Your letters to The Buteman: October 3, 2014

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 pick of your letters to the latest issue of The Buteman includes two reflections on the aftermath of the referendum and a thank you to one of Bute’s knowledgeable tour guides and bus drivers.

To see your views on any local issue appear in our print edition, get in touch by 5pm on Monday by emailing news@buteman.com (or you can just click on the email addrress at the top of this story).

Please keep your contributions as short and to-the-point as you can - and remember to include your postal address for publication.

A daytime telephone number is required in case we need to contact you at short notice to clarify anything, though this will not be published.

Lessons to be learned for all our futures

Now that the dust has settled, I would like to thank The Buteman for hosting a healthy and balanced discussion on the referendum campaign through its letters page.

I for one was pleased with the dignified and proper way that people conducted themselves generally.

The sad, final act in George Square (almost called Independence Square!) was an ironic counterpoint to the subtle assertion through language that the pro-independence movement was Nazi (remember the common usage was ‘nationalist?’ – never pro-independence; thus hinting at fanaticism).

The misuse of the Union flag on that occasion confirmed many Scots’ view of it, often lost on our southern neighbours, as being a tool of extreme groups more prevalent in other parts of these islands.

As Alex Salmond said after the result, the referendum outcome has been accepted “for a political generation”. But the ‘45’ who voted Yes cannot be ignored – and a new generation of leadership will take the helm soon.

The promise of ‘powers’, I am sure, will ultimately be booted into the long grass of the forthcoming general election, then the EU referendum.

Chancellor Merkel of Germany was coy about commenting on the Scottish result as she knew fine well that the Scottish input may now keep the UK in the EU. (Farage got that wrong!)

Let’s be clear: the phrase “more powers” is not a simple one. Scotland needs the ability to set its own course, not just the responsibility to manage Westminster’s austerity drives on its behalf. Power devolved is power retained.

Beyond Scotland, recognition is long overdue that there is something rotten in the state of Britain itself: unelected lawmakers, an upper house full of unelected landowners, churchmen, paid-off ex politicians and ‘thank you’lordships.

We have an unrepresentative UK voting system, a post-imperial addiction to weapons of mass destruction as a symbol of virility, and the corporate control of the political and media landscape.

Reform in those areas matters throughout these islands, and it will need a grassroots movement every bit as creative and inclusive as the Yes movement has become and will continue to be.

But let’s not lose sight of how this started. Here in Scotland we must have real progress: no more timid inching forward while retaining real power in London for agendas far removed from our needs.

The Labour Party in Scotland is now dead in the water. Darling’s snide and sickening sneering at Salmond at their conference in Manchester proves their only real attachment to Scotland: the need to regain power in the UK. (Did they think we weren’t watching?)

Their ‘blind eye’ approach to punitive welfare attacks on council tenants and disabled people must so embarrass the old guard.

The breath-taking and scary statement by Labour’s Jack Straw that laws should be passed to make the Union indissoluble for ever, so that we would never again be able to choose our own way, is the stuff of arrogance we have come to expect and would be something many of us would take to the streets to oppose.

Scotland must be free to make welfare choices which cherish dignity.

No more watching helplessly as our people bob on the latest wave of boom and bust economics: Scotland must have the real fiscal and economic levers to create jobs and prosperity in a modern green economy.

No more taking a back seat as the imperative of a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren is squandered: on transport, energy and land Scotland needs to have powers to set our own course to that future.

But, if we have learned anything over the last two years, it is also about the need to prise power away from political and in particular the corporate elites.

The energy and talents of the grassroots movement and particularly the young will be the driver of future change, not whatever crumbs fall from the Westminster table.

The most inspiring thing for me was the informed engagement of those young folk, which gives us all hope for the future; wherever it takes us.

Jim S. Mitchell, St Ninian’s Cottage, Straad

Why Alex Salmond lost the argument

The First Minister’s achievement can be measured by the fact that he persuaded 1.6 million Scots to vote for an independent Scotland defended by two frigates, two squadrons of fighters and 7,500 troops.

Every drug smuggler would smile broadly, for how could a coastline like ours be policed by a couple of ships? He would have left us defenceless.

The idea that we do not need a defence is untenable, for all history - in which Mr Salmond considers himself expert - cries out that the future will be like the past and therefore just as dangerous.

Is it not enough that just half a century ago, Britain stood alone for two years against the greatest menace to civilization in history? Alec wanted to arm us with a bow and arrow.

His other expertise is economics. Yet it is self evident that any country is likely to be more productive when part of a larger whole without boundaries and conditions than isolated and alone.

Even the idea that Scotland is largely socialist and should be self-governing (because otherwise it will be ruled by the Bullingdon Club) is only believable because it is unexamined.

Are our local authorities the best way to govern our regions? Only someone unaware of the details of their mediocrity could think so.

Then there are the Edinburgh trams, the Holyrood parliament and the 40-year failure to build an opera house in the capital.

Westminster would never have been capable of such fiascos: there, at least, negotiating contracts is understood. [Admittedly, the Ministry of Defence - a law unto itself- should be abolished and rebuilt: commissioning two aircraft carriers, whose cost doubled, without fighters to fly off them is ridiculous.]

Alec has been a super salesman, but the argument was just not there, and he was not bright enough to realise it.

The trend of the world, let alone Europe, is towards inclusion, not fragmentation. The former is what he ought to have been fighting for. Equalising the nations and the people within the Union, making that society fairer. He backed the wrong horse.

One day, we will have the world government Bertrand Russell and others before him predicted. Then, wars between nations, massacre of innocents and starving or plague-ridden multitudes will be history.

The protection, promotion and well being of all the people of the world is the future. That is what he should have been working for.

William Scott, 23 Argyle Place, Rothesay

Apple Tree pre school pupils’ Eco Picnic

Every year Keep Scotland Beautiful through Eco Schools Scotland, encourages nurseries and schools to host a Planet Picnic.

We at Apple Tree visited Bute Produce, who donated fresh vegetables. On a visit to McIntyre Butchers we made our own sausages. Several of the children brought in produce from their own garden and we had great fun making different recipes from everything we had gathered.

We would like to thank everyone who made our Eco Picnic a great success.

Pre-school pupils at Apple Tree Nursery, Mackinlay Street, Rothesay

Wonderful commentary on bus tour

Through your newspaper may I and my two companions thank West Coast Motors’ driver Paul Tritschler for his wonderful commentary on Saturday afternoon’s Bute open top bus tour.

Paul’s local knowledge is exceptional, and his descriptions were recounted with humour - what a joy.

We hopped on and off the tour throughout the day, visiting the IBAC country craft studios that the regular service bus does not reach, and Paul ensured that his three ladies were collected on his next run of the day.

Full marks to Paul, and well done to IBAC - we had an enjoyable day out.

Linda Mellor, 26 Argyle Street, Rothesay