Jul 082016
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryHurrah! Result! We’re to leave Europe. Or maybe not – no one knows for certain what Scotland’s future looks like at this point, but isn’t it fun and a bit exciting?
And we might get either Michael Gove or Teresa May as the new PM! The Brexiteers Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson as so magnanimous in victory that they’ve scarpered.

You might compare their running away from the result they pushed for to insects running to hide when you turn over a stone, but I know that they’re just getting ready for some further selfless acts of heroism.

Another hero who shuns the limelight is former PM Tony Blair. With the Chilcot report released this week, you’d expect Tony to take the credit for the Iraq war. After all, he saved us from those Weapons of Mass Destruction. Thanks TB.

Looking at this week’s news, here are a few little facts you might enjoy:

When the dust settles a bit on Brexit, Old Susannah will revert with more facts – that’s if anyone’s saying anything factual at all. While Scotland voted to stay, the Brexiteers said that the EU was costing us £350 million a week which could be better spent on the NHS. Clearly that in no way meant that any money saved would be spent on the NHS, which of course is in fine shape anyway.

In far more important news, it was the Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival last weekend, and the weather was largely fine. The Black Isle Brewery was on hand, as was Dyce’s new brewer, Fierce. They have some delicious gear, I bought a lovely wheat beer and a coffee and vanilla concoction. In the meantime BrewDog’s launched a few Jackhammer Variants; Jackhammer being my favourite brew with off-the-scale bitterness.

Blackhammer is my favourite; I hope to see it around for a long, long time. BrewDog is also doing its bit for up-and-coming music and comedy talent; comedy troupe Wildly Unprepared have been doing their improve thing on Thursday nights in Underdog (the venue beneath BrewDog Castlegate). Hope to see you there.

One person though has managed to end years of The Malt Mill’s and Downstairs’ nurturing of fledgling bands. Someone moved to a flat near to the venue – a venue with ‘LIVE MUSIC’ in giant letters proclaiming that the Malt Mill, which looked like a bar with live music to the rest of us – and you’d never guess it – there was live music going on at night!

If only there had been some clue that a flat on a busy commercial road close to a long-running music venue and bar might not be quiet at night! Now Old Susannah understands that people need to play music for whatever reason, and I suppose there should be some allowance in society for that kind of thing in small doses.

It was always going to be the event of the year

Perhaps the venue should have just spent £100,000 from their petty cash and soundproofed the place. After all, if you put on live bands, that means you’re rolling in money.

Hopefully we’ll get something useful in place of The Malt Mill – like a mobile phone shop or Estate Agent. And from now on, let’s all be very, very quiet when we are out on the streets late at night.

Perhaps the hero who forced this closure could let us know when it’s convenient for the rest of us to make any noise on Holburn? I’d absolutely love to hear from you. My words of congratulations for your fighting for your individual right to quiet (rather than using ear plugs, moving, or just getting used to it) and successfully closing down a place for the rest of us to hear new bands are ready any time you want to hear them. I salute you.

Finally, we will all remember where we were when celebrity misogynist Donald J Trump flew into Menie this past week. It was always going to be glamorous with Sarah Malone in attendance. It was always going to be the event of the year with the Press & Journal present. But when Rupert Murdoch AND Jerry Hall flew in as well – what can Old Susannah say? Words cannot convey how exciting this was; it was like being a part of history in the making.

How unfortunate then that a few spoilsports decided – I can’t imagine why – to hang up Mexican Flags near the course. It’s bad enough these people live close to the course in houses The Donald finds unattractive, but to add to the visual pollution – well, that was unforgiveable.

