Your picture of the week
The festive spirit burns bright in Melrose, as Curtis Welsh’s image clearly shows.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
REAL PROBLEMS ARE YET TO BEGIN
William Loneskie went into full Trumpian mode in last week’s Southern letters pages, dismissing warnings about post-Brexit threats to the NHS from health professionals, analysts and anyone else who can be bothered to read as “fake news”.
Can I suggest that if it’s his intention to go the full Donald in the coming year, he really should end all his letters with words like “sad”, or “shame” – preferably in block capitals and followed by several exclamation marks.
This letter’s main purpose, however, is to reflect on the results of last week’s general election.
In a seasonal reminder of turkeys and Christmas, large swathes of voters south of the border gave a “stonking” mandate to Boris Johnson’s Tory government to tear up the UK’s relationship with the EU and “Get Brexit Done”. The UK will be leaving the EU early next year.
That will be when the real problems begin.
One party came out of the election with an even bigger mandate than Johnson’s, and that was the SNP. Its twin message could not have been clearer – stop Brexit and give people in Scotland the chance to decide their future.
This mandate is all the stronger as the Tories decided to major on “Stop IndyRef2”, the Lib Dems on “Stop Brexit and IndyRef2”, and both were soundly beaten. The Labour party went on “Not Sure about Brexit, but Stop IndyRef2”, and was annihilated.
Even here in the sunny south, three SNP candidates with oddly old-fashioned ideas about fighting for their constituents made huge inroads into the Tory vote.
The three south of Scotland constituencies are now close Tory/SNP marginals, but this may be academic. The interests and aspirations expressed by the people of Scotland are dramatically different to those in England, and it makes no sense whatsoever for us to remain helplessly tied to their coat-tails as they blunder about chasing whatever self-destructive dream they actually desire.
We may have voted in our last Westminster election.
A TALE OF TWO PREDICTIONS
So, as I predicted, the English voted in their millions for an extreme right-wing anti-welfare government led by millionaire liars.
Boris Johnson’s majority is mainly down to wretched, gullible working-class voters. Those same voters will no doubt soon whinge loudly when the English NHS is dismantled, social provison is slashed still further, millions are chucked on the employment scrapheap, trade and business implode, and thousands die on the streets of cold and starvation. But it’s what they voted for.
North of the border, as I also predicted, the SNP swept the board.
There will no doubt be political ructions now and growing anti-English feeling.
My only criticism of the SNP is that it is too timid. We should now be looking at UDI and accepting that with near-fascists in control at Westminster, a civil war may be inevitable.
It took Ireland six wars to escape the English colonial yoke. English Torydom has not changed its spots in centuries. Why should Scotland expect to be treated any differently?
A RUBBISH WAY TO TREAT DEMOCRACY
One of the interesting aspects of being a political activist is observing the reactions of people to your canvassing.
Most receive party leaflets with politeness, whether they are supporters or not, but occasionally you will encounter a body which explodes in a tirade of irrational anger.
During the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, we came across Mr Angry of Chirnside who was so apoplectic about our daring to canvas that we feared he might have a heart attack.
I have now come across Mr Angry of Leitholm.
I think most communities must have their Mr Angry; never a Mrs Angry – I wonder why? Perhaps they have a greater grasp of what democracy means.
Anyway, I had posted leaflets through a letter box and was about 20ft away when a voice demanded if I was responsible. Yes, I said, and he asked me to take them back. I replied that they held information about the general election – none were promoted by any party.
As I walked away he dropped them on the pavement, saying he would blame me. Now, during many years of leafleting, I have never discarded a single one as litter louts are a pet hate.
I couldn’t help wondering if the postman delivered something Mr Angry didn’t like, would he try to hand it back or throw it on the pavement? Does he not have a recycling bin or a fire, or even a functioning brain?
I shall keep canvassing as I believe passionately in democracy and that all voters should be informed, especially during these times of fake news and serial liars.
But, as they say in Yorkshire, there’s nowt so queer as folk.
QUESTIONS OVER INTERVIEWERS
Would it be too much to ask that at the next general election we will see a new type of political interviewer – one who is objective and listens, rather than peddling their own agenda with interruptions and rudeness?
OUTRAGED OVER ‘BEST CHUM’ TERM
I am sure I am not alone in taking great exception to the tone and content of Rachel Hamilton’s ‘View from Holyrood’ column on election day.
However much she opposes the SNP, she does herself, her party and her fellow politicians no service by resorting to slander, petty insults and untruths.
Some of her comments are outrageous, including the term “best chum”, referring to Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon has more than once said she is “no admirer” of Corbyn, but they were willing to consider working together for what they believed in, including an end to austerity and inequality across the whole UK.
Surely we deserve more reasonable, intelligent and truthful comment from our representatives.
I have previously suggested that Rachael Hamilton MSP “should stop using the ‘View from Holyrood’ column for spreading misinformation” (letters, August 15).
In her latest column (December 12) she claims that Jeremy Corbyn is “anti-Semitic”. That is an outrageous claim to make against a man who has spent his life campaigning for equality and human rights, supporting his local Jewish community and signing or supporting 41 Early Day Motions in parliament on issues affecting Jewish people.
If Mrs Hamilton wants to avoid getting a reputation for peddling disinformation, she needs to provide evidence that Mr Corbyn is “anti-Semitic”, or retract her allegation.
J. Fairgrieve (letters, December 12) challenges me to explain why the UK government wants Scotland to remain in the UK.
The answer is very simple. No government anywhere in the world will willingly allow a part of its territory to be separated off. That goes to the heart of what governments are about.
Whether in Brittany in France, Lombardy in Italy, Catalonia in Spain or Quebec in Canada, the government responsible for the nation will not allow its territory to be diminished.
