Borders freelance photographer Stuart Cobley sent us this view of anglers on the River Tweed at Coldstream.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The shrill, negative voices in last week’s edition are evidence that “Project Fear” is still alive and kicking – and this before an independence referendum has even been called.
The obsession – and only policy – of the Unionist parties seems to be: “No referendum!”
We have pensions under threat, financial institutions leaving Scotland, the “Vow” and the now widely-discredited GERS figures (produced first in 1979 at the behest of another Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Lang, to persuade Scots we were too poor and dependent on the UK to manage our own affairs).
In 1959, Malta was told via The Times newspaper “Malta cannot live on its own” and “their economy would collapse without British Treasury subventions. Talk of full independence for Malta is therefore hopelessly impractical”.
Sounds familiar? Malta is today described by the IMF and World Bank as “an advanced economy” and “a high-income country”.
“Our Sovereign United Kingdom” has failed miserably to provide a stable economy for the benefit of all its citizens for decades, long before the creation of a parliament at Holyrood.
With real control over our own affairs, we would join the majority of small independent countries all over the world as a successful, progressive and welcoming country.
To those Unionists who criticise Nicola Sturgeon, I suggest they read the recent opinion poll conducted by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft on the approval rating in Scotland of party leaders: Ruth Davidson – minus 21%; Theresa May – minus 23%; Kezia Dugdale – minus 41%; Jeremy Corbyn – minus 51%; Paul Nuttall – minus 56%. Nicola Sturgeon, by contrast – plus 11%. So much for her popularity declining.
It is a pity Michael Wilson (letters, April 6) is “embarrassed at having to apologise for being Scottish”. In all my travels worldwide, as a proud Scot, I have found only empathy, respect, and a genuine liking and admiration for Scotland and the Scots. By contrast, rightly or wrongly, any criticism I have encountered has been of England and the English.
“Get on with the day job” is a phrase often bandied about – and should be levelled at a dysfunctional government at Westminster more than anyone else.
While Nicola Sturgeon was in the USA promoting a positive view of Scotland to the world, and returning with lucrative trade and business opportunities, Theresa May (apparently on holiday in Wales), Boris Johnson et al were – and are – struggling unsuccessfully to convince other world leaders that the UK is still a force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps they need to accept that post-empire, and particularly after Brexit, that the UK is no longer a highly-respected world power and concentrate on the “day job” – governing for the benefit of all its citizens, and not just a rich and privileged elite.
UNHAPPY ENGLISH TAXPAYERS
Any person in Scotland who was paying UK taxes on independence would be entitled to UK pensions or other benefits.
But, on independence, young people who had not paid anything to the UK exchequer would have to get a pension or other benefits from a Scottish government.
English taxpayers would not be happy bunnies having to pay for old age pensions, family allowance, unemployment benefit, tax credits or sickness payment for a foreign country, which Scotland would be.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is in La La Land.
British people living abroad are entitled to pensions as they had paid their taxes.
‘TARTAN COMMIES’ OR ‘TARTAN TORIES’
I wish to reply to C. Beagrie’s letter, headlined “Nationalists are not socialists”, which you published last week.
I have been a member of the SNP for more than 40 years. In that time the party has been called “Tartan Commies” or “Tartan Tories”, depending on who was slinging the mud.
It is no secret that the SNP has always put the cause of making Scotland an independent country again as its plain-sight objective.
Unionist parties expend a lot of their energy making the SNP into some kind of one-party-state ogre which will, if it achieves its aim, turn Scotland into North Korea or a spectre of old East Germany.
During the same 40-plus years the SNP has always stated that when independence was realised, the party as such would probably diverge into the usual left, right, centre or greens, as found anywhere else in the world.
In that way we would truly have Scottish Labour, Tory or Liberal, and not a “branch office” of English-oriented parties.
The facts are not to be found in Unionist newspapers or the BBC. Look outside the mainstream and listen to world politicians with no UK-biased agenda.
Scotland is big enough, wise enough and wealthy enough to get on with it by ourselves. After all, we have been supplying Prime Ministers, Chancellors and more to the UK parliament for centuries.
We have been lied to long enough, misled and talked down to by Westminster. Don’t be conned again, Scotland. Ignore the pledges – they are worthless.
Start by voting wisely in the upcoming local elections.
OPPORTUNITY FOR A RESOUNDING ‘NO’
Calum Kerr, in his piece for this paper last week, attempts to set out a “business as usual” picture of our local MP busying himself with a host of local issues which merit his attention.
So he should be busy in the interests of his constituents – there is nothing noteworthy in that. It is his job.
However, these are not usual times and it is disingenuous of him to pretend otherwise. It would suit his SNP party down to the ground to lull us all into believing that its goal is the common good.
