This week’s Letters to the Editor

Email your opinions to news@buteman.com, with the subject line 'Letter to the Editor'.
Email your opinions to news@buteman.com, with the subject line 'Letter to the Editor'.

The letters page in the November 7 edition of The Buteman features the continued debate over the Smith Commission on devolution for Scotland, praise for local charity shop, Bute Oasis, and an appeal for information from a reader in Australia with family links to Bute.

If you’d like to see your views on any of the subject below - or indeed on any topic of local interest - appearing in our print edition, email your thoughts to news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest (though the earlier you get in touch, the better are your chances of appearing in print).

Please keep your contributions as brief and to-the-point as you can, and remember to include your postal address for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check anything at short notice, although this will not be printed.

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Scotland’s voters were not cheated

Sir,

I did not expect my letter of October 24, suggesting people should make their views know to the Smith Commission, would generate such passion and vitriol from some of your readers.

I assume from Mr David Coll’s letter to you of October 31 that he could not have been in Scotland in the run up to the referendum on September 18. All three Better Together parties published their proposals for change in the event of a No vote. Indeed, the major purpose of the Smith Commission is to take forward the commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

As forMr Coll’s claim that Scotland is now negotiating for “crumbs from the big table”, may I remind him that previous negotiation with Westminster resulted in the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with direct powers for education, health, housing, transport, police, courts, fire service, environment, and local government.

The Scotland Act of 2012 additionally provides powers to the Scottish Parliament to borrow funds and to raise taxes. Surely these critical services amount to more than crumbs!

Of course, the SNP government declined to use the tax raising powers they had. Perhaps they felt it was better and simpler for them to complain about Westminster.

Mr Ben Gallagher, in his letter to you of October 31, referring to my proposals to the Smith Commission, states: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything he (I) said was delivered by the commission.”

I agree. Unfortunately he goes on with a tirade of all the things he dislikes about Westminster, the Tories, the House of Lords, the political system and even Plymouth.

Perhaps Mr Gallagher is too young to remember when Rothesay Bay was the home of the British Submarine squadron. I fondly recall the HMS Montclare and HMS Adamant submarine depot ships, their submarines and crews being the mainstay of Rothesay’s tourism.

The reality is that the vast majority in Argyll and Bute and the majority of those living in Scotland wanted to remain part of the UK. They were not lied to nor cheated.

It’s a pity that the only way Mr. Gallagher and many SNP/Yes voters can come to terms with reality is to disparage those working for an agreed way forward for Scotland.

Finlay Craig

Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove

Bute Oasis - what a charity shop should be

Sir,

I write to comment on the excellent charity shop, Bute Oasis, with its wonderful staff and very reasonable prices.

I went in there whilst on a day trip from Glasgow and was pleasantly surprised with the traditional ethos of it, a feeling of ‘that is what a charity shop should be like’.

These days charity shops seem to forget that originally their purpose was two-fold, to raise money for their cause and also to help those in reduced circumstances in their local community, to buy things they otherwise could not afford.

It is the latter that the charity shops often forget about.

Our society needs more shops like this, helping the beneficiaries in need of food – I believe Bute Oasis raises funds for a local food bank – and benefactors – in need of inexpensive items.

Graham Rennie

5 Hurlet Cottages, Glasgow

Seeking info on New Zealand and Bute link

Sir,

Like many other people lately I have been drawn to find out more about my family history. My grandmother, Sarah Mac-Lennan (1888-1941), was born on Bute, as one of the daughters of Mary Baxter and Duncan MacLennan, the famous dancing teacher.

It is known that Duncan was ‘sent’ to New Zealand by his family early in the 20th century where, for a time, he taught Scottish country dancing, before his other love, alcohol, took over.

The family knew that Duncan’s brother -in-law, Hugh Baxter, enlisted to fight in the First World War, and was killed in 1915. His name is engraved on the WW1 memorial in Rothesay and his name appears on the order of service at the opening of the memorial. He is also listed on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

I have only just discovered that Hugh spent some years in New Zealand. The supposition is that he visited his brother in law there. He subsequently lived and worked in Mildura, Victoria, Australia.

On December 29, 1914, at the age of 42, Hugh enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force. He served in Egypt before being posted to the Dardanelles.

There the story ended, with Hugh being listed as killed in action on August 8, 1915.

Unfortunately for his family, he was initially listed as wounded, then missing, and it wasn’t until a court of inquiry was held in April of the following year that he was finally posted as being ‘killed in action’. You can hardly imagine the anguish caused to his family, along with so many other families, at that time.

And so, in September 1916, his mother finally received the two pounds a fortnight war pension and a package was returned to her with his canvas cartridge belt, housewife, pipe and shaving brush.

Hugh’s grave is on the Anzac peninsula, where so many Australians and New Zealanders will gather next April to celebrate the Gallipoli campaign, though it is not really a campaign that should be celebrated.

My family has been living in Australia for more than 30 years, and had no inkling that we were not the ‘first’ Scots from the MacLennan/Baxter clan to live here.

If any readers can assist with the mystery of Hugh’s journey to New Zealand/Australia or there are any photographs I would be very appreciative.

Rosemary Tait

35 Green Street, Ivanhoe, Victoria 3079, Australia