Your picture of the Week

A Highland community, including their new inquisitive addition, enjoyed some long overdue spring-like conditions at their home near Redpath
A Highland community, including their new inquisitive addition, enjoyed some long overdue spring-like conditions at their home near Redpath

A Highland community, including their new inquisitive addition, enjoying long overdue spring-like conditions at their home near Redpath. Fiona Scott supplied the image.

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southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

OUTRAGED EU ENTHUSIASTS

So, for the next two years our fishermen are tied in to existing EU fisheries regulations as part of the Brexit transition agreement.

Shock, horror on the SNP benches at Holyrood and the Walthew residence (letters, March 29).

Am I missing something? These EU enthusiasts are outraged that the Scottish fishing industry is being given the benefit of effectively remaining in the EU for another two years.

Surely that goes some way towards what they wanted when they voted “remain”?

Richard Walthew says “fishermen were shafted when we were taken into Europe by the Tories and they have been shafted again as we are being taken out by the Tories”.

Actually, we were taken in and out by referendums but let’s go along with Mr Walthew’s alternative truth. His answer to this outrage – and I wouldn’t normally choose to use the following inelegant phraseology – is to shaft them for a third time with independence (throwing the regulatory framework once more into the air) and for a fourth time by re-joining the EU – whose main interest in Scotland appears to be its fish.

You couldn’t make it up, although George Orwell’s “double think” perfectly describes Mr Walthew’s cognitive dissonance.

As for the SNP, for the sake of balance, one must give credit where it’s due.

The Marine Protected Areas created around Scotland by our present devolved government are a welcome first step in protecting bio-diversity around our coast. Unfortunately, sections of the Scottish (and EU) fishing industry are, to say the least, not fully “on board” with the the concept of protecting the marine environment in this way.

Christopher Green

Eckford

MANIPULATING THE ‘LOWER ORDERS’

With the revelations about the questionable practices of shadowy organisations such as Cambridge Analytica, people are becoming more aware of the corrupt ways in which Britain is governed.

Our scandalously undemocratic UK democracy is essentially dominated by a right-wing establishment consisting of Westminster, Whitehall, the House of Lords, the aristocracy, wealthy elites and corporations, the media, and many reactionary organisations such as The Bow Group, Bruges Group, the Centre for Policy Studies, Margaret Thatcher Foundation, Reform and Scotland in Union.

The sole purpose of all these entities is the domination of life in Britain.

During the odd interregnum when the Labour party is in power, little, if anything, changes.

The incubators for these elite characters are Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge, after which their arrogant sense of entitlement is rewarded by well-paid jobs in the City or politics.

The incompetence of many is often exposed, but indulged by their tribal elders.

The overriding objective of the establishment is that it should always remain in power, and no impediment will be allowed to stand in the way of this.

While there have been splits in left-wing political parties, including Labour, it is well over a century since a split occurred in the right.

If you watch debates in the House of Commons you may see Conservative MPs speak against government policy, such as Universal Credit, but when it comes to a vote they invariably side with the government.

Their only principle is power.

How do inhumane policies such as the rape clause enter the statute books?

A think-tank like the ones listed above will come up with some outlandish idea which will only affect the ‘lower orders’, of course, and which they know the general public will not accept.

The idea is fed to supporting papers such as the Daily Mail, Express, Times and Telegraph. Editors know how to manipulate unpleasant news so that gullible readers will accept and indeed approve the measure.

It was in this way that disabled and unemployed people were attacked by their peers because they had been demonised by the Tories and the press, though the idea probably came from a think tank. So, eventually, the original ‘‘unacceptable’’ idea becomes government policy.

The Scottish people have a chance to escape the corruption, nepotism and rapacity of this system, but it won’t happen if we, the common people, vote for Unionist parties.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts

Duns

HYPOCRITICAL NATIONALISTS

The SNP and its media chums, such as the BBC’s Brian Taylor, are cynically misleading us by using the UK “EU Withdrawal Bill” as a clever ploy to justify another independence referendum.

The “Brexit Continuity Bill” is a vexatious facade designed to create more constitutional chaos and mischief and further undermine the strength of the UK’s negotiating position.

On the one hand, the SNP claims that all 158 European Union powers in devolved areas (howsoever defined) due to return to UK jurisdiction following Brexit must be forwarded to Edinburgh immediately, despite (or maybe because of) the muddle the nationalists would then enjoy creating in UK-wide standards and the single internal UK market (80 per cent of Scottish trade).

In fact, 134 of these powers will transfer and the remaining 24 will follow when a UK-wide level playing field has been established.

