Follow the results and see the Medals Tables here.
Ladies football at 4pm versus Isle of Man.
The blog formerly known as "Angus Nicolson - an incredulous eye on the isles" this was the blog of an ordinary, boring, former Councillor in the Western Isles of Scotland.
Angus is taking a sabbatical to be with his young family
Debate strengthens democracy, except inside the SNP, as he has discovered.
If you want balance then get some scales. This is opinion - our opinion.
Angus MacNeil (Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Fishing and Tourism; Transport); Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department consulted (a) community representatives, (b) representatives of QinetiQ employees, (c) local enterprise agencies and (d) Comhairle nan Eilean Siar before QinetiQ's decision to relocate operations from the Hebrides Range to Aberporth Range.
The MOD wrote to all major stakeholders for both the Aberporth and Hebrides Ranges in July 2007 outlining the study into the future of the ranges and the possible implications for the sites and workforce. Further letters were sent in June 2009 outlining the proposals and entering into a formal period of consultation which will conclude in August 2009.
A meeting has been held at ministerial level with the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar. Offers were made to meet with the chief executive of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other representatives. MOD officials have also met with the National Trust for Scotland and other parties with an interest in the island of St. Kilda on a number of occasions.
So WTF was going on between July 2007 and last week, that no-one thought to do anything to try to address this before it became a crisis?
Business Gateway was created specifically to offer assistance and advice to people starting up or growing businesses in lowland Scotland, and provides access to publicly funded services.Off to the website to search for what might be available...
At all times my actions have been in line with HM Revenue and Customs guidance and based on the advice of a reputable firm of accountants who in turn were recommended to me by the House of Commons fees office. Neither have I abused the allowance system of the House of Commons in any way.Did the Fees Office really recommend a firm of accountants or even a short-list?
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament protesting against the move by the MoD to get rid of jobs in Uist.
Mr Allan moved that the Parliament “expresses its grave concern at the impact on the people of Uist of the anticipated job losses at defence contractor QinetiQ’s bases in Uist.
The motion also “notes that the Ministry of Defence and its contractors have for decades been one of the largest employers in those islands and that the cuts planned to take effect between now and 2013 will have a severe impact on a fragile island economy.”
It also “expresses disappointment that the many years of support that the community has given these bases has been so poorly rewarded by HM Government and calls on that government to reconsider its position, taking account of the superb facilities for rocket tracking and other activities that exist in Uist.”
Mr Allan wants the Scottish Government to seek “urgent information from HM Government as to how it intends to recompense this community if it goes ahead with its present plans.”
Perhaps Mr Allan might wish to be reminded of the advice of the late, great, Donald Stewart MP who strongly advised the Uist community never to rely on the Rocket Range, as the Government had imposed it, and could remove it just as quickly. He urged diversity, rather than reliance.
All together now..... Love thy neighbour
Dr Dena Coleman, the head teacher of a Jewish orthodox school, and her husband, Gordon, claim they are kept prisoner in their holiday flat on the Sabbath because when they leave it they trigger the light in the communal hallway.
Orthodox Jews hold that the biblical prohibition of lighting a fire on the Sabbath also embraces the switching on of electric lights. The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until Saturday night.The Colemans claim their human rights are being breached and are suing the flats' management company, which includes their neighbours, for failing to accommodate their religion.
I'm grateful to Angus Nicolson for coming to my cheerful defence in a recent thread. Angus is perfectly entitled to run his interesting blog as he sees fit and to his 'various local bloggers' to post anonymous or unmoderated comments under anonymous or pseudonymous styles. In the blogosphere, in any event - excepting a site like Hebrides News, which is run as a virtual newspaper, with an active and conscientious Editor - it is very difficult to insist that all who choose to comment are identifiable, and quite impossible to guarantee they are whom they say they are.
I'm not sure I agree with him that it furthers debate on contentious local topics. Apart from the tasteless, malicious or lunatic fringe - the sort of folk who like to speculate on the sexuality of prominent island figures - nothing is really debated on this site that is not debated elsewhere. I choose to write under my own name because, in my day-job - most visibly as a writer and weekly columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail - I am paid to do so; it seems silly to go under cover in any other context and on any other issue.
