Letters February 2nd

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Delivery CHARGES

I recently ordered flat-packed bunk bed frames (no mattresses) in the new Argos shop in Stornoway.

The price was reasonable (£99.00) as was Argos’s delivery cost of £8.50 to have them delivered to the Eastgate, Inverness branch. So you can imagine the shock when I was informed of Woody’s delivery charge of £40.00 on top to have them taken from Inverness to Stornoway.

The girl serving me said she felt ‘evil’ charging me Woody’s levy.

So this is the great deal between Woody’s and Argos is it? A great deal for Woody maybe.

You can read more about this on my blog: www.derick-mackenzie.blogspot.com DERICK MACKENZIE, Stornoway

COULD SCOTLAND SURVIVE ON ITS OWN?

As a Civil Servant in London, and being part of the Establishment, I always accepted the general view that an Independent Scotland would not be able to survive on its own without financial help from the London Exchequer.

However, when in 1968 I was able to examine the so-called ‘books’ for the first time, I was shocked to find that the position was exactly the opposite and that Scotland contributed much more to the U.K. economy than its other partners, and this was, of course, before the oil boom.

I realised that the Treasury would wish to keep this a secret, as it might feed nationalistic tendencies north of the border. I took the decision to keep an eye on the situation to see how long it would take for the true facts to emerge.

The Treasury and the Establishment did an excellent job, aided and abetted by the media, to keep the myth about Scotland alive. In fact it took until 1997 for the first chink in their armour to appear when a series of questions put by Alex Salmond MP to the Government came the admission that Scotland had paid £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it had received since the Tories came to power in 1979.

There were no attempts to refute these figures. A year later with a Labour Government now in power came a further bombshell. Following further promptings by the SNP Mr Salmond received a letter from the House of Commons Library which gave a table showing that based on Scotland’s G.D.P per capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the world’s wealth league with the U.K. at 17th place.

When the Labour Government came to power it announced a 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax.

In March 1999 a Labour Party leaflet appeared which said that if the SNP were to forego Gordon Brown’s 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax, every family in Scotland would be £250 worse off. This became the major topic of a TV debate between Alex Salmond and Donald Dewar.

Salmond tried to point out to Dewar that he was using the wrong figures. After the debate it took the Labour Party a whole week to admit that they were wrong. Their calculations on the U.K. average figure included the high wage earners in London and the South East, making the figure used almost double those of the average Scottish wage of £17,000 per year.

Looking closely at the figures and taking the one year 2006 as a benchmark, I found that Scotland had an annual relative surplus of £2.8 billion, which works out at £560 for every person. In contrast the U.K. had a deficit of £34.8 billion.

Any lingering doubt that Scotland more than pays its way, or survives on subsidies, was dispelled by a new report published in October 2007. The Daily Mail devoted a whole page to the analysis of the report which was based on tax paid per capita as against spending, Northern Ireland received £4,212 more than it paid in tax, North East England £3,133, Wales £2,990, N.W. England £1,732, South West England £978, West Midlands £931, East Midlands £185 and lastly Scotland £38.

It is no longer refuted that Scotland exports more per capita than the rest of the U.K. In 1968 when I first discovered that Scotland was in surplus in relation to the rest of the U.K., its exports could be broken down into whisky, meat, timber, fish and of course tourism which is a huge hidden income.

Those exports are supported by a population of only 5,000,000 as against 45,000,000 for the rest of the U.K, quite a substantial advantage. With the oil boom, Scotland’s economy was transformed. Scottish oil has to date funded the Treasury with £300 billion.

There is still 30 years of oil supply left in the North Sea (some 150 million barrels) valued at 2008 prices at 1 TRILLION DOLLARS, excluding new fields being brought into production in deeper waters west of Shetland.

Meantime whisky exports have risen at a phenomenal rate, for example, whisky exports to China in 2000/01 which amounted to £1 million, had by 2007 risen to £70 million.

No doubt as the time draws nearer to the referendum on Scottish Independence, politicians will do their best to distort the figures, but the truth is something that never varies.

JOHN J JAPPY, Muir of Ord

CAN YOU HELP?

I have been to the Isle of Lewis many times as my family are from Stornoway, all my parents and aunts and uncles have moved away now, and I now live all the way down in Birmingham but I come up to visit my granny whenever possible.

I am currently studying Fashion Retail Management at Birmingham City University in my final year.

For my dissertation I am focused on the importance of British Heritage and the traditonal fabric of tweed and why fashion needs to embrace the skills it takes to produce this unique fabric fast before fashion takes over and we lose these skills forever.

I need islanders’ help, I know how friendly and helpful everyone is and how important tweed is and how it’s a part of life for a lot of people on the island.

I need people who produce tweed, design tweed clothing, manufacture tweed clothing and anyone who has anything to say about how unique tweed is to get in contact with me.

In June I am showcasing my dissertation to Graduate Fashion Week in London which is a massive thing for fashion. It has everyone who is anyone from the fashion business there.

As part of my British Heritage dissertation I am looking at setting up a business in Birmingham selling stylish tweed workwear giving tweed a modern image, trying to give it another look different from its traditional image more suited to the Birmingham consumer.

I need people’s help to source individuals or companies that can show me how the tweed is made, help me design the clothing range and even help me make some clothing so I can take it to Graduate Fashion Week and show off what the Isle of Lewis can do!

I won’t be able to offer loads of money to the people helping me, I’m a student in the recession, but everyone involved will be mentioned/included in the advertising for my work so everyone knows who and where it came from, great advertising for the Island.

I am coming up to the Island from the 12th - 17th of February and hope people will get in touch. I only want to source from the Isle of Lewis so I need your help please!

CLAIRE COLLINGRIDGE Claire_collingridge@hotmail.com

TAKING A CHANCE

“You have bleed with Wallace will you bleed with me.”

A classic line from a well known verse but this is further from the truth today than ever.

All I am hearing is, how much better financially we will be with indenpendance and how our voice will be louder in the world when we gain this freedom.

Are we too busy scrambling for the scraps from Cameron’s table that we have forgot what our fore fathers lost trying for our freedom; their lives no less, their lands and anything else that could be carried south.

No we must remember them and take this God given chance for our own country, because on our death bed no one said wish I had a few more quid in the bank.

FINLAY MACLEOD, Inverness