Your picture of the Week

Sundown at Kelso golf course
Sundown at Kelso golf course

Sundown at Kelso golf course, by Lynda McKirdy.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE UNREAL WORLD OF ‘MINFORDLAND’

William Loneskie asserts in your August 9 edition of the Wee Paper that the UK will be better off without a Brexit deal and cites the work of Patrick Minford as evidence.

Unfortunately, he fails to point out that the vast majority of economists disagree and find Minford’s analysis inaccurate, biased, simplistic, incomplete and misleading.

It is based on modelling methods from the 1970s, using data 14 years out of date and employs wild assumptions. Some economists even fear the analysis comes from ‘Minfordland’, where no real-world economic relations need apply!

Every serious economic study, and there are dozens, finds Brexit is economically harmful and the authors, whether the Bank of England or a junior academic, only disagree on the depth of the harm being done to the economy. Even Minford agrees that his assumptions mean the end of British manufacturing.

Even before Brexit impacts, the markets have taken a view and the result is a weaker pound, more costly food, holidays and fuel, as well as a credit rating for the UK that has slumped. Business has reacted and many are moving out of the UK. Managers have recognised the dangers and strategic stockpiling is under way.

This is not fake news – that nasty expression for denying what you don’t want to hear – it is fact.

Like Denmark and Ireland, it is to be hoped that our politicians – having seen the electoral misdemeanours of the Leave campaign, the manipulation of social media, the use of personal data to present lies (Turkey about to be in the EU, for example) and the odd connections with Russia – have the courage to have a further referendum, this time free of lies, half-truths, hopes presented as facts and barely-concealed bigotry.

Adrian McDonald

Jedburgh

BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE’VE GOT

Not sure if you’re like me, but I’m getting fed up with all the Brexit talk. It seems to have gone on for ages.

I manage to sustain myself by thinking that it’s really all about breakfast – sorry, I mean Brexit.

What I do know is the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU and while realising this has not gone down well with some, I guess they will just have to accept that that’s democracy for you. We can still have our sausages and croissants, and our tea or coffee.

I would suggest deal is the best way forward, or is it no deal? – maybe we should ask Noel Edmonds.

What does the crystal ball say? Maybe we should take heart from the programme the Great British break-off.

We cannot possibly predict what might or might not happen in the future, although it gets rather depressing that the only aspect of the debate is about how much better or worse off we will be. Abba sang about money, money, money, but if that’s what it’s all about, then we need a reality check.

We should be grateful for everything we have as a nation. Let’s face it, we are so wealthy in these islands compared with the vast majority of people in the world we would be better giving thanks for what we have and just take whatever comes our way. Better to give than receive, as the good book says.

Once upon a time we might have asked the Almighty to keep us right, but we have lost that notion as a nation. Maybe we really need his divine intervention.

Brexit or breakfast – you must decide, but me, I shall have the full English.

David Currie

Kelso

FREE WORLD CHOICE IS A NO-BRAINER

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would be better trying to apply her mind to the likely possibility of the UK leaving the European Union via a hard Brexit and turning to the World Trade Organisation for future long-term negotiations.

World trade is growing much faster than the EU’s, and a UK no-deal would mean a Brexit dividend of £39bn, plus a surplus of £13bn.

This free world choice is a no-brainer for the UK – especially if (in time) all governance is from Westminster.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

PLOUGHMAN WOVEN INTO HISTORY

I was interested to read John Black’s article on James Small and the swing plough (Southern, August 16), and would like to mention that this story was remembered and included in the Great Tapestry of Scotland – panel 65, to be precise.

All credit to Alastair Moffat.

Elizabeth Bruce

Kelso

WRITER SHOULD SEEK SUPPORT

David Millar claims, “as someone who has life-long friends who are gay, friends whose children are going through a process I can’t imagine, I fully back the idea of supporting the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community” (letters, June 28).

In his latest “piffle and pontificating” (letters, August 16), he states, “As far as I am aware there is no need for help, as I can’t see or have heard of anyone needing help”.

If Mr Millar is confused he should seek support.

Alastair Lings

Tweed Road

Galashiels

SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO FAIL

The editorial headline in The Herald on Friday was, ‘RBS must take a clean slate and build afresh’, followed by a question, ‘Is the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) finally on the road to redemption?’

The answer is no – RBS is on the road to perdition.

Gordon Brown, as Prime Minister, declared that he had saved the world with the active support of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor.

He achieved this miraculous feat by throwing taxpayer money at the banks. They should have been allowed to fail. There would have been a short, sharp financial shock and innovative solutions would have come from the displaced bankers.