Perhaps not as unforgiveable as Trump’s people: cutting off residents’ water and electricity supplies, calling the police to arrest lawbiding journalists, blocking access for the disabled at various points on the estate, threatening a grandmother with eviction, stopping Michael Forbes from salmon fishing, or threatening to use compulsory purchase orders to steal homes – but it’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

(NB – the residents decided not to stage a personal protest, but to just have the flags reminding the world of Trump’s bigotry towards Mexico and everyone who isn’t a white male billionaire. The massive amounts of news cover the flag protest generated in advance of the visit was remarkable. The brief, chaotic, rambling words of Trump to a few score of journos just didn’t cut it. With all of her professional qualifications i.e. being a former beauty queen, the polished, finely-tuned press call on the day was what I expected.).

But at this rate there won’t be any definitions, and I very much want to get back to that part of this column. By the way, this column will finish with No. 200. That will be quite enough for this format, but it doesn’t mean that I’ll take my eyes off The Granite City. Anyway, a few words – about trees and consultations in Aberdeen.

Consultation: (English noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions and facts on a particular subject.

Peterculter Tree Cull consultation: (Aberdonian noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions and facts on a particular subject, and the majority of people involved don’t get a look in. and facts are overlooked.

DSCN1516Secondly, the trees were old, and we’ve got enough old stuff around here anyway.

Then there was the fact that the trees were cutting down the amount of sunshine reaching one or two people in adjacent housing.

I for one know that if the sun’s not streaming in my Scottish windows 24/7 365/365, it can only mean the trees (not clouds, storms, snow, hailstones) are blocking the light.

Of course, some of the more intrepid people actually go outside when it’s sunny – but you can hardly do that if you’re living somewhere as dangerous as Peterculter.

So the city got back some responses from people who hated the trees, and cut them down.

Some councillors were very quick to defend this action too. Some councillors said that the trees were diseased and posed a hazard. That must have been a hell of a tree disease. On the one hand, it must have come up very quickly – or surely the city would have taken action before now.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty interesting kind of tree disease when instead of getting rid of the trees (or heaven forbid trying to treat it), you can decide what to do about the trees not by saying their diseased and cutting them, but by asking residents what they want done with the trees.

DSCN1513

One person at least tried unsuccessfully to get through to the relevant people at the city, but as we know, the city responds instantly to any and all queries.

Another funny thing is the city’s existing tree management policy. It seems to say that if it owns trees that are not close to a dwelling, they aren’t going to cut them down.

It’s not that I’m cynical, but I’d love to find out what the disease was that was so bad the trees had to come down but not bad enough that the residents’ opinions could have stopped it. For more info, see here.

Some people claim their responses to the consultation were unanswered. Would the city ever do that?

Tree for Every Citizen scheme: (Aberdonian noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions only if they are from the SNH or stand to make lots of £££ from killing deer on the hill, or wear shoulder pads (Aileen ‘Ho’Malone), in which consultation existing plans to kill deer are deliberately left out, stopping the public from taking much interest, so their opinions can be ‘managed’ in the words of the SNH. 

No one objected to the proposal – until it was too late. Funny that they didn’t announce the cull when they mentioned the other operational details (rabbit fences).

Even funnier; they refused to listen to free advice from experts on how to have trees and deer. And now we have no deer and no trees. We do have a consultant who’s at least £100,000 better off. And ranger Ian Tallboys got an award from Princess Anne. Result!

The award-winning, manicured Tullos Hill forest will provide a cost-neutral lovely recreation area for city residents. Only that it’s cost a packet, cost the lives of 38 deer (give or take – the city’s record-keeping is so bad we don’t know), and the trees are in such poor shape we’ve been warned that we might have to give the government its grant money back.

That would be nothing new, the previous attempt to plant trees on this former garbage tip with very poor soil didn’t work, either – I wonder why – and cost us £43,800.

Sometimes there is no need to bother even with a token consultation, as the people of Bedford Road can tell you. If they didn’t read page 47 of the Evening Express, read community council notes and city papers – and magically deduce that a ‘bus gate’ meant they would not be allowed to drive on their street again, then it’s their tough luck.

No one thought it necessary to write to them to ask for opinions; although funnily enough, the Peterculter residents were written to about cutting down the trees (apparently 2 people said to cut them – and that was good enough for ACC).