On the other hand, ignoring the UK-wide democratic vote, the SNP demands that since 60 per cent of Scots voted to “remain”, Scotland should somehow (impossibly) have a special deal with the EU to remain in the single market (the Norway model). Ironically, if the nationalists were successful, this would mean that all 158 powers due to be devolved via Westminster would then have to be returned instantly to the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

Norway pays huge cash sums into the EU to “enjoy” such status but has no voting rights or influence in creating the EU rules that it must follow. It is the worst of all worlds.

Of course, an independent Scotland would have to apply to rejoin the EU and euro, immediately losing all its Brexit-devolved powers and paying the full membership fee.

Larger majorities of the citizenry of Gibraltar (97 per cent), London, Oxford and Cambridge voted to remain in the EU in June 2016, yet these folk are sufficiently grown-up to accept the democratic outcome of the UK-wide referendum, even though they may not like it. They are not petulantly demanding special treatment or nefariously seeking to declare UDI.

Hypocritically, the SNP clings to the 60 per cent EU remain vote while it cynically ignores the 55 per cent “remain in the UK” result in 2014.

Meanwhile, our Hamas-friendly, Czech spy-friendly, Russian apologist comrade, Jeremy Corbyn, has spotted a clever opportunity to become our next Prime Minister (God forbid).

By going soft (or completely muddled) on Brexit and Indyref2, he hopes to secure the future support of those in Scotland who voted to remain in the EU (and/or SNP) in order to boost Labour MP numbers. If this nightmare was to happen, deciding whether or not to remain in an economically-doomed Scotland under continued SNP/Green misrule would become secondary to whether or not to remain in the UK at all.

Where could we escape to?

Michael Wilson

Clovenfords

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY

As a British Heart Foundation (BHF) professor at the Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, I see first-hand how devastating heart disease can be.

We are determined to spare more families the pain of losing a loved one to these conditions.

Research funded by theBHF has helped halve death rates from heart and circulatory diseases over the past 50 years.

So much of our work has only been possible thanks to the amazing individuals who have remembered the BHF in their will.

These special gifts fund more than a quarter of all cardiovascular research in the UK.

In the past year people across Scotland left more than £3.8m in their wills to the BHF to help fund life-saving cardiovascular research. I would personally like to honour these people and express our gratitude to their families for making research breakthroughs possible and helping to save thousands of lives.

But there’s still so much more to do, and there are 685,000 people in Scotland living with cardiovascular disease right now. A new study shows that almost a third (31%) of over-65s in Scotland polled said that they would consider leaving a gift in their will to charity – the top motivations for this included “wanting to make a difference” and it “feeling like the right thing to do”.

I would like to say a huge thank-you to all those who have already decided to support the BHF in this unique way and encourage more people to consider doing the same, so we can unlock further medical breakthroughs and save more lives.

A gift of any size, after you’ve provided for your loved ones, will enable the BHF to continue to fund pioneering research so we can beat heart and circulatory disease for good.

To find out more about leaving a gift in your will, please visit bhf.org.uk/wills

Rhian Touyz

HELP TO REDUCE LONELINESS

At Independent Age, the older people’s charity, we’re always trying to help as many older people as possible.

Right now, we want to encourage older people who may be feeling lonely to get in touch with us to find out about our Friendship services, which could help to reduce loneliness.

We have friendly, trained volunteers waiting to make regular calls to the people who need them to help make a difference to their lives, so we’re keen to hear from people who may have lost touch with close friends or family and would like to find someone friendly to talk to.

One in five older people in the UK are in contact with friends, family and neighbours less than once a week, while for one in 10, it’s less than once a month. In addition to this, around 40% of older people say the television is their main form of company.

We want to help all those who need us, but we can only help the people who get in touch with us.

Receiving a regular call can be invaluable to someone who is lonely.

Having a volunteer for a regular telephone call can provide vital companionship for older people who are lonely, enabling them to feel more connected to their local community.

Many of the older people we help have told us that it can make a huge difference to their wellbeing if they have a call to look forward to each week or fortnight.

Chronic loneliness can be really damaging to a person’s health, so we hope to help make loneliness a thing of the past.

Older people who would like to receive regular calls from a volunteer can sign up at www.independentage.org/get-support/receive-regular-phone-calls-or-visits or by calling 0800 319 6789.

We are also looking for volunteers who can sign up online or by calling 0800 319 6789.

Jeanette Bates

(Head of well-being,

Independent Age)

WESTMINSTER HELPING OUT

It seems the SNP administration is incapable of administering a raft of welfare benefits devolved under the post-2014 referendum ‘‘vow’’ and now asks the UK Government to continue to do so until 2021.

Will this be the same SNP politicians who have lambasted Westminster for the cruelty of the current arrangements, yet now allows the UK Government to continue to operate the system it claims to despise?

Now, remind me: Is this the self-same nationalist party that categorically assured us it would create an independent sovereign nation in 18 months?

