LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
A QUESTION OF POLICIES
If Ruth Davidson had really wanted to send Nicola Sturgeon a message, she should probably have sent an email.
The Tory campaign in Scotland was based on one policy – stop “indeyref2”.
They relied on the 55% of voters who said “No” in the 2014 independence referendum and while it did obviously have some success, they still only got 13 out of 59 seats in Scotland.
The SNP fought the election on actual policies and what it felt it could do for the people of Scotland, and they got 35 seats. That’s 11 more than all the other parties put together.
I think the Scottish people realise that while independence is a big part of what the SNP does – it is, after all, what the party was originally formed for – nationalists do have many other policies which are designed to try and make things better for Scotland.
Kezia Dugdale seems really pleased with herself that Scottish Labour now has seven MPs, again out of 59. I think if she looked at the situation realistically, she’d find it wasn’t really due to her policy of trying to copy Ruth Davidson, but the manifesto (which actually looked like a proper Labour manifesto) and performance of Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign.
We have to remember this was a UK election and, south of the border, the situation appears to have moved largely back to the old two-party system.
It will be interesting to see what the Tories and Labour come up with by way of policies for the next election which, given the result of this one, probably won’t be far away.
West High Street
PREJUDICE AGAINST ELDERLY VOTERS
As an elderly citizen of Irish extraction, I look forward to the day when the Left and media give up their prejudice against me and stop agitating to limit my democratic rights.
After the EU referendum, it was implied that the aged should sacrifice their belief in Brexit in favour of submission to what toddlers and schoolchildren might prefer.
Now, following the general election, it is openly proposed that a legitimate Northern Irish party, the DUP, democratically elected by the free will of the people, should not be permitted a full role in the democratic process – a situation which I am sure would not have arisen had the party in question been Sinn Fein (previously, the SDLP were never impeded in supporting Labour governments).
Might it be best if, prior to future elections, the BBC and The Guardian instruct us as to which political parties they can tolerate to form governments, and let us know the cut-off age before which our votes will not be a nuisance to them?
BRUSSELS MAKING THE DECISIONS
Many viewers (young and not so young) believe BBC TV presenters and vote accordingly (one reason why the Labour vote was higher than expected), plus Nicola Sturgeon’s incessant second-referendum bleating helped the Conservative party considerably in Scotland.
The First Minister is still singing the same song and excuses about “reckless Tory pursuit of hard Brexit”.
Even she must be able to see that it is Brussels who will be making the decisions, not London or Edinburgh because of our weakened governments.
We will be far better off as an independent country than dealing with the great and the good in Brussels – or anywhere else.
CENTRE’S LACK OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The Haining House Selkirk Charitable Trust has, in recent months, lost four of its seven trustees.
So this open letter is addressed to the remaining three – Jean Pringle-Pattison, Neil Ballantyne and Michelle Ballantyne, Selkirkshire Conservative councillor and MSP.
I was assured by the co-ordinator of the Discovery Centre at The Haining in January that James Davidson’s important contributions to the establishment of the Dandie Dinmont dog breed would be fully acknowledged at the centre, but so far I have seen no signs of that promise being fulfilled.
On the contrary, the centre’s information boards dedicated to telling “The History of the Dandie Dinmont” exclude any mention of James Davidson of Hindlee, who was personified in the character Dandie Dinmont in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering. This omission is a grave disappointment to those of us who both admire the breed and have a commitment to honouring James Davidson’s legacy.
Unfortunately, since I first sent letters to the local press in December 2016, and despite the assurances given to me in January, our concerns appear to have been totally ignored by the trustees. The website for The Haining, and its emails, are offline and have been for the past six months.
We cannot be the only ones interested in historical accuracy. The Kennel Club Educational Trust has built up £20,000 and the charity, Just Giving, has made a £20,702.43 contribution, for a total of £40,702.43, to make this Discovery Centre happen.
Surely these charities, too, would expect the full history to be portrayed and not only selective, and therefore misleading, information.
Re The Southern Reporter (June 8, page 40): “Dog lovers’ Oxnam tribute to man who inspired a breed”: We’d like to extend a big thank-you to the 30 Dandie Dinmonts and their owners, and the Rev Marion Dodd, who conducted the service for a gathering at Oxnam graveyard on Friday, June 2, to acknowledge and pay their respects to James Davidson.
We are grateful also to the person who sent in the photo and reported the true facts about James Davidson, aka Dandie Dinmont.
ECONOMIC STUDY PETITION PLEA
Even if you care nothing for grouse shooting and don’t live on or near a grouse moor, you are still affected by them – not least because of the public subsidies they receive.
Over 10% of Scotland is managed for grouse shooting and the most intensive element of that, driven grouse shooting, has been implicated in the loss of wildlife, the illegal persecution of predators, especially birds of prey, and the despoliation of landscape through the creation of bulldozed tracks principally to transport shooting clients.
Leeds University’s EMBER report showed that muirburn, the rotational burning of heather to provide red grouse with optimal habitat, lowers water quality in streams flowing through grouse moors and may exacerbate flooding by reducing peat soil’s ability to hold water. It almost certainly does no favours for freshwater angling.