You don’t have to consult the public over minor details like the Marischal Square project either. Just tell them an iconic, smart, forward looking building will breath new life, etc. etc. into the area, but the architects will respect the importance of Provost Skene’s house: then hope they won’t notice when the reality is nothing like the original promise.

In fact, the reality is so much better! We can barely see the provost’s house now, and I hear we might get a hamburger joint. AND – the Press & Journal are going to move in! The best loved, most cutting edge newspaper in the best-loved, most cutting edge building! Result! as they say.

Next week: Blair, Brexit, Boris

PS – An observation

I was walking through Torry one early evening, past where a small green space off Victoria Road has a small but pretty collection of flowers. A couple were there, possibly Eastern European. We said hello as I passed. They had a little girl. She was smiling from ear to ear, pointing at the flowers, and jumping up and down.

Completely devoid of any prejudice, mindless hatred, greed, or ill-will, she was just delighted to be with two obviously adoring parents, looking at beautiful flowers.

I wondered whether it was too much to ask that we stop hurting our kids by pouring our prejudices and poisons into them. Will this girl be one of the 5 who will eventually be sexually assaulted? Will she encounter kids at school who are mean to her – because their parents taught them to hate people who are ‘foreign’ or ‘different’?

Will she be encouraged to study whatever she wants to study – science, art, languages, history – or will the system channel her into ‘girlish’ activities or will well-meaning people make her study things which lead to well-paying jobs while forsaking arts and philosophy? If she were a Muslim/black/Native American/Asian child, what kinds of barriers, doors and hatred would she be experiencing before long.

I wondered, is it too much to ask that with all the problems we’ve left for the next generation that we can at the very least manage not to fill these little people with hatred and just be nice to them instead? The answer, sadly, is that it probably will be too much to ask. I hope she remembers how happy, free and innocent she was that night. I wish she could live like that always – if she and her peers could, then there’s a chance we could have another world and a far better one.

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Jun 302016
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford MP Peterhead Harbour (1)

The UK Government has been urged to provide clarity for Scotland’s food producers following the vote to leave the EU.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford raised the topic with the Prime Minister on Monday (June 27) following his statement on the Outcome of the EU Referendum.

Concerns have been raised across Scotland, which exported £4.8bn worth of food and drink in 2015, much of it to Europe.

Banff and Buchan could face particular challenges following Brexit, given the region’s significant agricultural and fish processing sectors.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“It is vital that we work to protect local jobs and economic interests in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Key sectors, notably in food production and processing, face considerable uncertainty, as many local firms export produce and depend on access to European markets. Many also rely on migrant workers to meet labour shortages and seasonal demands.

“While the Prime Minister was able to offer short term assurances about market access and the status of EU nationals working here, he was not able to outline any timescale for negotiations to resolve these issues.

“I will be meeting stakeholders in the days and weeks ahead to identify their chief concerns, and working with the Scottish Government to secure the best deal possible for our local industries. It is critical that we fight to defend the interests of Scotland’s people and the industries on which our livelihoods depend in the days ahead.”

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Aug 172015
 
tashilhunpomonkspic2

Tibetan monks from Tashi Lhunpo return to Aberdeen for the first time since performing at Queen’s Cross Church in November 2011

With thanks to Paul Kohn.

Monday 24th August sees the return after four years of Tibetan Monks to Queen’s Cross Church Sanctuary in Aberdeen.

The dances and music are performed by Tibetan monks from the Gelugpa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, a sacred world filled with the chanting of Buddhist texts, the recitation of mantras, ringing of bells, blowing of trumpets and beating of drums.

Recreating the mysteries of Buddhist monasteries, Tibetan monks from Tashi Lhunpo offer a dramatic presentation of sacred dance, music and prayer with traditional costumes and ceremonial masks.

Founded by the first Dalai Lama in the 15th Century, Tashi Lhunpo is one of the most important monasteries in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Re-established in exile in South India it is becoming one of the major centres of Buddhist learning, best known for its artistic tradition of masked dances and sacred learning.