Instead, none of the money from quantitative easing has reached the high street or small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Instead, we got a specially-formed branch of RBS looting and asset-stripping vulnerable SMEs. In the latest resolution of criminal activity, RBS has agreed to pay the US justice department a $4.9bn (£3.6bn) penalty to keep the responsible bankers out of jail.

Last year, Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS, was paid £3.5m to oversee bank losses of £9bn. Mr McEwan has just closed every RBS branch south of Edinburgh. We own the bank, but weren’t consulted.

The advertising department in the Edinburgh headquarters hasn’t received the closure memo. RBS is sponsoring the Scottish Borders Excellence in Business awards. They think our money is theirs to squander.

Gordon Brown tried to spin the financial crash of 2008 as an American problem. It was home grown.

In the case of RBS, it was the work of Fred Goodwin. He was stripped of his knighthood, but kept his pension.

Since 2008, the cumulative losses of RBS have been three times the annual budget of Scotland. A staggering statistic.

Local bankers no longer make local decisions. Ask a question in your local branch and it is a computer algorithm nicknamed ‘Percival’ in a bomb-proof bunker somewhere offshore that makes the decision. There is no local override of the system.

There is a simple solution. RBS should be split up. RBS becomes The Royal Bank of Scotland with headquarters in Edinburgh its toxic assets and global ambitions as a separate entity in London. Ditto for The Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh and HBOS in London.

John Black

The Scottish Jacobite Party

Helensburgh

MARCHES ALIENATING

Another pro-independence march, this time in Dundee – but what purpose does it serve?

The marchers clearly enjoyed their day out, met like-minded nationalists and, by the end of the day, doubtless felt more enthusiastic about separatism.

But have even a few pro-UK supporters switched from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ as a result? Those I’ve spoken to respect the marchers’ right to express their views, but find these marches alienating, not welcoming.

And in any case, all this is academic. Earlier this month in Edinburgh, Theresa May reiterated to Nicola Sturgeon that an independence referendum won’t be rerun any time soon. Plus, judging from the SNP’s conference agenda and the absence of time to be devoted to the Growth Commission and independence, it’s clear the SNP leader isn’t energised by the marches. She knows full well “now is not the time” – Brexit hasn’t delivered the surge in separatist support she so desires.

The marchers can criss-cross Scotland as much as they wish, but Ms Sturgeon, an obsessive opinion poll reader, fears a vote before the next Holyrood election is likely to result in defeat – and for ever destroy her Holyrood career and UK break-up dreams.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

DEVOLVING POWERS TO SCHOOLS

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is now requiring local authorities to devolve powers and budgets to schools.

If councils do not respond within the next year, he has vowed to legislate for improved school governance across the country.

The fear of making mistakes has led to an unwillingness to experiment and a total absence of diversity to suit individual communities. Local authorities have prevented head teachers and staff from running their schools and classes in their pupils’ true interests.

Councils have failed to recognise the very significant contribution which broadly-constituted and empowered school councils could make to the overall education system. Schools have had little incentive to cut back wasteful expenditure.

The shortage of resources being allocated to education is, of course, partly to blame for the mess we are in, but it is by no means the whole story.

We now have an ideal opportunity to introduce governance reforms so as to ensure that policies are shaped to local circumstances; otherwise we could all well end up with more direction from St Andrew’s House.

Is it too much to hope that councillors and education officials in every education authority will now play their part in restoring Scotland’s state schools to their once-iconic world status?

Angus Tulloch

Longniddry

RESEARCHER’S APPEAL

I am a researcher at Firecrest Films in Glasgow and am currently looking for contributors for a new programme.

We’re looking for families and couples who are based in Scotland to take part in a financial experiment for the BBC. The programme is designed to highlight how a family’s spending is impacting on their lives, and to offer them solutions to change their spending habits.

We would like to find families who feel that they would benefit from some expert financial guidance, possibly because they have mismatched approaches to finances, have a hidden shopping habit, struggle to control their spending, or just don’t know where the money goes each month.

The process will be a fun and exciting journey to be a part of, and we’d like to spread the word as widely as possible.

Emma Stewart

(emma.stewart@firecrestfilms.com; 0141 530 2333 ext. 220).

OPEN GARDENS IN SELKIRK

The Gardens Open Day on August 5 at Ettrickhaugh Road in aid of Cancer Research was a one-off event, giving the opportunity to see private gardens following the completion of the Selkirk flood protection work carried out in the area.

Fifteen gardens opened to the public while George Inglis and two friends provided entertainment for those enjoying strawberries and cream at Selkirk Cricket Club.

We were delighted to see people from Hawick attend and hope viewing the completed flood protection works will allay concerns while that town undergoes the inconvenient, but worthwhile, tribulations.

