Gazette Letters - Politics, Religion, Gaelic and the Arts

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Labour wants to tax us more

Sir, – The Scottish Government Budget for 2017-2018 indicates that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be receiving £3565 per person from the SNP Government.

Once again, the Western Isles are receiving more money per person than any other local authority in Scotland, with Glasgow receiving £2017, Edinburgh £1444 and Aberdeen £1219.

It is only right that people in the Western Isles should receive more Government cash than anywhere else, given the high levels of poverty, the sparse population and remoteness of these islands.

Particularly pleasing is the increase in expenditure by the SNP Government on the NHS in the Western Isles from £68m in 2012 to a budgeted £80.6m in 2017 – a rise of 18.5 per cent over five years.

That is one of the biggest increases in the whole of Britain.

The biggest danger we all face is the possibility of Labour inflicting more taxes on us, plunging many “just-about-managing” people into poverty and disproportionately hitting the most vulnerable of our neighbours.

Labour wants to take a further £300 a year from every taxpayer and pour it down the drain. It has done it before and it will do it again.

Which is possibly why all those Labour Party members on the Comhairle are hiding their party affiliation by standing as “independents” at the forthcoming election.

It’s time to get Labour off our backs and its sticky fingers out of our pockets. – Yours, etc.,

Dr David Wilson

Isle of Lewis

Good Friday?

Easter Sunday true day of good

Sir, – It’s odd that it’s called Good Friday, for there’s nothing good about being nailed to a cross.

With Jesus hanging there, God unleashed his wrath on Him, God’s sense of justice standing in the way of loving us until Jesus died.

The church believes it happened that way, though many Christians query it, the church’s take far removed from the God who loved us and sent Jesus into the world to tell us of that love.

Miles distant, too, from talk of mercy rather than sacrifice, with God’s nature hugely misunderstood.

But there was plenty of good about Easter Sunday.

Jesus rose from the dead and confounded them all! – Yours, etc.,

Keith Fernie


Secularism explained

Sir, — Donald J.Morrison, from Inverness appears to be very confused about the meaning of Secularism.

I understand his need to conflate Secularism with Humanism in order to foster a deep mistrust of Secularism

I should however like to point out that these are two very distinct concepts, and comparing apples to oranges only muddies the waters of understanding.

Whereas Humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a deity, Secularism simply works to ensure that religion does not interfere in the affairs of state (and vice versa).

Secular societies are comprised of individuals from many backgrounds and world views.

We are united by the desire to be governed equally and fairly, free from fear or favour.

When the spectre of fundamentalism threatens to undermine equality and fairness, organisations such as ours mobilise to uphold that equality and fairness.

I can assure Mr Morrison that his eyes do not deceive him, and that our organisation is in fact a diverse coalition of atheists, humanists, pagans, Christians, LGBTI+, straight and cis gender people.

We strive to be a robust and inclusive group, and our numbers are at least on the rise.

Love thy neighbour is universally sound advice – I heartily recommend he try to embrace it.

Mr Morrison’s decision to portray secular Christians as “counterfeit coins, gimmicks and fakes” is insulting.

For him then to sit in judgement and condemn them as hypocrites is itself the most egregious of hypocrisies.

Those he seeks to malign are no less Christian in our eyes, and they are no less worthy of our love and respect.

Indeed, Mr Morrison’s loss remains our gain.

May I respectfully suggest he spend his time seeking to redeem rather than condemn. – Yours, etc.,

Iain Campbell

Western Isles Secular Society

Slipping away in the heartland

Sir, – It was a nice and well written poem I read in the Gazette (March 30) from Keith Davidson.

Please give us some more of that honest and good quality writing.

Having seen the quality and cultural essence of this dialect, I remain convinced in the truthful knowledge that the ‘Gaelic Mafia’ has more than enough to do on its own patch without encroaching on areas where it has its own special ways.

It really needs to try to sustain Gaelic in its heartland, where its sliding on to painful death on a monthly level, according to what I’m witnessing, and that’s in spite of fake news,and ‘loadsa money’ being used as ammunition to fire it up.

It’s sadly smouldering ina distant haze of improper use. More so even by folk who are actually paid to speak it. I have plenty of evidence of that, on the occasion I happen to tune in to the TV or radio these days.

While on the subject of local survival, etc., I also note that current growth industries are arts/museums and caring facilities – both of which tell me that we’re not focused on the living, and families, and on what jobs and sustainable ways of life we could be setting up for our youngsters, or what’s left of them at least.

Our leaders and development agencies seem busy on promoting the dead and the past, and that does not make for a lively bustling locality to me.

Even though the past and its folk are very dear to me, all those feelings are in the right place – in my loving heart and soul, and never on a shelf in a museum and for sale.

My spititual philosophy has always been that my soul was not for sale, and that applies also to our forebears and their lives.

I don’t give a damn about houses and cars and other wordly stuff, but I do care a lot about proper use of grammar and my beloved language, and also about morals and loving kindness.

Here’s a very good Gaelic saying: “Treabh an T-iomaire tha fo’d chois an toiseach.” In English? “Plough the furrow beneath your feet first”.

I’d ask the Gaelic agencies and the local authority to take note of the long and lasting truth of that advice.

But I also know that the above will not be taken on board and the falsity will continue due to the fact that there are far too many do-gooders out there, who will keep promoting the fake, because otherwise they will all be shown the door.

Gaelic is secondary in its real essence in their lives.

However, as Luther said so truthfully, “here I stand, by faith alone” (no need for do-gooders when God’s on your side, and who indeed can be against you, is my addition to that.

Now for something really full of praise and goodness!

That’s Easter, and the only good news in an otherwise very dark world. Blessings to all! – Yours, etc.,

Aonghas Eoghainn Mhoir

Uibhist a Deas

Getting to the art of the matter

Sir, – Coinciding with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we are very grateful to Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, for launching the new Culture & Business Fund Scotland to foster greater collaboration between Scotland’s business and cultural sectors.

Match funding private sector sponsorship of cultural activities pound for pound, this new fund builds on more than a decade of success from the renowned New Arts Sponsorship Grant programme, which has invested over £7.5m to realise more than 500 individual cultural projects across Scotland.

Key innovations for the new fund include a dedicated heritage strand and the opportunity for projects to receive ongoing sponsorship during their second and third


As a new public opinion poll commissioned by Arts & Business Scotland shows a majority of Scots more likely to buy goods and services from businesses that support local cultural projects, there has never been a better time for businesses of all sizes to collaborate with the arts and heritage sectors.

Combining financial support from the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, I look forward to the Culture & Business Fund Scotland delivering many more successful partnerships between business and culture in the years ahead. – Yours, etc.,

David Watt

Chief Executive

Arts & Business Scotland