Gazette letters 7/3/13


In answer to Donald J Morrison’s letter ‘Criminalise all sin?’ (Letters, February 28th), and his views about Abortion.

Abortion is about choice, entitlement and shared community. It is limiting to discuss the losses, without recognising the unmet needs. Folks who think other people should birth children should also provide for them, and if that isn’t possible then folks should see the discrepancy, and value the things that we can achieve.

Global population increases versus ability to provide for that increase is also an interesting statistic, particularly where short-term increase-expectations, based on the current population, is in the billions. This has significant relevance to discussion about social guidance on abortions and on how to run a community effectively, where choice about survival versus standards of living should be studied in relation to poverty and in relation to, who has to sustain/endure life-long low incomes, and why they are in that situation.

Productive and actual enfranchisement has built-in efficiency; where achievement of an adequate level of entitlement provides and sustains provision of an adequate level of entitlement, which in turn rewards the social structure with a chain of events leading to less need for abortions, as it is the lack of choice, lack of strength/entitlement to refuse and lack of availability of opportunities of alternative options, with sustainable status, that contributes to the causes of the problem and thus, promotes the need for abortions.

Given the ongoing rates of impunity achieved by persons committing the sin of gender violence, the invisibility of payment systems in the reward-based culture thus generated, at both local and international levels, and the ethical responsibility that should balance rights, a shared agenda of analysis of true causes, honest exegesis in support of long term community rather than in support of maintenance of out-of-date infrastructure, is called for.

We share the same grief, the question is how do we share the same solution.

Hazel Mansfield Newmarket


It was very disappointing, though maybe not surprising, to read the comments by our MP regarding the Comhairle’s budget in last week’s Gazette. For any MP to say they would not work alongside their local Council to try and find the best solutions to the issues facing us all is, I feel, a lost opportunity.

I would have hoped that any MP, no matter what their political persuasion, would join the Comhairle in putting the best needs of the Islands at the top of their agenda. Paradoxically, Mr MacNeil cites the example of the Range and the Coastguard as issues where he played a part.

I think the success of both these campaigns was due to the fact that the whole community of the Western Isles came together and spoke as one voice and what was put forward to Government was a factual case based on a lot of hard work and evidence. The credence of the case we were making was recognised in both occasions.

When we look at the budget choices that have been put in front of, not only the Comhairle, but the whole of the Outer Hebrides, surely it is not wrong to suggest that we work together through the consultation period to mitigate the worst effects of the serious lack of finance we have to deliver our services.

To suggest that an alternative budget would have meant no cuts for two years is factually wrong. The alternative budget did propose cuts and I would certainly ask our MP to study these proposals closely. I would be quite prepared to supply him with what went in front of the Comhairle on the very last day of the budget process.

It is not fair of Mr MacNeil to patronise the Uist Councillors by telling them they are cutting their own throats. The Uist Councillors scored and fought hard for the air service, but did have the credibility to recognise that what we were doing was putting together an overall budget package for the whole of the Outer Hebrides, in which we all gave up different parts of the services we would have liked to have kept.

A budget that is put forward for scrutiny 45 minutes before a decision is to be taken should not be held up as the way to communicate with our communities. The contrast is with the eight months consultation that the successful budget had been through.

On at least three occasions the authors of the alternative budget were invited to make their cases to that process but chose instead to sit quietly by and abdicate their responsibilities as democratically elected representatives. I do find it incredible that an MP accuses a Council of ‘pocketing’ or ‘pockling’ the cash for air services. These are deeply misleading terms and, frankly, politicians should be capable of much better.

Any money that comes to the Western Isles is used for services, including Children’s Services, the elderly, the infirm and the vulnerable. Hard choices had to be made as part of the consultation process we undertook and we tried our best to reflect what came back from our communities. Much of the response I have had since is that we have done the best we could with the very difficult task put in front of us.

I would ask our MP to recognise that and I now invite him to come and speak to Councillors so that he can understand better the process we went through.

Angus Campbell Leader, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar


As someone who lived in the Western Isles for many years, I would like to say how much I share the MP, Angus MacNeil’s concerns about the cuts in services provided by the Council. I lived in Uist for around a decade and know how much these islands rely on their air-services for both health care and local employment.

As I was a teacher in the Western Isles for a considerably longer period than he ever was, I am very much aware how much strain the educational budget is under and how this will affect the schooling of the pupils in the community.

