John McGuffie took this photo of the Northern Lights from Cornhill looking north over the Merse with Duns in the distance.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PEOPLE OF ALL PARTIES AND NONE
While the SNP, the Greens and some smaller parties support independence, they do not own the Yes movement which is populated by people of all parties and none.
Within the Yes movement there are many autonomous groups all working towards the shared vision of a more equal, fairer and prosperous Scotland. These groups include Pensioners for Independence, Business for Independence, Labour for Independence, Bikers for Independence and Women for Independence.
Many independence supporters do not belong to any of these groups, but are members of their local Yes organisation – which are in all parts of Scotland. It may surprise your readers to learn that there are also many Conservative supporters of independence, and their number has been swelled since Brexit as they realise the enormous financial and social damage which will be inflicted upon the UK once we leave the EU.
The Yes movement welcomes anyone who shares its objective and if any of your readers would like to join a Yes group they may do so by contacting any member. We are a democratic and friendly group and, unlike the No campaign of 2014, do not indulge in lies, false promises and dark propaganda.
On another matter, in your edition of March 2, I posed the question: “If (Scotland) is such a basket case, why is Westminster brutally determined that Scotland will never be independent?”
I’m still waiting for an answer.
PENSIONS AND PAVEMENT POLITICS
Should Scotland get independence, every person who reaches retiral age will be lucky to receive a state pension – Deputy First Minister John Swinney has stated this.
With the debt that would be hanging around the neck of an independent Scotland, it would be advisable to get some practice in sitting begging on a cold pavement.
OAPs like myself are only too thankful for a proper state pension.
HELL BENT ON DIVIDING COUNTRY
As an Englishwoman married to a Scotsman and living in the Borders, I doubt if many English, Welsh or Irish are particularly worried about Scotland remaining a part of Great Britain.
I find it sad that the First Minister seems hell-bent on dividing her own country because that is the only thing she will eventually achieve whatever the verdict will be!
NOT THE TIME TO PUT UP BARRIERS
I am moved to denounce the lengthy and rambling critique of the EU by William Lonskie whose letter you published recently.
His letter apparantly blamed the EU for all the problems the world faces today and referred repeatedly to ‘the failed EU project’ and ‘the failing EU’.
I see no failure. Mr Lonskie should remember that the European Union project was born after the horrors of the first decade of the 20th century out of collective desire never to see another war in Europe. The EU has, for 60 years, been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after centuries of bloodshed. Furthermore, since 1980 it has enabled the political, social and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships who are now EU members. European civil and military co-operation has improved millions of lives in post-conflict zones in Europe and Africa and has supported democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond.
Furthermore, the EU has enabled us as a continent to address the great issues of our time and has had a great success in improving and protecting our environment, our civil liberties, our food standards, our workplace safety, our animal husbandry, our counter-terrorism intelligence and our human rights. Working together for common good has improved all our lives immeasurably. Surely this is worth the price of the inevitable bureaucracy?
Now the union faces major challenges brought on by neoliberal economic globalisation and a migrant crisis which is a humanitarian disaster. There’s ecological problemns, environmental problems, and there’s huge discrepancy between rich and poor worldwide. It is taking measures to overcome these. This is not the time to be putting up barriers between us and our neighbours and allies, but to be working with them to tackle these huge issues. Surely we can solve those problems better is we’re unified than if we close ourselves and shut our eyes.
Here in Scotland we voted by a large majority to remain in the EU, and it seems that soon we will be asked to choose which Union we want to remain a part of, the EU or the UK. Many of us did not want to have to make this choice but it has been forced upon us by the shambolic in-fighting and downright transigence of Westminster parties who have treated Scottish voters with nothing but contempt. The EU is a union of equals, can the same really be said for the UK? I think not.
I am proud to be a second-generation Scot, my family has grown to love this country that adopted us after my father came here as a soldier during World War Two. Scotland has much to teach the rest of the EU and it is my hope that Scotland will achieve Independence in the not too distant future, and remain in the EU, where we as a nation will be able to set an example of how a Nation State can be proud and independent and yet also outward-looking and inclusive.
The EU project is unique in the world and a becaon to many. It is still in many ways in its infancy but it has already taught us one precious lesson, that democracy, the rule of law and limited government can guarantee human freedom.
SENDING MIXED MESSAGES
Regarding Alex Salmond’s claims of Scotland’s millennium in Europe. Surely we have been battling with them since 1066, off and on. Or has my old history teacher been feeding me porkies?
James D. Lough
FIRST WORLD WAR EXPERIENCES
There has recently been donated to Dunse History Society a most amazing collection of papers.
These relate to the family of James Speedy who was a farmer at Reedyloch, Edrom, from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Of especial interest though are the records of his daughter, Margaret May Speedy, who was a nurse at Southfield Military Hospital, Duns (now Southfield Community Centre) during the First World War. As a nurse, possibly as part of their treatment, she had the soldiers record their war-time experiences, where they campaigned, what life was like in the army and at the front, how they sustained their injuries and how they saw their future.
These records form a quite unique collection and have only now come to light, having effectively lain neglected since shortly after the First Word War.
Needless to say, Dunse History Society is delighted to have been donated these papers which we have decided to publish, and in the book also to include an early history of Southfield House.
We would be pleased to hear from anyone who might have any knowledge or information on Southfield during the First World War, or of any of the soldiers who were invalided there and also from anyone related to or who has any information about the Speedy family.
Dunse History Society
Duns TD11 3EW
(tel: 01361 882166)
SPECIAL VISIT TO BATTLEFIELD
This year marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium.
The Belgian army suffered over 300,000 casualties in what became known as the ‘Battle of the Mud’. Many were from Scotland.
Between, Sunday, June 25, and Friday, June 30, I will be leading a coach party to visit the battlefield and also to see the special exhibitions and events being held to mark the centenary.
There will be an opportunity to visit a relative’s grave by arrangement.
We still have a few places left. If any of your readers would like more details they can contact me by phone on 01368 866826, mobile 07710 270640, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also write to me at Beachcote, Golf House Road, Dunbar, East Lothian EH2 1LS.
PRAISE WHERE PRAISE IS DUE!
A special “thank you” to the young chap who cut the grass in Cockburnbspath two weeks ago.
Long may you have a job with Scottish Borders Council as you did a great job. Your boss should be very proud of you.
We are always ready to complain if things are not right so I feel it is in order to praise this young lad for his excellent work which has attracted lots of local comment.
‘LITTLE SCOTLANDER APPROACH’
In June 2011, Lord McCluskey, a former Solicitor General, said Kenny MacAskill should be removed as Scottish justice minister after calling UK Supreme Court judges “ambulance chasers”.
Then First Minister Alex Salmond “fully endorsed” his justice minister on his attack on Lord Hope of Craighead and Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, both former Lord President of the Court of Session.
Annabel Goldie, then Scottish Conservative leader, said at the time: “His trenchant dislike of and the hostility to the very concept of a British court is evident by his little Scotlander approach, and his and Mr MacAskill’s ill-advised and provocative rhetoric.”
Prior to the 2014 independence referendum, Mr MacAskill said: “If we win the Yes campaign we can follow with a (another) referendum to abolish the monarchy” (and form a republic).
With his close relationship to Sinn Fein and SNP republicanism, this man is a nightmare waiting to happen.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is now in a rapidly-declining position with Scottish voters. How long before a no-confidence vote from outside the Sturgeon “family” in the Scottish Parliament?
SCHEME CERTAINLY NOT THE TICKET
Last week I had some family visitors and they wanted to introduce their baby daughter to the sea.
Off we went to White Sands – one of my favourites.
Wanting to be a good citizen, I put my £2 into the parking machine, pressed all the right buttons, and waited. No ticket came.
So I pressed the return bottom, got my £2 back and tried again – slowly and deliberately, with the same result. At this stage I gave up.
A passer-by told me he had found the machine at Barns Ness a complete blank on a recent visit. It begs a question about the maintenance system.
As reported in your paper, the installation of the machines and other work at the coastal car parks cost £899,347. That is a “sunk cost” – there is no way of getting the money back. It does not mean that the charges must be continued if they are not economic.
Even though earlier modelling of the proposal indicated that it would not raise more than it cost, the current Labour/Conservative/Independent administration for East Lothian Council pressed ahead with an uneconomic scheme. They budgeted for £0.5m income per year, reduced this to £300k, and actually made £100k in 11 months in the current financial year.
The fines levied since the end of January will increase the coffers, but what I can say with certainty is that if the machines don’t work, there will be a lower income.
Local Liberal Democrats are committed to phasing out coastal car park charges.
(Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dunbar and East Linton)
MACMILLAN COFFEE MORNING CASH
On behalf of the Duns committee of Macmillan Cancer Support, I would like to thank everyone who attended, and donated baking and raffle prizes to our coffee morning on Saturday, March 18.
The amount raised was £560.
In the present economic climate, this is an excellent amount.
All monies raised are utilised for various activities at Borders General Hospital.
The annual plant sale and strawberry teas is being held on Sunday, June 4, in the Volunteer Hall, Duns.
If anyone would like to join our committee please call Joyce on 01361 882894.