Gazette letters 24/01/13

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Anti-salmon farming costs jobs

As representatives of the processing staff at The Scottish Salmon Company we would like to take this opportunity to bring to the public’s attention what we feel the reality is of the current campaign against the Scottish aquaculture industry.

Through their press connections they are able to get hold of column inches to smear the industry to the detriment of local employment.

We would like to take this opportunity to ask local people to back all salmon farming in our local waters, which provides necessary jobs for local people when there are few jobs in the present economic climate.

Due to the outspoken and derisory comments of the anti-salmon farming lobby we feel they have unduly influenced planning for new sites which has resulted in the loss of 27 jobs at the Marybank factory.

We would also urge our local representative MP and MSPs to look long and hard at the impact this is having on their constituents and their families.


Employee Representative

Scottish Salmon Company

Party has lost its way

Having read last week’s lead article, I commend Andrew Walker on his decision to part company with the SNP. I am sure that many party members and supporters would agree with him on the issues that led to his decision.

Last year, at its party conference, the SNP saw fit to change its stance on an independent Scotland’s membership of NATO. Taking cognisance of the fact that around 75% of Scots would want an independent Scotland to retain membership of NATO, the SNP changed a policy it has promoted and published in its manifesto for years.

This keen desire to listen to the voice of the Scottish people and adapt its policies to respond to popular opinion has not been replicated in the debate over same-sex marriage. In the government consultation on same-sex marriage, which attracted more responses than the consultation on the question of independence, two-thirds of the responses received were opposed to same-sex marriage.

Although the proposal to legalise same-sex marriage was not in any manifesto, the SNP seems intent on pushing ahead with it in the face of massive opposition.

Although not a nationalist by conviction, at the beginning of the SNP’s second term in office, I was undecided on how I would vote in the independence referendum. The party’s determination to push through same-sex marriage legislation has helped me to make up my mind.

Not simply because I am opposed to redefining marriage, but because I do not want to live in an independent Scotland whose political leaders are out of touch with and unrepresentative of the people they govern – intent on pushing through their own agenda, all the while disregarding their own consultation exercises when the responses received fail to please them. We already have that type of government at Westminster. What is the point of recreating that same political culture at Holyrood?

While our own MSP is to be commended for deciding to represent the majority-view of his constituents, the SNP as a whole will no longer deserve the support or respect of this voter, and many others, should they decide to push ahead with the redefinition of marriage. The proposal to do so is revelatory of a deeper malaise in the SNP, a party which has lost its way – on many levels.

The resignation of someone like Andrew Walker should make the SNP question how many others have already decided not to support them in next year’s referendum and the elections thereafter.


Isle of Benbecula

Servants of the party

On the last Friday before Christmas, among the sacks of cards and parcels that appeared in the post, a number of items of bad news also arrived. One of these was the announcement of the axing of the ‘world’s biggest wave farm’ off Shader on the west side of Lewis.

Among the reasons for this decision was, according to the firm’s chief executive, Matthew Seed, the fact that there was “a lack of clarity over the sub-sea cable to export electricity from the Hebrides to the mainland”.

Also on that day, there was the announcement of the delay of plans to upgrade grid connections to Orkney and Shetland until 2018 at the earliest.

It was a move that was rightly described by Liam MacArthur the Orkney MSP as a “_body blow” to Scotland’s wave and tidal sector. Coupled with the news of the axing of the Siadar project, it seems to me that it was much more than this. Wholesale slaughter of the technology had just taken place.

Yet how have Messrs MacNeil and Allan reacted to what is both a tragedy and a clumsy, obvious piece of spin? So far, despite their fondness for self-publicity and the local and national importance of this form of technology, they have said absolutely nothing in response to this seasonal bad news.

Isn’t it time that they followed the example of their more professional counterpart in a constituency farther to the north and issued a statement reacting to these decisions? Or is too much to expect them to do the jobs for which they are amply rewarded?

As Andrew Walker recently made clear by his principled resignation, they see themselves too much as servants of the party and not enough as servants of the constituency.



Is MP yodelling?

In his appearance on Andrew Neil’s ‘Politics Show’, where he made his vital contribution to the Orkney and Shetland independence debate, the Western Isles MP, Angus B MacNeil put forward the interesting suggestion that – following the Referendum of 2014 – Scotland could be divided into ‘cantons’, being governed in a similar way to Switzerland.

