Karen Currie bagged this image of the River Teviot just outside Kelso during a walk to Roxburgh.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
AN INDEPENDENT ENGLAND SOLUTION
In Paul Singleton’s latest angry missive (‘Civil uprising warning’, letters, April 18), he talks about democracy being undermined.
In my view he seems to echo the views of the more extreme right-wing elements in politics today – Ukip, English Defence League, British National Party, Tommy Robinson et al.
His irresponsible threat of “the largest civil uprising in recent history” warns that if events do not go his way, then very bad things will happen. He should be careful what he wishes for.
Scotland is a different country, with its own unique needs and attitudes, and Mr Singleton’s inability to acknowledge this is the problem.
He refuses to accept the fact that Scotland, the country he chooses to live in, voted to remain in the EU by a large majority – in fact, a larger majority than the leave vote in England.
It is obvious that his “sovereign United Kingdom” is broken and divided – what England wants is not necessarily appropriate for Scotland, and his stubborn refusal to face up to this is really what is undermining democracy.
My suggestion to him therefore, and to those who think like him, is simple – England should become an independent country, with its own parliament, follow its own course in the world, and Scotland should do exactly the same.
The people of Scotland deserve to make all their own decisions, like most welcoming, successful small countries all over the world – not being dictated to by a shambolic Westminster government which so often ignores and disregards our wishes and needs.
We can live together as good neighbours by respecting each other’s opinions and aspirations, even when they are different.
THE UK – A DYING IMPERIALIST ENTITY
Although of limited interest in the more progressive and enlightened politics of Scotland, there is surely little doubt that, despite the now widely-acknowledged Armageddon down south post-Brexit, the European elections will offer swathes of English people yet another opportunity to show their racist colours.
As the far-right splinters into ever more xenophobic groupings, I wonder how many people in England would cast their vote in that direction if the German National Socialist Party of the 1930s were to re-invent itself and put up candidates in May.
History tells us that dying imperialist entities lash out wildly. Already violence has returned to the streets of Northern Ireland as the DUP engineers last-ditch efforts to save the UK through the bullet and the bomb, and tries to resist the now-inevitable re-unification of the island of Ireland.
Hopefully Scotland can achieve a more peaceful exit from the outdated, corrupt and evil Union. But I don’t put anything past cornered English Tories.
AN ESCAPE ROUTE FOR SCOTLAND
With current polling indicating a massive shift to the hard right in England, but not in Scotland, it is clear that the two countries are not only geographically different, but politically also.
This was confirmed by the EU referendum when Scotland voted to remain by 62% – and in the Borders it was still higher at 58.5% – while England voted to leave.
However the UK leaves the EU, it is going to hurt Scotland badly – shoppers, businesses, exporters, fishermen and farmers will all be affected.
Even if revocation of Article 50 is the eventual outcome of the tragic farce being staged in Westminster, uncertainty will be chronic in the future. The Brexiteers in the parties of Nigel Farage, UKIP, Labour and the Conservatives will never let go of their damaging obsession, no matter which party is in power in London. Remember that anti-EU politicians have caused problems (and that’s an understatement) for four prime ministers – John Major, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and now Theresa May.
The uncertainty will inhibit businesses from investing for the future and employing more staff; migrant workers whom industries depend on will be reluctant to come to a hostile UK; holidays abroad will become the preserve of only the wealthy again.
Scots have an escape route from uncertainty which would guarantee a strong and stable future, and you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s called independence.
EUROPEAN UNION WOULDN’T HAVE US
Scotland has a huge deficit of £13.4bn, the worst economy in Europe (including Greece).
This means Scotland will require even greater austerity and higher taxes from incompetent First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay. They also extol benefits to Scotland (but no detail) and independence in the European Union.
What they don’t tell us is that because of such a weak economy, unless they can find a method of hiding these figures within the Scottish exchequer, EU membership would be refused. The European Union has a maximum deficit of only 3% of GDP for considered entry – Scotland’s is 9.5% of GDP.
To quote Forbes: “The Scottish budget deficit is in such a state that the EU wouldn’t actually accept Scottish membership, however nicely they asked.”
Further increased taxation is one answer, but the electorate, unlike some Scottish nationalists, will have other ideas.
Our sovereign United Kingdom and its four nations must remain together for solidarity and a successful future for the next generation.
AN EDGY STYLE OF JOURNALISM
Well done Kezia Dugdale for standing up for freedom of speech and fairness, and so winning the case in which Stuart Campbell was claiming defamation.
Well done too Sheriff Nigel Ross, for having the good sense to apply the principle of fair comment in this case.