On this issue, though - as an islander quietly but conscientiously opposed to the imposition to Sunday ferries on this community by Caledonian MacBrayne and their political wing, the present SNP administration of the Scottish Government - I am especially happy to write under my own name. That immediately gives anything I say here enormous weight and is a signal advantage over Anonymous this and Dr Evadne that, especially under the gaze of the general public. When anonymity becomes but the cover for puerile abuse or the sublimely ignorant, such a position is even stronger. When you think that this is essentially a local issue and that 'Anonymous' is as likely to hail for Carluke, Callander or even
Abuse? Well, I'm not a racist - especially not an anti-English racist. In this local debate, some of the most vociferous voices for Sunday sailings come from home-grown, home-reared Lewismen; some who publicly oppose them are quite recent arrivals (like, for instance, Rev. Andrew Coghill.) The public life of these islands owes much to incomers - most of our local doctors; very many of our teachers; a great many senior officials, especially in the Comhairle and on Western Isles Health Board, and a surprising number of our ministers.
Anyone who lives on this island is at entire liberty to express an opinion on anything, as they are at entire liberty to cast a vote or even to stand for public office. One can, though, quite fairly point out that the right to free speech should not be confused with the right to be heard. The community is quite entitled to weigh the worth of a contribution by its author. If someone has arrived on these islands recently, if he is agitating vociferously for Sunday ferries (or Sunday golf, or Sunday shopping) and especially if he explicitly attacks local religion and showers its defenders - and anyone who dares argue against him - with epithets like 'bigot', 'zealot', 'extremist', 'racist' and like invective - one is perfectly entitled to ask obvious questions.
If you dislike the traditional Lewis Sunday so much - it is, after all, quite famous - why did you move here? We welcome incomers - these islands have always welcomed refugees - but why start to campaign to turn this community into the ones you have fled? Why should we give quite the same weight to your offerings in this debate when you only came here, say, four years ago and may well be on your travels again in four years time? Why should we, in the most theologically and biblically literate corner of the kingdom - even Angus has memorised more Shorter Catechism than most incomers will ever bother to read - sit by respectfully while the latest arrival from the Home Counties lectures us pompously about religion?
Again, he has a right to do so. But we are not under the least obligation to listen. I don't doubt that Paul Blake is a very affable man. I once had the Blakes in my Tarbert kitchen (though I thought Mrs Blake much the sharper and more impressive.) But when Mr Blake stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2007 Comhairle election - less than three years after arriving on Lewis with a U-Haul van - the good people of Pairc agus Na Hearadh granted him but a pretty derisory vote. If even his neighbours won't listen to him, I am at an entire loss as to why I should be expected to listen to him - though, let me repeat, he has an absolute right to express his opinion: the issue is only whether he has a right to be heard. (And he's even less likely to be heard when he damns local Christians as the voices of 'bigotry.')
As for the other joys of 'Anonymous' and 'Pseudonym', it scarcely advances debate to call me an 'inbreed'; I have no intention of ever using Sabbath sports facilities or Sabbath ferries; I have a Blogger account because it is the easiest way to post here and on other blogs - that does not mean I am obliged to have a blog; and, even if you like to call my father and myself the author of 'evil rants', it is as unwise to to lecture me on church history as on West Highland ferries: the Church of Scotland abrogated absolute commitment to the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1905, not 1986.
In any event, 'Anonymous', I would be very happy to see a referendum on this issue - as I have made very plain elsewhere; but when you write, with no evident sense of irony, 'It is still anonymous, but at least everyone will know everything I say and can hold me to account over it,' then you really have brought us to a place where words no longer have meaning. How can you possibly be held to account when we have not a clue who you are or even where you live? This is the sort of blogosphere inanity which reminds one that, on occasion, we are dealing less with people than with plankton.
But, you, know, we have been here before - and not so long ago either.
It occurred me the other day that, by a fascinating coincidence, the present campaign for Sunday ferries was launched in the summer of 2007 - just after the election of the SNP government and, effectively, the end to any prospect of a large onshore windfarm in the moors of northern Lewis.
It is also obvious - especially as more and more emerge from their Witness Protection Programme - that many who now clamour for Sunday ferries were also very vocal in that campaign against the proposals of LWP/Amec.
