Letters to the Editor


Birth of new ‘phobia’


The Scottish Parliament has summarily dismissed a petition calling for the legalisation of incest.

Members rejected arguments that the sexual love of any two consenting adults should be accepted and respected. They disagreed with the notion that mutual love alone serves to validate a sexual relationship.

Is this the same parliament that introduced same-sex marriage, accepting as unanswerable arguments such as these?

We are at an early stage, but on the road to legalisation and societal acceptance of incest. Secular liberal thinking fails to mount successful arguments against it, and the ever-progressive media has already started nibbling at the boundaries of the taboo. The incestuous sex in Game of Thrones is not an isolated example. Pornography websites already report high traffic for portrayals of inter-generational sex within families.

While our society presents a façade of hysterical panic about protecting children, it is unable to maintain one the most fundamental elements of this – protecting children from sexual abuse in the family home.

Once sex between a 21-year-old daughter and her father or stepfather is legal, how much more vulnerable to abuse will she be aged 16? How will it change the father’s attitude to his sexually-maturing daughter? How will daughters interpret their fathers’ efforts to form a close relationship?

Once the BBC start showing warm documentaries about happy incestuous couples, the desire to protect children growing up in the family home will be outweighed by progressive sentimentality.

It won’t be too long before opponents of incest are derided as bigots, and a new ‘phobia’ will be born. Then the Scottish Parliament will change its tune, cheered on by the government-funded Equality Network.

Richard Lucas




Double-track dreamers

As a retired rail industry worker (a signalling engineer), I was surprised that a well-respected former rail industry professional like Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) chairman Allan McLean thinks it would be so easy to make a reinstated Waverley Route a diversionary route for trains going south from Glasgow and Edinburgh (Southern, January 28).

First, the current railway would have to be double-tracked at massive expense and would be closed for around a year at least as it is nigh on impossible to double-track a railway like the Borders one while the single track is kept operational due to both practical and health and safety reasons.

Then a new double-tracked railway south from Tweedbank would have to be built.

This is only going to happen in Allan McLean’s wildest dreams as nowhere exists a double-tracked railway built solely as a diversionary route. So I say to Mr McLean, get real, the business case would never stack up.

I was at CBR’s AGM in November at Stow and the now-retired former head of the Borders Railway project, Hugh Wark, said publicly that if he did it all over again he would have electrified the line as the diesel multiple units are often struggling on the inclines up Falahill whereas electric trains have better traction for the hills south of Hawick etc., adding yet more expense.

The railway was built to a very tight budget and, sadly, Mr McLean and his CBR buddies had better get it into their heads that nothing is going to change, and if any extension of the line south of Tweedbank takes place, it will be single-tracked and useless as a diversionary route as there will be no spare capacity – like at present – south to Tweedbank.

Is Mr McLean unaware that other areas of Scotland are strongly pushing for railway reinstatement, such as at Leven, St Andrews with the Starlink campaign, and also north-east towns like Peterhead and Fraserburgh? Believe you me, they will get priority before any extension to the Borders Railway.

Roy Brown

Murray Place


Novelty period about to end

Five hundred thousand passenger journeys over a four-month period is being hailed as a great success and justification for the £500million pound expenditure on a lightweight railway that the majority of Borders ratepayers have no access to or have any desire for same.

Half a million journeys, of which a considerable number were freebies, courtesy of Scottish Borders Council, and a further number, courtesy of council subsidy.

The number of journeys taken amount to less than 40% of the tickets available over the period. Taking into consideration that the initial novelty period is about to end and that passengers are coming to terms with consistently-poor punctuality etc., the number of near-empty trains plying the Borders rail section will inevitably increase.

It would be prudent to put all thoughts of line extension to Hawick and Carlisle on the back burner, likewise the erection of buildings to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Decisions on these should not be made until year ending 2016 when realistic and factual passenger figures will be known.

The original Waverley Line was closed because it was underused, with travellers preferring to use more convenient road travel by bus or car. There’s no indication this has changed.

James Kirkness


trade union bill

Tory attack on democracy

Ours is supposedly the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world, and we talk often of our belief in fair play.

Yet with the Trade Union Bill, the UK Government is putting these values at risk.

We’ve already seen the Tories make it harder to register to vote – soon they will redraw the parliamentary map in a way that benefits them.

Furthermore, hidden in the bill is a clause designed to cut off unions’ financial support for the Labour Party, while doing nothing to limit the hedge funds and millionaires that support the Tories.

They’re attacking democracy by silencing opposition, whether it’s from unions, campaigners or charities; and by changing the rules to make it harder for anyone else to win an election.

As the Lords debates the bill over the next weeks, I can only hope the government takes the opportunity to embody the values of democracy and decency it claims to support, and drop these unfair proposals.

David Smith

Haymons Cove Eemouth


Free vote demanded

Former First Minister Alex Salmond boasts that every SNP MP and MSP will vote to remain in the EU in the coming referendum.

Can it really be the case that all who want Scotland to be an independent country can be so Europhile?

Democracy demands that a free vote should be allowed. This is another example of the top-down direction of the party.

Much of our legislation emanates from Brussels without accountability, which has always been the case.

But the EU has changed beyond recognition over the past 15 years. There are also huge economic and social problems caused by uncontrolled mass immigration from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Der Spiegel had a lengthy, well-researched article last month entitled “Has the German state lost control?” It detailed the way in which the German authorities, especially the police, have been unable to cope with the flood of refugees and the chaos and crimes they have caused.

With Turkey set to be admitted, and the Ukraine hoping to join, the institution will become even more cumbersome and unmanageable. With 70 million Muslims in Turkey given an EU passport, European values, religion and culture will be undermined.

The real reason for SNP bosses kneeling at Brussels’ door is that they want to use the euro as our currency in the event of independence? They have been denied sterling, and with high-cost North Sea oil running out, an oil-backed Scottish currency is no longer credible. Every oil rig is losing money. The breakeven point is $50 a barrel – the price now is $30.

In economic terms, the EU is in a mess where bank customers are charged to keep money in their accounts. It is entirely possible that the whole euro project will come crashing down, requiring savers to bankroll it, whether they like it or not.

This happened in Cyprus four years ago. In 2012 Cypriots had a 6.7% or 9.9% levy imposed on their savings with 100,000 euros the divisor, but a future sequestration would be much wider in scope and depth.

Near the end of 2014, Deutsche Bundesbank researchers examined the IMF’s proposal for a one-off levy applied to the assets of citizens in the face of a future economic crisis. This included tangible assets as well as savings to be seized.

William Loneskie



Please take part in survey

More than 121,000 people in Scotland are currently living with the devastating effects of stroke.

It happens in an instant, yet this overwhelming condition can affect people physically and emotionally for the rest of their lives. The long-term effects can often take a huge toll on partners, carers and families too.

We are calling on people who have had a stroke, their carers and family members to take part in a UK survey and tell us about their experiences of stroke.

Survey closing date is March 31. It can be completed online at “Stroke survey 2016”, or you can contact 0131 455 7244 to obtain a paper copy.

Andrea Cail

(director, Scotland)

The Stroke Association



Aid cash

I would like to thank the Galashiels Fellowship of Churches and Trinity Church for holding the “Big Sing” event in December to raise funds for Christian Aid.

The final total was £600.22. The donations were allocated to the Christmas appeal, through which the United Kingdom Government will match donations up to £5million in total.

This means that the lives of even more people living in poverty can be transformed. Thanks to all who attended this event, made donations or helped in any way.

Angela Miller

(organiser, Galashiels Christian Aid Group)