We must be grateful Downing Street is willing to help mitigate the impact of the SNP’s maladministration of devolved welfare powers.

Will First Minister Nicola Sturgeon soon again be knocking on Prime Minister Theresa May’s door for assistance, once a vast raft of EU powers arrive in Scotland? While, of course, endlessly regurgitating anti-UK rhetoric?

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

MP’S MEANINGLESS GESTURE

John Lamont had a revelation for us all in last week’s Southern.

The Borders MP may be forced to vote against the government’s Brexit bill if the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) continues over the transition period.

He also attacks the SNP for wanting to stay in the European Union, a position he himself was campaigning for less than two years ago (and which Scotland voted for overwhelmingly).

The government will not lose sleep over Mr Lamont’s prospective “rebellion”. The Labour party seems lined up to support Tory Brexit, so the government will be confident of success.

In these circumstances government whips often allow individual Members of Parliament to “rebel”, appearing to be “standing up” for their constituency interests, or whatever. So, in another meaningless gesture, Mr Lamont may vote against the Conservative government.

Britain was taken into the EU by the Tory party. In 2003, secret government papers revealed an internal government memo which said: “In the wider UK context, they [the fishermen] must be regarded as expendable.”

A Scotsman article on these papers reported: “Prime Minister Edward Heath’s officials estimated that up to half the fishermen in Scottish waters – then 4000 men – could lose their jobs but the decision was taken to go ahead with plans to sign up because it was believed that the benefits to English and Welsh fishermen would outweigh the disadvantages in Scotland.”

Whatever the merits or otherwise of the Common Fisheries Policy, the consistent neglect of the Scottish fishing industry by successive Westminster governments has become notorious. Scottish representatives have been sidelined when vital fishing interests were decided.

As recently as 2015, the United Kingdom delegation at the European fisheries talks was led by Lord Rupert Ponsonby de Mauley, an unelected Conservative peer with no experience of the fishing industry whatsoever.

Two-thirds of the UK fishing industry is based in Scotland. It is one our most important, iconic industries.

Scotland’s extensive fishing grounds are also very important to the EU.

Within the UK economy, however, Scottish fishing is small fry, a drop in the ocean. When

Theresa May’s government, after all the bombast and bluster, told the EU that it wanted out of the CFP at the start of the transitional period, the EU said “no”. Mrs May immediately backed down. This, remember, just days after Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson had issued a public statement that the UK would leave the CFP right away.

Which gets us back to Mr Lamont’s “rebellion”.

The Scottish fishing industry is not important to Theresa May’s government and neither is Mr Lamont.

At the end of the transitional period the Scottish fishermen will be sold out – again. The EU will insist – and the UK will concede.

Mr Lamont’s meaningless gestures are, and will continue to be, completely irelevant.”

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

IT’S NOT ALL BRITAIN’S FAULT

Various groups are demanding a deposit-and-return scheme for bottles and cans.

Politicians, stars and would-be celebrities all vie to show their green credentials and get their names in the media, claiming our plastic ends up in the seas and endangers sea creatures.

It is not, as they would want us to believe, that it is all Britain’s fault.

Ten river systems transport more than 90 per cent of plastic waste found in our seas – they are the Nile and Niger in Africa, and the Ganges, Indus, Yellow, Yangtze, Haihe, Pearl, Mekong and Amur in Asia.

The ocean near the Indonesian island of Bali is choked with floating plastic pollution, endangering sea creatures, but this comes from the rivers in Indonesia which are used as dumping grounds by the local people.

They are the second biggest contributor to marine debris after China.

To make a real difference we need to link their foreign aid to a clean-up rate.

Trying to educate people does not work as can clearly be seen from the UK failures for well over 40 years.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

BYPASSING MOANING LOCALS

A few years ago, an Edinburgh newspaper ran an April Fool story to the effect that, instead of going down Leith Walk, the trams would go along London Road and down Easter Road.

Now that short-sighted local traders and residents in Leith Walk are objecting to the extension of the tram line past their premises, perhaps it is time to consider this option seriously?

Easter Road could do with the economic boost that the trams would bring and, with only two bus routes, the construction phase need not not cause major public transport upheaval.

Whilst I’d be sorry to see the trams avoiding my area, moaning locals probably don’t deserve it and the benefits would be better appreciated in a more deprived area.

John Eoin Douglas

Spey Terrace

Edinburgh

GALASHIELS STORE COLLECTION

The Great Daffodil Appeal for Marie Curie raised £1278.79 at a collection in the Aldi store, Galashiels.

Many thanks to the volunteers who collected and the customers who donated.

Joan Litster

(chairwoman, Galashiels

Volunteer Group,

Marie Curie Care)