Barbara Greer snapped this image of St Mary’s kirkyard, which overlooks St Mary’s Loch.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SECOND BEST NOT GOOD ENOUGH
The announcement by the Scottish Government that it intends setting up a south of Scotland enterprise agency to cover the Borders is welcome.
However, the launch document is thin and leaves all the important questions unanswered.
How much money will this new organisation have? Will it be new, additional, money, or just a cut-and-paste from existing council and other organisations’ budgets?
What will it be allowed to do? Will the new agency be able, with new resources and powers, to have as much impact as Highlands and Islands Enterprise? If not, why not?
Will it be independent, run by people whose first loyalty is to the Borders, or will it be subservient to a strategic board based in Edinburgh?
I fear that the Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway, are being offered very little and that while it is better than nothing, it is neither as powerful as we need nor as well funded as we deserve.
What the south of Scotland gets should be, at least, as good as the Highlands and Islands gets, and not second best.
And, finally, why will it not be up and fully running until 2020? The two councils, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, should be congratulated for putting forward a scheme by which the agency could be up and running in six months. Why was this rejected?
Everyone knows the Scottish Government wants to have a referendum on independence before 2020.
Whatever your opinion on this, everyone can see that the setting up of an enterprise agency for us will become a low priority and simply get swept aside and ignored in the grand battles over independence .
The Borders deserves better – an enterprise agency with real powers and new money. When do we want it – now!
(Labour candidate for
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – 2017 general election)
CONTRIBUTING TO OUR CULTURE
The excellent letter in your June 22 issue from David Herrod concerning the Klein studio (designed by Peter Womersley) should be a wake-up call for us to value the contribution asylum seekers have made to our culture over the past century.
It should also serve as a warning to us not to allow iconic examples of modern architecture to be lost by neglect – we often make the mistake of believing that only the ancient is worth preserving. Scottish Borders Council should take up Mr Herrod’s challenge – such an attraction would make a worthy counterpoint to the heroic work of municipal folk-art that is the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Bernat Klien was a Serbian Jew who, in 1940, at the age of 18, put distance between himself and the Nazis by going to Jerusalem to further his studies.
He stayed for the duration of the war, studying while also working for British Intelligence.
In 1945 he continued his studies in Leeds before moving to the Borders where, it could be claimed, his vision and imagination were responsible for the revitalisation of the local textile industry.
Other examples of refugees making great contributions to British culture were Dame Lucy Rie, Tibor Reich and Hans Coper. Rie and Reich were both Jews who fled Vienna for Britain at the end of the 1930s.
Coper’s Jewish father committed suicide in 1936, when Hans was 16, in a brave, if desperate, effort to save his non-Jewish wife and children from attracting the attention of the Nazis.
Hans made it to London in 1939 where, as a non-Jewish German, he was interned for the duration as an enemy alien.
Coper and Reich were both commissioned to design decorative elements of the new Coventry Cathedral.
This leads me on to another letter printed in the same issue – the loathsome contribution from Otto Inglis.
Mr Inglis alludes, favourably, to a mono-cultural Christian Germany of a generation ago, compared with the bi-cultural, multi-ethnic version created, he claims, by Angela Merkel. What he chooses not to mention is that his perceived Utopia (post-war Germany) only existed as a result of the industrial extermination of six million people, deemed by the Nazis to be sub-human.
Merkel’s humanity has gone some way towards ameliorating the evils of earlier times.
Mr Inglis’ letter doesn’t just give off a whiff of Holocaust denial – it positively reeks of it. He piles on the ordure with generous helpings of thinly-disguised homo and Islamophobia.
I’m as in favour of free speech as the next person, but sometimes I think the line has to be drawn somewhere.
ELITE AVOIDING AUSTERITY
Paul Singleton (letters, June 29) is quite right to be concerned about what taxpayers’ money is spent on – but, as usual, the bias and inconsistency of his argument is clear for all to see.
Perhaps he could attempt to justify the £1bn bribe (with more likely to follow) which Theresa May and her cronies (including John Lamont and the other new Scottish Tory MPs) have gifted to the DUP so she can hold onto power a little bit longer. This grubby deal does absolutely nothing for democracy.
I will say no more about the DUP, other than that they, with their outdated and illiberal views on a whole range of subjects, and alleged connections to paramilitary groups, are not the kind of people I would care to spend any time with.
Has Theresa May found the long-lost and fabled “money tree” she told us did not exist, when she and her acolytes voted recently (shamefully, amid cheering and applause from the Tory benches) to restrict public sector workers to a 1% pay increase? These are the very people – doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, armed forces and others – that we (especially recently) all depend on in times of crisis.
