Letters January 26

Hope in difficult times

In his recent letter (Stornoway Gazette, 19th Jan 2012), Cllr. Angus McCormack bemoans the current economic crisis then lists some organisations which have been successful in bringing money to the island economy.

This he does, presumably, in the hope of gaining some credit for their efforts, even if only by being the one to list them. He then concludes that there is still hope, even in the most difficult of times.

While it would be difficult to disagree with his conclusion, residents of the Western Isles might have been more interested to read his views on those issues in which he and his colleagues had a more active involvement.

Those might include the mishandled primary and junior secondary school closure programme or the awarding of so many construction and maintenance projects (including that for the new high school) to a single foreign builder, with such devastating consequences for the island economy.

We might also have expected at least some mention the hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money which has been wasted through incompetence when awarding contracts for road gritting etc. Let us hope then, if we hear from Mr. McCormack again, that he sticks to those issues which have dismayed so many of us during his period of office.

However, as he states himself, there is indeed hope in these difficult times. It comes in the form of the council elections in May, when we will have the opportunity to weed out the worst of the current crop of councillors and replace them with others who will be committed to the needs of our islands and people, and not to their own narrow interests or those of their party. Vote for real change on May 3. Make a difference. Vote SNP. BOB DUNCAN, Stornoway

Sandwickhill school closure

In order to mark the closure of Sandwickhill School, we plan to hold an event where old photos and memorabilia relating to the School will be on display.

We would be grateful for any items which ex pupils and members of the community may have and which they may feel would be of interest.

Photographs will be scanned in the School for the display and the originals returned immediately and all other items will be identified for safe keeping to be returned after the event.

We are aware that ex pupils are now to be found across the globe and, in order to maximise our contact base, a Sandwickhill facebook “fan” page has been set up by Tasglann, the Project Group.

This has proved very successful and several stories and photos have already been submitted through this medium.

If you feel you can contribute to this event in any way, please contact the School by telephone (01851 70 3300) or by e-mail (sandwickhillschool@gnes.net).

We can arrange for any items to be collected and returned to you should this be more convenient.

A ceilidh evening for the community is planned for Wednesday, 29th February when a small display of items received will be exhibited and we would be grateful for any further donations by this date.

We would like to express our thanks to all those who have already contributed and hope you will be able to join us that evening.

A final exhibition will be held nearer to the closure date and details of this event will be released in due course. CALUM MACLEAN, Sandwickhill School

Capacity for change

The fuss about the SNP poll shows how much people fear change. Top people fear change in case it takes them down but to survive at all we all have to adapt.

The computer was difficult to handle and using a slide rule much easier. Sadly the slide rule was out of date.

As a young man in the 1960s and out of work in Scotland an application for a job at Dounreay had no success.

A few weeks later a London company took me on to do the same job on contract for Dounreay.

They then spoke of sending me to work at Dounreay.

Some of their men had been there for years on high contract rates. A Londoner next to me explained that this was simply a way of redistributing tax pounds which were kept in London.

At that time there was no Scottish Government. The same thing happened with oil.

People were very amiable but then the PM Mr MacMillan made the ‘winds of change’ speech. Mr MacMillan was harassed by the LEL (League of Empire Loyalists).

These were elderly men in suits and bow ties who turned up to harass the PM when he spoke.

This had little effect on the street but led to a media attack demonising Scotland and his Scottish ancestry.

This worked at the polls and rebounded on people like me. Mr MacMillan led a progressive Tory regime which helped the man on the street. He had fought in the wars and could genuinely empathise.

The next progressive regime was led by Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

There were huge social advances but when the Hereditary Peers went the same thing happened again.

This time there was a group who wore masks and turned up to harass as before and Scots were described in the media as spongers and it worked at the polls. History had repeated itself.

When Mr Salmon spoke of his SNP poll people thought it would be welcomed by all and were bewildered when the main Parties opposed it.

When politicians are asked why they are against it they waffle and evade instead of saying there had been a campaign of disinformation.

People like me hope that in the near future this ‘Devomax’ policy comes in where Scottish tax is collected and spent there getting rid of the subsidy as it is called.