As well as pointing out that a few species of waders can do well on grouse moors, a regular defence in the face of controversy is that grouse moors create rural jobs. As they require employees, they certainly do, but are they driving away other forms of employment in the hills that would create more employment and make the them a better place for wildlife, residents and visitors?
No country in the world outside of the UK has driven grouse moors, not one in spite of the fact the near identical willow grouse is distributed across northern Europe, Asia and America. That should be very telling, especially as some such as Norway appear to have considerably healthier rural communities than we do.
Lots of questions need answering.
There is a desperate need for a comprehensive, independent economic study of driven grouse shooting in Scotland to see whether or not it is actually helping rural communities or not. At present there is none, which is a national disgrace. That’s why I have drafted a petition to ask the Scottish Government to commission one.
If those currently telling us that driven grouse shooting is vital for local communities believe that, then they should have no hesitation in signing it.
A valid study would be politically neutral and quantify all relevant issues, including possible contribution to or alleviation of flooding, use of public subsidies, alternatives in the form of eco-tourism etc.
A proper economic assessment should have been carried out years ago – we need one now.
For all our sakes, can your readers please sign http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01663
My, my, what a lot of names (six, in fact) Alex McKie uses in his letter of June 1 to describe Guardian readers.
I thought name-calling went out at school, but perhaps with some folk this is not the case. Genuine criticism is always valid, but stooping to intolerance in such an explosion of phrases seems unworthy of the writer.
I find it interesting that Mr McKie accuses me of disrespect to the Southern Reporter when I only have admiration for the way that they can produce such a well-informed local paper which is invaluable to all those in our part of the Borders.
Reverting back to my point in the previous letter, both the Guardian and Southern Reporter are very well merchandised in my local newsagent, Browns of Kelso, and this also applies to all the other major range of daily newspapers they sell.
A WONDERFUL MESSAGE
After the largest gathering yet at Netherdale in Galashiels on Sunday, June 11, can we say a huge thank-you to all who made the Cameron Gunn Memorial Football Festival such a success.
It sent a wonderful message out about how children and youth can come together to make things happen which are positive in a time when we hear more often about negativity in all ages.
When we started the competition 26 years ago shortly after Cameron’s death, it was on the tiny pitch between Clovenfords and Caddonfoot, and was played between teams representing Exacta Circuits in Selkirk and Laidlaw and Fairgrieve from Galashiels, all of whom were Cameron’s own friends and workmates.
Last year the event became the largest one-day event of its kind in Europe when it topped at around 1,200 entries, with children from under fives to the most senior event, the under-17s finals for the Cameron Gunn Trophy on the 3G pitch which is the home of Gala Fairydean Rovers.
This year we exceeded even that huge total when an extra dimension, with teams of young girls from under seven was added, and put the total up about another 250.
Drew Kelly, from Live Borders, was a tower of strength, and Brian Smith and Georgina Boggs, from the Scottish Borders Junior Football Association, co-ordinated the senior event.
Gala Fairydean, of course, deserve thanks with their office-bearers, staff and members helping out yet again.
A word about the referees who officiated in the senior events. They were short in numbers this year, but high in talent and fairness when it came to keeping the games flowing.
The referees had a very long day, but kept smiling throughout.
The coaches and staff of all the clubs in the Borders and beyond, even down into Northumberland, are due a lot of praise, and the young players, from Primary 1 age up to under-17, once again showed that the national game is very much alive in this area of south-east Scotland.
Finally, can we thank all stall-holders and providers of food and soft drinks, etc. for keeping this huge gathering of people fed and watered, and the mums, dads, aunties, uncles and grandpas and grannies who joined in the spirit of the day.
(a registered Scottish charity)
SUPPORT FOR SAMARITANS
Border Samaritans wish to thank all who made the effort to come along, in miserable weather, to support their annual plant and produce sale held at Cotfield, Lilliesleaf, on Saturday, May 20.
More than £1,600 was raised for our local branch.
Also, our thanks for the support, earlier this year, for our Non-Event Burnt Supper.
This was kindly sponsored by Deans Chartered Accountants and raised a sum in excess of £3,000.
(for Border Samaritans)
SINGLE-ISSUE AND NEGATIVE
I would like to start by offering my heart-felt thanks to all those who turned out to vote for me in last week’s Scottish Parliament by-election in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency.
After a short campaign, foisted upon us all by Theresa May’s ridiculous decision to call a general election in the midst of Brexit negotiations, I was delighted to have polled the highest SNP vote ever in this constituency.
I would like to congratulate Rachael Hamilton on her win and wish her, and the other candidates – Sally Prentice and Catriona Bhatia – all the best for the future.
Rather than the negative single-issue campaigns from the other parties, I am proud to have been at the forefront of a positive campaign that focused on the SNP’s achievements in government over the last 10 years. These include protecting the most vulnerable people living in the Borders – those who often can’t speak up for themselves, ensuring our young people can attend university regardless of how wealthy their parents are, free prescriptions, free bus passes, extending good quality nursery education, providing free school meals, to name just a few.
