Letters to the editor – September 6, 2019

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An open letter to Brendan O’Hara MP

Dear Mr O’Hara,

I write to you regarding your recent undated, round-robin constituency letter and its misleading, generalising and obviously politically biased contents.

This is to mention nothing of its scaremongering phraseology and use of expressions such as ‘crash out’ of Europe.

Are you seriously suggesting that if we do not always agree with the Germans that they would stop buying our whisky, fish and tweeds? Or are they not wishing to sell their cars and wine to us? Or visit us as holiday-makers?

I think not.

Your party political bias is only too obvious and you should remember that while you were voted in as MP, it was only by a minority of Argyll and Bute residents, and certainly not by the majority of us.

In your snide comments about Boris Johnston – of whom I, too, am not a fan – you give not a single example to back up your contention that he is ‘causing serious economic and social harm to both Argyll and Bute and Scotland as a whole’.

While no-one expects the truth from politicians in general, we do actually expect it at a local level.

R Henderson, Lochgilphead

Remember the SSPCA


The Scottish SPCA is urging the people of Scotland to share their stories, photos and memories of the charity as it prepares to celebrate its 180th birthday.

Set up with the goal of aiding overworked horses and ponies in Leith, Scotland’s animal welfare charity was founded on 18 December 1839.

The Scottish SPCA now has nine animal rescue and rehoming centres and a world-leading wildlife hospital in Clackmannanshire. Last year, it rehomed over 5,000 domestic pets and successfully released 5,642 wild animals back to their natural environment. The society now also delivers industry-leading animal welfare educational programmes to people of all ages.

In my short time with the society I know of hundreds of examples of our dedicated people going above and beyond to do all they can for the animals and humans they come across. So, I can only imagine how many fantastic stories must be out there about the people who’ve worn our uniform since we were formed.

As well as those who have had a positive experience with us in the recent past, we are hoping to uncover some long lost tales from descendants of those we’ve touched in decades gone by.

The society wants anyone with any interesting anecdotes or memorabilia to get in touch via the website or by emailing 180.years@scottishspca.org.

Kirsteen Campbell, chief executive, Scottish SPCA

Unfair tariffs and buying local


The likelihood of the UK exiting the EU has now shifted from ‘possible’ to ‘probable’.

That gives greater focus to our efforts to prepare and proof our farming industry from the impacts of no deal.

Whilst it always has been  the position of NFU Scotland that the UK must secure a favourable deal on the terms of exit with the EU, we must also support our industry through any change in the operating environment.

Many NFU Scotland members might think that their businesses won’t be impacted, but the reality is that there will be implications for all of us. Some will be direct and immediate, and others more indirect and emerging through time – but the one certainty is that these will be felt by all of us involved in the agri-food chain.

There are a few things that would make a big difference if applied right across the board in the UK.

First, the UK Government’s proposed import tariff schedule desperately requires revision. It would expose some produce – specifically cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, eggs and horticultural produce – to a tariff going into the EU, but would allow that same product to come into the UK with no tariff.

This is farcical.

To apply asymmetrical tariffs on any products between us and the EU is to completely misunderstand the nature of food security in the UK and fails to recognise that trade is vital to both the UK and the EU.

One thing that can be done, regardless of Brexit, is for our own governments to prioritise using our own products when it comes to public procurement.

All our politicians like to talk about how good our agricultural industry is in comparison to others across the world in terms of standards and environmental benefits, but we don’t see near enough in the way of Scottish or British products being prioritised for use in schools, hospitals and other public services.

Yes, it may add one or two pence to a meal – but I would challenge governments and public procurement buyers what the real cost is of bringing products in from other parts of the world.

These products certainly don’t meet our standards – not to mention the impact on climate change with food miles taken into consideration.

It’s only a couple of years since the kids in our schools were getting their chicken from Thailand. Things are improving, but it’s still not Scottish chicken.

This is within the gift of both Holyrood and Westminster, but it might just be the catalyst for governments to work with local authorities to do the right thing when it comes to feeding those who use our public services.

Martin Kennedy, vice president, NFU Scotland

GP service and gimmicks


I read with interest the letter from Doctor Strain in the August 30 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser.

