Readers Letters 9/10/14

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Stornoway Gazette reader Ronald MacAlpine snapped this stunning sunrise over Portvoller, Point.

If you would like 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.



Angus MacLeod is quite right to state that a process of democracy occurred on 18th September (letters Oct 2nd).

Whatever made him conclude that he would vote NO he, like so many well over retiral age, have deprived the younger generations of the chance to go forward in a determined and enthusiastic way to forge a forward looking democratic nation in Scotland.

Unlike Mr MacLeod and so many others who have adorned the letters columns of most newspapers up here in recent days I was prepared to give freedom its chance for the sake of my children and grandchildren.

I do not see myself a “sore loser” but many of my age group seem to want not only to vote NO but to pretend they have a monopoly on wisdom.

My YES vote at the age of 78 was not for me but for those who will come after us.

I would not have too many more years to worry about the scare stories regarding pensions, NHS, most big companies deserting Scotland, a take-over by the Russians or any of the other daft ploys of a Westminster inspired campaign to ensure they did not have to remove Nuclear arms from Scottish waters, nor lose the revenues in taxation on oil extraction, or the profits of our labours in the food and drink industries!

I do not know when or how Mr MacLeod came to his NO”decision but I am absolutely sure that enough people were swayed by “trickery” from down South—it only needed 200,000 to change from a leaning towards YES to a negative vote to change round the result.

The fact that analysis since has shown that a majority of those in the age 25-45 bracket voted for independence while NO was cast by a majority of those over retiral age indicates which generation included many fearful voters.

There is nothing undemocratic in complaining that the older lot ensured a NO result.

I predict that after all the wrangling in the Smith commission and the meagre offer which the London based parties might actually get round to make on more devolved powers there will be lot of the “Better Together” voters who will be wishing they had gone for YES.

John Wilson,

Prestwick KA9 1JE


There should be fewer powers for Holyrood not more.

Respect for politicians is low and the general belief is that they are all in it for personal gain and that they are all the same anyway.

Politicians should not be fooled by the high turn-out at the Referendum. The voters realised that their votes actually counted on that occasion which was a feeling not experienced for decades.

I believe a return to something like we had with town and county councils should be aimed for. Councillors were not paid and received only strictly controlled expenses.

They stood for election to serve their communities and officials were definitely under the control of and carried out the wishes of the councillors.

The present councils are called local but few know the names of any of the councillors who are supposed to represent them.

There were good side effects with that system as people took the trouble to vote locally so developed an interest in politics which was carried through to general elections.

Another complaint widely reported in the Press is that we now have mainly professional politicians who have never had a proper job and so have no experience of life in the real world and the day to day problems faced by the general public.

This could be solved by preventing anybody under 30 years of age standing at an election as a prospective candidate.

More powers for Holyrood will only put more power into the hands of an elite group and will be no benefit to the rest of us.

William W. Scott

East Lothian EH39 4PY


In his letter replying to Rev. David Campbell, Donald John MacLeod argues that Presbyterian ministers were in collusion with landlords to implement the Highland Clearances and that modern day Presbyterian ministers can be safely ignored (letters Oct 2nd).

However, to support the defence of Presbyterianism and of our Christian heritage, and thus the maintenance of the Union, does not equate with agreeing with everything done in the past by Church and State in Britain.

Does support for Scottish nationalism today involve the need to agree with every policy implemented by the pre-Union Scots Parliament?

Whatever his personal shortcomings, Rev Alexander MacLeod was highly regarded by the people of Uig as a messenger of salvation and rightly so.

If Donald John MacLeod would take the time to read the latest historical research on the issue of ministerial involvement in Highland land issues, his biased and simplistic approach to the subject would be severely challenged.

Eminent ministers of Christ such as Lachlan MacKenzie, Roderick MacLeod, Archibald Cook, John Kennedy, Gustavus Aird – together with many others - spoke out publicly against economic oppression.

One question Mr MacLeod’s interpretation of history can never satisfactorily solve is, if Presbyterian ministers were so much the tools of oppressing lairds as he alleges, why did the vast majority of the crofting population follow the Evangelicals into the Free Church in 1843?

Social and economic factors played a significantly lesser role than the spiritual power at work at that time.

Finally, it is important to remember that all the legal machinery to empty the Highlands of population was in place before the Union of 1707 and therefore it is very difficult to blame the Union per se for the Clearances.

There is certainly no historical evidence to suggest that the Highlands would have maintained a thriving and rapidly-growing population if only the Union had never taken place.

Allan W. MacColl

Swainbost HS2 0TA


In response to the Stornoway Gazette’s report (page 6) that the Free Church of Scotland has welcomed the formation of two new congregations in Lewis and Harris from people who have left the Church of Scotland, I would like to make three points.

Firstly, the Church of Scotland very much regrets that these individuals decided to leave but we remain committed to the members and adherents who have remained and to the people of these parishes.

We are actively supporting the congregations and their office bearers as we seek ministers to serve in the Western Isles.

Secondly, we are dismayed by the continued splitting of the Presbyterian Church family into ever more congregations believing that the constant fracturing of our fellowship diminishes the witness of the whole Church.

Finally, the Church of Scotland is not “drifting from the teaching of the bible on various issues” (online report) we remain fully committed to scripture as the central written witness to the Word of God.

Rev Dr George J Whyte, Acting Principal Clerk to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland


The potential of the Western Isles to attract more tourism to the region was bolstered this week with the news of a joint venture, which plans to see new pontoon facilities installed in Tarbert and Scalpay.

These new facilities will join the route of new pontoon developments throughout the length of the Islands, with recent marina developments in Stornoway and Lochmaddy.

The Tarbert and Scalpay pontoons will between them offer almost as many births as Stornoway, and are unique in that they work in tandem and it is believed that like other facilities they will make a significant on tourism and the local economy.

Opening up the Islands like this and progressing the development of good transportation links to the mainland is the backbone to further grow tourism in the region. The creation of projects like this is just what the doctor ordered in regards to turning a fragile economy into a thriving, healthy one.

If you would like to comment, or write a letter on this topic or any other please contact me at: