This week’s reader’s photo is entitled ‘Sheep at Bothwell Farm near Cranshaws’ and was taken by Louise Renton from Duns.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
WHIPPING-BOY ROLE FOR THE POOR
In days of old, homes of the wealthy upper classes would often have a ‘whipping-boy’, whose role was to suffer any punishments ascribed to the family offspring.
Such an arrangement was neither voluntary nor moral. We may delude ourselves that such injustice has ceased, but what’s happened is it just morphed, especially recently, into the political arena where it’s not just a poor boy here or there who’s made to suffer for the sins of the wealthy, but entire families – and in their thousands.
The bankers played fast and loose in the gambling den that’s the City of London and were, by their own admission, reckless and clueless, and by the results of investigations, often found to be fraudulent as well.
Have they been punished? Not in the slightest. In fact, the very opposite. They were rewarded with millions in bonuses, millions of our money; and their empty coffers replenished with not millions, but trillions of our hard-earned cash.
And so, as with the whipping-boy system, it’s the poorest and most vulnerable in society who are forced to take the punishment for something they didn’t do, and had no say over.
We can all play our part in bringing this gross injustice to an end by ensuring, come hail, rain or shine on Thursday, June 8, we turn out to vote for an end to this oppressive and unjust Conservative government, and make it and its local apologist, John Lamont, history.
JUNK MAIL AND TORY POSTERS
In the Borders I have seen political arrogance writ large and untrammelled as never before.
Returning to my home last Saturday, I discovered what I thought to be a piece of junk mail had been pushed through my letter box.
I was wrong. It wasn’t what I initially thought it was. Unfolding the paper, I realised that it was, in fact, a large A3 poster, expensively produced in full colour on quality glossy paper. On closer examination – for it wasn’t immediately obvious – I found it had come courtesy of the local Tory party.
Given the inordinate amount of space available – it was printed on both sides – I might have expected it to come gloriously stuffed with pro-active information about Conservative policies and aspirations which would benefit and improve the lives of us domiciled in Berwickshire and beyond. I was wrong.
Instead, the content was totally and completely devoted to the Tory fixation about the next referendum, while simultaneously bashing the SNP at Holyrood. Not one mention anywhere could I find a reference to policies in any shape or form. I thought it was very disappointing and a waste of good paper.
Since there was such a dearth of policy substance contained in this somewhat strange election communication, I was forced to conclude the following:
a) The Tories are entirely devoid of any meaningful policies or, b), if they have any they are so negative and nasty that they are fearful to commit them to print.
So there we have it here in the Borders – a Tory party so arrogant that it doesn’t feel obliged to spell out even one word about its policies in an election communication.
Perhaps I was right after all – it was just a piece of junk mail.
SENDING JOHN A MESSAGE
Tory candidate John Lamont’s A3-size leaflet dropped through my door.
Pretty much as expected – almost three-quarters of it dedicated to “sending Nicola Sturgeon a message”. Think we’ve all got the message by now, John – not too keen on another independence referendum. Still not sure what that has to do with the general election, but if that’s your only policy...
Was interested in one part though: “By electing John, you will continue to have a local champion who will stand up for NHS services, schools and transport links...” I hate to be the one to break it to him, but those are all devolved issues, the stuff he was supposed to be dealing with while he was an MSP.
The rest of Mr Lamont’s leaflet seems to be wanting and campaigning for things, but nothing about what he has actually done or achieved.
The SNP’s Calum Kerr gives many examples of what he has actually done and people he has actually helped during his two years as an MP in his leaflet. A much more positive view.
Some people may think I’m picking on Mr Lamont, but I haven’t heard anything from either Labour or the Liberal Democrats, so it’s difficult to make any comments on their policies or anything about them.
I think on June 8 the electorate should send John Lamont a message – not about indyref2 – but that we want an MP who will stand up for the people of the Borders. And it’s not him.
TRYING HARD TO LOSE ELECTION
In all my life I have never seen a government try so hard to lose an election as the present Tory one appears to be doing.
William W. Scott
DIVIDED ALONG SECTARIAN LINES
In her half-page eulogy to the SNP (Berwickshire News, June 1), Nicola Sturgeon claims that Scotland has become “a more inclusive society under the SNP”.
Nonsense. Scotland has become divided along sectarian lines, thanks to the SNP’s continual attempt to separate Scotland from the world’s fifth largest economy, and the millions of English people who think, act and live as we do. Thousands of Scots are alienated from the SNP and do not believe its claims that Scotland would be a better country if it had total control.
I have a friend who, when he sees Sturgeon on Reporting Scotland, tells me he has great difficulty preventing himself from throwing the remote control at the screen.
No wonder Sturgeon’s popularity has slumped, with most Scots disapproving of her performance. Her constant whingeing and carping about how badly Scotland is being treated by Westminster is akin to being stuck in a cloud of midges on a damp windless night.