Might I suggest that to produce a meaningful logo for the GP practices the following criteria are applied:

The logo will need to show:

    • Your first telephone call answered by receptionist then being advised a doctor will contact you, usually in the next four hours (do not leave home).
    • Call arrives in due course, during which you will be interrogated against some type of tick box questionnaire.
    • Then, if the doctor wishes to see you, a time will be given for your appointment. The time will be flexible, add half an hour on to be on the safe side.
    • Finally the logo should highlight the doctor with whom you spoke may not be the one you see. In fact, this person may not be in the hospital at all or even the county.

May I suggest there are better ways to provide a service to treat patients, without resorting to gimmicks.

Name and address supplied.

Bountiful bramble bush


I was intrigued to read Finlay Craig’s (b)ramblings in last week’s Argyllshire Advertiser.

Would he be willing to share the location of his magical bramble bush for it appears the fruits of this bountiful bush, when mixed into a pie, contain mystical properties that can transport the diner to another world?

May I suggest he tries a cold slice of reality pie now and again which would snap him out of his biased reverie and bring him back to the reality of the UK parliament being suspended and the Scottish representative of the party responsible for that outrageous manoeuvre vacating her post in protest?

In contrast, the Scottish government is working, along with others, to stop Scotland being dragged out of Europe against its wishes. Or perhaps the suspension of democracy is okay in his dream world?

If Mr Craig or any of his friends eat too much of his prodigious pie, I am sure they will not hesitate to avail themselves of a free prescription for their malaise and, should they need it, free bus travel to the chemist to pick it up, all supplied by the Scottish Government. If they live on one of our beautiful islands, they can soon jump on one of the new ferries being completed as I write, again thanks to the Scottish Government.

All this aside, when he rejoins us on planet earth, Mr Craig might think of entering his mysterious pie in the baking section of next year’s Mid Argyll Show, though I think by that time we may all be in need of something a little stronger from Scotland’s political larder to extract us from the bitter reality of Brexit Britain.

Charles Ambrose, Lochgilphead.

Making an autism difference


The National Autistic Society wants to find exceptional people, schools and services making a huge difference to autistic children and adults and their families. If readers know anyone like this, please nominate them for our eighth annual Autism Professionals Awards.

It could be an inspirational teacher, a brilliant nurse or doctor, a forward-thinking employer or someone who volunteers their time to support others. We want to celebrate their achievements and share their stories so we can promote innovative autism practice and inspire other people and organisations to help create a society that works for autistic people.

Find out more about autism and nominate by visiting autismprofessionalsawards.org.uk

Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism.

Tory branch manager


When Ruth Davidson resigned as branch manager of the Tories in Scotland, it was as well she did not upset those who were, and will remain, the real bosses – that is, Boris and co at the London head office.

Her claim she ‘wants to spend more time with her family’ is the political equivalent of the schoolchild’s pathetic excuse ‘Please Sir, the dog ate my homework’.

David Hay, Minard.

A cuppa for cancer relief


I am thrilled Macmillan Cancer Support’s World Biggest Coffee Morning is fast approaching.

I love a cuppa and it is great you can help people with cancer at the same time so I would love readers to get involved.

Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning raises millions for the ever-growing number of people affected by cancer. Macmillan is not government funded, so without the public’s generous help, the charity cannot provide the services needed in Scotland.

Around 200,000 coffee mornings are held in workplaces, schools and homes across the country every year. It could not be simpler and more fun to take part – come together as a community in support of people living with cancer and raise money for Macmillan.

Macmillan is here to help everyone with cancer live life as fully as they can, providing physical, financial and emotional support. The charity provides advice and support seven days a week on its free support line as well as through its 7,700 healthcare professionals.

But demand for Macmillan’s services is constantly growing and it needs your help to support the growing number of people living with cancer.

Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning takes place on Friday September 27 – but people can host whenever they want. People will be making a difference, however they get involved.

Whoever you invite and whatever you serve, you can host your coffee morning your way -i f you can’t bake, that doesn’t have to stop you.

Readers can find events nearby using the interactive map on www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee.

Do something amazing and sign up to host a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning at coffeeregister.macmillan.org.uk. Thank you.

Martin Clunes