Gazette Letters May 22nd

This vivid photograph of bluebells was taken in Lews Castle Grounds by Chris Murray. If you would like to submit an image to our Beautiful Islands feature email:
This vivid photograph of bluebells was taken in Lews Castle Grounds by Chris Murray. If you would like to submit an image to our Beautiful Islands feature email:

Absence from debates

The absence of the MP for the Western Isles from referendum debates in this constituency has previously been remarked upon in your columns. I am particularly surprised to note that Angus Brendan MacNeil is not billed to appear at a debate to be held in Benbecula on June 20th.

The major employment issue in Uist concerns the future of the Range which, for the time being, was secured through an excellent campaign led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Storas Uibhist, in which Mr MacNeil was noticeable only by his absence. As a fresh threat to the Range now emerges, in the form of independence, is he again to be posted missing?

Defence is a matter reserved to Westminster and it is only reasonable that Mr MacNeil should make himself available to face questioning about the implications for the Uist facilities if Scotland was no longer part of the United Kingdom. In these circumstances, there is no obvious reason why the MoD would not proceed to do what was previously mooted – i.e. transfer operations to Wales which would still be part of the UK.

If Mr MacNeil has some convincing argument against that pretty obvious concern, then what better opportunity to produce it than on June 20th, rather than sending the MSP who has no responsibility for defence issues or the employment associated with them.

As his career landmark of 40,000 “tweets” approaches, almost none of them connected to anything happening in the Western Isles, it is surely time for Mr MacNeil to engage in some more substantial debate about the implications of his constitutional objectives for this constituency.

Matt Bruce

Chairman Western Isles Labour Party

Join existing denomination

Perhaps you will permit me a reply to Mr. Donald Murray’s letter now to hand (Letters 8.5.14), for it seems my letter backing the exodus of folk from Stornoway High over the homosexuality in the ministry issue (Letters 1.5.14) has raised the ire of Mr. Murray.

Mr. Murray cries inconsistency and complains that in time past I queried the madness of so many denominations reading the same Book and all dividing from one another over what they find there - yet here I am backing this latest division!

To clarify things for Mr. Murray let me assure him there is no inconsistency. My position on the issue is unchanged, and as regards the folk who left the High Church I believe they acted correctly. From what I’ve read I understand these folk worship meantime in temporary accommodation whilst they prayerfully consider the way forward, and if that be so it would be my hope that they’d ultimately join themselves to an existing denomination rather than form a new one.

Keith Fernie

Inverness IV2 3RW

Best of friends

Helen Mansfield (Letters 15th May) accuses supporters of Scottish independence of “racism”, of “hating our neighbours” and of a “lack of education”.

I am a supporter of Yes Scotland. I have lived in England for most of my life and have the greatest affection for England and its people. I am not a racist and have never hated anyone in my life. If Scotland wins its independence this September I would expect that Scotland and England will remain the best of friends.

I don’t know of anybody in Yes Scotland who are racists or who hate the English. If there was, I would not be part of it.

I think Scotland should be independent because, for 44 of my 67 years, Scotland has been ruled by a Tory Government in London which it didn’t vote for, doesn’t want, and which appears to be concerned only for the richest people of south-east England.

It enacts policies such as the bedroom tax, which might make perfect sense in London but which is causing immense hardship to the most vulnerable people in Scotland. And the opinion polls suggest that we are in for at least another five years of David Cameron.

I think Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands. It should be able to elect a Government with full sovereign powers, and not dependent on a small and shrinking hand-out of pocket money from London after we have paid far more in taxes to London.

For the past year, the No campaign has tried to frighten us with silly scare stories (“we won’t be able to watch Doctor Who”, “we will have to give the pandas back”), blustering bullying (“we can’t share the pound”, “we can’t join the EU”) and now seems to be indulging in nastiness and silly name-calling.

If there was one good positive reason for voting No, we would have heard about it long ago.

But there isn’t. So that’s why we should vote YES this September.

Dr David Wilson

Tolsta, Isle of Lewis

In reply to Mr Jappy

It’s rather worrying just how overly sensitive the more ultra- nationalists have become to any criticism of their leader, Alex Salmond, who they worship like an infallible God leading them into the promised land.

Even more worrying that my letter referred to by John S Jappy ( letters 15 May ) made no mention whatsoever of Mr Salmond , let alone “smear” him as Mr Jappy falsely claims.

Mr Jappy should be pleased to learn that, like him, I will also be voting ‘ Yes ‘ in the Scottish independence referendum for various reasons that space doesn’t permit to fully explain.

Those reasons are probably different to Mr Jappy’s, though a ‘Yes is a ‘Yes ‘ whatever the reason.

John S Jappy’s letter also mentioned the subject of suggested candidates to play the well-known characters in the remake of the classic BBC comedy, Dads Army. I recall that the character of Private Fraser was a Barra man who was always sneering and sniping at the stoical English stiff-upper-lip as personified by Captain Mainwaring,though offering no alternative strategy of his own when in the spotlight.other than bluff and bluster

Sharing the same island background as Private Fraser, I have in mind the ideal candidate to take on this role. He is already playing a similar role in real life,and has a day job which permits ample leisure time for extra curricular thespian activities.

But as my suggested candidate is another SNP politician, I am reluctant to name him in public lest the Nationalist attack dog John S Jappy, is provoked into returning once more to bite my other leg.

Iain M Macdonald

Uig, Isle of Lewis

Editorial - Could work together over Inter-Island flights

Cutting Inter-island flights had an immediate cost-saving to the public purse, but what of the cost on the quality of health care in the Islands due to that decision?

A letter from NHS Western Isles made public this week reveals that the cutting of the flights has meant delayed discharges for patients, long journey times, and cancelled appointments at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Cutting the flights was a Comhairle budget decision taken in 2013 which saw the reduction in subsidised flights. Those between Barra and Benbecula were stopped and the service between Benbecula and Stornoway reduced from five to three days a week.

At the time, calls from the Comhairle for the Health Board to contribute towards the costs of the inter-island air service were refused.

This story does not paint either the Comhairle or the Health Board in a good light. If the flights had not been cut then patients would have better access to health care, which surely is a concern for the health board, even if funding flights in the region does not fall into their remit.

It is a pity these two bodies cannot work together to solve problems rather than doggedly fighting their own patch.