Venus, Moon and Jupiter Rise, taken by Barrie Cranston near Over Langshaw on the Southern Upland Way.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
BROADBAND, FAGS AND SCRATCH CARDS
It was a pleasure to read in last week’s letters pages not one, but two excellent articles, both of which had absolutely nothing to do with independence or Brexit.
Firstly, Mary Douglas expressed concerns of which the vast majority of council tax payers have.
Unsurprisingly, the Great Tapestry of Scotland was highlighted and although I strive to be the eternal optimist, even I have very strong reservations as to its sustainability. But time and money spent will define if it’s the unmitigated disaster prophesied in most quarters, by which time, unfortunately, the councillors responsible will have taken their pensions and fled the scene.
She then asks the very pertinent question as to why Scottish Borders Council is spending huge amounts of public money on purchasing land and building more properties to rent when every town in the region has numerous types of property lying empty.
It appears exceptionally wasteful and I think the unexpectedly high numbers using the Borders Railway has emboldened councillors into imagining a scenario similar to the Great Gold Rush where settlers from the Central Belt will colonise the Borders, filling all these properties and bringing untold wealth.
This assumption is extremely flawed as I think the railway has been counter-productive to the Borders economy and takes far more disposable income out than any tourists bring in.
An unbiased report would be most welcome.
The second letter, from William Loneskie, was again very interesting in that he questioned the definition of austerity in today’s society.
We are of the same era and I became nostalgic when he mentioned outside loos, lack of central heating etc., when, due to lack of hot water, there was the weekly bath, sometimes sharing the water.
Vehicle wise my father had an Austin Seven, then graduated to a second-hand Austin A40 Somerset, pure luxury and, strangely, I can still remember the registration number.
Hard times by today’s standards, but, as he stated, people lived within their means, debt was abhorrent, as was illegitimacy.
Austerity today is defined as slow broadband, or having a TV with a less than 50-inch screen.
One reads about the increase in food banks, then stand in a queue and watch obviously-unemployed people purchasing their fags and £10 worth of scratch cards.
Many people who do struggle are those who have pride, or don’t know how to use the system to their advantage.
No doubt the liberal do-gooders will question the above, but I’m more than happy to educate them, starting with a long-term unemployed acquaintance who owns, taxes and insures three cars.
Hardly Tory austerity.
Mr G. Holford
SBC ON THE WRONG SPENDING ROAD
It’s been reported in the local press that Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has been obliged to find another £96,000 in respect of the Great Tapestry of Scotland: an expensive, uneconomical and unwanted investment.
Meanwhile, it was also reported that the council’s roads safety and traffic manager admitted that the region has only one white-lining vehicle, and that had suffered from a series of mechanical faults.
For this reason, the programme of white-lining the region’s roads had been delayed.
If the council chose to invest in a new white-lining vehicle instead of a tapestry, users of Borders roads, especially at night, would have safer journeys.
AN ECONOMIC RESOURCE
The demolition of St Aidan’s church, a prominent Victorian Galashiels landmark, will surely be regretted.
Sadly, many important old buildings in the Borders are also at risk.
Some of us think this is not a trivial issue.
Obviously there are always costs as well as benefits in looking after the things we value.
Our handsome traditional town centres with their old streets and buildings are a valuable, culturally-unique economic resource, but unfortunately not inexhaustable.
NATIONALITY AND RELEVANCY
I was appalled to note the words “Polish national” in a court report (‘Sex attack case not proven’, Southern, February 14).
Since when has a person’s nationality had a bearing on this type of story?
Was nationality directly relevant to this specific case? If it did, the story certainly doesn’t reflect that.
Scots shake their heads in wonder about the UK vote to leave the EU.
Crime reporting that selectively includes race and nationalities when they have no bearing on the crime committed fuels bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia.
Check the Associated Press, Economist and Reuters style guides in case you won’t take my word for it.
There were 26 reports on the court pages of last week’s Southern – only one gives a nationality.
Only three have foreign-sounding names.
But what passports do they hold?
Can readers conclude the other accused persons are British nationals? The score: Britons 23, Foreigners 3.
You might have mentioned everyone’s nationality, or left “Polish national” out to balance your reporting.
CHANGED BEYOND RECOGNITION
Another week, another personal attack from a nationalist Mr Angry (letters, February 14).
What is it about people like Eric Falconer that they see Scotland as part of the world’s fifth-largest economy as being in a desperate plight? Why do they always focus on running Britain and Scotland down, and whingeing about how badly treated Scotland is by Westminster, despite us receiving a Barnett bonus of £1,600 per man, woman and child per year?
Mr Falconer, confronted with a half-full glass would say it was near empty.
He describes a clean break with the European Union as “madness”.
He is living in the past. The EU has changed beyond recognition from a trading block to moving towards a “country called Europe” with even more top-down legislation from Brussels over taxation, defence, transport and every policy area which should be decided at the national level.
