Your picture of the Week

This image of the Black Hill was taken on the road just out of Earlston at Sorrowlessfield
This image of the Black Hill was taken on the road just out of Earlston at Sorrowlessfield

This image of the Black Hill was taken on the road just out of Earlston at Sorrowlessfield last Wednesday by John Fowler.

Please send photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

UK ON COURSE FOR A BETTER FUTURE

Sir, – On March 29 last year, Sir Tim Barrow handed European Council president Donald Tusk one of the most important letters in Britain’s post-war history – a letter which stated that the formal process of this country regaining her sovereignty under Article 50 had begun.

Despite numerous attempts to derail that process by an unholy alliance of so-called Scottish nationalists, who lost 21 out of 56 seats in the 2017 general election, and other MPs who also believe mystically that Brussels Byzantine bureaucrats know best, and that we should yield to their directives without question, the process of escape is on track and Britain’s iconic blue passports will be issued within two years.

Before the EU referendum, numerous millionaire “experts” – from Chancellor George Osborne, the Canadian Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the French head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine La Garde – queued up to panic the populace with predictions of mass unemployment, years of recession and an emergency budget if we voted to leave the Soviet-style organisation.

What has happened? Unemployment is at a 42-year low. Manufacturing order books are at a 30-year high. For the first time, the UK is top of Forbes list of best countries to do business.

Ah, but what about the £35bn Brexit bill we have to pay, including pensions for the said bureaucrats, the Remainers cry? Well, it is a far cry from the £100bn that EU sources originally claimed for their own. And it will be spread over the years until 2030.

By comparison, had we voted to remain, Britain would have had to pay the EU in contributions to its budget £120bn by 2030. I call that a good deal.

Britain, despite her small size, has the world’s fifth largest economy, the world’s fourth most powerful armed forces – and as I write the second of our magnificent new aircraft carriers has been floated out at Rosyth, the best intelligence-gathering service, is blessed with innovative engineers, scientists, creative artists, has a civil service and the rule of law which is admired across the world, and a global reach in soft power which is unmatched.

No wonder millions have migrated to the UK in recent years and the port of Calais is besieged by migrants desperate to reach these shores whatever the cost.

Unshackled from the foreign power which has dictated 70% of our laws for decades, Britain’s future will most certainly be on an onwards and upwards path, make no mistake. – Yours, etc.,

William Loneskie

Oxton

SUITING ENGLAND’S INTERESTS

Sir, – I am obliged, once again, to take issue with views expressed by Keith Howell (letters, December 21).

He chooses to describe the perfectly-reasonable request by Scottish Government Brexit minister Mike Russell for some detail about the 111 powers returning to the UK as “grievance and mock outrage”.

I can assure him the outrage is not mock, and I would instead describe it as the most obvious and natural question from a supposed “equal partner” in this supposed “Union of equals”.

We are continuously told we are “Better Together”. If this is true, it should mean listening to and taking account of the views and interests of all member states of the UK, including the Scottish Government. This applies not only to Brexit, but to every other decision taken at Westminster.

By contrast, Mr Howell seems more than content with the English part of the Union (despite Scotland voting by a large majority to Remain) dictating what is in the best interests of Scotland, and the other constituent parts of the UK – take it or leave it.

At the very least, all devolved matters must return to Scotland automatically.

Laughably, he then attempts to suggest that the ineffectual David Mundell, the Tories’ puppet in Westminster (most certainly not Scotland’s voice in government), has some influence on decisions taken there, and that he is capable of fighting Scotland’s corner.

In fact, Prime Minister Theresa May says she will invite him to meetings and ask his opinion when she deems it “appropriate” – i.e. when it suits English interests and he can then agree with whatever she says.

Ironically, Mr Howell then turns the truth on its head when he says that “if the UK Government could trust the SNP to act in the interests of the UK”, then things would be much better.

The Scottish Government, quite rightly, acts in the interests of the people of Scotland (as it was elected to do).

The problem is that the Scottish people, since “The Vow” and all the other broken promises over the years, understandably, have great difficulty in believing anything this broken, dysfunctional, opportunistic and hypocritical Unionist government says. – Yours, etc.,

J. Fairgrieve

Gordon

SAFETY FIRST – WHATEVER IT COSTS

Sir, – At the risk of becoming a serial correspondent, may I reply to J. Fairgrieve’s challenge, to explain how Scotland gains from being part of the United Kingdom (letters, December 21).

My first inclination was to go down the financial route, starting with the Barnett formula etc., but for every figure I highlight, I’m sure he will come up with figures to the contrary. Basically, the financial argument is open to interpretation. If you believe Big Eck’s (Alex Salmond) Diane Abbot moment when he stated that due to our oil reserves, after independence we would have been one of the richest countries in the world, that’s your choice.

