Your picture of the week
Ewan Dickson was looking down the Tweed at Gattonside when he captured this image.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ELIZABETH A FIRST FOR THE UK
Last week your ‘Looking Back’ feature asked if we “remembered” the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I?
Oddly enough, like many of your pensioner readers, I do indeed recall the excitement surrounding the coming to the throne of “Queen Elizabeth I”.
Obviously I mean our present monarch who is actually the first and only Elizabeth to reign over the United Kingdom. The late, much-loved “Queen Mum” was, of course, a queen consort. I clearly remember my local toyshop in 1953 having a splendid window display with a model of the golden coronation coach.
Since Elizabeth Tudor most certainly never reigned in Scotland, our present monarch (in spite of what it says on the coins) is logically UK’s Elizabeth I.
NO NEED TO FEAR EU BLUSTER
I fully support MP John Lamont’s vote against the Withdrawal Act as it stands.
It is a bad deal for the UK and a good deal for the EU – and remember that agreeing to this would mean years of further negotiations over trade.
The Conservatives are a broad church open to different views on policy.
Compare that with the monolithic SNP whose elected representatives are sworn to slavishly follow party rule. The third of its electors who voted to leave the EU have no representation in Westminster or Holyrood.
The party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, who describes himself as “simple crofter”, but is actually a former executive of Deutsche Bank, devoutly adheres to the regulations and directives of the European Commission without question, the superiority of the European Court of Justice over Scots law, and the movement of the EU to a supranational organisation with member states reduced to regions.
His is some nationalism, some independence!
Before Britain joined the EEC she had been a global player for over 200 years. We are an ancient democracy ruled by law since Magna Carta, with the fifth-largest economy in the world, which has unmatched soft power, a military in the premier league, superb intelligence services, incredible research and development, a people blessed with outstanding skill, inventiveness, creativity and resolve, and close connections across the globe.
Our economy continues to grow while Germany, France and Italy face the prospect of recession. The UK’s exports are at all-time high, as is employment, with unemployment at a record low. In the first six months of 2018 no country, apart from China, received as much inward investment as the UK.
For the second year in a row the UK has topped Forbes’ global list of Best Countries for Business. The 2019 Audit of Geopolitical Capability places the UK second in world rankings after the USA.
Such a country need not fear the bluster and empty threats of Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier – and their fifth column in the UK.
Lord Bamford, chairman of the company of his name which manufactures the iconic JCB earth-moving machines, sold in 150 countries, has said we have nothing to fear from a World Trade Organisation (WTO) “no deal” exit.
Leave means leave – we’re out and forget more years of negotiations with Brussels.
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former MI6 chief, is enthusiastic about the prospect of leaving the EU because he says it will allow the UK to recover our sovereignty.
If we leave on WTO terms on March 29, that will be the start of an exciting new chapter for Global Britain. It will allow enterprise to flourish, trade to expand, and old and new international connections to develop.
It will allows us to take back control.
WE MUST LEAVE WITHOUT A DEAL
In 2015 the Westminster parliament voted by 10 to one to hand the decision on whether or not to leave the European Union to the British electorate.
The then Prime Minister said that it was a once-in-a-generation choice on which there was no going back and one which would be implemented. A generation is normally considered to be 30 years, not three.
Leave won with 52% of the vote, a margin of victory greater than that of most MPs in a general election.
Indeed, a one-vote margin is considered sufficient for any MP.
Parliament then voted by an overwhelming degree to trigger Article 50 which started the withdrawal process. If no deal is reached by March 29, Britain leaves the EU with no deal: that is the law. As our elected representatives voted to massively reject the “only deal on offer”, and the EU keeps saying no concessions will be made, we must leave on World Trade Organisation terms.
In 2017 at least 550 MPs were elected on solem manifesto promises to deliver the 2016 referendum result.
As legislators, MPs cannot break the law, nor can they advocate that others do so. I repeat: the law says we must leave without a deal.
If the anti-democrats such as Dominic Grieve succeed in thwarting Brexit, then no subsequent government will have any legitamacy. MPs will have no right to levy taxes on us or enact laws: British democracy will be dead.
LEGALISING THE RIGHT TO WORK
With everything that is going on at Westminster just now, it can be easy to forget that some MPs are still fighting the good fight for under-represented and vulnerable groups.
The recent bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine on allowing asylum seekers the right to work in the UK after three months is a great example. This long-overdue law would finally recognise the contribution that asylum seekers can make to our society and help with their integration.
While the Conservatives continue their internal bickering over Brexit, and tear both party and country apart, it is refreshing to see an MP doing the job that her constituents expect her to do.
HYSTERICAL BRITISH NATIONALISTS
As people in Scotland, especially the young, see their future being stripped away by the Brexit chaos created by a shambolic government in Westminster, more and more are realising that the only sane option is an independent Scotland.
But as the demand for indyref2 grows, the level of hysteria from British nationalists will become more strident and far-fetched – just as in 2014.
