Readers’ Letters 27.11.14

editorial image

Picture of the Week - This image was sent to us by Nicola Finlayson of a beautiful sunset at the Bus Station in Stornoway at around 4pm.

To contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands Feature, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.



The Labour Party’s candidate for the Western Isles in the 2015 General Election, Alasdair Morrison, wants to know (Gazette 27th November) what our MP Angus Macneil has been doing regarding the inter-connector.

He has worked solidly on this issue, especially since 11th February 2013 when he raised the issue at Westminster and the Minister of Energy John Hayes told him that the inter-connector would cost £775 million.

On 2nd July 2013 Ofgem’s Director for Scotland, Charles Gallacher, advised Mr Macneil that he was unable to give assurances that the work would begin in the near future. This was down to the needs case submitted by SSE not meeting with approval requirements from Ofgem. Apparently this is not an uncommon problem due to the process set up by Labour when in Government.

This conflict between Ofgem and SSE is a direct result of the energy regime introduced by Tony Blair’s Government when Alasdair Morrison was MSP and Calum Macdonald MP for the Western Isles. During this time, Labour were in power in both Westminster and Holyrood. Had our two elected representatives been more energetic, the inter-connector could have been in place long ago.

On 19th November 2013 Mr Macneil was contacted by Calum Iain Maciver, Director of Development at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. As a result of this Mr Macneil wrote to Energy Secretary Edward Davey requesting he meet with representatives of the Comhairle to discuss renewable energy issues, including the inter-connector.

On 19th December, Angus called on Ed Davey to look again at the strike price for the Western Isles. The minister advised him that the strike price had changed which was affecting the approval timetable.

On 16th January 2014, Mr Macneil again raised the issue of the inter-connector at Westminster with Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

On 21st October 2014, Angus attended the “Big Energy Saving Week” at Westminster and, once again, pressed the case for a rapid resolution of the inter-connector issue with British Government Ministers.

It is truly astonishing that a candidate for Parliament like Alasdair Morrison should be so ignorant about the hard work being put in by Angus Macneil to realise the inter-connector project. Let us hope that Mr Morrison’s contribution to political debate can be more informed, and certainly more courteous, in future.

Dr David Wilson

Press officer, 
SNP Lewis branch


Mark Twain is reported to have quipped that the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, and something of the same may be said about the Church of Scotland congregation in Tarbert. Judging by some of the comments made in recent weeks, one might be forgiven for thinking this was a congregation in serious decline. Reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated.

Yes, to our sorrow, some of our friends separated from us, but the great majority of the congregation remained steadfastly loyal to the Church of our Fathers, and recently four new elders were ordained to office in the congregation.

For the avoidance of doubt this is a congregation which upholds all the doctrines of historic biblical Christianity and does not agree with recent moves by the General Assembly to change attitudes to human sexuality.

As a congregation we seek to work with all others of a like mind in promoting all that is good, worthwhile and of lasting worth. We shall continue to contend for that faith once delivered to the saints, and live out that faith in our daily life as citizens in this community.

The Church of Scotland congregation at Tarbert is a warm fellowship of Bible loving and prayerful Christian people, who seek by all means to serve the community of Tarbert and Harris in the name of Jesus Christ.

Any report of its demise indeed is greatly exaggerated.

J Colin Caskie (Rev)

Interim Moderator at Tarbert


Why do Lewis people keep complaining about the cost of electricity when in reality it’s a priceless commodity and blessing we take for granted, only until it’s switched off do we see its true value.

The problem is we don’t get enough blackouts, that would help us revalue its enormous place in our lives, of which the cost is little in comparison.

l’m one of those who has seen different days when there was no electricity or even running water in the house, we didn’t complain like they do nowadays over very little.

What I don’t understand reading the Gazette (20-11-14) is that the people are noted for their giving to charitable causes of one kind and another, as well as supporting church needs, thousands of pounds are raised, even the children have money to give away.

It doesn’t add up, fuel poverty on one hand (struggling to pay) and money to give away.

Charity they say begins at home, so would it not be better to put some of the people’s spare cash into a common good fund instead for the underprivileged, who may be struggling to keep the home warm through the winter?

Donald Murray



We are constantly reminded by other parties that the Yes campaign should just accept the referendum result and disappear from political view.

Whilst we naturally accept the democratic view of the Scottish electorate, we must all surely accept that politics is a dynamic - not static – and must react to changing circumstances – not the least of which is how the famous vow is faithfully delivered or otherwise.

As Nicola Sturgeon so eloquently stated to a 12,000 packed arena at the SSE last Saturday “We are already a better nation because of the referendum - let’s work together to move towards the Scotland we seek. “

Recently, the Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont resigned, labelling the Westminster Establishment Labourites as “dinosaurs” and treating Scotland as a “branch office” of Westminster “. Spookily similar to what the Yes campaign had been saying throughout the campaign.

On this rare occasion I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Johann Lamont and, as if Labour needed to provide further evidence for this, they send up Jim Murphy a Westminster Establishment MP to contest the Leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland to again “sort out the Scots“.

Yes folks, that is the same Jim Murphy who has as his close associates Tony Blair and who totally supported the illegal war in Iraq and advocates the replacement of Trident at obscene costs to the country.

One of his opponents for the Labour Leadership is Neil Findlay Labour MSP who actually opposes Trident – what a confused state Labour really is in and no wonder they are in freefall heading for the planet oblivion, along with the Lib Dems, both of them illustrating clearly the political cost of cosying up to the Tories

If any further evidence is needed to show the self-destructive and sad state of the present-day Labour Party just look at their current Scottish membership figures.

The Labour Party refuses to divulge them, but it is thought to be between 5,000 -10,000 and falling like a stone, with the SNP on November 22nd at 92,187 members and rising daily.

So although the Yes campaign lost the battle on 18th September, it seems to be steadily winning the war – the loud noise of political triumphalism heard on 19th September seems to have gone strangely quiet.

As well as the unprecedented engagement of Scottish people in the run up and aftermath of the referendum debate, it was also very encouraging to see the swathes of ex-Labour supporters / Greens and Independents who came out to vote Yes.

Alex Salmond has now handed the reins over to an extremely competent and consensual politician in Nicola Sturgeon who will resolutely fight Scotland’s corner at the Smith Commission – our task ahead is to support her at the General Election next year – the Holyrood elections and all the local elections to ensure that Scotland’s voice is truly represented by people of integrity, not “dinosaurs”.

John G Mitchell,

Isle of Harris


The benefits of community run renewable energy projects are beginning to be felt this week with the community of Tolsta benefitting to the tune of £200 for each household, the first profit from their turbine project.

Plans are now being put in place to set up a community fund with an application process to consider projects and causes which will bring added benefit to the area.

On a much larger scale the project for a windfarm near to Stornoway is also gathering pace, plans for a 36-turbine wind farm could see as much as £500,000 being generated annually.

This larger wind turbine plan is still some time off, as it relies on the subsea grid connector that has been an issue for many projects on the islands.

There was a public exhibition about these plans only this week and it is that willingness to connect with the public and listen to feedback which will mean a good balance can be found between community benefit and impact on the environment.