Still living in poverty after 300 years

Labour has revealed its secret weapon in its fight to keep Scotland in the Union – Gordon Brown.

The man, along with Tony Blair, created the New Labour project, praised Margaret Thatcher and emulated many of her dreadful policies, allowed the de-regulation of banks when he was Chancellor and signed blank cheques for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (still to this day Scottish soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan).

He also promised he would end child poverty in Britain – in fact the gap between the rich and the poor widened when he was Chancellor and later Prime Minister.

For decades Labour took the Scottish voter for granted and considered that it was their divine right to rule Scotland. Labour sat back and did nothing to protect Scottish industry from being wiped out by Thatcher and allowed what was left to disappear on their watch.

We have had 300 years of the Union and today we still have people in Scotland living in poverty – some people live on less than £30 per week.

Many elderly Scots are expected to live on a pittance of a state pension by the Westminster Government and many of our people rely on food banks to survive.

My father has lived in Scotland for 60-plus years and he will be voting “Yes” for Scottish independence. I asked him why? And he said: “When I was a child people were kept in poverty and 50 years later nothing has changed. Maybe we could do a better job ourselves as an independent nation.”

Now we have a Westminster Government that Scotland did not vote for. This administration is attacking and deriding the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, which is causing great hardship to many Scottish families.

If Scotland became an independent nation, future Scottish general elections would be far more democratic and reflect Scottish public opinion. If the majority of the electorate voted Labour they would get a Labour Government in Edinburgh – if they voted SNP they would get an SNP Government.

This is unlike what happened at the 2010 British general election when we got a Tory Government propped up by the Lib Dems that Scotland did not vote for.

Imagine if Scotland was already an independent nation, would you vote to become part of this sort of Union?

Mark G. Kettrick

(membership secretary, Central Borders SNP)



The independence referendum next year is a historic and momentous occasion in our nation’s history.

That is why the campaign process must be fair and balanced to both sides and the referendum undertaken in a transparent and accountable manner.

The OSCE’s (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is based in Warsaw, Poland. It is active throughout the 57-state OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and rule of law.

As such, members are not only involved in election monitoring, but also referendum monitoring. Observers were appointed, for example, to monitor the independence referendum campaign in Montenegro in 2006 when that nation successfully achieved its independence from Serbia.

The observers monitor the work of the authorities responsible for organising the referendum, the implementation of relevant legislation, the referendum campaign, the media environment and the resolution of disputes related to the referendum process.

Given the importance of the vote next year, the Scottish Government should be requesting to the UK Government that the ODIHR be called in to monitor the referendum campaign and ensure that it is undertaken in a fair and balanced manner.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace



Before the cynically-rigged referendum on Scottish devolution in 1979, Sir Alec Douglas-Home urged voters to say “no” because a Conservative government would produce a “better Bill”.

Later that year the Tories won the general election and Thatcher governments never mentioned Scottish devolution again.

So far the Unionists have predicted only dire consequences for Scotland if we vote for independence, but it will not be long before Michael Moore, David Cameron and Ed Milliband are dangling sweeties before us just as Sir Alec did. Like most promises from politicians, they should be regarded as disposable bribes.

In stark contrast to any expendable promises from the Westminster parties, the SNP has negotiated a referendum for all Scottish voters with a cast-iron outcome – “yes” or “no”. No vague promises of a Nirvana where there are no taxes and everyone can retire at 50, just a solid promise that if Scotland chooses independence then its future is in the hands of the Scottish people.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts



Being a local lawyer, I submitted a detailed report to the Scottish Court Service’s consultation about the proposed closure of Peebles Sheriff Court .

I submitted a further report to the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee highlighting the shortcomings and difficulties the closure would have on the area.

The implications for court users is a restriction in access to justice, combined with increased costs for all organisations and parties who wish to use the service of the court.

The closure proposal is due to be debated in parliament on June 4 and a decision taken. There is a protest organised to take place outside the parliament at 11am on that day. I would encourage everyone who shares these concerns to attend and register their protest. I certainly intend to be there.

Sally Swinney

(partner, Messrs

Blackwood & Smith W. S.)

High Street



I see Kenneth Gunn (letters, May 23) has been bemoaning the fact that Selkirk Cottage Hospital closed 25 years ago – but he leaves out some major reasons why.

One of the main parts of the hospital was it’s small, sparsely-equipped maternity unit, but if expectant mothers were deemed as likely to have problems with birth, they were sent to Simpson’s Memorial Unit at the old ERI or the Eastern General at Seafield in the city, thus necessitating 40-mile transfers. The old Peel Hospital near Caddonfoot as a rule didn’t handle maternity cases and had no midwifery staff.

The new Borders General Hospital maternity unit, handling around 1,000 births a year compared with around 80 at Selkirk, had the facilities to handle complicated births and it therefore ruled out any reopening of the Selkirk hospital.

