Our featured photograph in our Beautiful Islands section is a tranquil image of Stornoway Harbour by Ali Finlayson.
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Whilst leafleting and canvassing in Scalpay and North Harris recently under the auspices of the hard-working Alasdair Allan MSP, I met up with a number of other political colours and realised – yet again – that many well-informed people are understandably confused with the two opposing campaigns.
Maybe it makes more sense in leading up to the referendum to ask yourself these questions : Don’t you think it is outrageous that we are governed by a Party we did not vote for?
Do you not believe that it is an abomination to Scotland and mankind to have 225 nuclear warheads?
Do you not think that we should put an end to the £150m to the House of Lords?
Would you not like to see the end of the Crown Estate, which owns 23 million acres including much of the Scottish seabed and takes rent from it, a body total unaccountable to the Scottish Government?
Very interesting that the main papers between Blair and Bush have been withheld from the Chilcot enquiry which, in all likelihood, would clearly demonstrate the illegality of the Iraq war. Do you not think that we would should move away from this secretive establishment in Westminster?
As if we Scots are some grossly inferior race determined by place of birth, do you not take great exception to the quite incredible comment from the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland - Johann Lamont - who said in February we are not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions?
Do you not think it is inappropriate to be lectured about how we are much “better together” by Alistair Darling who presided over the worst banking crisis in history.
Given the number of high-ranking politicians who have been caught with their sticky fingers in the public till, would we not rather have a Scottish Government in FULL control of Scottish affairs?
Would we not like to add on to the many benefits the Scottish Government have achieved in the past few years with their limited financial muscle?
Do you not believe that – despite the scare stories – Scotland is well able to afford the same or better pensions than we have at the moment?
If your answers to these questions are predominantly yes then surely the logical course of action on the 18 September is to make history with just one more YES - for Scotland.
John G Mitchell,
Isle of Harris
When, under the banner ‘Our Islands, Our Future’, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar embarked with the Orkney and Shetland Isles councils on a mission to seek a new constitutional status for the island authorities, it was an opportunistic move, taking advantage of the general climate of openness to change arising from the impending referendum on Scottish independence.
It was hardly surprising that the Scottish government responded in kind to this initiative, following its own opportunistic tactics in presenting an offer which is contingent on independence being obtained. To this extent the Prospectus launched by Alex Salmond in Kirkwall on Monday can be seen as an unsurprising inducement to vote Yes in the referendum.
However, the cynicism with which Salmond has taken full credit for the initiative on behalf of the SNP/Scottish government/ Yes campaign is breathtaking, even using it as a rod to beat the Better Together side for not being anywhere near this level in their thinking about the islands.
The truth is that none of this would have happened without the energy and persistence of the island councils.
And it would be very surprising if the councils had not been in productive negotiation with the other Scottish political parties and with the national UK government on similar provisions to those in the Prospectus.
It was very telling that in a Radio Orkney interview on Tuesday Salmond ducked the question as to whether the Prospectus would have been on offer had it not been for the independence referendum. He again failed to acknowledge the role of the councils and reverted to his claim that independence is essential for the Prospectus proposals to be delivered.
Certainly some of the proposals will fall within the gift of the Scottish government only if independence is gained, such as the management of the Crown Estate. However, many of the “island proofing” proposals could be implemented within current devolution arrangements.
For those who would like to see more autonomy for the Western Isles within the United Kingdom this will pose a dilemma. The Orkney Manifesto Group wholeheartedly welcomes the provisions proposed in the Prospectus but hopes and believes that these will be achieved without Scottish independence.
It is widely acknowledged that failure of the bid for Scottish independence is likely to have constitutional ramifications as great as a vote in favour. The major political parties are all expressing willingness to accord greater devolution to Scotland and there will be opportunity to press the case for the adoption of the provisions of the Prospectus whatever the outcome of the referendum.
Councillor Alistair Gordon, West Mainland
Councillor John Richards, Kirkwall West & Orphir
Councillor Bill Stout, Kirkwall East
Orkney Manifesto Group
We are regular visitors to both the Outer Hebrides often more than once a year. When using your self-catering establishments our party often numbers 10 and at other times it is just our two selves in our campervan. Each time we visit we contribute to the local economy in many different ways.
We feel we have to write regarding our recent experience while visiting the Uists in our campervan. After driving all day we had drawn off the road for a rest before going for dinner. A man approached us and asked us to move on stating that he had invested a lot of money in the local campsite and “ it was not good for business if we were seen sitting at the side of the road”. His actions left us feeling like some sort of vagrants!
The sad thing is we had identified the campsite as one we would use, but as a result of his action that day we will not use it and will not recommend it to our friends and family.
This man should learn from other businesses in the area who not only make campervan visitors feel very welcome but provide excellent services i.e.The Polochar Inn where the service and food were excellent; The Lochboisdale Café with their range of Gluten Free choices along with providing Internet facilities and Calmac Ferry Terminals, who provide various facilities to make life easier for campervan travellers i.e. showers, drinking water and chemical toilet disposal points.
We are very aware that not all like the fact the campervans occasionally camp “offsite” but that is very much part of the enjoyment being able to soak up the sights and sounds of the Isles.
Judging by the number of campervans we see when visiting they must undoubtedly boost the local economy and should be encouraged and not discouraged by one man’s selfish attitude.
Colin and Clover Jackman
EDITORIAL - Offers put on the table to secure votes
Vying for the hearts and souls (votes) of Islanders in the upcoming Independence ballot has stepped up a gear this week as First Minister Alex Salmond announced an ‘Islands Prospectus’ to be delivered if Scotland becomes an Independent country.
Among the commitments is the promise of an Island Minister, the mention of island rights in an interim constitution for Scotland and to allocate all of the income generated from leasing island sea beds back to the community.
The First Minister also announced that in an Independent Scotland all new legislation will be ‘Island-proofed’ to make sure the distinct needs of the communities are respected.
The carrots being offered by the UK Government in regards to additional powers for the islands if Scotland remains part of the UK is expected to be announced next month.
However as Orkney councillors have pointed out this week here on our letters page, why do we need to wait until the result of the referendum?
Some of what is being offered could already be implemented without the need for a Yes vote, and as for the enticements from UK Government why did we need to wait until being on the brink of breaking the country apart to hear what they are prepared to offer?
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