So, putting the financial aspect aside, the one main thing the Union provides is the feeling of stability and protection. The stability is the fact that the UK has one of the strongest economies in the world, and the protection is that although only a small country, the UK has the power to protect itself in the event of conflict, and it also sits at the top table in the event of multilateral decision-making.

These facts, I’m sure, contributed greatly to the fact that Borderers overwhelming voted ‘No’ in the 2014 independence referendum.

Then he asks why, if we cost so much, do unionists wish us to remain.

I feel that the vast majority over the border are similar to us unionists in Scotland in that they feel safe in numbers and, whatever it costs, would prefer to support a united UK. Again, especially in the Borders, unlike the separatists, we don’t feel Westminster is hell-bent on destroying us. We don’t have the ‘them and us’ rhetoric which the SNP strives to impose on us.

But, ironically, its English equivalent – the BNP – might just achieve both their dreams in years to come, by procuring a referendum to break away from those “whinging Scots” – a mindset which, thanks to the SNP never being happy with whatever concessions are given, could become a reality.

I’m positive that any points made above will not alter J. Fairgrieve’s perception of the injustice being imposed upon us by those horrible people over the border.

But I would, in turn, like to ask a question which comes up regularly in conversation between ‘No’ voters, and even a lot of ‘Yes’ ones, and has always been avoided by the nationalist hierarchy. If he can come up with a logical answer, I bow to superior intellect.

The question is, why is the SNP so desperate to break up an alliance hundreds of years old to achieve independence, at any cost? – and then run cap-in-hand to the undemocratic, corrupt and soon-to-be-bankrupt EU which, rather than support the nationalists financially, will demand millions to let them join the asylum. Achieving independence, and then immediately relinquishing it to be ruled by an undemocratic super state, is beyond logic.

I, along with many other folk, await a reply. – Yours, etc.,

Graham Holford

Hawick

APPEAL TO RELATIVES

Sir, – Robert Johnstone Alexander, born 21/01/1879, lived with his parents (mother Frances) at Rose Cottage, Roxburgh.

He was a postman who later joined the 1/8th Battalion London Post Office Rifles. He was a rifleman and was sent to serve in France where he was killed in action on 21/05/1916 at Arras, aged 37.

George was Robert’s brother who married Janet Broomfield and the pair emigrated to Pennsylvania, USA, in 1908 where daughter Florence was born in 1910. The family returned to Scotland where Janet died, aged only 45, in1916.

George and Florence probably returned to the USA.

Are you related in any way to Robert Johnstone Alexander?

He is commemorated on the war memorials in Arras, Kelso and Roxburgh.

I have his First World War memorial plaque and would like it to be returned to his ancestors in return for a donation to charity of its value of approximately £50. My email address is libby.byron.theo@gmail.com. – Yours, etc.,

Elizabeth Theo

Cheam

Surrey

FAITH IN PEOPLE POWER

Sir, – I wish Kenneth Gunn every success with his plan to mount an exhibition of photographs of the former Cross Keys Inn in Selkirk and possibly rescue what was once described as “the best wee pub on the border” (letters, December 21). I believe that people power can work. Beware of trusting the survival of any irreplaceable heritage to the powers-that-be alone. – Yours, etc.,

Douglas Hunter

Ancrum

MUCH GENEROSITY IN STORE

Sir, – In early December the Sainsbury’s stores in Peebles, Hawick, Kelso and Selkirk chose local charity Fresh Start Borders as the subject of their Christmas appeal.

The stores collected goods from staff and shoppers to help individuals and families in the Borders who are moving into tenancies following homelessness.

Before Christmas staff from all four branches visited the charity in Selkirk and delivered four carloads of household items and cleaning materials that will be used to supplement the starter packs that the charity provides.

To all the shoppers and staff who donated these goods, I would like to extend thanks from Fresh Start Borders on behalf of all the people we help. At the time of year when income is stretched to capacity, it is heart-warming to experience such generosity. – Yours, etc.,

Irene McFadzen

freshstartborders.org.uk

‘BUTCHER’S APRON’ JIBE FLAGGED UP

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon maintains the new blue UK passports are “insular (and) inward-looking” – an unsurprising attitude given her life’s mission is to break up the UK.

What is extraordinary is her response, claiming Scottish separatism to be “open, inclusive, civic (and) internationalist”.

She should spend time on social media checking out what some of her dyed-in-the-wool supporters are up to.

They routinely post mocked-up images of blue Scottish passports, often accompanied by angry rants about “English invaders”.

