View from Stooriefit Mountain

I have recently started a monthly column with the Peeblesshire News called View from Stooriefit Mountain. This column will be published monthly on every 3rd Friday of the month.

Brexit means Brexit! What does this catchphrase really mean? The problem is there is no one answer and it all depends on your economic situation, which part of the United Kingdom you live in, class, which newspapers you read, television and social media!

We are literally heading towards the cliff at breath-taking speed and all that our elected government can do is press the accelerator even harder in order to avoid a ‘People’s Vote’. It goes without saying I voted to remain. My reasoning was simple: the European Union experiment has been a success, albeit with problems and issues along the way and the foundation of this was to bring all the European nations together after WWII.

It has worked so far and will continue to work so long as each nation, big or small is taken care of and they can all share prosperity and health in a borderless world where people, goods and services can move seamlessly without hinderance from one nation to another.

So, let’s examine the truths behind the referendum called by former PM David Cameron.

In January 2013 he announced that, if the Conservatives were re-elected to power in the 2015 elections, he would hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by a simple in or out question on the ballot paper. He also did this to satisfy Tory back-benchers and UKIP.

The European Union Referendum Bill 2015-2016 was passed in parliament and at close inspection was very poorly written and never stated what the outcome of the vote would be, whichever way it went! Anyone wishing to read what our elected representatives have passed should download a copy of this legislation. Many MPs may not have actually read this document in its entirety.

In Clause 5 – Types of Referendum – the following paragraphs say it all from a legal standpoint:

“It does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions.” And: “The UK does not have constitutional provisions which would require the results of a referendum to be implemented, unlike, for example, the Republic of Ireland, where the circumstances in which a binding referendum should be held are set out in its constitution”.

My question to all political parties is why are we still going ahead? The lies have been exposed, European nationals and British citizens living in Europe were not given the vote, along with a host of other lies, exposing our Great Britain Colonial Empire attitudes to foreigners! Many wanted to bring back to good old days! No idea what this means to be honest, is it bring back racism, slavery, colonial rule, etc?

Can our local elected representatives answer this question, please?

Make Scotland 100% GMO Free

Peeblesshire News – 2nd November 2018

We are a Peebles based social enterprise, legally constituted as a community interest company and deliver our services all over Scotland. The aim of the organisation is to encourage and empower local communities to make informed choices about their food and health.

We have a threefold vision for Scotland; To make Scotland a 100% Organic Country, To make Scotland harness and use 100% Renewables and third to “Keep Scotland GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Free”. In this first article I am hoping that I can address and highlight the impact of GMO’s in simple language and avoid where possible scientific jargon!

First of all what is GMO? The World Health Organisation states that “ Genetically modified organisms can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as “GM foods”.

Secondly, there is a huge myth spread by the scientific community and corporations like Monsanto (they control almost 90% of the market in GMO seeds and patents, along with the fertilisers and herbicides required to grow GMO’s!!!) that this is the only way to solve food hunger problems around the world and tackle a booming population’s food needs.

So what is wrong with GMO’s? I have been often told that this is something that has been happening for centuries!!!!!!! Well! Not exactly. This is a recent development in the last few decades where companies like Monsanto know that if you control food and water you control the world! Monsanto has patented the seed technologies i.e. they have created seeds that produce crops only once!!! The next year you have to buy more seeds, which in the traditional sense you did not have too, as farmers would save seeds for the next growing season. Nature provided humankind with an unlimited supply of seeds and these companies are trying to monopolize the seed market. On top of this you add the extra cost of buying roundup and other toxic chemicals to spray on these crops and you get the bigger picture.

We now know the impact of fertilisers and pesticides used in the 60’s onwards to grow crops in the so called “Green Revolution” once again marketed and perpetuated by these companies on a global scale. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides have caused massive damage to our health in terms of increase of allergies and intolerances to our foods and soil erosion i.e. stripping the soil of its natural nutrients.  What will GMO’s bring to the world in about 50 years when its use is widespread! I shudder to think of the consequences for us.

If these individuals are happy to feed their families GMO’s, so be it, but please do not push it down our throats. You have your right to eat what you want and so do we.

Can Scotland Produce 100% Renewable Energy!

This week Bosco Santimano, founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on renewable energy.

Having covered making Scotland GMO free and a 100 per cent organic country as part of our vision, I can now focus on our third and final vision for the country – to make Scotland produce 100 per cent of its energy requirements through renewables.

Is this possible you may ask? Yes! It is, as long as so-called experts and professionals working in the oil companies are not sitting on government-funded boards and institutions that are in charge of energy security of the nation.

We have to move away from fossil fuels if we are to survive into the next century. Climate change is real and if we don’t reverse our current habits and lifestyles then there is no chance of survival for our species on this planet.

We currently know of at least seven forms of renewable sources of energy: solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, ocean thermal, bio energy and hydrogen.

Scotland is well placed geographically on these islands to be in a position to produce renewables through all the above clean energy sources including solar!

Scotland got more than two-thirds (68.1 per cent) of its electricity from green sources in 2017, an increase of 26 per cent from the previous year! Its not rocket science.

We can achieve our target so long as we pour money into research and development, training, manufacturing and other industries connected to the renewable sector. We could be a nation that leads by example and provide our expertise to other countries to help support them make the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

The Scottish government is aiming to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption by 2020. Scotland has already met the 2015, 50 per cent interim target and is also looking to provide the equivalent of 11 per cent of Scotland’s heat demand by 2020 through renewable sources.

Many of us are not aware that governments across the globe still provide massive subsidies to major oil companies and these are normally in the form of tax rebates/exemptions and tax credits for job creation.

The whole of the UK could have benefited when oil was first discovered in the North Sea but alas, vested interests both in government and corporations squandered the wealth of the nation on the few.

If the UK had followed Norway’s lead, we would probably be sitting on a similar $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund generated through oil alone. But, unfortunately, we cannot do anything about it now but hopefully hold those responsible at Westminster and stop them repeating the same mistake twice.

Local councils across this country should be given incentives to promote and encourage green energy usage, with households getting rebates on their council tax bills as one option.

Low-income households should be supported with this scheme otherwise they will be penalised just as they are now through our unfair current council tax bands and prepayment meters, while the well-off will reap the tax benefits once again!