Submitted for our Beautiful Islands feature is this picture by Ken MacAulay of Breasclete who took it on top of a hill overlooking the village of Breasclete featuring Ben the border collie.
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It was very noble of the local Labour Party to endorse the excellent work that is being done by Angus MacNeil, the MP for the Western Isles. When their main gripe is limited to how he uses twitter, it surely indicates that he is performing his duties at Westminster to their satisfaction.
The Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, is recognised as a very hard-working MP. Over the past year he has spoken at 54 debates, more than the total for Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Alasdair Darling. He has received 36 answers to written questions, far exceeding those of Miliband , Brown and Darling. If Matt Bruce has concerns about Westminster politicians, it should lie with his own leaders in the Labour Party. Again it is evidently clear that his concerns are more of a personal nature than political.
The UK has one of the largest economies in the world and the cuts by the coalition go way beyond what they need to be.
The poor have been left to pay the lion’s share for the Labour Party’s banking fiasco while middle England and the wealthy escape paying their full share. Ed Miliband and the Labour Party have already made it clear that they not only support the dreadful Tory cuts, but will implement them if and when they ever return to power.
Would it not be better for Mr Bruce to explain to us how we would benefit from his party’s policies of privatisation of the NHS, introducing tuition fees, maintaining the bedroom tax, making yet deeper welfare cuts, removing care for the elderly, charging for prescriptions, maintaining high levels of VAT, removing free bus travel, increasing council tax etc.
Now that it has become clear that Labour and the Tories will be fighting the 2015 election on almost identical policies, the only way we can avoid this accelerated burden of austerity is to vote YES in September next year
Archie Harper, Point, Isle of Lewis
It is commendable to read in your columns and website of our MSP Alasdair Allen’s visit and meeting with West Harris Trust and their problem with a reliable and affordable broadband connection.
The West of Harris has always suffered with poor communication of all sorts facing as it does out into the Atlantic with the hills blocking signals.
It should be emphasized however that there are many remote parts of the Western Isles that are lacking a reliable affordable broadband signal and his emphasis should be on lobbying the various bodies and businesses that are in the position to have some influence on improving this situation.
In the Bays of Harris, for instance, BT will make no commitment to the upgrading of Manish exchange and with a similar possible formation of a Community Trust in the future the possibility of small on-line business developments will be severely curtailed without such a connection.
This is perhaps even more important where the Bays of Harris community is linked by the badly under-maintained C79.
I wonder when he last drove the C79 and saw the urgency of obtaining further infrastructure funding for our poor cash-strapped Comhairle.
Jerry Luty, Isle of Harris
From the Gazette to Twitter, it seems to be open season on the Reformed Presbyterian Church again.
This time, some Free Church Ministers – who may not represent the Free Church as a whole – are annoyed that the RP church is planting a church in Stirling and raise the spectre of being in competition.
When the Free Church decided to begin services there – a decision intimated and implemented almost immediately after the RP church intimation to the same effect – surely she wasn’t winning a race? And surely she didn’t see her action as akin to Amundsen planting the Norwegian flag on the South Pole or the Americans planting theirs on the moon - claiming Stirling for herself?
In early 2012, when the RP’s sought the Lord’s will for planting, we felt led to plant near to our churches and where there was a clear need for our witness. In April, we intimated our intention to begin in Stirling. None of this was in ‘competition’ with the Free Church. Indeed, it was a surprise to us when the Free Church intimated services there – but we didn’t rush to the press or to Twitter to complain.
As for unity, the message is confusing.
On the one hand, those who leave the Free Church, or who cannot join because they cannot commit to her new position on worship, are accused of being divisive. But was the adoption of the new position not divisive? Significantly, the RP plant, unlike the FC plant, will worship using the songs of scripture unaccompanied which is the historic Reformed form of worship.
On the other hand, hardly a week goes by without these same Ministers becoming increasingly vociferous in their appeals to the people of the Church of Scotland to leave their church and join them. But why should they?
Meanwhile, those who have left the Church of Scotland and who have joined the IPC are guilty of – you’ve guessed it – divisiveness.
Charity is the way to unity and taking repeated aim at the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland for church planting – is not the way to go and I doubt most Free Church folk, often unrepresented in public utterances, are interested in doing so.
For our part, we rejoice in the thought of other churches who share our testimony – including our testimony to biblical worship – planting churches anywhere.
Finally, it is rather one-dimensional to see our church-planter in Stirling merely as an ‘ex-Free Church student’: Mr MacKinnon is a young man who has spent nearly 9 years of his life preparing for the Ministry – most recently preaching and pastoring with great acceptance in Gardner St RP church. He and his wife are a deeply committed Christian couple beginning a new and difficult work.
Wouldn’t it be better if the Ministers concerned would use their platforms more charitably and just wish them well – as many in the wider Free Church and from elsewhere have done?
Rev Kenneth Stewart, Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church, Glasgow
I have only just seen the article in your paper of May 2nd when Donnie Whiteford reflects on the record 2012 fishing season at Garynahine, and feel that the efforts of the previous proprietor, Christopher Buxton, should be mentioned. In his 20 years of ownership he worked tirelessly to improve the fishing at Garynahine, by building up the stock of fish.
With others he campaigned to ensure the fish farms in Loch Roag operated in a ‘wild fish friendly’ manner. He opened up every possible spawning area for salmon (on one occasion, after removing a waterfall which prevented salmon from entering one burn, he found two pairs of salmon in the burn within a week).
He removed possible obstacles both to salmon entering the river from the sea, and to smolts going to sea. He encouraged a ‘catch and release’ policy so far as was advisable. As well as improving the fishing he also improved the moors, by doing all he could to keep them clear of rubbish, and preventing Argocat tracks from scarring them. So while Donnie Whiteford and the new owners are clearly doing a great job (I see they are also having a good season this year), a fair measure of their success must be down to Christopher Buxton.
Colin Ingram, London
EDITORIAL - The Impact of shorter ferry crossings
Excitement is building for the launch of the new ferry the MV Loch Seaforth. 2014. Our front page story this week highlights the specifications of the boat, which will hopefully make it efficient and reliable – and with a slightly faster journey time – shaving 15 minutes off the current schedule.
The debate has raged about whether this journey time could have been shortened even more, with the argument being that shorter travelling times would bring enormous benefits to Lewis and further afield.
However the economics of making the boat go faster to cut the journey time scuppered this aspiration.
And it seems it’s economics which is getting in the way of bringing a more efficient ferry route to the southern Western Isles.
A ferry link between Lochboisdale and Mallaig would slash ferry journey times from the current approx seven hours which has to be endured on the Lochboisdale to Oban service. Yet there seems to be no political will in order to make this happen.
A political party with the foresight to offer further enhancements to travel links to all island communities would surely get a boost at the ballot box.
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