Gazette letters 14/2/13

This photograph of the Isle of Harris Golf club looking towards Taransay was sent in by reader Donald MacDonald.'If you would like to contribute your photos, email: Include your name, where you are from, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.
This photograph of the Isle of Harris Golf club looking towards Taransay was sent in by reader Donald MacDonald.'If you would like to contribute your photos, email: Include your name, where you are from, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.


I was interested by what the 78 year old mother of Prime Minister David Cameron had to say when asked why her son was pressing ahead with gay marriage legislation when it was alienating huge numbers of Conservative supporters.     Mary Cameron replied, “I know, but David just won’t be told”.

Well now if young David had had the great good sense to listen to his wise old mum, to listen to his party, to listen to a multitude of churchmen, parents, teachers, and a veritable legion of other voices besides, the country would not have found itself watching whilst spineless M.P.’s  from all parties (but chiefly Lib. Dems and Labour) gave second reading to a piece of barmy legislation at Westminster that should never have seen the light of day in the first place.

Maybe if young Clegg and Miliband had listened to their mums also, none of this nonsense about redefining marriage would have arisen.

In any event it’s time the gay marriage madness was stopped. The alarming thing is that Clegg, Miliband and Cameron come over not as statesmen or leaders of the nation, but as young lads devoid of wisdom and life experience who think they know it all, who will neither listen nor be told.

Keith Fernie, Inverness, IV2-3RW


I must acknowledge a degree of sympathy with your columnist (Viewpoint 17.01.13) who is perplexed that his Church would ever be confused with my own in the public press. His embarrassment over alleged comments I made when meeting a Government minister in December seems to be shared by his denomination. The rapid reaction on the Free Church website distancing themselves from these alleged remarks certainly testifies to their alert public relations capability. However, the alleged slur against the Free Church described by your columnist as miscalling and maligning, need not have caused such consternation.

My meeting with Scottish Government minister Alex Neil MSP was for the purpose of presenting a formal written protest against the proposed same-sex marriage legislation. My written submission was available to the press with a press release. This should have made clear that I did not meet the minister to ask for the recriminalisation of homosexuality. In future the Free Church should be more careful to avoid answering a matter before they hear it.

On putting to the minister the biblical teaching that such practices are immoral and that the civil power has a duty to uphold the moral law of God, Mr Neil’s legal advisor at the meeting asked if the Church wished homosexuality to be recriminalized. To this I responded that homosexual practice ought to be recognised in legislation as it was before. I declined any comment on how such restraint might be policed.

This practice is clearly defined and most solemnly condemned in scripture. If Christian Churches have weak stomachs for such condemnation, they ought to study afresh the duty of ministers of Christ to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

If the Free Church must distance itself from the doctrine that the civil magistrate is bound to suppress the “publishing of such opinions or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature” (which position all their office-bearers subscribe to) it ought to do so publicly by amending its confession as others have done.

Rev. David Campbell, North Tolsta, HS2 0NH


I am sure that many of your readers were not the least surprised to read in the press that a hard core of ten younsters were charged by police with 307 crimes in Scotland over a period of two years!

One youth in Central Scotland was accused of committing 47 separate crimes alone. Recently a senior judge told me that ‘legal aid’ lawyers refer to these louts as their best clients.

Is it not about time that we adopted the system that is relevant South of the Border, whereby when an accused is found guilty, or pleads guilty at a court of law he/she is liable for ‘Court Expenses’?

This would be a win-win for the Scottish Government and could also stop the ‘legal aid gravy train’ costing us over £55 million annually. This money could be put to better use.

Donald J Morrison, Buckie AB56 4NT


The European Parliament’s approval of major reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to be greatly welcomed and is a major step forward on the way to a new and reformed CFP. 

The new measures include ending the discarding of dead fish, estimated to account for around a quarter of current total quota catches, as well as mechanisms to protect endangered stocks, bring in more regional management and have more long-term planning.

Current over-centralisation of the CFP is therefore now beginning to be addressed, delivering effective fisheries management.

The historic vote is also significant in that it is a victory for citizen power, following organised lobbying of MEPs by ordinary people, as well as by high-profile celebrity chefs and environmentalists.

In addition, it also demonstrates the newly acquired powers of the democratically elected European Parliament, with MEPs sharing power with the Council of Ministers on fisheries policy for the first time. The parliament will now speak with a unified voice in the endgame of negotiations with fisheries ministers and the Commission - which already urges sustainable fishing.

With the hope that the changes can become law by next year, after more talks with the 27 EU Governments, we must not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the reform that our fishing communities vitally need.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH10 4JT


Having done Burns at primary school I haven’t really read him since. I did however read Holy Willie’s Prayer following having been prompted to do so by the correspondence in the Gazette of February 7th.

I recall winning a couple of certificates at primary school for reciting Burns but have no recollection of having been encouraged to recite this particular poem; it is nevertheless a good poem, in that it raises our awareness of conspicuous hypocrisy. Such a poem wasn’t really appropriate primary school material in my day; and probably doesn’t portray a sufficient breadth of sexual practice to be considered appropriate material by progressive educationalists of today.

I would not claim to be a follower of Burns or of Calvinism or to have fully read or to have fully understood either. Keith Fernie in his letter (Letters Page, Gazette, February 7th) does question the perseverance of the saints. I suppose the question a lot of people have has to do with how the “elect” can behave as Holy Willie and yet be saved? It is not an unreasonable question.

I have found helpful the book “Ephesians The Mystery of the Church” , A Commentary by William MacDonald (Copyright 1968, and published by Harold Shaw, Wheaton, Illinois). William MacDonald distinguishes the believer’s standing and his state; his position and his practice.

He describes the book of Ephesians as being divided into two main parts, “The first half has to do with doctrine, the second half with duty”. He states that Chapters 1-3 deal with “Our position – what we are in Christ” and Chapters 4-6 with “Our practice – what we should be in ourselves”.

The following quotation from page 18 indicates that the believer’s position is not intended to make him indifferent to his practice:

“The believer’s position, then, is what he is in Christ. But there is another side to the picture – the believer’s practice. That is what he is in himself. His position is perfect, but his practice is imperfect. Now God’s will is that his practice should increasingly correspond to his position. It never will do so perfectly until he is in heaven. But the process of sanctification, growth and increasing Christlikeness should be going on continually here on earth”.

Presumably Arminian and Calvinist and all, will all agree that our practice is not perfect. Surely, then, if our position were to depend on our practice we would all be standing on perilous ground. Standing on perilous ground dressed only in fig leaves, or filthy rags, of our own making is not where Christ has left His blood bought bride. If the saints do persevere, it will be nothing to do with their own perseverance in deciding to do and keep doing good; and everything to do with the fact that they were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that He gave Himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

Steven William Welsh, Stornoway HS1 2LA

EDITOR’S SAY - Post Office Move

Our front page story this week highlights the fact that the Post Office may disappear from Stornoway town centre.

Francis Street has been home to the town’s main Post Office branch for more than 100 years and a change of location to another - perhaps less convenient location - will be a wrench to users.

If a proposal to move location were to go forward then a six-week public consultation would begin, this would underline concerns about a less central location, what would happen if based in a retail premises if that business were to be bought over, or even go bust.

But apart from these what about the effect on the town centre itself - if more and more amenities are located on the edge of town then that means the centre will attract less foot-traffic with a negative impact on remaining businesses - a worrying thought.