So in terms of the content of his letter, I have much sympathy for both Mr MacNeil’s dilemma and those of the many people I care for who live and work in the constituency.

However, I have less understanding of the tone he adopts. It is emotive in a way which no correspondence from a local representative should ever be. Instead of using stones to build a causeway between different groups of people, he opts to gather stones together and lob them in every direction but his own.

Yet the fact is that he himself is part of the problem. He has allowed the divide between himself and the council to grow and expand throughout his time of office. I am aware, for instance, that my local MP, Alastair Carmichael has regular meetings with councillors both in Orkney and Shetland and assists them in many ways. Does he follow this practice?

I am conscious too that Mr MacNeil’s predecessor, Calum MacDonald MP consulted with the council regularly, facilitating and hosting meetings with UK ministers and others for council delegations over the years. The issues they covered included BCCI, fish farming, crofting, development and many other matters. Can I ask Mr MacNeil if he has ever done this? If so, how regularly during the time since he was elected? How often, for instance, in a year?

It seems to me that – to use Winston Churchill’s words – to ‘jaw-jaw’ is an essential part of an MP’s job. It seems to me that, given the long and incoherent broadside Mr MacNeil has just launched, he prefers to ‘waw-waw.’ Whatever his sincere objections to the Council’s actions might be, there are far more constructive, co-operative and considered ways for him to behave.

Donald S Murray Shetland ZE2 9EY


I too must acknowledge a degree of sympathy, but with Rev. David Campbell (Letter: Same Sex Marriage Meeting 14/02/13). It appears he does not have the courage of his convictions.

Having strongly stated the case for enforcing the doctrine that “civil power has a duty to uphold the moral law of God” he seems to fail to follow this argument to its logical and inevitable conclusion. Perhaps he is biding his time.

I assume then, that in the near future he will be presenting a formal letter to Alex Neil MSP to propose a reform of other legislation which is contrary to Biblical teachings. If we are to address such issues as the same-sex marriage legislation using evidence from scripture, we cannot ignore the other rules and condemnations dictated by the Bible which are now inconvenient to address in our progressive and modern Western culture.

Take for instance capital punishment. Will Rev David Campbell be presenting a case to government for bringing back the death penalty? He should bear in mind this will be in direct opposition to a recent UN General Assembly Resolution. I assume he will also be petitioning the University of the Highlands and Islands to demand they no longer allow female lecturers to teach men.

Might I suggest that if Rev David Campbell is unhappy with the prospect of living in a country which continues to value basic human rights above ancient doctrine, he should perhaps visit a country in which this is not the case.

Perhaps Saudi Arabia or the Sudan, as both of these countries consider adultery to be a capital offence, or if his stomach is too weak for this perhaps North Korea or Pakistan, where adultery is still considered a crime. I imagine he would also be keen to visit the many countries which currently agree with his sentiment about homosexuality such as Iran or Nigeria.

We are lucky to live in a country which prides itself on human rights and social progress. In my opinion the reform on same-sex marriages can not come quickly enough. I look forward to a day when LGBTQ rights are as seamlessly ingrained in our culture as all the other basic human rights we take for granted, and I hope to live to see it.

Hollie Richards (formally of Carloway)

Bristol BS7 8LL


Ed Miliband is right to demand a vote in the House of Commons on a tax on mansions over £2m.

With the economy struggling, wages frozen and millions of people unemployed everyone should be doing their bit to help Britain’s economy recover.

The money would be used to re-introduce the 10p tax rate for millions of people on middle and low incomes – helping them out in difficult times.

This is right - everyone should be paying their fair share.

I hope readers will write to their MP and ask them to vote in favour of the mansion tax.

Ken Park Tolsta Chaolais


Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2013, Stornoway I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this event and to everyone who visited the exhibition and related events. The theme was Communities Together - Build a Bridge.

The purpose of HMD was to share the memory of the millions who have been murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur in order to challenge hatred and persecution in the UK today.

Those who made the effort to visit the exhibition and participate in the activities I applaud you. You are an inspiration to your communities.

For those who did not or were unable to do so this year hopefully you will take the opportunity to do something on the 27 January 2014, Holocaust Memorial Day.

That we as a community need to learn from the Holocaust and subsequent genocides is self evident. Bullying, discriminatory practices, hatred and persecution exist here as it does everywhere else. We need to tackle it. We need leadership to do so and if it doesn’t come from our elected bodies and public bodies then we need to speak out.

Ken Maclennan