Sadly the immediate reaction of the ‘Wings over Scotland’ blogger demonstrated that this experience will do nothing to temper his ill-mannered contributions to Scottish debate. On the BBC’s Reporting Scotland, he arrogantly explained that the court’s findings meant Kezia Dugdale was an “idiot who doesn’t know what words mean”. To use such inflammatory language in these circumstances proves again that for Stuart Campbell, throwaway insults are his stock in trade, with fairness, balance and civility simply alien concepts.
Some like to imagine ‘Wings over Scotland’ provides an edgy style of journalism to counter the traditional media which, of course, many in the independence movement, including Mr Campbell, claim is too often biased against them.
Yet this episode demonstrates once again that while Stuart Campbell might feel he can throw his weight around on the internet and enthral an ardent element of the independence movement, others with cooler, calmer and more rational heads, whatever their view on independence, will look elsewhere for reasoned argument on what really matters to Scotland.
ANXIOUS ISSUES FOR MOTHERS
Maternal Mental Health Matters Week runs from April 29-May 5.
As a mum-of-two who experienced low mood and anxiety, I was left feeling unable to cope during my second pregnancy. I realised how prevalent mental health issues are among parents and how difficult it can be to ask for help.
Our recent research shows that over half (54%) of mums with children aged five and under have felt anxious since having a child, 45% have felt low, and over a third (35%) depressed. Worse still, many face these challenges alone, not able to tell others about their feelings.
While I was lucky enough to get the help I needed, I found the information about mental wellbeing quite fragmented. This led me to set up Motherdom (available through motherdom.co.uk and in selected WHSmith stores), a magazine for parents which attempts to fill that gap.
Asking for help is by no means a sign of weakness. It is often the strongest thing you can do. By speaking out I hope we are able to let people know they are not alone.
A TASTE OF FRENCH SECULARISM?
I was interested to learn that, despite its monopolisation by Roman Catholics, Notre Dame is owned not by the Vatican, but by the French Government.
With French president Emmanuel Macron having already signalled that he is open to new ideas for rebuilding the cathedral, perhaps it is time to consider reconstructing it as a multi-faith centre for use by all.
For example, the incorporation of a minaret in place of the destroyed spire would be of use to Muslims, while the provision of a cafe or restaurant would be in the spirit of Laïcité, the secularism on which the French state is founded, and would appeal to persons of all faiths and none, especially if dietary regimes like kosher, halal and veganism were to be catered for.
John Eoin Douglas
IT’S A FINE TIME TO TARGET THE IDIOTS
Environmental organisations are demanding that the Scottish government introduces a comprehensive deposit return scheme (DRS) and ignores the special interest groups which are lobbying to exclude certain materials from the scheme.
Do they not understand that the majority of people do recycle and it is the idiots that need to be caught?
In West Lothian we have a very efficient bottle-bank system and blue bin for recycling. The bottle bank takes glass bottles and jars; the blue bin takes plastic bottles, paper, metal cans, plastic containers and disposable cups. People are employed to do this, so are the environmentalists happy to see thousands of people in Scotland out of work?
The idiots who throw away their bottles, cans and fast-food containers will continue to do so since 10p on a carry-out is insignificant. If they cannot put their waste in a bin 10 yards away, they will not travel to put their bottles and cans in a DRS machine.
The solution is fear, fear that they will be caught and a £500 fine levied for a first offence and £1,000 thereafter. So what are the Scottish Government waiting for?
PLEASE JOIN OUR FIGHT TO SAVE SIGHT
I am an ambassador for Sightsavers and we’re on a mission to wipe out a blinding disease called trachoma. With readers’ support, we can make history.
Every blink is agony, and without treatment you could go blind.
Trachoma is an agonising, debilitating disease that traps people in a vicious cycle of pain, blindness and poverty. Yet trachoma is totally preventable.
Sightsavers distributes an antibiotic to treat trachoma at a cost of as little as 15p per treatment.
Readers can join the fight to eliminate this painful disease by donating to Sightsavers. Here’s the best bit, and the reason I’m writing to you now – all donations made before May 15 will be matched by the UK government, pound for pound, up to £2m.
Eliminating trachoma has a transformational effect on the lives of some of the most marginalised people, restoring sight and enabling them to return to normal day-to-day activities.
Readers’ donations will be used to support Sightsavers’ work wherever the need is greatest. The matched funds raised through UK Aid Match will support work to prevent and treat blinding trachoma in Tanzania.
If you want to get involved, please head on over to www.sightsavers.org/aidmatch or give them a call on 0800 089 2020.
(actress and Sightsavers