Borders freelance photographer Stuart Cobley provided this image of Coldingham Bay. Please email photographic contributions, with a brief caption, to firstname.lastname@example.org
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
CACOPHONY OF THE GUTTER PRESS
As a pensioner for 15 years, I fully understand the concerns retired people have for the future of their pension in an independent Scotland.
During the debate leading up to the 2014 referendum we were assailed from all directions about how vulnerable pensions would be if we voted Yes. The Labour party even phoned older people saying that their pension would stop the day after independence.
It was all baloney because the Department for Work and Pensions stated categorically at the time that pensions would continue to be paid to people in an independent Scotland, just as they are to retired folk living in France and Spain.
But the truth was drowned out by the cacophony of the gutter press and the lies of Project Fear.
So, as a member of Pensioners for Independence, am I a bampot? Well, perhaps not as I don’t read the brainwashing in the Daily Mail, Express or Sun; and I avoid the misinformation emanating from the BBC.
I know that the British old-age pension is among the lowest in the world as it is worth only a third of average British salary, whereas in most EU countries it is a half. Our pension is lower than Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and, believe it or not, Greece.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested, the triple-lock pension guarantee may be ended after 2020, whereas the Scottish Government has said it will be retained.
By the way, while Britain is still in the grip of austerity, Portugal has spent its way out of it and most economic indices show the country is back on the road to prosperity with a greatly-reduced deficit. It works – ask anyone who lived through the 1940s after the war.
So Nicola Sturgeon is going to let us know after the Easter recess what her new indyref2 tactics may be.
Now, more than ever before, Scottish politics are completely paralysed by the SNP’s obsession with breaking up the UK.
It seems the SNP have given up even pretending to focus on their domestic remit.
I think we can be assured that Ms Sturgeon and the SNP establishment will be fully occupied over the next month.
Not running Scotland, nor assisting the Brexit process, but working out how to ignore our democratic wishes as expressed in September 2014, and somehow get Theresa May to change her mind.
Good luck with that one, Ms Sturgeon.
SNP DENYING FACTS AND FIGURES
Having cheered Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures (GERS) in 2013, the Scottish National Party is now booing them.
The Scottish Government (not the Treasury) revealed tax revenue per head in Scotland was £10,000 – £400 below the UK average. Public spending per head was £12,800, or £1,200 above the UK average.
The big crunch for the SNP is spending £15bn more than it collects in tax.
With these serious fiscal figures (and an independent Scotland) the large financial institutions based in Scotland will leave for London (taking their corporation tax payments with them). This will deliver another big blow to Scotland’s already shrinking Gross National Product (GNP).
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Joan McAlpine, and a large number of their SNP colleagues, are simply denying these facts and figures.
The relationship between people within the UK has always been friendly and strong, and have always helped each other
Don’t let the First Minister and her “family”, because of personal ambition, disrupt this now great situation for our sovereign United Kingdom.
It is only the Scottish Government that has voted for another referendum – not the much-wiser Scottish people. If Nicola Sturgeon asked the people of Scotland to vote tomorrow (but she has not the courage), she would lose. Then we could have her resignation. But pigs will fly first.
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE
I understand that the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum is important news, but can we, for the time being, put that issue on the back burner and, in a current popular phrase, get on with the day job.
That is the election of new councillors to represent us for the next five years – an event which takes place in only four weeks’ time.
I wrote last month that I did not recall seeing our current Leaderdale and Melrose councillors about in Lauder. Scottish Borders Council has details of all their expenses claims on their website – the information from there seems to support that view.
Although all three are regular attenders at the community council meetings, apart from literally a couple of other claims for civic events, I can’t see any sign of them having visited Lauder since 2013. The same seems to be true for the other towns they are supposed to represent.
I’m sure someone will correct me if I have misinterpreted the information.
Election does not, in my view, give councillors the right to simply nip off down to Newtown St Boswells and carry on doing what they think is best for us for a full five years. A regular visit to local shops and other businesses, and individual constituents in different parts of their ward to see how things are going sounds like a sensible approach.
Don’t wait for us to seek you out when there is a problem.
Leaderdale and Melrose ward is massive in geographic terms, running from Melrose and Tweedbank in the south right up to the border with Midlothian at Soutra in the north. While the railway may be bringing great benefits to Melrose and Tweedbank, as far as I know, Blainslie, Lauder and Oxton haven’t seen any difference in terms of tourism or additional spending. Just too far from the stations (although, again, I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong).
Why not come and visit local businesses and see what they say?
I think I’m ready to give a new councillor a try – one who will actually visit their constituents without waiting for a problem to be reported.
West High Street
VOTING PLEA TO THE ELECTORATE
I am pleased to have been selected as the SNP candidate for the Kelso and District ward in the forthcoming council elections.