The SNP wants independence, but wants to remain under EU control. Where is the logic in that?
The SNP claims it would be disastrous to break with the EU after 40 years, but great to break the UK Union after 400 years. Apparently the former would be “catastrophic”, but the latter simple.
Only 18% of Scotland’s exports are to the EU, with over 60% to England.
Italy, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Greece are at loggerheads with the EU Commission just now, but after the Euro elections in May anti-EU sentiment will surge throughout the Continent. Eurozone output has shrunk 4.2% over the past year, with Germany on the brink of recession and Italy near bankrupt.
The UK is ahead of the curve. Leaving will boost the economy, not shrink it. Even Bank of England boss Mark Carney has changed his tune saying Britain post-Brexit could lead the world to make globalism more co-operative, accountable and properous.
Yet the SNP continues to talk Scotland down and Europe up.
Take Ian Blackford, the party’s blustering Westminster leader, for example, who misrepresents the opportunities of Brexit at every turn, which he describes as a “disaster”.
Misrepresentation is Mr Blackford’s forte. He described himself during a debate “as a simple crofter”. To which Greg Hands MP replied: “Maybe that (simple crofter) was his code name on his Bloomberg terminal as he was buying and selling financial assets.”
Consider also First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who cannot drive, but endorses a workplace parking tax. Or SNP finance secretary Derek McKay who spent £1,000 of taxpayers’ money on voice-coaching.
Do these people inspire confidence in Scottish independence, or do they not indicate that Peak Nat is over?
CATALAN LESSON FOR THE SNP
It is a sorry state of affairs to see Catalan politicians finding themselves in court over their part in the illegal vote that sought to overturn the Spanish constitution.
The vote itself was effectively simply a stunt, with many who favoured Catalonia’s place in Spain understandably choosing not to vote at all.
We must hope in Scotland that the SNP leadership is never tempted to go down the road of holding a vote where only those who agree with them participate. Until a clear majority in Scotland want to revisit the issue of independence – and polling suggests most of us do not – then there is no reason for the Scottish Government to raise this, nor for the UK Government to seriously consider it.
I BELIEVED WHAT TORY LEADER SAID
In 2014 I voted against independence because I believed Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson when she said that this would ensure our continued membership of the European Union.
The EU referendum result prompted me to look more deeply into Scottish politics and our economy. This has made me regret my vote in 2014, but has also given me hope for the future because of what I now know about Scotland and its huge potential.
Rather than become despondent with the prospect of Brexit, I am now an active member of Yes Berwickshire, a fun bunch of ordinary people campaigning for Scotland’s positive future as an independent nation.
We are holding the first of a series of local public discussion meetings at Duns Parish Church Hall on Thursday, February 28. Do come and join us for cake and a good chat.
PLANS UNDER WAY FOR UK-WIDE VOTE
Despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s persistent concentration on Scottish independence, three years on and the polls have not moved in a separatist direction.
They are not likely to do so while the Sturgeon ‘family’ taxes the middle classes extra (highest in the UK) to pay into the rapidly-reducing Scottish exchequer.
But the First Minister does not want Indyref2 in the near future – not because Westminster will not allow it, which is true, it is because she knows she would lose it. She also knows that independence will not be just a Scottish vote. Plans are under way to have a UK-wide vote on independence after Brexit.
Recent research findings show that for business and the economy, the odds are a 70% to 30% vote for remaining as a United Kingdom.
Thousands of schoolchildren have been on strike, demanding action on global warming.
So far all governments have done is deploy renewable energy. Wind farms have killed millions of birds and bats, and I don’t know of any other industry which is permitted to do this. Hydro schemes have dammed rivers, disrupting aquatic life. Millions of hectares of natural forest has been destroyed and converted to alien species for burning in biomass power stations.
Even more forest has been cleared for bio fuels production.
These children should be careful what they wish for.
Yet our use of fossil fuel continues to grow, so this policy has failed.
I trust these children are setting an example by walking to school, telling their parents not to have holidays and giving up their smart phones due to the massive environmental destruction involved in their manufacture.
LOOK TO CHINA OVER EMISSIONS
The Liberal Democrats’ environmental spokesman, Tim Farron, said that the UK government’s attempts to curb transport emissions have been an “abject failure” and demands action, “if the UK is to become a world leader in tackling climate change”.
But he fails to grasp that the UK only has 1.3% of global emissions, while the rest of the world burns fossil fuels to grow their economies.
The electric vehicle, so beloved of Tim Farron and the Greens, is a growing source of pollution. The batteries require lithium and cobalt which are mined, with no thought of the environmental problems, resulting in water and air contamination, and landscapes destroyed.
He ignores the fact that there are 1.2bn vehicles in the world, rising to 2bn by 2035. The UK? – 37.5m.
Mr Farron, you should take an extended trip to China which has 30% of global emissions, widespread toxic pollution and its methane emissions are rising at an alarming rate.