Fields at Lanton Mill, near Jedburgh, were swamped as flooding hit the region last week. Bill McBurnie supplied this image.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
EDUCATION AND IGNORANCE
Sir, – Town-based correspondent Richard West holds some bizarre ideas about “snowflake day”, and some equally strange ones about the teaching profession (letters, January 25).
School closures are dictated by the local authority, whereas medical centres are administered by the NHS.
Teachers cannot award themselves time off under any circumstance. Many children are bussed into school, often along back roads which are ungritted, whatever the weather. Why, then, should the profession be “called to account”?
There is a whole raft of legal requirements of which Mr West is unaware.
He then changes tack to dispute the overwhelming evidence about the hours worked by modern teachers. He clearly has no experience of the job nor knowledge of the realities of modern education.
Mr West conveniently forgets some of the harsher realities of the so-called good old days that he evokes.
A couple of decades ago one teaching union had the slogan, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. Mr West has clearly taken it at its word and tried it. – Yours, etc.,
FLAGGING UP ‘UNION JACKERY’
Sir, – I am proud to be writing this on the 258th anniversary of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.
The British (English) nationalists who write to your letters pages are mistaken. They state that it is unnatural and negative for Scots (and many English living here) to wish to make their own way in the world, and make their own decisions.
The opposite is the truth – it is a normal state of affairs for many small independent countries all over the globe. They are successful, welcoming, inclusive, and doing rather well, thank you very much, and Scots are smart enough and capable of doing the same.
The latest of many examples of “Union Jackery” from the more rabid and extreme Little Englander Unionist press (most of them) involved Tory MSP Murdo Fraser et al, regarding the fake story and pretend outrage about the flying of the Lion Rampant instead of the Union Jack. It was based on untruths – either through ignorance or deliberately.
But why let facts get in the way of their never-ending, hypocritical, anti-Scottish Government propaganda?
Perhaps they yearn for a return to the “glory days?” of the empire when Britain ruled the world – tartan was banned, Scottish culture and language quashed, and the Clearances paved the way for rich landowners to use Scotland as a playground for their own benefit?
I have also to say that Christopher Green (letters, January 25) – in a desperate attempt to slander our democratically-elected First Minister and former First Minister by comparing them to Trump, Kim Jong-un, Putin, Erdogan, Le Pen and Farage – hits a new low, even for a Unionist like him. He scrapes the very bottom of a very empty Unionist barrel, and thereby completely discredits his opinions and his position. PS: I was pleased to note that Scottish Secretary David Mundell has apparently (unless it’s fake news) taken the good advice offered to him and dispensed with the services of failed Carillion interim CEO Keith Cochrane as a paid adviser. – Yours, etc.,
PLAYING WITH SYMBOLISM
Sir, – Over the course of the last decade the SNP has invested a great deal of its political capital into presenting the SNP and Scotland as one and the same, as well as emphasising imagined or exaggerated differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Amongst other things, this has involved treating the Saltire as though it were the SNP’s alone, rather than other parties, or indeed Scotland as a whole. An understandable tactic perhaps for a party wanting to foster a strong sense of nationalism. Yet playing with symbolism can be a risky business, particularly when the people have a habit of deciding for themselves what symbols they value.
The SNP’s recent dismissal of concerns about new rules for the flying of the Union flag over Scottish Government buildings demonstrates as little respect for the truth as it does for the sensibilities of all who are happy to view themselves as both Scottish and British.
Part of the SNP reaction has, of course, been to mock those who are sensitive about the rule change, which apparently formalises what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described as the “long-standing” practice over recent years, as the number of days the Union flag is flown has been reduced to just one, namely Remembrance Day.
The previous First Minister, Alex Salmond, refers to a conversation with the Queen in 2009 in which he implies the use of the Lion Rampart flag was agreed, although he has not clarified whether he explained to the Queen that he intended this as a replacement for the Union flag.
It is likely that the majority in Scotland do not feel a particular strong attachment to one flag over another when it comes to the Saltire and the Union flags, but it seems the current Scottish Government prefers to manipulate the balance to favour a more insular view. – Yours, etc.,
WOMEN AND RIDEOUTS
Sir, – Re your article headlined ‘Women set to be granted new common riding rights’ in last week’s edition, does history record the names of any Hawick women involved in the skirmish where the town’s youth successfully captured an English standard? – the historic reason for the Hawick rideouts. – Yours, etc.,
Name and address supplied
WORDS SIGNAL DIVISIVE TENDENCY
Sir, – Increasingly, police cars are appearing on our roads branded with the Gaelic words, ‘POILEAS ALBA’.