There is another point about Scotland. Faslane submarine base and RAF rapid-reaction squadrons at Lossiemouth are part of NATO’s first line of defence which would be closed in the event of Scottish separation. Thus separation is an international issue as well as a domestic one.
It was gratifying to see yet again the whole of southern Scotland held by the Conservatives, depite the SNP hijacking anti-Brexit votes. Despite the anti-Brexit vote leant to them, they failed to secure more than 45% of the electorate.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that most Scots do not want a second independence referendum.
A REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT
Yet more pretence from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
A statement issued last weekend contained the words “that after independence the Queen would be head of state”.
Scottish nationalism has always been a republican movement with strong Marxist indoctrination.
Does Sturgeon seriously believe that the sovereign would agree to leading a nation that has deserted a once-United Kingdom? – only to be dropped later on when she or her successor can swing full republicanism.
No matter when Sturgeon decides to join the EU, Scotland cannot join due to a 10% deficit in its GDP (gross domestic product), and for this reason has already been declined on two occasions.
CHRISTMAS FAIR WELL SUPPORTED
On behalf of Broomlands Primary School Parent Council, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us in 2019 and everyone who attended, or was involved in some way, our Christmas fair on November 29.
Our small but dedicated team have worked very hard again this year to make it successful, hopefully providing something of interest for all of our many visitors and supporters we had on the night.
We received many generous donations for our Christmas raffle and stalls from parents, supporters and businesses from within and around the Kelso area, as well as further afield, far too many to mention individually, but every single one was very much appreciated by the parent council, school and pupils, especially in these difficult economic times.
Our Christmas fair is one of our main fundraising events which help us get those “extra” things for the benefit of the children. However, its success can only be achieved by the help and generosity of our numerous supporters and helpers.
Broomlands Primary School Parent Council
MP GRATEFUL FOR ELECTION SUPPORT
I would like to thank everyone who supported me in the general election last Thursday.
It is a huge honour to have been re-elected as the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.
I am grateful to all of the staff at polling stations and at the count who worked hard during election day. Special thanks go to the local police who ensured that all of the candidates were kept safe throughout the duration of the campaign.
Last, but not certainly not least, my thanks go to my election agent and my wonderful campaign team who delivered leaflets and knocked on doors in challenging weather and dark nights to secure my re-election.
Regardless of whether you voted for me or not, I promise to continue to work as hard as I can on behalf of the Borders, always putting local people before party politics.
John Lamont MP
ON A HIGH AND DRY DURING JANUARY
It can be difficult to say no to a drink, especially during the festive season.
In fact, our new research shows that almost four in five (78%) Brits drink more than they want or intend to. Over one in five (23%) feel pressured to drink more than they want to by people they know: most often by friends and colleagues.
These findings show that lots of us are drinking in ways that we don’t feel comfortable with, but it can be tricky to know how to make a change.
Signing up for Dry January is a brilliant place to start.
Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, or socialise. Strong evidence tells us that Dry January helps people – even heavy drinkers – to drink more healthily all-year round. People who take on Dry January get a whole host of benefits, from losing weight to more money in their pockets and healthier insides. That’s why an amazing one in 10 drinkers will be taking up the challenge in 2020.
So if you’re up for resetting your relationship with alchohol and improving your health, sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk or download the free app for Dry January and beyond, Try Dry. People who sign-up are twice as likely to go the whole month without drinking compared who those who try to do it alone.
Dr Richard Piper
(CEO of Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January)
RELYING ON THE WIND AND SUN
Electricity – successively generated from coal, oil and nuclear – made the USA, the most powerful nation on Earth, and it now remains so with additional energy from fracking.
Britain – having invented nuclear power – rejects all of those and relies on the vagaries of wind and sun for electricity.
Does this give some clue as to our likely future as a great nation?
DO YOU HAVE RIGHT INGREDIENTS?
I am writing from Twofour Broadcast, the award-winning television production company behind ITV’s What Would Your Kid Do, This Time Next Year and Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector.
We are currently accepting applications for a news series of the hit cooking game show, Beat the Chef, on Channel 4, where amateur cooks take on professional chefs for the chance to win a big cash prize.
Our team are currently searching your region for confident amateur cooks who think they’ve got the right ingredients to produce winning dishes.
Additionally, we are also looking for local people who would be interested in joining our Food Jury. From keen foodies to serious food bloggers, the jury will have to blind taste test two dishes at a time, one from a pro chef and one from a home cook.
If you think you have what it takes to challenge and beat our professional chefs, then contact our team now at [email protected] for contestants or [email protected] to apply to be a member of our Food Jury.
If you have any questions, contact us on 01752 727474.
CHARITY HAS SUPPORT LINED UP
Christmas is a time for celebrating and spending quality time with the people you love.
However, it can be a difficult time of year if you’re living with terminal illness or if you’re caring for a loved one with a terminal illness.
Many of your readers in this situation will find themselves struggling to cope with the demands and pressures of the festive season, and they may not know who or where to turn to for extra support.
The Marie Curie Information and Support Line (0800 090 2309) is here to help. Your readers can call the free, confidential line and speak to a Marie Curie nurse if they have any health questions or concerns.
This could be about any aspect of terminal illness, from understanding a diagnosis to explaining treatments and discussing symptoms.
Our trained support line officers can also provide practical information and emotional support, such as advice about day-to-day care or where to find financial support, as well as offer help with bereavement. Our team is also here if people just need someone to talk to – we know it can be difficult to open up to friends and family for fear of upsetting or worrying them, so we can provide that safe space to talk.
If your readers have been affected by terminal illness and need support over Christmas and New Year, then please urge them to contact the support line. Alternatively, they can also chat to us online at mariecurie.org.uk/support.
(head of information and