Your picture of the week

Dougie Methven saw this young roe deer buck at Springwood Park, Kelso.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 11:55 am
A young roe deer buck at Springwood Park, Kelso



Last week Boris Johnson dropped a jaw-dropping bombshell at Prime Minster’s Questions.

He was set up by enthusiastic toady John Lamont, asking one of his predictable SNP-bashing questions.

Johnson’s answer (which Borders MP Lamont seemed thrilled to receive) was at first the usual empty drivel, in this instance a preposterous attack on the NHS in Scotland.

It’s ridiculously easy to repudiate the substance of Johnson’s attack, bearing in mind how much better the NHS performs in Scotland compared to south of the border, despite the universal challenges highlighted in the recent Audit Scotland report – record investment in health infrastructure and staffing, free prescriptions and personal care for the elderly, the highest number of GPs per head in the UK, best performing A&E services in the UK, free tuition and increasing bursaries for nursing and midwifery students (abolished in England).

Contrast this with reports from doctors and patients in England of patients dying in hospital corridors because of lack of ward space, of A&E doctors from some of the busiest departments south of the border expressing “serious concerns” about the “intolerable” threats to patient safety. These same doctors talk of an NHS “severely and chronically underfunded”. “NHS providers”, representing staff from across the health service, fear the NHS in England “can no longer meet the standards of care set out in the NHS constitution”.

The bombshell, however, came at the end when Johnson declared: “If this goes on I think the SNP will forfeit all right to manage the NHS in Scotland.”

Consider two things here.

Firstly, the Tories are currently conducting a “review” into how devolution works and how it can be “improved” (ie. how Holyrood’s responsibilities can be dismantled).

Secondly, it is an open secret that extensive discussions have been going on between senior UK civil servants and US pharmaceutical companies about drug pricing in the NHS. These companies have apparently spent over half a billion dollars lobbying UK ministers to get the NHS to pay US prices for drugs. This looks like becoming a key condition for any post-Brexit US trade deal, and will cripple the NHS.

Johnson needs to take back control of the NHS in Scotland to be able to offer it up to Trump as part of a whole UK package. We are looking at a deregulated, severely-weakened NHS, open to US corporations, serving profit rather than people. They generally also insist on clauses allowing them to sue any future government that “harms” their profits, and they also sue if any attempt is made to take services back into public ownership.

The cost of prescription drugs is currently rocketing in the USA, causing ever more hardship, ill-health and death.

That is the answer that thrilled John Lamont. That is the huge risk a Tory vote in next month’s election represents.

Eric Falconer

High Road



Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the Scottish NHS is so inefficient that he must take over control in Westminster.

Our so-called “poor performance” is why waiting lists in Scotland are the shortest of the four UK nations; why there are more GPs per patient in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK; why Scotland has the highest number of hospital beds per patient and the highest percentage of A&E patients seen in less than four hours (figures from Business in Scotland).

I am delighted to have moved to an area where the NHS, while far from perfect, is much more efficient than where I used to live in England.

Boris is a despicable man and he wishes to get control of the Scottish NHS to sell it off as part of a trade deal with the USA. The only way to fight the plundering of our NHS by US president Donald Trump and Johnson is to make sure that you and your friends are registered to vote, and use that vote to ensure that Scotland doesn’t send a single Tory MP back to Westminster in December.

Pete Rowberry

Winterfield Gardens



I see our MP, John Lamont, is still pushing the line of the people’s will in relation to Brexit.

It begs the question, who are the “people” to whom he ascribes this view? Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU in 2016 and the latest poll shows that this has now risen to 68%. In the Borders the vote to remain in the EU was 58%. South of the border, by contrast, the vote was 47% to remain in the EU.

Mr Lamont would say he is aligning himself with the aggregate vote of the UK (48% remain), but it cannot be denied that he is therefore rejecting the more local “will of the people”, not just at the Scottish level, but also at the Borders level.

Perhaps we should refer to John Lamont as the MP for Englandshire, rather than the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. His position on Brexit is far more reflective of our friends south of the border than of the people he is supposed to represent.

David White



If you thought Brexit was a disaster and chaotic, resulting in three-and-a-half years of uncertainty, confusion and acrimony, it will be nothing compared to the destructive effects of leaving the UK if Scottish nationalists achieve their single-minded obsession for independence and economic ruin.

The naivety of their blind, single-issue manifesto to achieve ‘Albageddon’ at all costs, while ignoring all grown-up responsibility for managing Scotland effectively and efficiently, should send a shiver down the spine of every person who would be trapped in their absurd childlike vision of a separate “thriving” Scotland.

Despite imposing the highest taxes in the UK and receiving disproportionately higher payments from the UK treasury, years of second-rate SNP government and mis-management have ruined every aspect of Scotland.

The SNP has squandered public money on vanity projects and failed enterprises to appease its cronies.

Our once-proud education system, NHS and police services have fallen into disrepute. We have become a land of welfare-dependent whingers.

