Your picture of the Week

Family outing on the River Ale  (Canada Geese) by Lilliesleaf.
Family outing on the River Ale (Canada Geese) by Lilliesleaf.

A family outing on the River Ale near Lilliesleaf for these Canada geese. Curtis Welsh supplied the image.

Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

IGNORANCE AMONG DECISION-MAKERS

When Mahatma Gandhi was alleged to have been asked by a smug reporter, “What do you think of Western civilisation?”, he replied, “I think it would be a good idea.”

He could have said the same about British democracy, which has always been constructed to ensure that the elites stay in power.

Gandhi would have been right, for I cannot recall a general election when the winning party received a majority of people’s votes. For example, in the 2017 snap election 68% of the votes had no impact on the result whatsoever – that’s 22m votes just wasted.

Under the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party can govern with just 25% of votes cast. Even this flawed system was only extended to all adults less than 100 years ago when it could no longer be resisted.

The far fairer proportional electoral system in Scotland was designed by the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem parties to ensure there would always be coalition governments – the SNP had no input to the final structure and Jack McConnell admitted that it was set up to stop it forming a majority government. What the Unionist parties did not take into account was the canny Scottish voter.

A while back, without a hint of irony, a Scottish Borders Council Tory councillor claimed that the SNP majority government was an elected dictatorship. It’s frightening that this is the level of ignorance among people who are making decisions which affect Borderers.

Democracy in Scotland is now under threat as Westminster is chewing away at Holyrood’s powers, with no respect shown to either Scottish people or their representatives. There seems to be a sinister programme to gradually emasculate Holyrood with the destination being its destruction.

It is up to those of us who have benefited from humane legislation and recognise the Scottish Parliament as a force for good, and a protection against Westminster’s cruel policies, to fight for its survival.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts

Duns

FIGURING OUT THE SCARE STORY

In last week’s letters pages Clark Cross seems to be as unfamiliar with the truth as that intellectual powerhouse, Conservative MP Douglas Ross, who brought up the issue of increases in taxation of military personnel in Scotland in the House of Commons.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants, not noted for being a den of raging nationalists, crunched the numbers on the new tax bands. They found that at £24,000, Scots would be £20 better off than their English counterparts, and would face the same bill at £26,000.

The scare-story figure of a £1,200 increase is for those earning over £100,000. I assume not many in the Scottish military earn that much.

We must seriously guard against being so free and easy with the truth. Perpetuating lies, along with a total absence of political leadership, threatens us all, both north and south of the border.

Promises of a thriving post-Brexit Britain have been replaced with reassurances that there will be “adequate” food, that stockpiling is taking place and the army will be on standby.

Funny how these never made it to the side of a bus, isn’t it?

Keith Pattison

Paxton

THE GRIEF OF THOSE LEFT BEHIND

Further to my recent letter regarding motorcyclists speeding in Birgham, today (July 22) one went through at a speed of at least 50-60mph in this 30mph zone at 1.10pm.

Just approximately 10 minutes later, four huge combines came along in the opposite direction, followed by tractors and trailers.

Last month three motorcyclists were killed in the central Borders – and I accept accidents are not always motorbike riders’ fault – but please, please think of your lives as precious, not to be thrown away, and, more importantly, the grief of those you could leave behind. Slow down.

Jean Cunningham

Birgham

THREE CHOICES FOR THE FIRST MINISTER

In the autumn, when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updates us on her thoughts regarding a second independence referendum, she has three options.

The first depends on a poor outcome for Brexit, to justify calling for indyref2, forcing the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to accept or reject the call for another vote. This is no doubt why the Scottish National Party has worked so hard to undermine the Brexit process.

The second option would see Nicola Sturgeon conclude that the consequences of Brexit are still not clear, so putting off indyref2 for another period, continuing to ratchet the fervour for a second referendum up and down as she feels it best suits her purposes. Choosing this option might be more about political self-preservation than either Brexit or independence.

Thirdly, our First Minister could put Scotland first, aiming to work with the UK Government to optimise the Brexit deal for us all, leaving talk of indyref2 until at least after the next Holyrood elections in 2021.

Which option is chosen depends on whose interests are to be prioritised, the SNP, the First Minister’s personal position, or Scotland’s continuing positive place in the UK.

Keith Howell

West Linton

PROOF OF A SPENT FORCE

“You will not execute the King of England before he is found guilty.”

Republican Oliver Cromwell did not give Lord Fairfax any grace before the murder of Charles Stuart, King of England, and the monarch’s last words before execution were: “I have a good cause and gracious God. I will say no more. I go to an incorruptible crown where no disturbance can be – none at all. Remember.”

Cromwell’s republic lasted only a few years. Since then another monarch has ruled to this day, proving republicanism is a spent force and it’s time to move all UK government to Westminster and to look to hard Brexit for our glorious future.

Remove our unelected Remainer government mandarins and Prime Minister Theresa May with a vote of no confidence.

The EU will do its worst, and we will do our best. We have had other great obstacles to conquer in our history – let’s get on with it.

