Curtis Welsh took this image in his back garden at Longnewton Mill Farm, near Melrose, showing Rusty the deer and Eddie the eagle owl against a sunrise and a carpet of frost.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
POWERHOUSE TO A MOUTHPIECE
When Britain was on its knees in 1941, Winston Churchill appointed Tom Johnston as Secretary of State for Scotland.
To say this man was a giant among the roll-call of insipid men, all men, to fill the post since him is an understatement.
In only four years during which time Britain faced uncertainty and hardship during the Second World War, he attracted 700 businesses and 90,000 jobs to Scotland by sheer force of personality. He regulated housing rents and set up a prototype NHS. He even persuaded Churchill to start devolving some powers away from Westminster.
But surely his greatest legacy is the ambitious hydro-electric scheme he inaugurated and from which we are still benefitting. These monuments to the skill of civil engineers can still be admired today.
Tom Johnston was probably the last Secretary to do anything constructive for Scotland.
The office of Secretary of State for Scotland became largely symbolic after devolution, and as the incumbent has to abide by cabinet collective responsibility rather than speaking up for Scotland, the post is essentially a waste of money and David Mundell is simply a mouthpiece attempting to justify disastrous Westminster policies. So unnecessary is he regarded by the PM that he was not even at the Chequers House Brexit summit.
So in the absence of a Secretary doing anything useful for Scotland, thank goodness that we have the SNP government which is doing very well considering the constraints within which it has to make policy.
But not until the country is once again standing on its own feet will we see Scotland truly flower.
SHAMBOLIC TORY GOVERNMENT
Martin Redfern (letters, March 8) seems unable – or, more likely, unwilling – to understand and accept that the Scottish Government and its Brexit minister, Mike Russell, were elected to represent the best interests of Scotland and its people.
Put simply, the Continuity Bill – voted for by every party except the Tories in Holyrood recently – states that, after Brexit (which Scotland did not vote for), all 111 powers currently devolved to Holyrood must immediately return there. This is precisely what Mr Russell is trying to negotiate with his intransigent opposite number from Westminster, David Lidington, who insists that they will decide what is best for us.
Mr Redfern describes this as “illegal”, quoting Holyrood presiding officer Ken Mackintosh.
I set more store by the views of two of Scotland’s top constitutional lawyers, Professor Aileen McHarg and Dr Christopher McCorkindale, both of Strathclyde University, as well as constitutional law expert Professor Tom Mullen, of Glasgow University, and Scotland’s Lord Advocate, James Wolfe, who all say that the bill is “within devolved competence” – ie. legal.
Scots are waking up to the fact that the shambolic, divisive and incompetent Tory Westminster Government is only interested in holding its divided party together and that Scotland’s unique needs are of no consequence.
The “Invisible Man”, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, and the dismissive way he is treated by Premier Theresa May and her cronies is a clear sign of Scotland’s position in “our precious union”, as promoted by British nationalists.
Presumably, as a Britnat, Mr Redfern would prefer that Scots should accept their place and meekly agree (as usual?) that Westminster knows best and it will decide what happens – never mind what we think.
I live in hope that “those days are past now and in the past they must remain”.
SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The London government appears to be set on dragging Scotland out of the European Union, along with the rest of the UK, against the wishes of a majority of Scots.
It is keen on setting up trade deals with the United States after Brexit, but in return for accepting imports of UK goods, the Americans will insist that we import from them such things as chlorinated chicken, beef injected with hormones and Bourbon sold as “Scottish Whiskey”. Are these the kind of things that we in Scotland wish to see on our supermarket shelves rather than Scottish produce?
There’s only one way to avoid this – Scotland needs to become independent so that we can remain in the European Single Market and Customs Union.
Then – and only then – will we be able to keep such products out of Scotland and also retain European rules which protect working conditions for Scottish employees, protect the quality and safety of our food, and avoid restrictions on people from overseas being allowed to come here to work in our health service and to help with fruit and vegetable harvesting.
FIGURING OUT WHY COAL IS STILL KING
I see that the multinational WWF organisation has persuaded Scottish Borders Council to extinguish the lights of the Borders abbeys during its self-styled “earth hour”.
The actuality is that WWF and the climate-change industry can expect the lights of the whole of the Borders to go out if government continues to follow its energy policy which is basically pushing Big Wind.
Much was made of the day last April when no electricity was generated by coal for the first time in 130 years as demand was low. The green zealots cheered when Longannet, Ferrybridge, Eggborough and other massive coal-burning power stations were closed, and Cockenzie demolished, with the remaining stations set to shut in a few years.
But during the recent severe weather the National Grid would have crashed if our remaining coal-fired power stations had not been working flat out.
On February 26, for example, coal was producing 22% of the UK’s energy compared with 9% for wind. In the early hours of March 1, with gas in short supply, coal was producing over a third of the UK’s electricity. On the morning of March 9, coal was still supplying over 15% of Britain’s needs with wind at 3%.