This, according to one of the hierarchy of the supposed unified force, is “to promote inclusivity”.
Given that twice as many people in Scotland speak Polish than Gaelic, and that Gaelic is spoken by only 1% of the population, if “inclusivity” were the real objective, police Transits and BMWs would be marked ‘POLICJI’.
As with the removal of British Transport Police from Scotland’s railways, this is yet another attempt create differences between Scotland and England where none exist. The language of Scotland is English.
The Scottish National Party want to take the British out of Scotland.
The revelation that the Union flag is only to be flown one day of the year from Scottish Government buildings is another example of this divisive tendency.
This flag, like no other, represents sacrifice, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It unifies England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So why not fly it with pride?
It’s perhaps not without significance that – given Scotland’s poor economic performance under the SNP executive – the Saltire is also the international maritime signal flag M for Mike. Its meaning here is “My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water”.– Yours, etc.,
SPENDING ON AN UNPROVEN THEORY
Sir, – The Scottish Government has increased overall spending on climate-change issues from the present £463.7m to £558.1m for 2018/2019.
A government spokesman boasts: “Scotland is making sustained progress to its world-leading climate targets” – as if our 0.13% of global emissions would make any difference.
Meanwhile the NHS and education are under pressure, the roads full of potholes, 6,500 children are in temporary accommodation and a report by End Child Poverty reveals that thousands of children in Scotland still live in “scandalous” poverty.
This is where the £558.1m should be spent – not on some unproven theory far in the future, like Al Gore’s warning in 2006 that sea levels would rise by 20ft.
Average sea levels over the past decade have risen by less than an inch, so when will the other 19ft 11in hit us? – Yours,etc.,
NO SUCH THING AS GOOD OR BAD CASH
Sir, – In the wake of the Presidents Club scandal, I find it incredulous that those in charge at Great Ormond Street Hospital believe they can distinguish good money from bad.
I suggest they put two piles of £10 notes on a table and mark one good and the other bad. Then mix them all together and since they all look alike, it will be impossible to put them back as they were.
In other words, there is no such thing as good and bad money. The important thing about money is the use it is put to, not where it came from. – Yours,etc.,
William W. Scott
St Baldred’s Road
INTOLERANT AND HOSTILE
Sir, – I have long since given up responding to Richard Walthew’s epistles based on political dogma produced by the SNP.
However, his comments (letters, January 18), where he suggests that Scotland in Union (SiU) is a secret English organisation, could not be further from the truth.
I and many others have always supported the Union and make no secret about it.
Unlike Mr Walthew and his political cronies, SiU is a non-political organisation and receives no funding from political parties. Compare this to the nationalist lobby which is, to a large extent, funded by the Scottish Government (in other words, funded by us, the taxpayers, both in England and Scotland).
No doubt Mr Walthew would like to forget that expensive book, ‘Scotland’s Future’, produced for the independence referendum by the Scottish Government (us, the tax payers) which has now been so discredited.
We are fortunate that there are organisations like Scotland in Union to produce some balanced debate to the economics of the Union.
The real issue in this correspondence is that the SNP is one of the most intolerant and hostile parties to anyone who dares challenge its doctrine.
Thank goodness there are some people who are not bullied into silence. Given the hostile telephone calls from SNP lobbyists that I received since my name was published as an SiU supporter, I can understand why some would wish to remain anonymous. – Yours,etc.,
CHEERFUL UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE
Sir, – May I express my heartfelt thanks to all those members of our local NHS services involved in my care over the New Year period.
From the arrival of the nurse practioner, Bernice, after 10pm on Hogmanay, the prompt arrival of an ambulance within minutes of being called with two super paramedics, the smiling welcome and reassurance I received from all at A&E at Borders General Hospital and Ward 6. During the next three days I was amazed how all members of staff kept their cheerfulness, even though they were under extreme pressure. All of the staff, from consultants to care assistants, must have covered miles on every shift, but they never lost their comforting smiles. Regardless of the negativity in the general press, I can only state that my care in the BGH was faultless and I am so grateful to all concerned. – Yours,etc.,
DAVID AND THE DOCUMENTARY
Sir, – We are looking for a photograph of or information about David Harper, an apprentice draper who lived in Market Square, Duns, before and during the early part of the First World War? We plan to include him in a documentary we are filming about the history, traditions and culture of the Tweed catchment area which will be shown at venues throughout the Borders and north Northumberland, and will then be available on DVD.