Now this can be pushed too far. Quite a few people who presently oppose Sunday ferries - one immediately thinks of John and Annie MacSween in
But, once you start thinking about it, the parallels are striking.
You form a very shadowy campaign group with no clear constitution, organisation or officials and - especially granted a deliciously lazy local paper - issue statements from unnamed and mysterious 'spokespeople'. (It was only last summer, when a sub-committee of the Scottish Parliament ruled that Sunday sailings could only be 'resolved locally' that the first spokesmen came out in public and were named in the local media.)
You then start making a great deal of Noise. You prefer words of emotion rather than assertions of fact; you turn what is basically a controversy over some matter of public or planning policy into an avowed moral crusade; you make as much fuss as possible and you flash-mob public meetings with a ranting crowd. (In
But what if some named, brave little chap does stand up to you in the public domain? You then abandon Noise for Vilification - moral censure, sweeping insults, gross generalisation and childish abuse. Rather than debate, you overwhelm with a perfect storm of invective and bluster, eager not to prove that your opponent is mistaken, but that he is at least deranged and probably wicked. If that lazy local paper is happy to publish anonymous letters, so much the better. A happy by-product of this strategy is that, within a few weeks or months, the vast majority of ordinary people are too terrified publicly to disagree with you. (It takes formidable courage to face waves of vitriol and mountains of mockery; and, as Bonhoffer observed, one cannot expect ordinary men to be heroes.) Once the general public are silenced, you can them claim that 'we speak for the great, quiet majority of local people.'
Meanwhile, of course, you raise the banner of Democracy. This is nothing so boring, though, as fighting an election or putting up a slate of candidates. Rather, you monster your own democratically elected local authority; you paint its councillors with vituperation (unless they agree with you); you connive with Parliamentarians for its decisions to be set aside by Edinburgh; and you throw out words like 'dictatorship, 'despotism' and 'our intolerable situation on the Western Isles.'
You can also float the possibility of a Referendum. This has to be done carefully. For one, there was a Comhairle election just two years ago; you do not want to make it too obvious you didn't like the result. For another, if you talk up a referendum too much, someone might ask you to organise one. (After all, all you need is the phone number of the Electoral Reform Society and a couple of grand.) Worse, if you actually get a referendum, then people will expect you to declare you will abide by the result; and that would never do. After all, The People might get it wrong. (Only last week, on Radio nan Gaidheal, a spokesman for 'The Campaign for 7-Day Sailings' refused repeatedly to answer the plain question: would they undertake to be bound by the outcome of such a referendum?)
If push comes to shove, of course, it all hinges on the question. Preferably 'Are you a black-clad Bible-bashing homophobic racist bigot so stuck in the mud you oppose Sunday ferries and want to destroy the local economy and empty this island of its young folk?' against 'Are you a hard-working taxpayer who wants the freedom to drive to the mainland on any day of the week?'
Finally, there is the strong arm of the Law. This is especially tasty as it allows you to raise the cry of 'human rights!' Not that it particularly matters which law.
The Race Relations Act can be used if anyone points out that your most vocal support includes rather a lot of recent incomers. The Equality and Human Rights Act might be useful against those who point out they actually like the chance to walk the pooch around Lewis Castle Grounds of a Sunday afternoon without the usual enfilade of whizzing golfballs. The European Court of Human Rights will always sound wonderful and at least one gentleman has suggested the Charter of the United Nations. (I can just see the troops storming
It certainly gets the MP and the MSP off the hook, quite marginalise the democratically elected local authority and would make a fool of all the councillors and the tedious rednecks who voted them in.
You never know. Things are so crazy, these days, in modern
The MoD will announce the result of studies into the operations of the Hebrides air ranges on Wednesday 17 June. You are invited to a press conference at 1.00pm at Congreve House, West Camp at Balivanich, where MoD staff will explain what changes are proposed for the ranges on Benbecula, South Uist and St Kilda. MOD will also explain why, when and how those changes will be made. An MoD spokesman will be available for interviews.Oh, Oh, bad news!
