standing, this individual cannot always make his or her way through the train.

We hope Mr Davison will not let his experience put him off travelling by train from the Borders.

We have longer-term plans to add more – and more modern – carriages onto the Tweedbank route to meet demand.

David Lister

(sustainability and safety

assurance director,

ScotRail Alliance)

MOREBATTLE MEMORIES SOUGHT

Morebattle Archive Group would like to hear of any memories of people growing up in our area, which also covers Linton and Hownam.

Please get in touch with Mrs Hall by telephoning 01573 440687.

Alternatively, send any material to The Morebattle Archive Group, Wellgate, Morebattle, TD5 8QN.

Also, any documents, papers, photographs or wee artefacts relating to Morebattle would be very gratefully received – we recently took in a small milk jug and sugar bowl inscribed with ‘Present from Morebattle’ which came from Glasgow, via Gullane.

If you have any friends or relations living far afield who knew this place as a child or a young person, do please forward this request to them.

Every communication or object will be properly acknowledged and, if appropriate, catalogued.

M. Hall, A. Brown and B. Bell

(on behalf of Morebattle

Archive Group)