I have been involved in many campaigns over the years and I cannot remember any that have been so full of energy and enthusiasm from the SNP point of view, or indeed one so negative from the opposition.
I’d like to thank our local activists and volunteers who, despite lethargy from the recent council elections, turned out in their droves to support me and our wonderful Westminster candidate, Calum Kerr.
I have never been a candidate before, and never thought I would be one, but I could no longer stand by and watch an increasingly right-wing Tory government punish the most vulnerable people in Scotland.
The very people the Tories are targeting are the ones who need a strong voice to stand up for them and that is what I will continue to fight for.
SCOTLAND’S INFLUENCE PIVOTAL
There has been much attention paid to the fall in the number of SNP MPs from 56 to 35, seen as disaster for the party.
However, let us put this into some perspective in the cool light of day.
The SNP still won more seats in Scotland than all other parties combined, obtained the largest number of votes and delivered the second best result ever for the party. Before the electoral tsunami of 2015, the largest number of SNP MPs was 11 and going into the election two years ago the party had just six.
Yes, a number of ‘big beasts’, primarily Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson, lost their seats and will be a massive loss. However, it was always going to be difficult to get anywhere close to the 2015 general election result, which was a once-in-a-generation outcome.
The SNP, it should be noted, still form the third largest party at Westminster.
The Tories, who stood on a sole platform of opposition to a second independence referendum, lost the election in Scotland and lost their majority in the UK. Indeed, the SNP have more than double the number of Scottish seats than the Tories, who have been heavily defeated.
Instead of strength and stability, the Tories now seem headed for an extended period of infighting, with Brexit negotiations set to begin next week.
Both the Scottish and UK results show a massive rejection of Tory austerity and an extreme Brexit.
This result – combined with the hung parliament – makes Scotland’s influence pivotal at Westminster.
MAY’S ‘COALITION OF CHAOS’
And the ‘Mystic Meg’ prize for predictions goes to Theresa May, who rightly forecast that Thursday’s election would lead to a “coalition of chaos” and that its leader would have the character stain of “support for terrorism”.
Sadly for Mrs May, however, the “coalition of chaos” is of her own making, with “Conservative” written all over it. And to make matters worse, she is the one creating links with terrorism via the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party).
One has to wonder how the DUP’s connection with Unionist terrorists and gangsters has managed to swerve the rigorous media questioning that Sinn Fein has rightly been subjected to; and in the case of Martin Mc Guinness, right up till his death.
Given all that, and the reams I could fill if I had space, there’s the usual stock-in-trade of religious fundamentalism to contend with, anti-women, homophobia, anti-LGBT etc.
What have the British people done to deserve this scourge on the face of justice, or Mrs May whose ability to make poor judgement is more insufferable day-by-day.
THERESA’S POOR JUDGEMENT
So much for Theresa May’s judgement – calling an election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, but finishing up weaker.
William W. Scott
St Baldred’s Road
PROPPED UP BY ULSTER PROTESTANTS
Having argued successfully against a so-called “unwanted and divisive referendum”, is our newly-elected Member of Parliament willing to join a campaign against an “unwanted and divisive Westminster government” propped up by the votes of 300,000 Ulster Protestants, brought about as a consequence of an “unwanted and divisive general election”?
PLEASE GIVE IT A REST FOR A WHILE
Given that more than 60% of votes cast in Scotland in last week’s general election were in favour of parties opposed to a second independence referendum, would it be asking too much of Nicola Sturgeon and her acolytes (including those who regularly fill your letters columns) to give it a rest for a while?
CONGRATULATIONS TO CANDIDATES
I should like to offer my congratulations to John Lamont and Rachael Hamilton for their success in last week’s election.
I was shocked by the unpleasant, vitriolic and inaccurate comments about John Lamont printed in the local press recently. I think the results speak for themselves – over 11,000 votes for John and over 9,000 votes for Rachael Hamilton.
IT’S TIME FOR AFTERNOON TEA
Like many of your readers, I know first-hand how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis can be as I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer when I was 46.
As I love baking and having family round, I’m encouraging people to host an afternoon tea this summer to raise vital funds for the wonderful charity Breast Cancer Care, who support people like me. It’s the only UK-wide charity providing free care, support and information to those living with breast cancer, providing somewhere to turn so they feel less isolated and more in control.
It’s easy to get involved in the afternoon tea fundraiser – simply choose a date and invite your friends and family over to enjoy a lovely cuppa with some delicious cake and tasty sandwiches.
However you do yours, all money raised will enable the charity to continue to be there for the 691,000 people living with breast cancer in the UK today.
It’s been a year since I won MasterChef and I still enjoy coming up with delicious creations, so I’ve created a special gluten-free scone recipe that’s perfect for your very own afternoon tea.
Just go to the Breast Cancer Care website to download it for free.
For recipes and to take part, sign up for your free fund-raising kit at breastcancercare.org.uk/cuppa
(on behalf of Breast Cancer Care)