The show comes straight from the Edinburgh Fringe and is part of a three month tour
of UK and Europe organised by Tashi Lhunpo UK Trust.

The performance will be held at Queen’s Cross Church Sanctuary, at the corner of Albyn and Carden Place, at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 24th August. Tickets on
the door cost £8.00, concessions £5.00. Doors open 7.00pm

Aug 082015
 

Aberdeen are out of the Europa League after a tie that demanded maximum concentration from its players, remarks Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrie2It was almost a perfect summer’s day, come kick off. Come the final whistle, however, rain was falling and somewhat appropriate to the inner tears of the Dons and the Red Army faithful.

Generally speaking, the initial stages of the game were spent somewhat sizing each other up, despite the previous leg in Kazakhstan.
Sides tend to play a different game at home, it’s often said.

Having said that, amidst this Aberdeen survived a very early scare within the first minute but keeper Danny Ward saved their blushes.

This and another fine stop arguably woke up and composed the Reds.

A mixture of Kenny McLean and Peter Pawlett in the centre of midfield; Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn on the wings; and Shaleum Logan coming forward from the back, bombarded Kairat’s defence.

Bar two chances from the feet of Hayes in the first half, any real incision was somewhat muted by an aggressive defensive display by Kairat.  They accrued five yellow cards throughout the match.

Despite this, Aberdeen more or less continued in the same attacking vein in the second half; whilst defending with discipline; mopping up, shutting down and out any pressure.

This didn’t last too long, though. Ward had to react to a close range effort and Kairat’s Gerard Gohou responded, netting the rebound.

0-1 Kairat (Gerard Gohou) after 59 minutes.

Aberdeen made their first substitution nine minutes from that goal, with Adam Rooney replacing Pawlett.

Hayes came off for Willo Flood come the 81 minute mark. Paul Quinn then came on for David Goodwillie.

Three minutes after these two changes, twenty five after going a goal down, Aberdeen hit back. McLean dived well within the box to head past the keeper, via a McGinn free kick.

1-1!

Quinn, Ashton Taylor and even Ward piled forward for a corner in the dying moments of the game. The former had a fine header denied by the opposing keeper.

If they’d snatched that second goal, a further half an hour of extra time would’ve been secured. It didn’t turn out that way, though, and it’s hard to measure progress when they’ve dropped out of the competition at the same stage as they did last season.

Final score:  1-1.

(2-3 aggregate. Aberdeen are knocked out).

Jul 252015
 

Aberdeen go through to the third qualifying round of the Europa League in what was at times an edgy affair at Pittodrie, recounts Voice’s Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic3It was a bright, fairly warm summer evening, but not the kind of heat the Reds contended with in the first leg of the draw in Croatia. No water breaks this time round, but again, plenty seagulls swooping.
The first half had went by in such a fashion that people would be forgiven for thinking it would end in the same stalemate as that Pittodrie showdown against Shkendija a couple of weeks back.

Rijeka after the interval, however, set about a shock bid to try and make amends that three goal deficit accumulated last Thursday.

Some fine dribbling beat the Dons defence, and a well-placed shot beat keeper Danny Ward 58 minutes into the game.

0-1 (Marin Tomasov).

It was only 63 minutes in when Rijeka found themselves only one goal away from potential success via the away goal rule.

A cruel deflection put the ball in the net once again, and the scorer had not long come on the pitch as a substitute.

Pittodrie was stunned.

0-2 (Zoran Kvrzic).

Only seconds later Niall McGinn rushed up the field, receiving a David Goodwillie pass and shooting at goal. He clawed one back.

Potential crisis everted 64 minutes into the game.

1-2 Aberdeen, and three goals in the space of about five minutes!

Goodwillie again turned provider eight minutes later, with Jonny Hayes picked out in the box to score from close range.

2-2 Aberdeen!

Two substitutions followed that goal.

