Letters - 23.01.14

Picture of the Week - Morris Macleod woke one morning to find a herd of stags had taken temporary residence in his garden. Two of the stags even had early morning fight almost directly beneath his study window.
Picture of the Week - Morris Macleod woke one morning to find a herd of stags had taken temporary residence in his garden. Two of the stags even had early morning fight almost directly beneath his study window.

Realise your hopes and dreams with Independence

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.

Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.

“Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

This was the quotation of a famous theologian and echoes the sentiments of the late Nelson Mandela.

The above quotation is so appropriate to the referendum debate where the ‘No’ campaign seems to be based on fear rather than aspiration.

Let’s explore some of the Better Together UK Government policies compared to the Scottish Government alternatives.

‘Better Together’ UK policy is to encourage weapons of mass destruction (Trident) on our doorstep. Scottish government policy is to get rid of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil.

Notwithstanding the danger of having a nuclear arsenal 25 miles from Glasgow, the estimated cost of Trident over its lifetime is just under £100 billion, which is enough to build around 60 new schools or employ 15,000 new teachers. Coulport could become the hub of Scotland’s defence and intelligence capabilities thus preserving all the jobs at Faslane.

‘Better Together’ UK policy is to continue to squander the huge revenues from Scottish oil. Scottish policy is to create a ‘Scottish Energy Fund’ to provide investment for future generations as well as income for the benefit of Scotland.

Larry Elliott – the Guardian’s Economics Editor wrote – an entire era (of North Sea Oil) can be summed up in three words – DISCOVERED, EXTRACTED, SQUANDERED - and goes on to say that in the second half of Scotland’s oil and gas years the words should be EXTRACTED, INVESTED, MAXIMISED.

‘Better Together’ UK policy is to charge students tuition fees of up to £9,000.

Scottish policy is that Scotland will meet tuition fees for all Scottish residents and qualifying EC students.

The list goes on and on...House of Lords / Crown Estate / Bedroom Tax – all Westminster-based institutions / policies inflicted upon us.

We are ruled essentially by a Tory government – yet have one Tory MP – that’s democracy?

Better Together - I don’t think so!

It is important to realise that you do not have to be an SNP voter to register Yes in the referendum, as exemplified by two outstanding politicians of alternative political persuasion.

Dennis Canavan was a distinguished Labour MP for 26 years representing West Stirlingshire and Falkirk West, but now chairs the advisory board of Yes Scotland and is a very strong advocate for independence.

Patrick Harvie – Leader of the Scottish Green Party and a very able politician is also a strong proponent of the Yes campaign.

So vote for Democracy : vote for Independence: vote for Scotland but – even more importantly – vote for your children and your grandchildren to offer them a better future.

Live through your hopes and dreams not your fears !

John G Mitchell

Direcleit, Isle of Harris

Not on the side of crofters

I was born in Skigersta in 1942 when crofts under 3 acres were only viable with fishing for ling and cod, the remains of curing houses could still be seen.

Steam trawlers from mainland ports stopped great line fishing to offshore marks.

After the war small line fishing continued for haddock and smaller fish in the shallower waters but the government in their wisdom abolished the three mile from shore trawling ban and allowed large trawlers to fish for sandeels for fishmeal and that cleaned out any remaining fish left.

The small crofts were converted into arable or grazing land.

Life in these small villages after the war is well documented. We had no electricity until 1952 - mains water and sewer came later.

Working the croft was only possible in many cases by the strength and fortitude of the women, with the fathers away working.

We had security and optimism and always the respected Crofters Commission to back the crofters if need be.

At present there are numerous Government bodies meddling in our affairs - we have a major problem with geese caused by a public funded conservation body making it impossible to grow grain, on the other hand we have the Crofting Commission, a significant name change where the emphasis is not on crofters but on crofting with unnecessary powers, regulations and edicts with no sense or purpose other than pointless information gathering.

We hear rumours of crofters to be forced to work the land like serfs with the threat of dispossession.

There seems to be an educated elite with a vested interest in all this bureaucracy, they are adopting a threatening,oppressive, authoritarian arrogance towards crofters.

The pressure on Grazings Committees to inform on their neighbours is quite repugnant.

The more power unaccountable agencies get the more power and control they will seek.

They justify their position by so called initiatives, with spurious consultation to achieve a predetermined result with massaged statistics.

What is the purpose or aim of this bureaucratic avalanche? There is no perceived advantage to crofters, many think that all this regulation will make younger crofters drift to the towns and cities.

Many young people travel away to earn a living, they are the lifeblood of villages. Many I speak to feel threatened by all this and think they should have the automatic right to pass on those small pieces of land to their family and more time given them to return home.

The Government which gives these agencies powers and must be held accountable, they are alienating their own supporters in this matter and may pay a political price unless they regulate the regulators.

Some have fears that on independence more regulation would come.

The only ones making a living from crofting are the agencies that surround it, treating crofting as their private fiefdom.

Meanwhile our pier and slip in our village is falling into disrepair and is becoming dangerous. Our roads would be shameful in a less developed country.

It appears that there is plenty of money to fund useless social engineering schemes but no money for proper infrastructure.

John Macritchie,



Editor’s Say: Future of ferry service needs to be made clearer

The excitement of a new ferry going into service at some point this year on the Stornoway to Ullapool run has been lessened since the time of the first announcement.

The new vessel, which will be much bigger than the current Isle of Lewis may not offer travelling islanders many more benefits.

We already know that journey times across the Minch will hardly change with only 15 minutes cut off the current travelling time - a major disappointment for many who had hoped to see a crossing much closer to two hours.

This week we are discovering that there may not be actually be any increase in sailings than currently, and with both freight and vehicles to be accommodated on the same vessel, what will this mean at the peak travel demand in the summer months?

It seems consultation with the Local Authority - who represent the public on these matters - has been lacking somewhat and more needs to be done by CMAL, who commissioned the vessel, to ensure a clearer picture is given.

If you would like to comment, or write a letter about this topic or any other please contact me at: news@stornowaygazette.co.uk