I would like to thank all those who came along, the residents of Ettrickhaugh Road, Ettrickhaugh Cottages, Leslie Cottage and Ravenshugh House, George Inglis and friends who gave up their time, also the Inner Wheel Club of Galashiels ladies for their support.

The afternoon raised £1,020.10.

Pamela Douglas

(president, Inner Wheel Club of Galashiels)

DO ONE LAST THING FOR YOUR CHILD

Parents of children off to university this autumn are being urged to help keep them safe from deadly meningitis.

Leading UK meningitis charity Meningitis Now is calling on mums and dads to ensure that their children have been vaccinated against Men ACWY, and that they also know the signs and symptoms of the disease and what to do if they suspect it.

As thousands of students have only recently received their exam results and prepare for journeys into higher education, the charity has launched its campaign, targeting parents with meningitis information and calling on them to ‘Do one last thing for your children before they go off to university – help keep them meningitis safe.’

It’s telling them to pack a Meningitis Now signs and symptoms card, fridge magnet or year planner in their child’s bag to raise awareness and to keep an eye on their friends – they could save their lives.

University freshers can be more vulnerable because of cramped living conditions. In many cases, young people come together from all over the world to live in one place and can be exposed to bacteria and viruses their bodies have not met before.

This is why so many new students get ‘freshers’ flu’.

Every university in the UK could experience one case of meningitis among its students within the first term.

First-year students up to the age of 25 can obtain a free vaccination for Men ACWY from their GP, although many will already have received this while at school. But this does not protect them against all strains of the disease and they are unlikely to have been vaccinated against Men B, leaving them at risk from this strain of the disease.

The charity’s campaign is being supported by Bristol mother Michelle Bresnahan, who lost her 16-year-old son Ryan to Men B in 2010.

Since then she has campaigned tirelessly alongside her university-student daughter, Charlotte, to raise awareness so that more young people can be protected, raising thousands through the Life for a Cure charity set up in Ryan’s memory.

Meningitis Now offers a free information pack for parents and students, including leaflets, signs and symptoms cards, fridge magnets and year planners – all of which contain lifesaving information. These are available free of charge from www.meningitisnow.org/unis

The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu, tummy bug or a hangover, and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, stomach cramps and fever with cold hands and feet. More specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.

Later in the autumn, Meningitis Now’s awareness campaign will also target universities and new students directly.

Public Health England reports that there were 747 cases of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in England last year, with 18% of cases occurring in young adults aged 15 to 24.

Of those who contract bacterial meningitis, one in 10 will die and one in three survivors will be left with life-changing after-effects.

Andy Hopkinson

Meningitis Now

SNP IMPOSING A FAILING PHILOSOPHY

Concern mounts about declining educational standards in Scotland, but the Scottish National Party seems to regard this as a small price to pay for sticking to its principles.

Many independent schools achieve excellent standards.

So, what does Education Scotland do?

Seek to share their methodologies with other schools? Of course not.

Instead, they impose Scotland’s failing educational philosophy on these school as well, on pain of a terrible inspection report, or worse.

Educational ability is not distributed evenly across income groups, but the SNP hurls vast amounts of cash at the “poverty-related attainment gap” in a vain attempt to make reality match with their egalitarian idealism.

Orderly discipline and proper respect for authority are vital for effective learning.

However, the misguided philosophy of Education Scotland prescribes a shift in power from teachers to children, frowning on any form of punishment.

If you fill up finite curriculum space with indoctrination into every politically-correct cause going, decline in core skills is inevitable. Unfortunately, young feminist/LGBT/environmental/human rights activists do not sustain the economy.

So, never let it be said that the SNP is neglecting education.

The nationalists are applying their ideas systematically, and where decline is evident, that is taken as evidence that they just need to apply them ever more vigorously.

And still no party in Holyrood strikes at the root of their failing philosophy.

Richard Lucas

(leader)

Scottish Family Party

Bath Street

Glasgow

POINTING FINGER AT THE PC BRIGADE

A Ghanaian man and a Ugandan woman appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court accused of subjecting a three-year-old girl to female genital mutilation (FGM).

The offence of FGM was made illegal in 1985, but there have been no convictions, despite the estimate of thousands being taken overseas to be mutilated and cut.

Two previous cases resulted in acquittals.

Everyone knows the countries which carry out FMG, so the girls, whose parents originated from those countries, should be regularly medically monitored and should signs of FGM be apparent, then the parents must be arrested and face the maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

A midwife in Scotland says she sees 150 cases a year of FGM, so why no arrests?

Could the reluctance and lack of arrests since 1985 in the UK be because of the PC brigade chanting: “It’s their culture”?

Clark Cross

Linlithgow