Your picture of the week

Minto kirk
Minto kirk

Ewan Dickson supplied this image of Minto kirk, which was built in 1832.

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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

AN EVENT UNLIKE ANYTHING BEFORE

In respect of the All Under One Banner (AUOB) march and rally in Galashiels last Saturday, Scottish Borders Council was fantastic and fully cooperative.

The results of the European Parliament elections on May 23 were fantastic for the Remain side in the Borders and this was a big boost for the Galashiels event.

I have had a busy year preparing for All Under One Banner Galashiels, but it was well worth it and would do it all again tomorrow if I could.

We had a fantastic line-up of bands, solo acts and speakers.

I would like to thank AUOB for letting me do this event. I feel so proud to be part of the AUOB team and to be its national executive member for the Borders.

I would like to thank Saor Alba convoy team who brought a contingent of 42 cars from across Scotland and Yes Bikers For Independence for their massive contingent of 300 motorbikes.

I would also like to thank my wife, Karen, for putting up with me over the past year – it mustn’t have been easy with me doing this. Thank you to the stall-holders who attended.

Last Saturday was a fun-packed day with a carnival atmosphere, entertainment for the kids and musicians playing throughout the march. It felt electric – Galashiels has never seen anything like it before.

The Borders is steeped in rich history – William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland in my home town of Selkirk (five miles south of Galashiels), Melrose Abbey is the final resting place of King Robert the Bruce (four miles east of Galashiels) and Abbotsford House (south-east of Galashiels) the home of Sir Walter Scott.

I am so so proud that 5,000 came to Galashiels – and the weather was on our side.

Graham Jones

AMERICAN ANGLE TO NAME DEBATE

At long last the five names for the new school at Jedburgh have been released for public ballot.

The town is steeped in history as a Borders town, so it seems strange and disappointing that the new school is going to be saddled with a name ending in the Americanised word ‘campus’.

A little research shows that the English dictionary definition of ‘campus’ is “the buildings of a university or college and the land around them” (Oxford dictionary).

The Cambridge, Collins and Longman dictionaries have very similar definitions.

In addition, the Cambridge dictionary states: “American English – the grounds, sometimes including the buildings of a university, college or school”.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary (USA) states: “The grounds and buildings of a university or college” and “North American – the grounds of a school, hospital or other institution”.

The word ‘campus’ is Latin for ‘field’ or ‘plain’, and in ancient Rome a ‘campus’ was a field used for various events, such as games, military exercises and public meetings. The word ‘campus’ was first used in its modern form for the buildings and grounds of Princeton University in the USA.

The new Jedburgh school is not a college or university, and it is certainly not in North America.

Why couldn’t the town and community councillors have included among the options a couple without the word ‘campus’ (e.g. Jedburgh Learning Centre)?

Tony Rae

Jedburgh

WHAT INFLUENCE WILL PARTY HAVE?

Before the SNP and its bussed-in crowds spread more fake news, let’s put the party’s success in the EU elections in perspective.

Only 12% of the Borders electorate eligible to vote cast their vote for the SNP. Overall in Scotland, the SNP have three MEPs – in a European parliament of 751. What influence will the party have there? None.

We have still to hear how an independent Scotland would manage without the Barnett Formula (£1,600 per capita extra annually for public services), what an independent Scotland’s currency would be, how it would be backed, and how many years of disruption it would cause in trying to break the ties with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Brexit imbroglio would be a walk in the park by comparison.

And as I write, the Scottish Fiscal Commission has warned of tax rises and more spending cuts in the next three years caused by expenditure exceeding tax revenue. The commission says that there will be a £1bn black hole in the Scottish Executive’s finances caused by its economic mismanagement.

What confidence does this give in the SNP’s ability to run an independent country?

William Loneskie

Oxton

WHY ARE WE WAITING?

Why are we waiting until October 31 this year to leave the European Union?

Have we to wait another five months and suffer the social media and MPs of all parties to satisfy their own selfish embellishment?

The United Kingdom agreed by referendum to a no-deal Brexit in 2016. That’s it – end of story.

We lack leadership for finality and the meaning of democracy. We are saddled with the weakest politicians in history.

But Nigel Farage, courageous leader of the Brexit Party, should get us through Brexit now. As a business opportunist, he is no prospective Prime Minister, but shows the finalist determination required to get us past the wire.

A new Brexit-only Prime Minister is then required of the calibre of Dr Liam Fox.

The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, is not currently helping by spreading uncertainty in business. She concentrates too much on Europe (only 6% of our exports) instead of the tremendous opportunities in the wider world.

Brexiteers are being denied their democratic rights for a no-deal and, if not finally satisfied, will rebel in their millions and threaten the very existence of our sovereign United Kingdom.

