Your picture of the Week
Curtis Welsh found this group of grazing ponies on the hills above Melrose, enjoying the morning sunshine.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SATISFYING THE TORY XENOPHOBES
It beggars belief that in the light of the “Windrush scandal”, the strident, Unionist-supporting voices in your pages can only indulge in yet more pathetic anti-Scottish Government and anti-SNP petty political point-scoring.
If I can remind your readers, these Commonwealth citizens were invited and encouraged to come to Britain after the war to supplement the workforce and help to rebuild the country, which they have continued to do.
This shameful, cruel and callous treatment of British citizens, as a result of punitive policies introduced by Theresa May, as Home Secretary, and continued by her successor, Amber Rudd, has denied them basic rights which all British citizens expect and deserve.
People and their descendants who have lived, worked and contributed to the UK have been treated disgracefully by the “nasty party” under the misguided pretext of controlling immigration. People who have gone abroad to attend family weddings and funerals have not been allowed back to their homes and families; people dying of cancer have been denied treatment; people have lost their homes and jobs, and have been deported – all to satisfy the rabid xenophobes in the Tory party, afraid of losing votes to UKIP.
Scotland desperately needs control over its own immigration policy, and must distance itself from the rhetoric and anti-immigrant propaganda coming from Westminster.
SNP MPs, significantly, all voted against the immigration policy introduced by the Tories at Westminster while, shamefully, the bulk of Labour MPs voted with the government, or sat on their hands and abstained.
If Theresa May had any sense of shame and a willingness to accept responsibility, then both she and Amber Rudd would resign. But, hey, they’ve said sorry for this debacle and passed the buck, blaming civil servants for carrying out their orders – so that’s all right then.
HYPOCRISY AT WESTMINSTER
In 2003 the artist Michael Franti wrote a song with the words, “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you cannot bomb it into peace”, in response to the bombing of Iraq.
How relevant these words are in the context of the world today.
Whatever your readers think of the suspected chemical attack in Syria earlier this month, the hypocrisy of the Westminster government could not have passed them by.
While our MPs are happy to condemn the use of chemical weapons on Syrian children, they are equally as happy to promote the sale of conventional arms, made in the UK, to the Saudi Arabian military forces to bomb children in the Yemen
Surely the maiming and murder of children caught in unnecessary conflict is what is wrong, not the method used to carry it out.
Our government may do well to heed the words of Michael Franti and seek political and diplomatic solutions in future, for the sake of the children, if nothing else.
ACTIONS QUESTION DEMOCRACY
Prime Minister Theresa May has placed our forces under the effective control of an erratic US president.
She justifies her actions with the pre-democratic doctrine of royal prerogative.
Yet it’s only legitimate for a Prime Minister to act without parliamentary endorsement when Britain is directly threatened and this was manifestly not the case. To participate in this act of puerile militaristic machismo was an abuse of her office.
Donald Trump’s infantile tweet, taunting Russia to “get ready” for his missiles because “they will be coming, nice and new and smart” was almost beyond belief.
For the de facto leader of the West to talk like Joe Pesci in ‘Goodfellas’ not only brings the American democratic process into question, but undermines the entire post-war geo-political settlement which was premised on law and rules-based international relations.
Rev. Dr John Cameron
TOEING THE PRIME MINISTER’S LINES
Last week’s Southern contained the regular ‘View from Westminster’, supposedly written by David Mundell.
The column was headlined ‘No alternative to military action’ and ran to 341 words – 83 of them (24%) were in phrases drawn from Prime Minister Theresa May’s press conference statement on Syria (April 14).
Apart from issues of plagiarism, it seems to me that Mr Mundell is incapable of thinking for himself. As such he is a poor representative for the people of Scotland.
NASTY THEN AND NASTY NOW
I am not surprised that one of your correspondents (letters, April 12) found the language of MSP Rachael Hamilton distasteful and inappropriate.
After all, was it not the now Prime Minister and leader of the UK Conservatives, Theresa May, who, in 2002, referred to her own party as being known as “the nasty party”?
For readers who wish to do a little further research into the past, they will find that back in 1948 the then Minister of Health in the Atlee government, and the instigator of the National Health Service, Nye Bevan, described the Conservatives of the day in rather more colourful language.
Judging by more recent events, and to focus on just one example, i.e. the Windrush furore, it would appear that this particular leopard hasn’t changed its spots – not by one iota.
WHAT ABOUT BRIDGE CORNER?
After suffering three days of road closures on the A68 south of Jedburgh to repair road surfaces, hurrah, it’s now open, saving a long journey around the obstacle course that is our country roads – the only thing is that they haven’t repaired the worst corner at Ferniehurst bridge which is a real dangerous hazard for traffic.
As this was in the section that was closed, could anyone explain why it wasn’t included in the repairs?
STAFF PROFESSIONAL AND DEDICATED
I would like to respond to an article you published last week featuring an inspectors’ report about SB Cares.