STORNOWAY AND KYLE OF LOCHALSH DIRECT
Leave Stornoway for Kyle of Lochalsh on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at midnight to connect with the 11:00 train.
Quite simply we need to get more submissions in than the opposition, in order to give our friends [Councillors] a fighting chance.Sorry, Anon, but if you think I didn't know about this...
After an official complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), the policy decision making process of WIIC (sic) was found to be "flawless".In other words, there are no grounds for anyone trying to reopen the decision, which lies exclusively with the Comhairle. It continues....
Much less was made of the actual content of the Sunday Working Policy, but a suggestion of court action was made.If the decision making was flawless then, by implication, the Sunday Working Policy is a matter for the Comhairle itself. A Judicial Review is an expensive option for a complainer to follow. Nevertheless.....
A similar suggestion was made by the offices of Nicola Strugeon (sic) and Stuart (sic) Maxwell. I was surprised to hear such a suggestion from the Scottish Government. I imagined naively that if a Scottish Government Minister thought that a local authority may be acting outwith the law, that Minister would endeavour to do something about it and not put it on the shoulders of a member of the public.Let's get this right: the
the reference to advice alleged from the offices of Nicola Sturgeon and Stuart Maxwell [...] might merit investigation, if only to let your colleagues know [that their comments were now in the public domain]The entire reply in late January:
thanks for this info [name], and hope you are well. all the best alasdairWhen the SNP member attempted to raise this issue again, and again, with Mr Allan and Mr MacNeil there was a constant refusal to discuss the issue.
|Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service||Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP|
|Chancellor of the Exchequer||Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP|
|Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs||Rt Hon David Miliband MP|
|Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor||Rt Hon Jack Straw MP|
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP|
|Secretary of State for Health||Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP|
|Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform||Rt Hon Lord Mandelson|
|Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs||Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP|
|Secretary of State for International Development||Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP|
|Secretary of State for Defence||Rt Hon John Hutton MP|
|Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal||Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP|
|Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government||Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP|
|Secretary of State for Transport||Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP|
|Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families||Rt Hon Ed Balls MP|
|Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change||Rt Hon Edward Miliband MP|
|Secretary of State for Work and Pensions||Rt Hon James Purnell MP|
|Secretary of State for Northern Ireland||Rt Hon Shaun Woodward MP *|
|Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council||Rt Hon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon|
|Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport||Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP|
|Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills||Rt Hon John Denham MP|
|Chief Secretary to the Treasury||Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP|
|Secretary of State for Wales||Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP|
|Secretary of State for Scotland||Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP|
Indeed it is, so why spend only a miserly £17.40 on this 'great honour'?- The wreath which I laid in Benbecula last year was on behalf not of me, but of the Parliament. Just as Councils up and down the country pay for wreaths, the Parliament provided the wreath and made a donation to Poppy Scotland.
If the Parliament provided it, then why was it claimed on your expenses? Have you made other claims for items provided by the Parliament? I note the difference between councils paying and Parliament providing. Yes it provided, becasue you claimed it on your expenses.- I was astounded at the way this was covered in the Mail, and made clear that there was certainly nothing amiss that needed to be paid back to Parliament.
Not according to Alex Salmond who thought it very remiss....- I also made clear that I was a member of the Legion Club in Benbecula, and very happy to support their work.
...but not out of my own pocket- I have also made a personal donation to Poppy Scotland for the cost of the wreath, meaning it has now effectively been paid for twice.
...when I should have paid for it myself in the first place.None of that bit was printed.
How virtuous and self-sacrificing is that! The point is that you claimed what you thought you could get away with.The sad thing about distorted stories like this, from papers who feel left out after the Telegraph uncovered the actual scandals, is that it obscures those scandals and lets people off the hook.
....Whilst I really enjoyed the stories up to now (except for the Toblerone, obviously), now I have been caught the stories are reprehensible.If anyone raises this issue with you, I am happy to contact them to set the record straight.
Waiting for the call.....Best wishes
Any proven errors of fact made will be corrected in the original article, or by publishing a correction at the same degree of prominence, or both. As far as practical, others who have quoted the article will be requested to make a note in their article - this would include, for example pinging back with the correction those who had linked to the original piece.
If articles are ever removed, a statement of why that has been done will be left in situ.
The rest is entirely at my discretion.