They post photos of their driving licences with the Union flag obscured by the Saltire. The nationalist leader’s more devoted supporters refer to the United Kingdom flag as “the butcher’s apron”, and from time to time videos appear online of angry nationalists ceremoniously burning the UK flag. And does Ms Sturgeon do anything much to stop this? No, because she needs their dogged determination to attempt to keep separatism in Scotland alive. Ms Sturgeon can claim that Scottish nationalism is open, inclusive, civic and internationalist as much as she likes. Sadly, the reality can be very different – and I suspect she knows it.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

SHADY BID WILL LACK SNP APPEAL

Sir, – Not only will the new UK passports be the wrong shape and size, but, instead of a proper dark blue, they are to be produced in a shade akin to that of Scotland’s national flag (the Saltire) which I can only presume is a doomed attempt by Theresa May’s government to appeal to SNP voters. – Yours, etc.,

John Eoin Douglas

Edinburgh

PHRASES AND WORDS TO AVOID

Sir, – This is the time for making New Year resolutions and I trust that politicians, climate scientists, government spokesmen/women, the BBC, Green party supporters, spin doctors and others of that ilk promise to refrain from using the following words and phrases in 2018:

“Lessons have been learned”, “It is not a figure we recognise”, “The best emission reduction targets in the world”, “It’s all Westminster’s fault”, “Scotland leads the world”, “Save the planet”, “We must eliminate fossil fuels”, “We are committed”, “We will set up a committee”, “It’s the right scheme in the right place”, “Wind and other renewable sources play a vital role in meeting Scotland’s energy needs”, “Extreme weather”, “Catastrophic climate change”, “Global warming”, “Rising sea levels”, “Scotland will generate 100% of electricity from renewables”, “Restrain temperature increase to 2C” and “Police Scotland is a success story”. – Yours, etc.,

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

SNP CAMPAIGN READY TO RESTART

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s call for Holyrood to have a final sign-off over the eventual Brexit deal reminds us that the SNP continues to primarily view Brexit as a stepping stone to its main ambition.

The focus on Brexit over the last few weeks and months has given Scotland some much-needed respite from the calls for a second independence referendum, but it has proven to be something of a phoney pause. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s recent announcement that the SNP’s growth commission will be issuing its long-delayed report in the New Year signals that the nationalists will soon once again restart their informal campaigning for a referendum rerun. The commission has been putting together a refreshed economic case for independence, promising great detail on matters such as a new Scottish currency, public sector funding and taxation, and as its name suggests, growth strategies for an independent Scotland. The chairman of the commission, Andrew Wilson, has previously indicated a preference for a more honest approach to the real costs of separation from the UK than was managed in the now widely-discredited White Paper issued during the 2014 referendum campaign.

It will be interesting to see whether such openness survives the SNP spin doctors’ pre-publication edit. Many of the SNP’s own supporters will be looking for honesty in relation to the implications of an independent Scotland rejoining the EU. Various leading figures in the EU have recently renewed their commitment to using the ever-closer union project to create a European superstate, with its own treasury, army and chancellor.

The stark choice between that dystopian future and continuing with what the majority in Scotland still consider to be our positive place in the UK might test the resolve of some of the most ardent of previous Yes voters. – Yours, etc.,

Keith Howell

West Linton

DESIRE A SIGN OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Sir, – Children who experience some degree of gender confusion just grow out of it in the vast majority of cases.

Sadly, those who do not often go on to lead lives of profound unhappiness and dissatisfaction, whether they undergo sex-change surgery or not. The desire to change gender is a sign of mental illness.

Anyone genuinely concerned for the long-term wellbeing of young people will want to steer them away from cross-dressing, for example, and help them to secure their identity in their actual sex. Encouraging explicitly-transgendered behaviour can only increase the probability that a young person will develop longer-term gender identity problems. However, in Scottish politics and education, adherence to radical gender ideology trumps the well-being of young people.

As soon as ‘T’ for transgender was added on to the end of ‘LGB’, we could be sure that all sense of perspective would be abandoned and dissent crushed. While parents might discourage their son from going to school in a skirt, for very good reasons, the school will contradict the parents and defend the right of the boy to thus cause himself pain and anguish in the longer term.

Such is the grip that the SNP holds on education that debate on this issue will be virtually non-existent.

Most Members of the Scottish Parliament will embrace whatever the tax-payer-funded LGBT groups tell them to embrace, and those who privately harbour reservations usually choose cowardice rather than risk their career standing up for the children and parents of Scotland.

As most parents intuitively understand, bringing up girls to be women and boys to be men is important. That’s not to ascribe strict gender stereotypes, but to value the function of cultural markers that distinguish the sexes (like clothing), helping children avoid the dangers of gender confusion. Lewis Hamilton was vilified for saying that “boys don’t wear princess dresses”. He has now apologised for his instinctive reaction as an uncle that might just have steered his nephew away from untold problems in the future. – Yours, etc.,

Richard Lucas

Scottish Family Party

Glasgow