This is clearly a system well suited to that nation, as it possesses a great variety of languages – such as French, German, Italian and Romansh – as well as mountain ranges that were impassable until recent times.

Would someone be good enough to tell me if the Scottish Government intends to pursue this policy?

Or was Mr MacNeil just ‘yodelling’, making his usual contribution to public debate in this country in his customary Double-Dutch or fluent ‘Cantonese’?

I think we should be told.



Western Isles to stay in the UK?

I certainly strongly object to Dunoon born Brian Wilson’s scaremongering diatribe in the press of late and claims that the prospective oil rich Outer Hebrides could decide to stay under English control after the referendum.

The Western Isles suffered disproportionate fatalities to any other part of Scotland, or indeed the UK, in WWI and WWII.

There is no doubt that they would turn in their graves had they been aware of such hypothetical and far fetched nonsense from Mr. Brian Wilson.

All were Scottish through and through and proud of it. Former Lab. Party MP Brian Wilson, (now resident in Lewis) will never need to speak on behalf of islanders supposing he stays there ‘till doomsday‘!

He should give my fellow islanders an apology! Shame on you!



Universal obligation

It is nice to be able to agree with Angus Brendan MacNeill MP about something, so I welcome his opposition to the possible Post Office privatisation. However, this raises the obvious point that Mr MacNeill also has some questions to answer.

Would he agree that the best bulwark against privatisation is the retention of a majority of MPs who are opposed to that principle? If all of Scotland’s MPs were removed from Westminster - Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish Nationalist - would that make Post Office privatisation more or less likely?

At present, the Universal Obligation which our MP wishes to defend covers the whole of the United Kingdom. If the Post Office in the rest of the United Kingdom was privatised, what likelihood is there of it respecting a Universal Obligation covering the furthest corners of what could, by then, be a foreign state if our MP’s dreams are realised?

Have the SNP made any attempts to secure the guarantee of a “United Post Office” any more than they have sought legal advice on EU membership or decided which currency they want to adopt? It seems most unlikely that they have given the implications for postal services or charges a second thought, any more than any of the other “details” about independence.

A Universal Obligation restricted to Scotland would be of very little use to the Western Isles. Increasingly, the Postal service is used for the delivery of parcels and packages ordered on-line. Whereas haulage contractors impose island surcharges, the Post Office does not.

Turning Scotland and England into separate countries would throw away that benefit, along with many others.

Finally, does Mr MacNeill have any idea what it would cost to run a separate Post Office and what charges would be passed on to consumers. I will give him a clue. The most expensive country in the world to post a letter is Norway, at a cost of £1.15, almost double the UK charge even after the recent price increase.

If Mr MacNeill is genuinely interested in his constituents’ postal interests rather than in merely putting out a press release, it is not just privatisation he should be opposing but the pointless break-up of the United Kingdom.


Western Isles Constituency Labour Party

Unsound retailing

Whilst it is very sad for employees of Jessops and HMV to lose their jobs at this time of year, the loss of these retail outlets really needs to be put into perspective.

If internet traders can supply goods cheaper and more conveniently than town centre shops (with all their parking problems deliberately engineered by local councils), then these dinosaur enterprises will inevitably become extinct.

Perhaps if HMV had not alienated customers like myself by stopping stocking their traditional 78’s, I might have been persuaded to continue shopping there. As it is, my needs are now more than adequately catered for online!



Recycling old phones

Many of your readers will have received new phones for Christmas, leaving them wondering what to do with their old devices.

Rather than putting them in a drawer, never to be used again, World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is offering the perfect solution for redundant and out-of-date devices – its Recycle for Research scheme.

This gives unwanted mobile phones and other items such as PDAs a new lease of life and raises funds for the cancer prevention charity’s vital research and education programmes. The WCRF scheme also accepts used printer ink and toner cartridges. Most phones are sold on or recycled while cartridges are sent back to the manufacturer for refilling. Both are the most environmentally friendly option.WCRF can provide freepost envelopes for your devices and freepost labels for larger packages – sent straight to your workplace or home. We can also provide boxes of recycling envelopes for display.To find out more about Recycle for Research email or call 020 7343 4205.


World Cancer Research Fund