He complains that the Conservatives keep on reminding all of us that the SNP exists for one reason only – the fracturing of the United Kingdom. The safety of the constitution has never seemed more important. We gave a clear answer in the “once-in-a-lifetime” referendum, and the nationalists are trying again to bully us into changing our minds.
Berwickshire voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to remain in the Union and yet, strangely, we finished up the following year with an SNP MP – and we now have a Scottish Government using any excuse to drag us into another referendum.
Neither our MP nor the Scottish Government can be changed at present, but on May 4 we have a golden opportunity to say a resounding “No” to SNP plotting.
The nationalists complain at every turn about Westminster austerity. Brian Wilson, in a recent article, pointed out that Westminster funding to Scotland from 2010 increased by 0.4%, while Holyrood funding to local councils fell by nearly 20%. Austerity seems to be home grown. Where do they hide our cash?
ON AND ON ABOUT INDEPENDENCE
On May 4 we are going to elect people to represent us on Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for the next five years – but I am confused.
Candidates for the Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour parties keep talking about stopping an independence referendum – SBC can do nothing about referendums.
I want councillors to concern themselves with issues such as education, social work, better roads, improving libraries, bin collection and all the other aspects of life that a local authority should concern itself with – not five years debating independence.
As the SNP and Green candidates seem to be the only ones talking about these local issues, then I know who is getting my first and second votes – and also who will be receiving No. 5, 6 and 7.
SHINE SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL ISSUES
I know there is heated debate in the national media as to whether we should or should not have a second independence referendum.
I recognise and respect the arguments being presented by both sides of this debate.
However, I do not think this issue should be used to decide which candidate we vote for in the forthcoming council elections. Whoever we elect, we are stuck with them for the next five years.
It will have no bearing whatsoever on whether we have a second referendum or not. It will not ‘send a message’ to Nicola Sturgeon or Theresa May. It will, however, have a major bearing on how well our money is spent and how well our local services are delivered.
I recently noticed one of our local parties promoting a petition against a second referendum on their Facebook campaign page. When I politely asked them if they could focus on local issues, they deleted my question and blocked me from commenting on their page.
This puts me off voting for their candidate in my district as I fear she will, if elected, be similarly unreceptive to reasonable questions posed by her constituents.
Can I urge council candidates to encourage voters to view the upcoming elections for what they are – a vote on local issues, not a referendum on whether to hold a referendum.
STEER CLEAR OF SUBURBANISATION
Scottish Borders Council’s Floral Gateway Competition is to be commended in that any increase in community pride and cohesion is undoubtedly positive.
However, when it comes to the improvement of village “gateways” or approaches, in the rural environment, a degree of restraint is in order.
Excessive expanses of closely-cropped grass adorned with ostentatious ranks of hybrid daffodils, for example, already blight much of our roadside rural environment. This suburbanisation of the countryside should not be encouraged – subtle planting of wildflowers native to the area, combined with well-timed, careful grass-cutting, would be far more appropriate.
As for the trend of strimming or rotary-mowing of approach verges on a weekly basis, it should be remembered that as far as roadside wildlife is concerned – from frogs to fledglings, bees to butterfly larvae – strimmers and mowers are nothing more than giant liquidisers.
GIVE LOCAL FIRMS A CHANCE
What a pity the Borders has no skilled workers left.
At at time of high unemployment in this region, I find it appalling that the council has to employ companies outwith the Borders to upgrade home insulation, bathrooms, kitchens etc.
Surely this work should go to local firms – and this would lead to higher and more skilled employment in the Borders.
On behalf of the Royal British Legion Scotland (Duns branch), I would like to thank all those involved in last Saturday’s coffee morning at the parish church hall – we raised £248 for the charity.
Much of this was due to the generosity of raffle prize donors – Fish & Fine Foods, Romanes, Borders Baguettes and the Co-op, and not forgetting the many private individual contributions. The team of servers and helpers did their usual sterling job, and the morning was enhanced by the presence of the parish church choir which led the guests in some rousing songs from the 1914-18 war – they were there as part of the World War One exhibition organised by Morag Cockburn and her team, and to them I give my grateful thanks.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all who donated money, raffle prizes and attended the charity dance on Saturday, April 8, in Foulden Village Hall.
We are delighted to have raised £750 for the Teenage Cancer Trust – and your help in raising this amount is greatly appreciated.
COMMUNITY CENTRE FUND-RAISER
Well done to the Chirnside newsagent and its staff for the excellent job in raising £30 for the community centre funds by a guess-the-weight of the Easter cake competition. Special thanks to all who contributed. The winner was Allison Paterson.