At the same time we learn MPs are getting 11%, the Queen 15% and military top brass 20%.
It seems austerity does not apply to everyone – especially the elite.
As MSPs left Holyrood to head off on their summer holidays, the Scottish Government quietly issued the results of its consultation on the draft referendum bill.
Clearly the hope was that no one would notice, or care enough about, its contents to comment.
The original consultation document was published in October last year, remaining open for responses for three months until January 11. The questions posed in the document were structured to not include any of the fundamental issues that SNP ministers would rather not hear about. Views were not sought therefore on the wording of the question to be used in a second independence referendum, nor indeed on whether it made sense to hold another so soon after the last one.
The report analysing the results of the consultation reveals that 22% of the 7,198 valid responses commented on matters not included in the consultation paper. Whilst the independent company asked to prepare the report admits that the main theme of these unsolicited comments was “the principle of holding another referendum on Scottish independence”, it gives no further details, saying “it was not within the scope of this project to conduct an analysis of these comments”.
This was presumably because of the remit given to it by the Scottish Government.
Public money and resources in the shape of civil servant input has gone into this tawdry attempt at misinformation, masquerading as a proper public consultation exercise.
In a year’s time, Nicola Sturgeon promises to tell us her specific plans about an independence referendum rerun, predicting it will happen before the next Holyrood elections in 2021. What will limit the misuse of the Scottish civil service in that process if independence continues to be treated by this government as transcending all else, including the requirements of good governance?
I am one of a group of people who, about six months ago, set out to relaunch Pensioners for Independence (P for I) – one of the pro-independence groups that existed before the 2014 referendum, but subsequently seemed to disappear from the radar.
We now have active P for I campaigning groups in Edinburgh and Lothians, and in Glasgow and west of Scotland, and are keen to set up similar groups based on the other cities in Scotland and eventually to spread our influence into more rural areas.
If any of your readers would like to know more and be kept informed of progress, they are invited to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P for I
Edinburgh & Lothians
RUNNING ON EMPTY SHOPS
Railway enthusiasts continue to bombard us with statistical nuggets of success, not least the tourist data.
Meantime, the painful negatives are being ignored.
Retailers are bearing the brunt of the pain. First, Galashiels – now, Melrose. In the past two years, empty shop fronts have become a common feature in Melrose whereas previously there was always someone ready to move in.
Politicians need to take an holistic approach rather than recycling the lobbyists’ propaganda.
NO VOTER HAD THE FULL PICTURE
While C Beagrie (letters, June 29) is fully entitled to express their views on the Brexit process, and I commend The Southern for publishing them, I must take issue with one sentence: “We who voted Leave knew what we were voting for.”
I think it fair to say that everyone who voted had their own views of what Brexit would mean, but nobody really knew what they were actually voting for.
There was a lot of propaganda prior to the vote, most of which has subsequently been shown to be, to be polite, inaccurate. Many will have voted based on what they were told and what they believed at the time, which is not unreasonable. I don’t think anyone had a full picture of all that would be involved, including the politicians involved in the campaigns.
The negotiations with the other 27 member countries have only just begun, and it will likely be close to March 2019 before anyone finds out what the UK voting leave actually means to the UK, to Scotland and to us as individuals.
It will be interesting to see as that time approaches if C. Beagrie still thinks they knew what they were voting for.
West High Street
SMALL EU NATIONS MAKE THEIR MARK
It is more than a little ironic that as Scotland, through being part of the UK, prepares to leave the European Union, Estonia, with a population around a quarter that of Scotland, took over the EU presidency last Saturday (July 1).
The presidency is responsible for driving forward the EU’s work, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and co-operation among member states.
During the next six months this will focus on key areas, including single and digital markets, the energy union and closer integration of eastern partners into Europe. It also wants to focus on the promotion of e-solutions and the information society in EU policy areas. Interestingly, Estonia’s prime minister, Jüri Ratas, has declared that Brexit is not a priority for the presidency, a sign that the EU is moving on from Brexit, with bigger issues to deal with.
Estonia, which next year will celebrate its centenary of becoming independent, takes over the EU presidency from Malta, an island with a population less than that of Edinburgh.
During the independence referendum, the Better Together camp claimed that the only way to guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU was to vote to remain in the UK. Indeed, Scotland was to “lead the UK”, not leave the UK.