Peter Pawlett came on the pitch at the 73 minute mark, with McLean coming off. Goodwillie came off two minutes later, with Adam Rooney coming on.

A final change took place after 83 minutes with McGinn coming off for Willo Flood.

The former, prior to this, was also involved in a humorous tussle as he slid for the ball in the Main and Merkland Stand corner. There was absolutely bare minimum contact but the Rijeka man went down as if dealt with by a supreme marksman.

This incurred fierce boos from the crowd, to which he responded with a rude, cupped and shaking hand gesture of self-love to the fans. This resulted in derisive cheers from the Pittodrie faithful.

However, this wasn’t the first time it appeared that someone had whipped out the sniper rifle, and to be honest McGinn’s fellow man coming off the park, Goodwillie, was seemingly another culprit in that.

Most importantly though, McGinn saved the Dandies’ with that earlier goal which killed the game for the Croatians. Hayes goal also made sure of that, making victory that bit more comfortable they go through to face Kazakhstan’s Kairat in the next round.

Final score:  2-2.

(5-2 aggregate. Aberdeen through to next round).

Jul 112015
 

Aberdeen were lucky to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa League but did so without the presence of defensive stalwart, Mark Reynolds, reports Voice’s Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThe only thing that blemished the fine evening conditions were the sizeable flock of seagulls dive bombing the pitch, and even flying through the stands themselves.

Attendance wise, it looked sparse in places. However, the actual amount there was deceptive, numbering well over fourteen thousand.

Graeme Shinnie, arguably his first proper game with the Dons, was given a start at left back.

Shkendija started much like they did in the first leg in Macedonia the previous Thursday. They were a threat going forward, incisive enough to run at and cut through the back four from time to time.

On the other end of the pitch the Aberdeen attackers sometimes struggled to break down the defence, and it was telling that some of their best chances were struck from distance.

The Reds only really found their rhythm towards the end of the first half. Jonny Hayes passed well to find Shinnie, who forced an excellent save from the opposition keeper.

Steven McLean made that first of two of the Reds’ significant long distance efforts not long after.

Come the second half, Aberdeen goalie, Danny Ward, had had an excellent game. However, there was an occasion where instead of the ball being caught in his hands, it fell to and bounced off his feet.

Another time he made his only poor clearance of the game, something that had become part and parcel of watching Jamie Langfield play. Thankfully both times he was rescued by team mates.

After 67 minutes Peter Pawlett came on for McLean. His impact was palpable, making the second of two of significant long distance efforts.

This one seemed to rattle off the underside of the crossbar, and many believed it crossed the line. Many would’ve been curious as to what goal line technology would’ve made of that one.

Hayes came off the pitch 12 minutes later, with David Goodwillie replacing. Barry Robson also came on for Willo Flood.

Shkendija will probably feel displeased with the result. Aberdeen will probably have to do better to progress beyond their second Europa League qualifier. They’ll face Croatia’s Rijeka.

One thing that must be said, though, is that with a player like McLean as an attacking option, there’s much to look forward to. Despite having been rather unremarkable until now, he had an excellent game.

Shinnie’s definitely a good addition to the squad, with defensive attacking play akin to that of Shaleum Logan. A Scottish Cup winner, he’ll have the necessary winning mentality.

Final score:  0-0.

(1-1 aggregate. Aberdeen through on the away goal rule).

Sep 122014
 

scotland2By Keith Marley.

Now, I am not a politician or an economist. I have 2 o’levels, Arithmetic and Engerlish, so I hope you don’t mind if I offer a simplified view of the situation. No doubt some ‘learned’ person out there may be able to illuminate me with a bag full of numbers, but, this is just the way I see it.

There still seems to be some confusion about the currency, so what happens if Westminster says no to a currency union?

To me Westminster does not have a choice. Ask yourself what would happen to the pound without Scotland. At the end of June the national debt of the UK was £1,304.6 billion.

