Gazette Letters 14.8.14

George Hossack, Stornoway, took this striking image of a boat in the still waters at Rodel, Harris
George Hossack, Stornoway, took this striking image of a boat in the still waters at Rodel, Harris

Food for thought

Why is no one talking about how an independent Scotland could feed itself. As far as I can see, this isn’t a question that anyone has spent any time on, so I thought that I’d try to get as many people looking at the question as possible.

The question of Scotland being able to feed itself is one that can be applied to the whole of the U.K, how much gets added to our grocery bills as a result from hauling in food from all corners of the globe.

We might have a lot of land, but only 15% of the total is made up of arable land. Of that 15% a fair old chunk goes for barley production, and the cynic in me suspects that property developers will whittle the sum down further.

Because of the growth in demand for whisky, we have to import barley from south of the border to make up the shortfall; in the event of a yes vote what would happen to the price of that, or would more arable land end up being planted with barley?

I could be wrong, but if I remember rightly all the supermarkets are based in England, and there’s a steady stream of vehicles that carry food up to Scottish supermarkets and their eager customers.

Assuming that theYes vote win, his nibs will want a currency union. Maybe we might get one on liveable terms or maybe we won’t. But if my memory serves me right, it’s the U.K elections next year and I can’t help but think that the U.K electorate will have a say about a currency union.

Has anyone looked at the costs of supplying the Scottish supermarkets in the event of a yes vote? And in the event that there is no currency union?

If the yes campaign win that’ll be us out of the E.U, and I’m assuming that means no more farming subsidy until we are allowed back in, although I can see Spain and Italy not being that keen to let us in. Without the subsidy our home grown food will be more expensive.

I remember a debate on the BBC before the euro elections and the parties were talking about the subsidy. One of them mentioned that for the last 10 years each new member state had 25% less than the existing members.

Too many people are in poverty and are having to use the food banks; whilst I can’t see into the future, it’s reasonable to suppose that prices will rise after a yes vote, as a result people will get poorer and the calls on the food banks greater.

I started looking into this question yesterday and it’s a small part of a much larger problem that has to be tackled.

We are far too reliant on food imports, we pay a high price for that in the shops, and when you look at what could go wrong with the food supply then we are vulnerable.

If this nation is to thrive then we need to be able to afford to eat, and I don’t think that will happen in Alex Salmond’s independent Scotland.

Michael Finlayson


Turn in graves

Quite astonishingly Labour are yet again complaining that our Islands’ MP didn’t stop Labour from trying to close the Hebrides Range. However, despite trying, Labour were stopped from closing the Hebrides Range through a combination of a cross-party alliance on the issue formed by our MP Angus MacNeil, as well as the work of the local community and the local Council.

Labour, while losing politically to the SNP, are clearly going down the line of resorting to silly personal attacks. A type of politics that has been rejected in the islands and elsewhere many times.

It seems that Labour are still maintaining that the jobs at the Hebrides Range were saved by them despite their own party trying to close the range.

The Scottish Defence Budget would be in surplus given that Scotland presently contributes £3.5billion to the UK defence budget and only £2.1billion is spent in Scotland, which means that the Hebrides Range is very safe, in fact, safer post-independence.

Unfortunately, it has not always been possible to stop Labour from achieving their sometimes dubious objectives, unlike their futile attempt to close the Hebrides Range. Labour tried and unfortunately succeeded in starting a war in Iraq on the back of a pack of lies about WMDs, and in some cases using a solution to the unconnected Palestinian questions as a grotesque excuse for war.

Today we see the explosive fallout of the fuse Labour helped light. Iraq is a failing state and the Palestinians are being mercilessly bombed in their own homes, schools and hospitals.

Earlier on in the year we witnessed a vomit inducing spectacle of a former failed Labour chancellor being given a standing ovation at the Scottish Tory party conference. I could not actually believe what I was witnessing but it did happen.

To think that the once great Labour party, the party of the people, has sunk this low and is now practically indistinguishable from the Tories is very sad indeed and Keir Hardie, Aneurin Bevan and their likes must surely be turning in their graves.

John J MacMillan

South Uist.
Union curse

The Act of Union led to the Clearances which resulted in the eviction of thousands of Highlanders and Islanders from the land of their forefathers.

The avowed intention of the Anglicised clan chiefs and aristocracy, supported by the British government, was to extirpate the people root and branch to make way for sheep and deer.

For over a hundred years confiscation, cruelty, distress, injustice and eviction notices devastated the Highlands and Islands.

The first Clearance was in 1784 when the Duke of Athol (Chief of Clan Murray) evicted the population of Glen Tilt. The last evictions were in 1905, with Lady Gordon-Cathcart filling fetid emigrant ships with men, women and children from Uist and Barra.

Between 1840 and 1883 over 37,000 were evicted from Skye alone.

There is a cemetery in Quebec where over 1,000 Lewis people and their children are interred. Deplorably there is no record of these dispossessed exiles in Scotland.

Despotic Highland landlordism since the Union has been the greatest curse that ever blighted Scotland. However, Unionist propaganda mouthed by those of Highland origin indicates that the Scottish subservient cringe is influencing the political judgement of many of our fellow Scots.

Donald J. MacLeod

Bridge of Don


No action

Once again meaningless words and no action from the MP and his sidekick the MSP when jobs are lost in Harris.

Instead of spouting nonsense about Tupe employment laws, it would be better if the pair of them asked Mr Scarr-Hall to give less money to the SNP and more support for the Harris people who need to keep their jobs with GSH.

As I am sure my fellow councillors Phillip Maclean and Catherine Macdonald will agree, a phone call to his home abroad is the least the Harris people can expect of them.

Or are they too busy with losing the referendum to bother getting round to doing even that?

Councillor DJ Macrae.


Isle of Lewis