Times have indeed changed since September 2014 and we are, despite these assurances, heading for the EU exit door.
Of course, we could have the best of both worlds – part of a single market with the rest of the UK (as promised to Northern Ireland in its relations with the Republic of Ireland) and still be an EU member.
For that to happen requires the confidence, as Malta and Estonia have demonstrated, to take full control of our own affairs and be the masters of our own destiny – leading, not leaving, the EU.
Nicola Sturgeon reminds me of the First World War generals in their ivory-tower chateaux after the Somme, reviewing the 450,000 British
casualties and deciding “we must do it all over again”, with the inevitable outcome.
The SNP lost 476,918 votes in the last election.
The suggestion by some that Holyrood could, in some way, block the great repeal bill is nonsensical.
The objective of the bill is to transfer legislation from the EU into UK law; whether or not this attracts the approval of the SNP Holyrood government is irrelevant.
Holyrood’s consent will only have any significance in relation to devolved legislation, but again, whether the SNP establishment object or not, all legislation will transfer out of the EU.
What is likely is that the reach of Holyrood’s legislative authority will then be further extended, with fisheries and agriculture potentially being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
But further devolution is a double-edged sword for Nicola Sturgeon. She must be seen to want increased powers for Holyrood. Yet her worst nightmare is that Scots become satisfied with a powerful devolved parliament within the comfort blanket of the UK – and the case for independence is perceived as even more flawed than back in 2014.
USING DEATH TO MALIGN OTHERS
Otto Inglis (letters, June 29) has stooped to two new lows – using the death of a migrant to malign other migrants, and sending the same odious letter to two different newspapers, the Southern Reporter and to a daily newspaper in Dundee.
CELEBRATING WOMEN’S EFFORTS
This month, SSAFA – the UK’s oldest military charity – is celebrating the centenary of women in our armed forces.
The charity, which has been supporting our troops and their families for over 130 years, was there for the first women serving, and we’re still there for them now. This year, we are recognising the vital role that women have played in the military, during two world wars and in more recent conflicts.
I have worked alongside some truly inspirational women in our armed forces and I am extremely proud of the work they do – we rely on their strength and courage to keep us safe every day, and I am proud to be ambassador of SSAFA, which supports these women and their families.
SSAFA has branches working across Scotland that are made up of volunteers, providing practical and emotional support to those currently serving and veterans who have settled in the area, and their families.
Dame Vera Lynn
EMERGING GLOBAL HEALTH CRISIS
It was sad to hear that 17 children in Syria were paralysed by polio following an outbreak in the country last month.
It is the first re-emergence of polio in the war-torn country since 2014, and is a frustrating and devastating setback.
Syria is the latest example of a sporadic outbreak, following a similar one in Nigeria in 2016, after no cases had been reported in Nigeria in the previous two years.
Polio is an extremely stubborn and deadly virus.
I understand more than most the devastating effects of polio; the legacy lives on in the 120,000 polio survivors in the UK, living with the late effects of polio, and a debilitating new neurological condition, Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
We fully support Rotary International’s One Last Push eradication campaign and dream of a polio-free world.
But it is worth considering that up to 40,000,000 people worldwide may be left living with PPS for many generations to come.
Ted Hill MBE
(CEO, The British Polio
CONTINUING TO GROW A DECADE ON
On Wednesday, June 14, Friends of Kelso Library held an afternoon tea party with poetry and readings in the Library Garden.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the garden which was created following the 100-year celebrations of Kelso Library. Margaret Riddle, and Keith and Terry Cavers were among some special guests who represented the groups and organisations involved not only in the creation of the garden, but for obtaining the grants required to make this garden the beautiful tranquil area it is today.
The tea party was a fundraiser for Friends of Kelso Library who support the library with time, skills and energy, provide the Saturday newspapers and maintain it.
The monies collected this year will help us to continue to supply newspapers on a Saturday which we have provided for the past 10 years.
Thanks to all who took contributed.
Thanks also to Charity Begins At Home for its very generous grant this year which enabled us to revamp the Library Garden.
Friends of Kelso Library
BOOST FOR MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH
The Open Garden event held in aid of Mental Health Research UK at Old Coach House, Hownam, on June 25 and July 2 raised £804.70 in total.
We are delighted with the response we had.
Thank you to all those people who came to support us on two sunny afternoons. A huge thanks to all our helpers – we could not have managed without you.
A cheque for the full amount raised will shortly be sent to Mental Health Research UK, and used for valuable research into the causes and treatment of schizophrenia.
Sarah and Mike Dixon