A figure which has continued to climb despite all the austerity measures put in place. In other words we are currently failing to pay off the debt and actually accruing more debt. Refusing Scotland to share the pound would mean the rest of the UK would have to service this debt themselves. This would mean the pound would have 4,000,000 less people helping to service a debt they are failing to meet at the moment.

They would also not have the massive benefit of oil revenue contributing to pay off this debt. Put in simple terms the debt would be unserviceable and the pound would be well and truly screwed. To refuse Scotland the pound would make the austerity measures currently in place seem like a walk in the park.

Of course we could use an independent pound in the same way as Tokyo uses the dollar, but we are told by the ‘No’ people that this would leave us high and dry because we had defaulted on our side of the national debt. Without the Bank of England as lender of last resort other countries would be scared to trade with us or loan us money because we have no track record or credit history.

However, the way I see it is if Westminster does not allow Scotland to continue to pay our side of the ‘debt’ then it is them who are defaulting.

It’s a bit like borrowing from a bank to buy a car, making your payments regularly and then the bank coming and taking away your car and then claiming you were defaulting if you didn’t continue making the payments…..I don’t flaming well think so!

As for the other scary side of this suggestion, ask yourself this question. Two people you know come to your door looking for a loan. One is deep in debt, regularly gets into fights with other people costing him a fortune, (Argentina, Iraq, Afghanistan to name just a few) pays a high price for personal protection (Trident) and is having trouble meeting the repayments he already has, he’s just lost his major asset, (Oil), which will only make it more difficult for him to earn the money he needs to service his current debts.

The other has no debt at all and has an asset which provides a good regular income (Oil), has no wish to get into fights with strangers and doesn’t have any need for personal protection.

Which one would you be happy to offer a loan to?

Speaking personally, I would choose to say stuff Westminster, we will use our own currency, however, Alex Salmond says we should share the pound, a currency union. Mr Darling says it’s not on offer. One thing they both agree on is that all the other options would not be as good for Scotland.

So what would happen if Scotland votes ‘Yes’?

Mr Salmond would press for a currency union, but what is more important is what would all the other Scottish politicians do? If they truly have the interest of Scotland at heart then they would have no alternative but to pursue a currency union as well.

So, if we vote ‘Yes’ we won’t just have Alex Salmond arguing for a currency union, he will also be backed by Alistair Darling, Ruth Davidson, Johann Lamont and Willie Rennie, all their parties, as well as all the rest of the ‘No’ campers too who still have a job in Scotland.

The formation of a united ‘Team Scotland’.

Despite all the political posturing Scotland will have a currency union if it wants one and I suspect we will also get it on our terms too.

This is just my opinion and the way I see it.

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Sep 052014
 

FergieRisesfeatLast week, following the launch in Glasgow and a media launch at Hampden of author Michael Grant’s ‘Fergie Rises: How Britain’s Greatest Manager Was Made In Aberdeen’, the books publishers, Aurum Press, kindly offered Voice two prize copies of the book.

David Innes, who reviewed the release for Aberdeen Voice was charged with the task of setting a question for readers to answer.

David asked:

“Which then player and future Dons manager accompanied Fergie to the harbour to welcome back The Red Navy from the ferryboat St Clair two days after the ECWC final in Gothenburg?”

Aberdeen Voice are delighted with the response, and glad to report that every single entrant to the competition gave the correct answer. It was of course Mark McGhee.

However, there are only two prizes, the two winners drawn are Ian Wright, Cove, and Alistair Duncan, Banchory. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to the winners. Your details will be forwarded to Aurum press who will post your prize copies directly to you.

Aug 292014
 

FergieRisesBy David Innes.

Following last week’s launch in Glasgow and a media launch at Hampden, Michael Grant, author of Fergie Rises: How Britain’s Greatest Manager Was Made In Aberdeen, launched his book in the city where Sir Alex Ferguson first tasted real managerial success.

Michael was accompanied by heroes of the Fergie era, Neil Simpson and Neale Cooper. A respectable turnout at Aberdeen’s Waterstones saw Michael host a lively Q&A session where anecdotes and reminiscences delighted and informed those attending, some too young to have lived through the era.