The World Trade Organisation and a proven digitally-controlled Irish border is the answer to already-missed opportunities by inadequate politicians feathering their own nests.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

COURAGE TO VOICE CONTRARY OPINIONS

Donald McPhillimy (letters, May 23) has every right to criticize my perspective on climate change, and no doubt he has the best of intentions, but unfortunately his views are riddled with contradictions.

He misinterprets my point that the climate computer models erroneously predicted a melt rate in the Antarctic similar to that experienced in the Arctic. Nobody denies that Antarctic ice is under threat, but the focus has been particular on its western peninsula.

There has been a recent and largely-unpublicised discovery in that region. Many previously-unidentified volcanoes are creating sub-glacial hot spots which register close to four times the global average heat flow. This is believed to be helping to “lubricate” the ice sheet, thus hastening its movement and fragmentation.

Mr McPhillimy embraces the 97% scientific consensus on human-induced climate change and denigrates those with opposing views as opinionated non-scientists.

Is he aware that one of NASA’s senior scientists for climate studies, Dr Roy Spencer, was presented with no other option but to resign because he had the courage to voice contrary opinions? He was astonished to find that he had been included in that 97% consensus grouping.

It transpires that the premise this figure is based on was: “Have global temperatures risen and have humans been a contributory factor?” With a resource-hungry global population of 7.7bn, we know this to be true. There was no mention of natural causes.

This is another classic case of phrasing a question to elicit a desired response. How can anybody with a true appreciation of democracy claim that allowing the free public expression of contradictory views is “false balance”, as Mr McPhillimy claims?

The assertion that the farming industry has been ignoring challenges for too long is woefully wide of the mark. In spite of all the recent hype regarding methane emissions from cattle, agriculture is responsible for around just 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions and has repeatedly embraced advances on crop and animal husbandry practices which feed the world.

Neil J. Bryce

Morebattle

ARE WE ALL DOOMED?

I often ask myself, what’s going on in our world?

We seem to live in a planet that’s on a self-destruct button with the seeming-endless cries of global warming, ecological disaster and endangered animals.

Is there any hope for us all, or are we “doomed”, as Private Fraser used to say in the Dads Army comedy series?

Plastic seems to be a huge issue at the moment, especially in our seas, but also seems to be everywhere. Why do we feel it is necessary to have endless bottles of water? What’s wrong with the water coming out of our kitchen taps?

I stopped working recently and was one of those colleagues who was never without a bottle of water sitting in front of me. Thinking back say 20 years ago, I never recall having any water in front of me – only the occasional tea or coffee. Now it seems the bigger and fancier the bottle, the better.

The question is, how did people survive 20 years ago without that plastic container? Truth is we did, as most of us can testify to today.

Perhaps we are on water overkill. Maybe we should ship water to countries who really need it, given we are currently heading into a very dangerous famine in Africa.

Back in the Old Testament, laws decreed what we should eat, especially when it came to the sea. We seem to want to remove all manner of shellfish, crab, lobster, muscles and the like, but these creations are actually there to clean up the oceans – they were never intended to be eaten and we wonder why our oceans are in trouble.

Coming forward to the New Testament, we are told that perilous times will come and as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be. Perhaps like Noah we are trying to save the animals from extinction before the inevitable happens.

We do seem to be heading in that direction. The question is, is there a higher power out there watching and waiting? Two thousand years ago Jesus predicted what would happen in the future. Perhaps that future has just caught up with us.

Only he can provide hope, so maybe Private Fraser was wrong.

Dig Currie

Kelso

GROWTH IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF

It was intriguing to note New Zealand’s Labour coalition government recently unveil its “world-first” wellbeing budget.

Billions of dollars will be invested in mental health services and to address child poverty, as well as record investment in measures to tackle family violence.

New Zealand is the first western country to design its entire budget based on wellbeing priorities and instruct its ministries to design policies to improve wellbeing.

GDP has too often come to be seen not just as an indicator of a country’s wealth, but as the main measure of its success.

Yet following a decade of global economic turmoil, the limitations of that view have become increasingly clear. In countries around the world, such as New Zealand, there is a growing realisation that growth is not the only measure of a successful economy, in fact in some respects it might not be the best measure of such. There is a growing realisation that we must give much greater priority to the wellbeing – and the quality of life – of people living in a country.

Last year the Scottish Government made ‘wellbeing’ explicitly a core part of it’s purpose and the broader definition of success is also evident in Scotland’s Economic Strategy.

The promotion of sustainable and inclusive growth is a vital way of raising living standards for all.

That growth is only of any real value if it makes people’s lives better, creating a fairer, healthier and happier nation in the process. It is not and never should be seen as an end in itself.

Alex Orr

Marchmont Road

Edinburgh

SEARCHING FOR A FAMILY

Does anyone know of the Gilchrist/Kerr family who lived at Oxton? – names include James, Margaret and Robert.

Are the family still there, or did they move away?

If anyone can help, please get in touch with me.

J. Porteous

14 Lochend Road

Dunbar

East Lothian

EH21NA