As a client of SB Cares, I receive an excellent standard of care. The staff are very professional and dedicated to their clients, and always willing to go the extra mile if required.
During the recent, severe weather they worked as a team, re-organised their rota to ensure that every client was visited.
Unable to drive, they trudged through the snow, many with backpacks containing essential items for their work. I was impressed by their cheerful demeanour and the light-hearted banter about the weather.
Thanks should also be expressed to carers who were unable to travel, but worked in their own area to visit clients.
SB Cares in Eyemouth – and I am sure in many other areas of the Borders – provides an excellent standard of service to all clients.
Due to holidays, sickness and slow recruitment of new staff, the carers have had added visits to their shifts.
Without their dedication, I am not sure how SB Cares would have been able to provide a service.
A word of appreciation or thanks for their professionalism and dedication is truly deserved.
THE KINDNESS THAT IS KELSO
I have left for East Lothian, but wanted to tell you that Kelso and its townsfolk have been wonderful.
I was a wreck when I turned up, but am now fully well and raring to go.
Thank you, Kelso. Thank you for your various kindnesses and for being the best town, with the best charity shops in the Borders.
Formerly of Brisbane Place Kelso
ACT WON’T SAVE THE WORLD’S POOREST
Faith leaders across Scotland have urged the Scottish Parliament to pass a “strong and ambitious climate change act” to save the world’s poorest people from further devastation.
I think they will need divine intervention since Scotland has a miniscule 0.13% of global emissions.
Only a handful of countries have legally-binding climate change acts the other 190 only made promises.
These faith leaders need to get out of their cloisters and see the world as it is, not what they want it to be.
A good start would be to visit China with 28% of global emissions and India (6%), and both are rapidly increasing their emissions.
No legally-binding Climate Change Acts for them.
America, with 16% of global emissions, refused to sign the Paris Agreement, but it has dramatically reduced emissions by using shale gas instead of coal.
Meanwhile the rest of the world burns fossil fuels.
FIGURES DON’T ADD UP TO PROSPERITY
The latest population statistics make sobering reading for the SNP.
Scotland’s population has increased by just 0.4% in the year to June 2017 – merely 20,100 people – with immigration the principal driver. Plus, worryingly, 19% of the population is aged 65 and over, compared to 16% in 2007.
The population growth rate across the UK as a whole is much stronger at between 0.6% and 0.8% since 2015.
Some have proposed Scotland should have a different immigration policy to the rest of the UK post-Brexit to attract immigrants, yet historically Scotland has been a less attractive destination to migrants than elsewhere in the UK.
Approximately 7% of Scotland’s population was born overseas compared to 14% across the UK as a whole.
Even though UK growth is comparatively weak right now, it’s currently achieving annual levels of circa 1.6% and has clocked up 2% annually over the past eight years. In contrast, Scotland’s annual growth rate over the same period has averaged 1.1%.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon inevitably blames Westminster, though Scotland’s over-dependence on a single declining commodity has a major role to play.
But whatever the cause, Scotland’s weak economy, combined with the growing perception that this is a high-tax country, bodes badly for an independent Scotland that, above all else, would need young, skilled workers not just to stay, but choose to live here.
A Scotland separated from the rest of the UK would struggle to support the ever-growing demands of an ageing population on the public purse, without eye-watering levels of taxation.
AN AID TO HELP THE ELDERLY FEEL SAFER
Everyone deserves a home in which they can feel comfortable and secure.
Unfortunately, more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, and people over the age of 65 are most at risk of severe injury.
In response, Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has launched a new, free advice guide to help older people and their families identify and reduce some of the most common safety risks in their homes.
The free guide, called ‘Home safety: How to spot risks and prevent accidents’, is suitable for people who either own or rent their home, and offers advice about simple and effective ways to tackle some of the most common potential safety risks encountered by older people at home. It provides practical information on safety across a range of domestic areas such as fire, electricity, fuel, food and water.
Most serious accidents at home involving older people usually happen on the stairs or in the kitchen, and almost three-quarters of falls among people aged 65 and over result in arm, leg and shoulder injuries. ‘Home safety’ provides advice and information on minimising the likelihood of having a fall, including the installation of grab rails, and activities which help to improve strength, balance and flexibility.
‘Home safety’ is free to order and download from www.independentage.org/home-safety or can be ordered for free by calling 0800 319 6789.
To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, please visit independentage.org.
(director of services,
RAISING CANCER AWARENESS
I am supporting Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign to raise awareness of key symptoms following my own diagnosis of the disease for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April.
In April alone nearly 3,500 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 1,300 people will die of the disease.
However that shouldn’t be the case.
It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
Being aware of the key symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.
That’s why the charity is giving away free copies of their handy symptoms guide for you to share with your family and friends.
Join me in supporting this campaign – sign up now to receive your free guide here: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/symptomsguide.