I want to ask people to vote, no matter what their political preference is.
The turnout in the last local elections in this ward was under 40%. It is important newly-elected councillors reflect the wishes of local people.
The vote is worth having, and we should remember the struggles to get the franchise extended, for example to women. This carries on, with 16-17 year olds and citizens of other European Union countries being entitled to vote in these elections.
We should also remember there are still those who want to restrict the vote – for example, as recently as Tuesday last week Borders MSP John Lamont voted in the Scottish Parliament to disenfranchise these two groups.
LANDING £430 FOR LOCAL FISHERMEN
Despite heavy rainfall, Saturday’s coffee morning for the Fishermen’s Mission was a huge success, raising £430 for local fishermen and their families.
Special thanks to Francis, Janet, Wendy, Barbara, Jane, Eyemouth Rotary, EU church members, parish church members, Helen, Wilma, Elizabeth, Janice, David, Martin, Ian, Fay, Jim and to Oblo for supplying a gazebo to keep things dry and to Occasions who always support with a beautiful bouquet raffle prize.
Supt Claire McIntosh
The Fishermen’s Mission
Berwickshire and East Lothian
APOLOGISING FOR BEING SCOTTISH
While Nicola Sturgeon and her power-hungry Green allies are desperately trying to exploit the narrow UK-wide Brexit majority (51.8% vs 48.2%) to justify their single-minded obsession for a second attempt (“in a generation”) at economic suicide via Scottish independence, several inescapable facts should be borne in mind.
Among the 1.6m Scots who voted to remain in the EU (with whom we do less than 20% of our trade), most must have assumed that we would simultaneously remain part of the UK (with whom we do over 80% of our trade) and with whom we have intimate geographical, historical, social, cultural and family ties.
Destruction of the UK was never on the EU ballot following the unambiguous outcome of 2104 independence referendum. Moreover, why would anyone who misguidedly voted to be free of the UK Union and huge UK Treasury subsidies in 2014 be gullible enough: (i) to vote to be governed 100% by unelected Eurocrats in Brussels and (ii) to have to beg for scraps of euros to survive as a tiny, remote member state among 27 others while having the economic profile of Greece?
In 2014, more than 2m residents in Scotland (46.2% of the total electorate) voted to remain part of the UK, for all the obvious reasons. In 2016, 1.6m Scots (41.7% of the total electorate) voted to remain in the EU. In other words, 400,000 more Scots voted to stay in the UK than voted to remain in the EU.
Ms Sturgeon, this is not exactly a mandate to perpetuate economic uncertainty and stagnation, disinvestment by business, deep social division and intolerable social tension.
Meanwhile, who gave the SNP the right to usurp my EU Remain vote to justify trying to break-up the UK once more? More folk in Greater London, with twice the population of Scotland, voted Remain, but they are not whingeing and demanding separation from the UK.
It is embarrassing to have to apologise for being Scottish when overseas or in England. Folk who once thought of retiring to Scotland or even visiting are, understandably, having second thoughts given the febrile climate of uncertainty and hostility.
Our only option is to remove the SNP from power in the May council elections. Support candidates with a genuine care and respect for Scottish interests and day-to-day real-world issues such as improving education, the NHS, transport and security, who are not focused entirely on creating constitutional mayhem using bogus economic claims and other tricks.
Triggering Article 50 may be a challenging leap in dark, Ms Sturgeon, but the knowns (from 2014) and far too many unknowns would be like falling into the abyss as an independent Scotland.
The SNP shouted, intimidated and lied about every economic indicator in order to sell their “land of milk, honey and oil” in 2014. Mercifully, 55% of voters were not fooled.
OFFICERS SHOULD LEAVE THEIR CARS
I have no confidence in the police force.
I come from Jedburgh and the only time I see officers in the town is festival day. This is shocking – of course, maybe there isn’t any crime in Jedburgh.
But we see enough police cars parked at the police station – maybe officers are only taught to drive at Tulliallan (Scottish police college). I would rather speak to the police on the street rather than by phone. Think what else could be done if only they got out of their cars and spoke to the public.
I know they have a difficult job, but they could do a lot more to help themselves.
HEFTY POWER BILLS FOR HOUSEHOLDS
Holyrood has voted for another indyref – but the SNP has left several questions unanswered.
The latest (2015) government data shows that renewable electrical generation for Scotland was 8,889kWh (kilowatt hours) per household, compared to 3,094kWh for the UK as a whole, or a rough ratio of three to one.
In 2014, the then Department of Energy and Climate Change admitted that green policies would add £250 annually to the average UK household electricity bill by 2020. If Scotland becomes independent, then this suggests that the bill for Scottish households would increase by around £750.
Last time the SNP claimed that England would help to pay for Scottish renewable generation. Could they please tell us Plan B if England refuses.
Ross and Cromarty