God save Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

Paul Singleton

Main Street

Gordon

QUESTIONS FOR SCIENTISTS

Climate-change scientists pounced and said that rising global temperatures caused by human activity are making the current heatwaves gripping the northern hemisphere more likely.

After all, global warming was invented to keep climate scientists in taxpayer-funded comfort.

So could they explain “The Beast from the East” – the cold wave which swept Britain in February and March, causing the death of thousands of sheep and cattle in the snow?

Could they explain their 1970 warning that there would be an Ice Age by 2000?

Could they explain their 1976 warning that global cooling would cause a world war by 2000?

Could they explain their 1989 prophesy that global warming and rising sea levels would wipe entire nations off the map by 2000?

Could they finally explain why Al Gore’s doomsday warning in his 2006 scaremongering film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, that sea levels would rise by 20 feet “in the near future” has not even remotely happened?

I thought not.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow

PRESS PROBE WAS WORTHWHILE

Well done reporter Shan Ross and Johnston Press for your worthy investigation concerning the number of veterans who take their own lives (Southern, July 19).

For some 15 years I have been involved with combat stress and am supporting a group of veterans who have been performing in the Edinburgh Fringe in the Pleasance Beyond – Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33 click on https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/unspoken#overview to read more).

Six years ago this production received a standing ovation every time they performed in the Fringe.

Those who suffer PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) deserve all the help that they can muster.

Keep up the good work.

Peter H. J. de Vink

Edinburgh Financial & General Holdings Ltd
Temple

Midlothian

PETITION SEEKS NEW REGULATOR

Animal Aid has been able to discover the names of 83 horses which have died as a result of racing in Britain during the first half of this year.

This distressing equine mortality figure highlights the need for change.

Animal Aid believes that there is a need for an independent body to get to grips with the suffering that is so prominent in racing – not only horse deaths, but issues including the use of the whip, starting stalls and much more.

Animal Aid’s government e-petition, demanding the removal of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) as the race horse welfare regulator, has been signed by more than 80,000 people.

Readers who wish to see the government take action can add their names to the petition by visiting www.animalaid.org.uk/horse-petition.

Fiona Pereira

(campaign manager)
Animal Aid
Tonbridge

DONATING PIGGY BANK CONTENTS

International aid is noble and usually well-meant, but its efficacy is disputed.

So, Scotland’s latest £3.3m heading to Malawi might do some good, but there are two reasons to criticise it.

Firstly, it is outside the remit of the Scottish Government. We elect MPs, not MSPs, to deal with this.

Secondly, the Scottish Government borrows money each year. If the people of Scotland are moved by compassion to pass a portion of their taxes to Malawi, leaving less to spend on services for themselves, that could be seen as admirable.

However, if this largesse is at the expense of the taxpayers of future generations, without their consent, we must withhold moral admiration from the donors. They bask in the glow of apparent generosity, but are actually like a parent ostentatiously donating to charity the contents of their children’s piggy banks.

Richard Lucas

(leader, Scottish Family Party)

Bath Street

Glasgow

BLAMING WESTMINSTER?

There’s a significant water scarcity in many parts of Scotland.

Presumably, Nicola Sturgeon, wicked Westminster must somehow be to blame? And surely if we’d all voted ‘Yes’ in 2014, there’d be no shortage at all?

Or perhaps oil would gush from our taps these days?

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

HAVE A TEA PARTY TO HELP CHARITY

I am writing to invite your readers to join me in hosting a World Tea Party this summer in support of working animal charity SPANA.

Holding a Moroccan, Indian, British, Kenyan or another world-themed party is the perfect way to get together with friends and try out exciting and exotic new recipes, while also raising vital funds to help the world’s most hardworking animals.

In many developing countries, working animals transport food, water, goods and people, and make it possible for millions of the poorest families to earn a small income. However, they often endure short, painful lives without the most basic requirements.

This is where SPANA makes such a huge difference, ensuring animals have access to the free veterinary treatment they urgently need when they are sick or injured.

The SPANA World Tea Party fundraising pack, full of free recipes, is available from www.spana.org/teaparty or by calling 020 7831 3999.

Tom Horsfield

(SPANA World Tea Party host)

LIFE AFTER STROKE GRANTS CAN HELP

With over 124,000 stroke survivors living in Scotland, you are likely to have come across somebody affected by this.

As a leading cause of disability, you will be aware of the devastating effects it can have – affecting people’s ability to walk, communicate and deal with their emotions.

Having a stroke can also result in financial challenges, such as for those unable to return to work.

That is why the Stroke Association in Scotland offer Life After Stroke Grants to people who need financial assistance. They provide a one-off payment of up to £300 to fund home or personal equipment such as mobility aids, kitchen appliances, specialist aids or furniture.

They can also be used to help people become active in their community.

Applications must be applied for via the Stroke Association, by a health or social care professional, or another charity.

To find out more about applying for a grant, call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100, visit stroke.org.uk/grants or email us at GrantsScot@stroke.org.uk.

Andrea Cail

(director, Scotland)

Stroke Association