More than 60% of Scottish exports and businesses rely on the internal UK market with England. Compare this to Brexit and the predicted impact of (only) 40% of all UK trade being with the EU. A hard customs and immigration border at the Carter Bar, Berwick and Canonbie and on the M74 would become inevitable if the SNP pursue their open border immigration policy, severely and adversely affecting everyone’s life and freedom of movement.

Promising we would be welcome to rejoin the EU is a blatant lie.

With a deficit of 7% of GDP, Scotland would fail at the first critical test for any new EU member (3% of GDP). And that is before we inherited our rightful share of overall historic UK debt to depart as a remote, tiny and independent country. In truth, the nationalists are eager to join the EU simply because they hope that, as an economically “failed state”, Scotland would be eligible for endless subsidies and handouts from Brussels instead of, at present, from Westminster.

In what way is being dictated to and regulated by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels or Strasbourg somehow better than being represented by elected MPs in Westminster?

The entire nonsense of yet another proxy or actual independence referendum must be rejected unambiguously on December 12.

Meanwhile, Labour poses an equally disastrous and unrealistic economic future as the SNP.

We have only one realistic choice to end this tiresome threat of a neverendum – vote for John Lamont.

Michael Wilson



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s disregard for harsh economic facts are startling.

Fiscal help is desperately needed for hospitals and schools. Sturgeon is sitting on £600m of public funds and not using them correctly because of her massive drain on the Scottish economy to keep afloat.

She ignores the economic damage caused by 12 years of nationalist government. Typical examples of this is the £500m growth scheme for Scottish business, described as “a half-billion-pound vote of confidence in the Scottish economy”. The reality is that only £40m has been advanced in five years. This is not a vote of confidence, but a monumental confidence trick.

More importantly, the £2bn proposed Scottish national investment bank, a dozen years in gestation, should perhaps never open for it cannot operate without being heavily reliant again on Westminster and using the usual public cash from existing pie-in-the-sky government schemes. And, of course, there’s the recent news about the biggest white elephant of all, the (still non-existent) publicly-owned, not-for-profit (yes, really) energy company.

The promises from our First Minister get larger and more grandiose, yet our economy continues to shrink.

With the highest tax rates in Europe, one wonders how this can continuously happen while the reverse has been happening to the rest of the UK, particularly in unemployment.

The nationalists, including financial secretary Derek Mackay, always put the blame on Brexit. To quote Dr Stuart McIntyre of the Fraser of Allander Institute: “Brexit is not isolated to Scotland, yet Scotland now has higher unemployment, lower employment and higher economic inactivity than the UK as a whole. It is hard to see any pattern that suggests a uniform Brexit effect can be the main driver of these economic fluctuations in Scotland.”

The harsh economic facts clearly show there is no evidence to support the Scottish government’s assertion that Brexit or Westminster are in any way responsible for the current fiscal situation north of the border.

The Scottish nationalists have been, as they say in show business, getting away with the same act for too long. Only the electorate can determine their next direction.

Paul Singleton



On Remembrance Sunday wreaths will be laid in memory of and respect for those who gave so much for us all.

On the same day TV will show neat and tidy war memorial cemeteries. Those responsible for keeping these locations in this condition deserve a big thank-you.

It’s a pity the same cannot be said of Borders cemeteries. Due to cutbacks in maintenance, the grass is long, and plants and flowers around headstones are killed off by the spreading of weedkiller.

A. Cruickshank

Langlee Drive



As Remembrance Sunday approaches and with a general election looming, my thoughts took me to thinking about the brave men and women who gave their lives to keep this country free from tyranny and to preserve the democracy we hold so dearly and take for granted it seems in almost equal measure .

I find it quite depressing to learn from the media that general election turnouts may be lower due to student movements, Christmas plays or bad weather.

I would ask all of your readers, regardless of political persuasion, to spare a thought on December 12 for those people in other parts of the world who do not have the option of a ballot box and would dearly love to vote for a party or an idea which might improve their lives.

I would also ask that when looking out the window at possible inclement weather on polling day how someone fighting on the beaches in Normandy or up to their waist in mud at the Somme might feel if they heard that everything they sacrificed their lives for in order for us to have the freedom to vote was discarded because we could not be bothered to put on our coats and make it the short distance to a polling station.

Nicholas de Burgh Whyte

Back Feus



On September 15, Eleanor Wood and I completed the Edinburgh 24-mile kilt walk, raising a superb £1,200 for Children 1st.

We would like to thank our many supporters, with a special mention going to Ella Purves who raised £521 from her cryptic tartan quiz.

The winners of that were G. Gill, Wirrel, and S. Mills, Coldstream.

Margaret Mills



So, the UN climate conference in Chile has been cancelled.

Here’s my suggestion for an alternative venue. Why not hold it in Banff, Canada, where, according to the official website of the Government of Canada, the all-time lowest temperature record for October 29 was broken last week, reaching -23.3 degrees?

After all, the UN says that it doesn’t like a warming world.

And if there are not enough four-star hotels, they could always stay in tents to be in solidarity with refugees.

Geoff Moore