The garrulous Cooper, in particular, was at his entertaining best, prompted by Simmie whose recollections were slightly less manic and animated, but no less warm.

What came across was that Sir Alex (‘We still call him ‘Boss’’, said Cooper), for all his snarling, strange logic and mind games, is still revered by those whose careers he founded. The reminiscences were affectionate and respectful and the gratitude heartfelt.

The author was delighted by the attendance and he and the ex-Dons were kept busy signing copies of the book, having commemorative photos taken with fans and buyers and chatting animatedly with those with particular memories of their own.

The publishers, Aurum Press, have kindly offered Voice two prize copies of Fergie Rises.

To enter the competition, just answer this:

Which then player and future Dons manager accompanied Fergie to the harbour to welcome back The Red Navy from the ferryboat St Clair two days after the ECWC final in Gothenburg?

Send your answer to competition@aberdeenvoice.com. Since the publisher has volunteered to mail the prizes directly to the winners, you’ll need to include your postal address with your entry. Good luck.

Aug 292014
 

“Just the way I see it” writes Keith Marley.

scotland2As I understand it the Scottish Government is currently responsible for 7% of taxes raised in Scotland. However it does have the ability to reallocate some, if not all, of the funds it receives from Westminster.
As a result we have a superior education system at all levels, a not perfect but superior health service, free university places for Scottish students, free prescriptions, free travel for the elderly and have even done away with toll bridges, yet despite all these benefits I am not aware of any services or standards which are in any way substandard to the rest of the UK.

Our country has massive oil reserves with enough oil discovered in the North Sea already to ensure prosperity for at least the next 3 generations.

We are at the forefront of renewable energy technology with 25% of Europe’s tidal and wind potential. All this in addition to our successful, established industries in Whisky, Tourism, Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture and the Creative industries from fashion to computer games which is enough to make us a wealthy country even if we didn’t have oil.

Here’s the bit I don’t understand……If we vote ‘Yes’ we will have complete control over our whole economy, but if we vote ‘No’ we may be given some more powers such as raising taxes.

I don’t know about anybody else but the promise of paying increased tax hasn’t swung my vote yet. As for these other ‘powers’ there seems to be much shuffling of feet and unconfirmed mumbled answers. Of course it will all depend on who is in power if and when Scotland actually becomes independent.

It seems to me that just as many in Westminster will take a ‘No’ vote as a good enough reason to put an end to the Barnett formula resulting in a decrease in money coming back to Scotland as well as fewer M.P.s which means less representation for Scottish interests.

If we vote ‘Yes’ we are told we will lose the pound, but I think, and I suspect the majority of Scots also think, that this will also be detrimental to the rest of the UK and simply political posturing. If not, there are other options many of which are becoming more appealing as time goes on.

We are told that an independent Scotland will no longer enjoy the status of ‘being a world power’ influencing international politics. That suits me just fine, I didn’t agree with getting involved in Iraq or Afghanistan any more than I agreed with the conflict with Argentina over the Falkland isles. If we are no longer a nuclear force then I am confident we will be no longer a nuclear target either.

We have been told by the ‘No’ campaign that we will be out of the E.U. which frankly, seems to be strange threat for 2 reasons.

Why would Europe not welcome a country with a strong economy, which already meets all the standards and criteria for acceptance as well as having Europe’s main oil reserves, wind and wave potential and is Europe’s main provider of fish as well as being an existing trading partner with strong import and export links already established? It seems to me that there will be a rush to ‘fast track’ Scotland as quickly as possible.

The second reason for my doubt about this being a potential threat is the fact that the UK government has already promised (if re-elected) to hold a referendum about staying in the EU which judging by the recent U-KIP wins could well result in Scotland being pulled out of the EU like it or not along with the rest of the UK.

I am not affiliated to any political party and my hope is that come independence and Scotland’s first general election I will be able to vote for a party that truly reflects my own opinions and desires.

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