They will claim that a border between Scotland and England will stop people being able to visit relatives, like North and South Korea.
Since independence citizens from the Irish Republic do not need a passport to enter the UK.
British nationalists will try to scare people into believing that when Scotland adopts its own currency, transactions will be impossible with England. Money is simply a means of exchange to facilitate trading and all kinds of objects have been used throughout history as ‘currency’ – from tea bricks and dolphin teeth to shells and salt.
The Republic of Ireland adopted the euro in January 1999 and has traded with the UK without problem since then.
Will Britnats seriously imply that Scots are too dim to cope with a different currency?
Every year the block grant is reduced by Westminster, limiting the powers of the Scottish Government to properly fund education, local authorities and the NHS. Will the Britnats blame the source of the problem though? Of course not, it’s all the fault of the SNP.
Fortunately, more people realise that the SNP is doing the best it can with limited funds, which is why it is at 40% in the polls, even after nearly 12 years, and the Tories are at only 25%.
Britnats, with the help of right-wing media, will broadcast dire warnings about how Scotland cannot survive without the strength of the Union. What they hope you will not learn is that more than 60 countries have successfully left London rule – and not a single one has applied to re-join the ‘Empire’. To suggest Scotland cannot do the same is an insult to the intelligence of every Scot.
Remember this truth – Scotland is big enough, rich enough, smart enough.
SNP NOT TURNED OFF BY TURMOIL
The one thing that is clear about Brexit is that the people are as divided as their MPs on what outcome is best, which would be worst, and whether there is a compromise that will satisfy most of us.
Yet the people of Scotland need not worry as our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has the answer as she promises an independence timetable within a “matter of weeks”. It is the same answer that the SNP leadership has proposed in relation to every problem and grievance, real or imagined, over the course of the last decade or so.
In the view of our First Minister, if only we could separate ourselves from our nearest neighbours, including many of our closest friends and family, things would improve. For Nicola Sturgeon, to overcome poverty, the attainment gap in education, issues with the funding of our national health service and pensions, what we need to do is to put a border between our businesses and the main markets for their goods and services in the rest of the UK.
Uncertainty over the consequences of the path we eventually take on Brexit will undoubtedly continue for some time.
Yet an independent Scotland will likely take over a decade to meet EU joining criteria, and that would involve serious restructuring of our public finances. For the SNP leadership it seems there is no amount of risk and turmoil that would put them off trying to break-up the UK.
MANY MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
This month, at more than 11,000 events across the country, hundreds of thousands of people will gather to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27).
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to remember all those affected by the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, as well as genocides which have taken place more recently in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. As well as remembering what happened, we also find ways to take positive action and make sure they can never happen again.
The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation and has implications for us all. Without a basic understanding of this recent history, we are in danger of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference and hostility to others can ultimately lead. With a rise in reported hate crime in the UK and ongoing international conflicts at risk of genocide, our world can feel fragile and vulnerable. We cannot be complacent.
Each of us has a responsibility to know what happened. Thankfully, more people than ever before are taking part in our annual commemorations to learn lessons from genocide and help create a better future.
For more information on how you can get involved with this year’s events, go to www.hmd.org.uk
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
PRAISE FOR LOCAL LOTTERY PLAYERS
On behalf of charity PDSA, which has visited the Borders with our PetWise tour offering free health checks for pets, I would like to say a huge thank-you to all local players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
We have received fantastic support from players over the past 12 months, which coincided with our 100th birthday celebrations.
It was on November 17, 1917, that the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin, first set up a dispensary for sick animals in London’s East End.
Over the following years our work spread in response to public demand and PDSA now operates 48 pet hospitals across the UK, supported by a national chain of around 120 charity shops, and a dedicated army of volunteers.
Over the past 12 months support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has helped us deliver projects that prevent illness and disease, and educate pet owners and children on how to care for animals.
In 2018 we:
z Educated over 64,000 school children through our PetWise Schools programme which promotes animal welfare;
z Completed 331 school visits, equipping the next generation of pet owners with the skills they need to provide the 5 Welfare Needs for pets to be happy and healthy;
z Launched our new £250,000 PetWise Mobile Unit which features two vet consulting rooms, oxygen facilities, moveable seating, a widescreen TV and built-in iPads and can be used to carry out minor operations, host vaccination clinics, school lessons and pet first aid classes;
z Carried out over 5,000 free PetWise MOTs on pets through our PetWise Tour across 151 locations, including Eyemouth, Kelso, Jedburgh and Galashiels;]
z Microchipped 436 pets and clipped the nails of over 850 pets on board our three PetWise vehicles;
z Equipped 838 pet owners and visitors with general pet health advice through our PetWise Tour.
So much has already been achieved, but there is still more to be done.
In 2019, thanks to continued player support, we will be building on the legacy of these projects to continue to reach communities beyond the reach of our pet hospitals, helping pets and equipping adults and children with the skills they need to be great pet owners.
In 2018 alone, £116m was raised for good causes across Britain by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
(PDSA veterinary campaigns manager)