So where will our power come from when these power stations are closed? And, remember, there are plans to shut down Britain’s gas-fired stations which normally supply half of our electricity.
It does not matter how many wind machines there are, weather patterns will ensure that, at times, there is not sufficient wind to power them. Then the lights will go out.
The non-jobbers like Historic Environment Scotland’s climate-change manager, Mairi Davies, have a lot to answer for.
On the night of March 24 I shall be turning all my lights on in protest at the misinformation, alarmism, costly policies and future blackouts of the climate-change industry. Why don’t you join me?
AN ECONOMIC ARMAGEDDON
As Winston Churchill famously said: “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
Thanks to over 10 years of profligate spending, insane ideology and financial mismanagement by the SNP-led Scottish Parliament, abetted by a tiny cabal of Green cronies, Scotland has consistently underperformed and lurched from one economic crisis to another.
A wise Churchill offered another lesson for these naïve loons: “You cannot make the poor richer by making the rich poorer.”
Tragically, the list of disastrous policies based on the SNP’s obsession with centralised (Marxist-style) control and wasteful vanity projects to promote independence is endless.
So, what is their solution? Raise taxes on middle and higher earners, having already killed off the upper and medium price house sales market with their crippling new 10% stamp duty. How imaginative!
And last weekend we learned that Scottish Labour’s further lurch to the extreme left, with even higher taxation and re-nationalisation policies, both shown long ago to be economically disastrous, promise an even worse economic outlook for Scotland and any future inward investment by industry.
Brexit, UKIP, the former BNP, Trump’s “America First” and the SNP’s relentless independence policy are all manifestations of the same narrow-minded, bigoted, isolationist ideology. It is embarrassing for the birthplace of the age of reason and the enlightenment.
Am I alone in being infuriated by the hypocrisy of the SNP which seeks to remain dictated to by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels while obsessively campaigning to destroy the UK?
If the nationalists ever succeeded, we would lose our 300-year-old democratic voice in Westminster, our disproportionately-high UK taxpayer subsidies to underwrite the SNP’s profligacy and the internal market which accounts for 80% of Scottish trade.
I suspect that making mischief as well as weakening and destabilising the UK are, and always have been, their primary objectives.
EPIC BALLAD TO BE RE-PUBLISHED
In 2019, the Will H. Ogilvie Memorial Trust is planning to mark the 150th anniversary of the renowned Border poet’s birth with several events across the region.
It is also intending to reproduce his epic reiving ballad, ‘Whaup o’ the Rede’, first printed in 1909 with seven black and white illustrations by the celebrated Royal Scottish Academician Tom Scott. Five hundred original copies of the book were published by Thomas Fraser of Dalbeattie and sold for 10/6. Today they are quite rare.
The trust intends to carefully republish the book, on a subscription basis, and introduce a new generation to this wonderful epic ballad set in the Borderland. At a price of £25, it will be an exact replica of the original.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy, and having your name on the list of subscribers, please intimate your interest to either Ann Holt (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: 01461 203505) or trust chairman Ian W. Landles (email: email@example.com; tel: 01450 375546).
CLEAR-UP WAS ON THE WRONG TRACK
In the aftermath of the Beast from the East, I question whether we have our priorities wrong.
I live opposite a primary school and watched on a Sunday as a squad of council workmen, aided by a large and a small digger, spent all day clearing the car park and accesses to the school. On the Monday the school was open to a limited amount of pupils and the car park, which normally houses around 30 cars, contained two for the majority of the day.
Compare this activity to the state of the roads in the proximity of the school, which were virtually impassable for days, preventing people from travelling to work, and thus damaging the already precarious Scottish economy.
If the huge amount of manpower required to attend to all the Borders schools was directed at the roads, and other means of keeping the region moving, the impact of these isolated storms would certainly be minimised.
Obviously, not prioritising school opening would result in an increase of school days lost, in the event of extremely bad weather, but why not try a radical approach and use the first week of the summer holidays to provide cover for loss of days, if required.
My thoughts are purely speculative and obviously would require a huge amount of fine tuning to implement, but I believe some innovative thinking has to be implemented to counter the increased role of health and safety which, in time, will strangle our infrastructure.
Mr G. Holford
It has been three weeks since my election as a councillor and my feet have just about touched the ground. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for all their kind words and messages of support.
I am delighted and humbled that so many of you have put your faith in me.
As an independent candidate, you rely heavily on your family and friends for support – I would like to thank all of mine for getting me through the last few weeks. I couldn’t have done it without you.
I would like to offer my best wishes to the other Selkirkshire candidates who were unsuccessful – I know the amount of energy, both physical and emotional, that is required for this process, but we all should be proud that a positive campaign was run by all. Good luck for the future.
Interesting times are ahead which will bring some challenges, but I am ready to get to work representing all in Selkirkshire to the best of my ability.