Far from being treated badly, thanks to the Barnett formula, every Scot – man, woman and child – has over £1,600 spent on them compared with England. It is only because of this cash that all the freebies which the SNP claim for their own can be afforded. Separation would end this cash.
Scotland is already in the red by £15bn and would not only have to terminate the freebies, but hike VAT and national insurance, and slash spending on the NHS, the police, education and transport. We would really know the meaning of austerity then.
The nationalists know this, but they ignore it. It’s time for them to tell the truth to the people.
Under independence, there would have been no Borders railway, no dualling of the A9, no new Forth road bridge and no mighty aircraft carriers being built at Rosyth. All these projects could only be financed with Scotland as part of the UK.
There is another thing which is deeply troubling about the SNP – its lack of democracy. When did you last hear one of their MSPs or MPs giving a personal opinion at odds with party policy?
Never. It’s all top-down stuff. Speak out and you will be summoned to appear before a hearing of the bosses, accused of “bringing the party into disrepute”.
And now Scotland’s journalists are concerned about the way in which the SNP government is blocking Freedom of Information requests and halting the gathering of statistics which it has a statutory duty to keep.
PEOPLE’S WELFARE NOT ON AGENDA
The general election outcome will be the most important for many generations to come.
The future well-being of all the people in the UK will be greatly affected by the result. In Scotland, voters have a chance to send a clear message that remaining in the UK is fundamental to a positive future.
Over the past 10 years in office, the SNP has not risen to the task of governing Scotland, since its only interest has been that of independence and separation from the UK.
Governance of our country, and the welfare of its people, have not, it seems, been on the SNP agenda. Improving Scotland’s economy has been too much for that party, yet again.
Nicola Sturgeon’s only answer is to blame Westminster for the SNP’s self-inflicted woes, even though, during this period, more than £100bn has been silently received by the Scottish Government from Westminster. Indeed, an additional £350m is being received in 2017 from an update within the Barnet Formula which, without this increase, runs at over £11bn in 2016 for Scotland from Westminster,
Yet Ms Sturgeon’s election battle cry has been: “Voting Tory means Tory cuts.” It would seem that the opposite is true since the SNP cut Scotland’s councils’ national funding by £217m in this current year, hurting all north of the border. We are never told what we receive.
All we ever hear is the constant carping of Ms Sturgeon blaming Westminster – a never-ending smokescreen that the people of Scotland are now beginning to see through; just as the people have realised that independence is a total folly – it should have been dropped when rejected by the people. It seems that, to the nationalists, democracy is but a feather in their way. Ms Sturgeon cannot abandon her childhood dreams.
However, like it or lump it, June 8 is all about Brexit, regardless of Nicola wishing it wasn’t.
The Brexit negotiations will demand total confidentiality as far as the UK is concerned – that is the way of negotiation.
It was obvious that Nicola Sturgeon’s stance precluded her from being ‘in the loop’, so to speak. Her problem that she cannot make Scotland’s voice heard is alas of her own making. She must now trust Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge that she will have the interests of all in the UK foremost in her negotiations.
So, what now for the SNP?
One senses that its constant negativity is not a trait that the public admires, and will not carry the nationalists through for much longer. So, unless there is a dramatic change of mindset as to how the SNP is run, the die is cast for a very difficult future for it and Scotland.
On June 8 send your message that we reject the way Scotland is being run by the SNP. More than ever, we need harmony in the years to come, putting an end to the division that will stand in the way of the common and collective opportunity that Brexit will offer us.
John E. Payne
NIGHTMARE OF THE TWO-CHILD LIMIT
Of many cuts the Tories have made to benefits – concentrating on hitting the most vulnerable in our society, rather than focusing on gathering vast sums hidden from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs offshore by the wealthiest – the cruellest and most far-reaching must be the two-child tax credit limit.
Eligibility for benefits is not a lifestyle choice, as has been suggested by Conservative Westminster candidate John Lamont – more than half of tax credit claimants are in work. Limiting financial help to two children is in itself worrying – we seem to be hurtling headlong into an Orwellian dystopia. These children are our future and they deserve the best start a civilised society can give them. Poverty should not be fixed or inherited – a child helped by the state to a decent basic start can and often will go on to do better.
A more common scenario, I imagine, to the harsh caricature of a single mum with a dozen grubby children is a working low-paid single parent with two children, legitimately claiming child tax credits, meeting and wishing to marry or cohabit with another single parent in the same situation.
What then? Will two people whose joint income hasn’t changed lose much-needed (often temporary) financial support for the children born after April 2017?
The rape clause, intended to be seen as a cushion to the harshness of the two-child limit, raises even more concerns.
A rape survivor has a fundamental right to anonymity and this has been swept away. A rape survivor has the right not to report the attack – again this has been ignored, and this violation of a woman’s body will be known to an uncontrollable (and untrained) line of people beyond the first handler of the form – benefits advisers. Even bank staff will be able to tell a tax credit amount larger than the two-child norm.