I know a former midwife at the cottage hospital who transfered to the BGH in 1988 and she has always said the transfer of maternity services was the greatest thing since sliced cheese.

The cottage hospital also acted as a minor injuries unit, but it often necessitated calling out GPs, even in the middle of the night, to handle patients. The new accident and emergency department at the BGH was light years ahead of the cottage hospital’s facilities and that was another nail in the coffin, so to speak, for the reopening of the cottage hospital.

I can’t fault Mr Gunn for the historical accuracy of his letters to the press, but I think one with such a mind could make better use of his time helping take Selkirk forward and not in dwelling in the past, because as far as local medical facilities are concerned the old ways were not the best ways.

Susan Hill

Ettrickhaugh Road



Jonathan Parsons (letters, May 16) made the point that only those members of the planning committee who come to the decision with “clean hands” may take part in it.

He considers that Sherry M. Fowler’s membership of UKIP and public support in The Southern for its official policy of “no more wind farms” would not disqualify her from voting on planning applications for wind farms.

There is nothing ambiguous about her “principle”, as Jonathan Parsons calls it.

“No more wind farms” could not be clearer. It means what it says on the tin and how could any councillor publicly holding and supporting that view be expected to consider a wind farm application openly, fairly, objectively and without prejudice? Would Sherry M. Fowler’s principles allow her to vote for a wind farm?

I do not think the man in the street would think so.

Jock Houston




We all hear such terrible reports in the papers about the NHS and out-0f-hours service, NHS 24.

A few weeks ago I had a real health scare. I thought I was taking a stroke, but it turned out to be Bell’s palsy – bad enough.

On having my eyes tested I must have had a reaction to the drops they put in. My eye was scarlet and the eye lid was dropped, as was the corner of my mouth.

The support I received from Dr L. Ryan at the BGH was excellent. She phoned me three times that Saturday, the last being 11.30 at night – that’s what I call dedication to duty. And on the Sunday another doctor called me three times to see if I was OK.

Just to be able to talk to someone to reassure you was really comforting.

I have also received excellent care from Dr Young and Dr Hegarty at Hay Lodge Hospital.

Don’t believe all you read in the press about the NHS and NHS24.

Janette Barrand

Dovecot Road



May I, through the courtesy of your columns, say a huge thank you to all those who contributed to the success of Walkerburn Primary School’s Founders’ Day on May 18.

Ryan Mania opened the event in a professional and friendly manner, and was an excellent role model for the youngsters who turned out. Innerleithen Pipe Band and St Ronan’s Silver Band were real troopers and entertained the crowds in spite of the ever-changing weather.

Thanks also should go to the local groups who had their own fundraising stalls in the playground, the school staff and the parent council who served teas, coffees and home baking. I would also like to thank all those who braved the inclement weather to attend the event.

Finally, enormous thanks should go to the organising 150 group who gathered together photographs, documentation and profiles of former pupils on the Friday beforehand.

Shirley M. Bean


Walkerburn Primary School


Thanks to the fantastic weather, St Margaret’s Parent Council enjoyed its best-ever summer fair on Saturday, raising more than £1,000.

We would like to thank all our helpers and in particular the Scottish Ambulance Service, Peter and Matthew Croan and Advanced Signs. Once again the small businesses of Galashiels responded brilliantly to our plea for raffle prizes.

We are very grateful to The Kilt Shop, PDSA, Dorward, Booker, Ostles Tyres, Eden, Polish Shop, Symingtons, Hot Shave Barber, Music Station, Dalgetty, Guess What?, Bauguette and Go, Bags of Style, Fancy Creations, Fletcher’s (Selkirk), Earthbeads, Sossios, Spice of India, Scott Street Premier store, Co-op Gala Park, Eat at Dave’s, Bon Marche, Hair Lab, Organic Beauty, Dorothy Perkins, Tesco, Energie Fitness for Women, Arian, Waffly Good and Gala Fairydean FC.

We also had an anonymous donation to cover the £100 raffle first prize which was a marvellous gesture.

Thanks also go to Father Basil Clark for baking the lovely-looking cake featuring the school badge to guess the weight of.

Louise Riddell

(secretary, St Margaret’s Parent Council)

Livingstone Place




Jed Youth Rugby would like to thank all who attended the coffee morning in Jedburgh British Legion on May 18 in aid of their tour to Clermont Ferrand, France, this October and who gave so generously – a fantastic £625 was raised.

Ann Slingsby



I would be obliged if I could use the columns of your paper to try to contact a couple, Leonard and Mary Coaster, probably living in the Kelso area, who are old school friends.

I want to let them know about a reunion of former pupils of Wallsend Grammar School taking place at the Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle, on September 30. Some of those attending are coming from the USA, Canada or other overseas destinations.

My email address is and telephone number 0191 487 8284.

Jim Hutchinson