This will get rid of the sponger stories and help a relationship which has become abusive. It would be an efficient and humane halfway house.

The present system is as outdated as my slide rule. JOHN MACKENZIE, London

Refer to the Maker’s manual, the Bible

I really love Roddy MacLeod’s letter “Bible is Amazing” (Gazette, 19th Jan 2012).

What a pleasure to know that someone finds the Bible reliable and interesting – an unusual attitude these days when mention of its message or contents usually produces a glazed, bored stare!

With political dark clouds gathering around Israel at the moment and the growing threat of a more devastating World War than has ever been known, we read the Bible and we understand that God is in control of the situation, and we know that He will keep His promises to Israel in His own good time. And what are those promises? Read it for yourself.

Many Christians have a heart for Israel and the Jewish people - they are a part of who we Christians are - and there are many (sadly, not enough) groups of Christians who stand in solidarity with Israel because they see that Israel and the Jews belong to God.

27 January is designated Holocaust Memorial Day. Startling and heart-breaking information about the Holocaust can be found on the website of Yad Vashem Museum near Jerusalem (www.yadvashem.org).

We know this was not just a Jewish horror, but many others were sent to camps too. Can these atrocities really happen again?

Left to us mortals, Yes, they can - and we need only look at our daily news items to see that things are going badly wrong.

So what do we do when things go badly wrong?

Wisely, we refer to the Maker’s instruction book. LYN LOWE, North Uist

Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland?

A recent report by oil economist and chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dr Richard Pike, as well as other petorleum experts, points to the fact that North Sea oil will last for another 100 years, twice as long as previous estimates.

In 1975, and only revealed under Freedom of Information after 30 years, the leading Scottish economist Gavin McCrone, presented to the Cabinet office a paper revealing that North Sea oil could have made an independent Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland.

An independent Scotland’s budget surpluses as a result of the oil boom, wrote Professor McCrone, would be so large as to be “embarrassing”. Scotland’s currency “would become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian Kronor.”

From being poorer than their southern neighbours, Scots would have become richer and been in a position to lend heavily to England and “this situation could last for a very long time into the future.”

While McCrone was saying that an independent Scotland would be Europe’s Switzerland, the Unionists were saying that it would be like Bangladesh.

With another 100 years of black gold left surely we cannot be stupid enough to make the same mistake again, can we? ALEX ORR, Edinburgh

The SNP has a new recruiting sergeant

Friday 13th was a lucky day for the Scottish National Party with 150 new members joining on that day.

This followed David Cameron (and the 16 millionaires in his Cabinet) attempting to lay down strict conditions under which the Scottish Government could hold a Referendum on Scottish Independence.

This was greeted with much anger in Scotland as interference in what the Scottish people had the right to do (reminding them of the days of Mrs Margaret Thatcher).

There has been a phenomenal rise in the number of members in the Party. At Hogmanay in 2003, it stood at 9,450 members, last year on the same day it had risen to 16,232 (a 70% increase) and last week it soared to over 21,000 (a 5,000 increase since the New Year) with no signs of the surge abating.

Will the Tories ever learn that Scotland is a nation with its own ideas and rights and cannot be dictated to like an 18th century colonial outpost. JOHN S JAPPY, Muir of Ord

Skewed politics

The Letter from Storas Uibhist in regards to the Scottish Government ignoring the request for the resurrection of the Lochboisdale to Mallaig service is indeed true and real, and not only that , but it’s very clear to us that the SNP are also playing the ‘Divide and Rule’ card , as they are, and have been for a long time, playing Uist off against Barra in this long suffering trial for the people of Uist.

As we all know Salmond is a shrewd character, and that was proven when he hoodwinked the voters with the big goody- bag at last May’s election, and then shortly after stated that the party were in favour of Gay Marriage [which I believe they could have told people about before the event].

Not only that several of there procedures, including the conservation area in Barra has the aroma of tyranny in its mix!

Now it also looks the same brand of tyranny is being used against the Queen’s National Government in its pursuit of more personal glory! But at the same time the SNP are not delivering on promises of serving the people who voted them in.

Time to deliver and come clean, less Tyranny and skewed politics guys. A CAMPBELL, South Uist