Letters to the Editor


Piecemeal approach not working

This latest terrorist massacre in Paris shows that a piecemeal approach to tackling the Islamic State (IS) is not working.

Where will they strike next – London, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome or even America?

Europe imposed sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine, egged on by America.

Now countries want to ban Russia from athletics over an alleged doping scandal.

These tantrums are irrelevant in today’s terrorist climate where Muslim zealots are determined to conquer the West and impose their barbaric and medieval doctrines.

America and Europe must swallow their inflated egos, stop talking of removing Assad, and agree with Russia on a joint military action against IS in Syria and Iraq and crush them.

This will require “boots on the ground” so a joint American/Russian approach is essential.

A leaked German intelligence document warned Angela Merkel: “We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism and national and ethnic conflicts”.

Merkel will go down in history as the person who encouraged this 800,000 migrant tsunami and allowed a Trojan Horse into Europe.

Clark Cross



It’s not too

late to

think again

Since the last time I wrote to the papers, the saga of the Great Tapestry of Scotland building at Tweedbank has rumbled on unabated.

It is worth noting that the project was initially passed at a full council meeting by only 18 councillors (all of the SNP ones, the Liberals and most of the so-called group of “Independents”).

Then it was the turn of the petitions committee, Councillor David Parker (the leader himself), Councillor Stuart Bell (SNP) and Councillor Alec Nicol, who is a Liberal and, as it turns out, his wife was one of the tapestry “stitchers”, but he failed to mention this particular interest at the hearing. This committee is now under investigation by the standards board, having subjected Brian McCrow to derision and scorn rather than listening to voice of the 4,400 petitioners.

Finally, the last hurdle, the planning committee, reduced to only four members, the others feeling they could not partake due to previously-expressed views on the project. It was chaired by Ron Smith and the remaining three SNP councillors, all of whom had voted their support for the project at the outset.

Like most Borderers, I understand that the councillors are an elected body, as such there is no particular skill set required of them. Many lack experience of business and are not used to considering complicated multi-million pound projects. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them had never seen a serious business plan before they were elected.

However, sitting behind this group of semi-amateurs are the council executives and officers. Chief executive Tracy Logan is paid £129,000, plus a pension and perks, and the corporate programmes and services director, Rob Dickson, is paid £107,000, plus pension and perks. They have both “led” on the project and are publicly enthusiastic about borrowing and spending our money in this way.

All around them are a highly-paid cohort of professional, full-time, career, public-sector spenders of money. When the project’s finances fail, they should all be held to account. I’m sure we’re all fed up with them walking off into a new post or retirement, leaving catastrophe in their wake.

At the very least the two leading executive officers and the leader of the council should provide us all with some form of personal security.

The last laugh on us is that when there is no more money to lose, even the tapestry trustees will simply walk away, carefree, having had this hugely-expensive edifice built for them without any liability on their part.

The December issue of Scottish Field magazine carries an article titled ‘Bordering on the ridiculous’ in which the author (Kirsty Smyth) highlights the fact that these very same council officers, whilst taking on tapestry loans, have already made 22 members of the council redundant this year and have provision for a further 55 more redundancies in the 2016-2017 financial year.

To those listed above, I’d simply say this: it is never too late to say, “Stop and let’s have another look at it”, and I, like many of my fellow Borderers, would applaud your integrity and courage if you did so.

Neil Ballantyne


Get involved

in process

Many residents in the Borders will be receiving ballot papers for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party’s ranking for the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

As a candidate in the South of Scotland, I wanted to outline the process.

The Scottish Conservatives are the first party to allow non-members to have a say in deciding our candidates for 2016. In this region, supporters will be sent ballot papers and asked to put a cross next to the names of four candidates. Those with the most votes will be ranked at the top of the South of Scotland list and the higher up a candidate is ranked, the better their chance of being elected next year.

Next year, the SNP will be hoping to win here. With Labour trying to claw back some nationalist voters and the Liberal Democrats a spent force, only the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will stand up for the vast majority of Borderers who voted to stay in the UK.

I am a hotel owner, mother of three and, if elected, my priorities will be improving education, supporting the business community, protecting local hospitals and standing up for Scotland’s place in the UK.

I hope that many of you will get involved in the process and that I can count on your vote in the selection process – and in the election itself next year.

I am delighted to have been endorsed and have the support of local MSP John Lamont.

Rachael Hamilton

Constituency commitment

As your MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, I will not take part in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party’s rankings ballot for the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

Instead I will only seek to be re-elected in this constituency.

Some of the other candidates for other parties (who are already MSPs) have decided to hedge their bets and run in both a constituency and also put their names forward for the South of Scotland regional list.

I am only interested in representing and standing up for the Borders. I will leave it to the electorate in Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire to decide if they wish me to continue in that role.

Next year, the SNP will be targeting this seat and the regional lists across Scotland. With both Labour and the Liberal Democrats flirting with nationalism, only the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will stand up for the vast majority of Borderers who support the UK.

John Lamont


UK is not playing its part

Martin Redfern castigates the SNP for taking “merely” 10% of the 20,000 Syrians being so graciously allowed into the UK by David Cameron (letters, November 5).

Now that Humza Yousaf, the Holyrood government’s minister for Europe and international development, has announced that Scotland will in fact be taking a third of those refugees, perhaps Mr Redfern will have the grace to apologise for his unwarranted and insulting comments.

He might also want to start questioning why the UK government is refusing to play its part in alleviating the worst global humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War. This is a question which won’t be asked by any of the mainstream media (least of all the BBC), all of which are too busy hijacking the true message of Remembrance Day by glorifying militarism.

You don’t need to wear a poppy to remember or honour the war dead, and ignoring the plight of the current victims of war actually dishonours those who fought for our freedom.

I would refer the poppy police to the parable about the widow’s mite. They might learn a thing or two about the real meaning of sacrifice.

Natasha York

Cypress Grove


Charity should begin at home

More than 300 Syrian refugees will arrive in Scotland before Christmas.

Earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she would be “absolutely happy” to open her home to refugees. Her predecessor, Alex Salmond, also offered to do so.

But now the SNP-dominated Scottish Government, on being questioned about these promises, insisted that this would no longer be necessary as local authorities had enough properties to accommodate them.

Scotland already has an acute housing shortage so where are these properties?

Too many children and their parents are living in temporary accommodation across Scotland.

There are now 4,896 children living in Scotland, without a permanent roof over their heads, who will be homeless this Christmas Day, so it is shocking that refugees will get priority over them.

Since they are no longer taking in refugee families as promised, will Sturgeon and Salmond now offer to take in some of these Scottish homeless families, and instruct their 55 MPs and 64 MSPs to do the same?

Clark Cross



Boost by ladies who lunch

Children 1st Melrose Action Group held its annual Ladies’ Lunch at Burts Hotel.

Tickets, donations, a hamper raffle and surprise raffle bags raised £1,791 for the charity.

Johnny Costello, from Ettrick Family Resources Centre in Selkirk, addressed the ladies as to his role in supporting Borders children and families.

The committee would like to thank all who attended the lunch, those who made a donation and the Melrose area businesses who contributed.

Irene Martine


Children 1st Melrose

Action Group