We are a small, locally-based video production company and you can find out more about the topics we are covering in the film by looking at our Facebook page, Our River-Stories of the Tweed. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone on 07986 047901. – Yours, etc.,
Sir, – Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter, who used to be Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign manager, apparently, in all seriousness, asks on Twitter, in relation to the Conservatives and the recent flag debacle, ‘Why do they want to make flags a thing in Scottish politics?’ Has she been dozing for the past five years and missed the Saltire’s transformation from Scotland’s flag into a separatist symbol?
Beyond ironic. – Yurs, etc.,
GOOD NEWS FOR GRANDPARENTS
Sir, – Around 10 million grandparents in the United Kingdom support the day-to-day care of children.
Youngsters are growing up in a digital world, and given half a chance will spend hours on their tablets or phones.
Some grandparents may feel they are out of their depth when it comes to technology, but more than ever children need a guiding hand to stay safe.
Grandparents and their grandchildren have a special relationship, and we want to give grandparents the confidence to take care of children as they explore the online world.
It can be a wonderful place of connection, entertainment and creativity, but there are dangers.
The good news is you don’t need to be a digital expert to help keep children and young people safe:
1. Be interested in what your grandchildren are doing online: ask them to show you how it works, the games they are playing, what they like to watch and who they enjoy talking to. If the people seem a bit too old, the games or films too scary or brutal, or your child is sharing too much with strangers – gently say so. Trust your instinct.
2. Negotiate boundaries: for example, limit time on the internet, and check that the games and apps are age appropriate. Coax them to spend time with you offline playing games or going for a walk. It’s these times they will remember.
3. Let them know you are there for them. If anything they read, see or hear online worries or scares them, you have a lot of life experience and will try to help.
4. Try using apps and social media yourself – ask your grandchild to show you how.
5. Look out for signs that your grandchild is unusually sad or withdrawn, or seems anxious or upset. Let them know they can tell you anything.
To learn more or get help, visit www.kidscape.org.uk. – Yours, etc.,
RESOLVE TO MAKE 2018 GREAT
Sir, – It’s the start of a new year, a chance to make fresh resolutions. No matter what your readers aspire to achieve this year, we hope you succeed.
But if you’re yet to decide on the resolution that’s right for you, then why not choose to do something great for charity?
I work for Revitalise, an incredible organisation that provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers from all across the UK.
Our guests have always been, and will always be, right at the heart of everything we do.
And it’s thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we can continue to ensure that our doors are always open for people when they need us most.
We don’t mind how you would like to make a difference – all that matters to us is that you want to.
Whether you would like to challenge yourself in one of our many fundraising events throughout the year, or would simply like to give your time as a volunteer, we promise that not a moment of your time, an ounce of your enthusiasm, or a single penny of your generosity will go unused.
To find out more about Revitalise itself, fundraising challenges, volunteer opportunities or ways in which you can support us, please visit www.revitalise.org.uk or telephone 0303 303 0147. – Yours, etc.,
CHARITY NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Sir, – We would like to invite those who have been affected by polio and post-polio syndrome (PPS) in Scotland to join our charity.
The British Polio Fellowship provides support services to all our members and we are constantly looking for new ways to help those with PPS live independent lives.
In addition to the support you can receive through our central office, we have branches across Scotland, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Paisley.
There you can meet other polio survivors at regular intervals throughout the year, with active welfare and fundraising teams that provide essential support and fellowship for members.
The charity offers many services and the timetable for 2018 is packed with awareness days, campaigns and social events.
Membership includes our famous in-house magazine, ‘The Bulletin’.
This invitation is also aimed at tackling the loneliness epidemic engulfing the United Kingdom, with three-quarters of older people lonely. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The British Polio Fellowship already has a member base of around 10,000 people, but in the UK alone there are 120,000 people who may have PPS, of which up to 6,000 are north of the border.
You are not alone, and for a very modest fee you can become part of our local, regional and national support network.
Our membership comprises of people who have gone through the same situations and would love to meet you.
The New Year is all about new beginnings, so why not resolve to contact us today, and let us see if we can help you.
If you want more information or to join one of our Scottish branches, contact the British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935 or visit https://britishpolio.org.uk/join-us/. – Yours, etc.,
The British Polio Fellowship