Rapists don’t just attack single women – they also attack women in happy, settled relationships. Rapists don’t check that a woman hasn’t had sex with anyone else that month – a pregnancy from rape is not so easily differentiated from an accidental pregnancy.
What of accidental pregnancies – are they to be punished as profligate or reckless? Rape can occur within marriage – what then? The clause distinctly precludes any child whose mother is still living with the father.
This legislation is full of holes and will be yet another nightmare for “clients” and government agencies to navigate.
QUESTIONS FOR RACHAEL
A few weeks ago, two groups of women met John Lamont at his surgeries in Eyemouth and Duns. We were there to challenge him about the deplorable and demeaning “rape clause”.
He was unmoved by the words of 20 of his concerned constituents and confirmed his support for the reprehensible clause which limits tax credits for families to two children, unless the mother can prove that a third child was conceived through coercion.
Apart from this, we know nothing about his or his Conservative party’s policies, except being against the SNP and another independence referendum because the leaflets coming through our letter boxes say nothing else. This is their obsession.
John Lamont stood down from his MSP role to make his fourth attempt to get to Westminster (so much for his commitment to the Borders).
Now Rachael Hamilton is standing for the Scottish Parliament. We know nothing about her policies either. The Conservative leaflets give nothing away, except the message of get rid of the SNP to stop another referendum.
Women to woman, we’d like to ask Rachael Hamilton, as a wife and mother, and hear her answer to our questions about the “rape clause”, about the dementia tax, the cuts to tax credits and the loss of the triple lock to pensions.
We, the undersigned women, are voters in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency.
Maureen Anton, Kate
Duncan, Alison Currie,
Terry Howson, Irene
McEwan, Jackie Thompson,
Christine Dickson, Mandy Bell.
FLOWER SHOW COFFEE MORNING
We would like to say thank-you to everyone who supported our coffee morning on Saturday, May 27, in the Legion, Coldstream.
We raised £450 which goes to help our Coldstream Open Flower Show which is being held in September.
With so many creative souls not only baking, but also making items such as planters, a ragdoll and a wooden kingfisher, it was jam-packed full of all the usual favourite stalls, alongside our plant sale.
(vice-chair and media
Spa Well Drive
GP IS GRATEFUL FOR SO MUCH
I would like to thank all those who donated money locally for my retirement.
This was organised by the Friends of the Health Centre, to whom I am also grateful. They do some great work, raising money to supply medical equipment for the local medical practice.
I was a little embarrassed to receive such a large sum after completing 36 years as a local GP. I loved doing my job, and really needed no extra reward.
The job, at times, was sad and traumatic, but it was also very rewarding. I feel privileged to have been able to share important moments in the lives of so many people. I have witnessed some incredible courage in dealing with illness, and with bereavement. Those who know me well will also remember some very humorous moments!
I was fortunate to work in an area where people really care for each other, especially the elderly and the vulnerable. So many people give up their lives to look after a spouse, relative or friend. There is a vast army of carers, both paid and unpaid, doing some fantastic work.
They deserve more recognition.
My role was made easier by working with some great colleagues – staff members and medical personnel, past and recent. And, of course, I would like to thank my wife for putting up with my rants!
I am hoping to spend the donated money on garden furniture.
PLANT SALE AND STRAWBERRY TEA
On behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support’s local committee, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to come along to our plant sale and strawberry tea at Duns Volunteer Hall.
The brilliant amount of £1,090 was raised. Without the donation of plants, money and raffle prizes, this amount could not be raised.
Our next event is the Christmas concert on Sunday, December 3, in Duns Parish Church.
Anyone wishing to join our committee should call Joyce on 01361 882894. All monies raised at our events is utilised for various function at the BGH and Margaret Kerr Palliative Care Unit.
GREAT DAFFODIL APPEAL 2017
Marie Curie’s Berwickshire Fundraising Group would like to express their thanks to all the residents of Berwickshire who donated so generously to this year’s Daffodil Appeal.
The street collection in Duns raised £900 and the appeal boxes in shops raised £321, giving a total of £1,221 raised in Duns. The collection in the Co-op at Eyemouth raised £429.91, whilst appeal boxes in shops in Eyemouth, Chirnside, Greenlaw and surrounding district raised £652, giving a total of £1,081.91.
The grand total raised for the 2017 Daffodil Appeal was £2,302.91. Marie Curie nursing of a terminally-ill patient costs £20 per hour, so this total represents 115 hours of nursing care.
Once again the people of Berwickshire have given generously to our appeal and the fundraising group is appreciative of that generosity.
We would also like to express our appreciation to the 1st Eyemouth Guides and 2nd Eyemouth Brownies who have raised, so far, £159.42, but there are still girls who have to bring their collection boxes, so this total will rise.
Marie Curie Berwickshire