Curtis Welsh saw these colourful Kelso Abbey flower beds on a dull day.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SPOILING LOOK OF JED TOWN CENTRE
I welcome Darin Hutson’s report in last week’s edition on objections to the threatened demolition of the listed building in Jedburgh’s historic Market Place.
As one of the objectors quoted, I believe that much more is at risk than a single building.
The prominent mid-Victorian building overlooks the Mercat Cross. Pulling it down would spoil the entire look of the old town centre.
Unfortunately, it has been enshrouded in steel for so long that many people may have forgotten what it looks like.
The long-suffering traders of the town especially deserve a successful outcome .
WARNING FOR OLDER GENERATION
Clark Cross and two other recent correspondents have felt the need to mock climate-change activist Greta Thunberg and other young people who are very concerned about the state of our planet, accusing them of hypocrisy.
I imagine Mr Cross sitting in his comfortable house, possibly in his conservatory, probably retired, reaching for his green biro to pen his diatribe against young people.
He has probably enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, consuming resources from around the world for multiple decades without thought about the impact of such consumerism. Or maybe he is a hermit?
I have news for such critics of the young climate activists. Their time is coming and our older generation had better watch out as our complacency and selfishness has left the planet in a terrible state for them to inherit.
A little humility would be a more appropriate response.
(for A Greener Melrose)
WORSHIPPING AT THE IPCC’S ALTAR
It is 22 years since the Kyoto Protocol set out a framework for limiting man-made greenhouse gases and implemented the Precautionary Principle to “cope with possible risks where scientific understanding is incomplete” and “deal with weakly understood causes of potentially catastrophic or irreversible effects”.
A global insurance policy to protect us from hypothetical climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fails to take full account of natural phenomenon such as solar cycles, cosmic rays or ocean currents that have been creating fluctuating climates since the dawn of time. It also fixates on the theory that elevated CO2 is the prime cause of climate change. We have heard this so often that it must be true.
However, there is a wealth of validated scientific data from geological and ice-core records showing that temperature rise actually precedes elevated CO2 by hundreds of years. On this evidence alone, a principle based on “incomplete and weak understanding” sounds like a pig in a poke.
To achieve net-zero carbon by 2050, the UK’s insurance premium will potentially exceed a trillion pounds. This will make “austerity” seem like a walk in the park. Meanwhile, many co-signatories to the Kyoto Protocol now take a more pragmatic approach in transitioning towards the gradual waning of the fossil fuel age.
However, career politicians and policy-makers the world over continue to worship at the altar of the IPCC and pander to populist pressure groups such as Extinction Rebellion with short-sighted, ill-considered interventions.
They may yet live to witness the folly of their actions as there is very little doubt that the sun is settling into a episode of relative inactivity which will usher in a distinctly cooler period. It also looks like intensive research is inching towards the holy grail of nuclear fusion when humankind might enjoy the luxury of unlimited carbon-free power with minimal short-term radioactive waste, rendering wind and solar installations obsolete.
Neil J. Bryce
REMOVE STIGMA BY DECRIMINALISATION
Since drugs minister Joe Fitzpatrick declared Scotland’s drugs deaths “a national emergency” five months ago, nearly 400 people have died.
The government-appointed task force to deal with this issue has, unbelievably, still not convened for discussion.
“We need action and leadership now, not fear and judgement,” says Emma Crawshaw from the Crew charity.
Yet another example of no decision detail on this urgent matter from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who should decriminalise Scotland’s and Europe’s worst drugs problem, removing a long-present stigma which could go a long way to solving this crisis.
If this problem included independence decisions it would have had money thrown at it by now and rehabilitation units everywhere.
Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in the UK (77 years for men and 81 for women), falling for the first time since records begun.
It is just over a year since the Scottish government published its vision to “make Scotland a world leader in public health”. Not as long as we have the nationalists running the show.
Real effort is required and less posturing to and from BBC journalists who mostly share their political ideology.
This all shows a sticky wicket and must be bowled out sooner than later
Drug addiction of this enormity could soon become the First Minister’s biggest nightmare with the Scottish electorate at the ballot box if no solution is found.
If Westminster, Holyrood and councils were to treat spending our money as their own, then we would see a big difference in how cash was used.
However, when it comes to me getting information from Westminster and Holyrood, and that includes the PM and First Minister, this is done ‘nae bother’ via an ordinary envelope.
Not so with cash-strapped Scottish Borders Council. All my requests, no matter how trivial, go through the Freedom of Information system. This costs us for two registered mail letters and the request has to go in front of a committee.
Why this expensive method of supplying run-of-the-mill information?
SNP CHIEFS SHOULD DO THE MATHS
God forbid we may have to suffer yet another divisive, hateful, “once-in-a-(hamster) lifetime” independence referendum simply because Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies dogmatically refuse to accept the democratic result and significant (10%) margin for ‘No’ in the 2014 nightmare.
How quickly we have forgotten those two years of economic uncertainty, fiscal blight, anger and social tension leading up to 2014.
We dodged a suicidal bullet that time.
But, true to form, the SNP now demands that it will dictate the wording on any future ballot, thereby seeking to satisfy its obsession for ruinous separation. Hopefully, constitutional reason and the Electoral Commission will prevail.
The indyref question posed in 2014 was not neutral. It required better-informed voters – who were fully aware of the facts, implications and economic reality – to post a negative response, even if they were fundamentally proud to be Scottish.
Parallels between the over-simplified claims, lies and hollow propaganda promises made by the ‘Leave’ campaign in 2012-2014 (and ever since) and prior to the Brexit referendum in 2016 are blindingly clear.
Moreover, subsequent problems resolving the complex issues raised by enacting the narrow ‘Leave’ majority lead me to suggest that a clearer, blunt ballot choice may prompt indyref voters into deeper thought of the consequences. Based on bitter experience with Brexit, this choice should be:
‘Should Scotland LEAVE the UK?
Should Scotland REMAIN in the UK?’
Leaving the EEC/EU after only 46 years will not cause the UK anything like the economic damage, societal chaos and deprivations that Scotland would suffer if it ever left the UK after over 300 years of freedom of movement, complete social integration and massive fiscal support.
There is clearly no way that an independent Scotland could survive financially or hope to re-join the EU.
We have the largest fiscal deficit in the developed world (a £12.6bn black hole in Scotland’s finances), equivalent to 7% of GDP. The whole UK deficit amounts to 1.1% of GDP. Any hopes of EU membership require a deficit less than 3% of GDP.
All this exists despite Derek Mackay taxing Scots at the highest rate in the UK, yet raising £307 less in tax per person than the UK-wide average; confirming that Scotland is a lower-paid, welfare-dependent region and that the “big money” will leave/is leaving thanks to relentless SNP-generated uncertainty and mismanagement. Thus, our public spending is £1,660 per person more than the UK average, which is why we receive a “UK dividend” of £2,000 per person per annum.
Do the maths, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Mackay, and stop lying to voters and pursuing economic suicide to satisfy your obsession for absolute power.
WELCOME APPEARS TO BE CONDITIONAL
We should all welcome First Minister Nicola Sturgeon making clear, in a recent interview at the Edinburgh festival, where she stands on anti-English feeling.
Yet, sadly, the rhetoric of independence, from the senior leadership of the SNP as well as its supporters, too often drifts into thinly-veiled anti-UK propaganda.
For the over 400,000 English people that have chosen over the years to make Scotland their home, the SNP leadership’s daily tirades against “Westminster” and the UK government make it seem as though our welcome here is conditional on buying into the case for separation from our families, friends, colleagues, culture and the values we all share across the whole of the UK.
The separatist agenda is by definition divisive, seeking to exaggerate and create differences where none need exist, to put needless barriers between us, and to claim a false moral superiority to justify the case for breaking up our country.
SADDLING UP FOR 55 YEARS
After reading the excellent feature on the 50th year of the Riding for the Disabled Association by Julie Currie in last week’s issue, I thought readers might be interested to hear that the Ettrickbridge and Dryden group have celebrated 55 years.
It was started in 1964 by Miss McGowan at her home in Ettrickbridge, with a group at Dryden starting not long after.
One person, Marjory White, has just retired after being involved for all of the 55 years.
We are now at the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre (ISEC), having moved to Bowhill and then Dryden after Miss McGowan’s death.
Five years ago we celebrated our 50th birthday and the official opening of the ISEC with a visit from the Princess Royal.
The group teaches primary school children on Wednesday afternoons and secondary school ones, and then adult riders on Thursdays.
We have wonderful volunteers without whom we couldn’t function and sometimes get help from students on the equine courses at Borders College.
STATS PROVE UNION MISMANAGEMENT
The publication of the latest GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures has triggered a now-traditional feeding frenzy.
A black hole in Scotland’s finances is heralded by Unionist politicians as validating the continuation of their beloved Union.
The killer phrase for me from the GERS report is: “The report is designed to allow users to understand and analyse Scotland’s fiscal position under different scenarios within the current constitutional framework.”
GERS is therefore a measure of the public finances under the current Union, hardly the greatest endorsement for how the economy has been managed on the UK’s watch.
Major economic levers required to stimulate economic growth are still currently reserved to Westminster.
It is indeed a bizarre scenario when politicians from Unionist parties, who should be ashamed at the situation, actively gloat and support a Union that has mismanaged the economy so appallingly.
GERS is a set of figures based on a measure of guesswork that indicate very little, except highlighting the negatives of the current Union.
It has little bearing on the finances of an independent Scotland.
The point of independence is not to do everything in the same way as it has been done within the current constitutional framework, but to move away from this one-size-fits-all fiscal straitjacket to a tailored approach that prioritises stimulating economic growth.