Why has the wording of the SNP’s Barra air link petition been secretly changed?

Just days ago, some headline-grabbing local SNP figures were vowing to save the Barra air link with a powerful petition which was to be set up at the heart of our nation’s government. Now, this blog can reveal that the furiously-worded plea to the Scottish Parliament slagging off Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for its plan to axe the link which hardly anyone uses except for officials on mammoth expenses has been watered down into a wishy-washy mess.

After no less wise a head than their former party colleague Andrew Walker pointed out first on this blog that the Scottish Government was powerless to tell the comhairle what to do on an issue like this, some heads finally seem to have been banged together and told to take proper advice and stop the grandstanding. Ouch.

Now the previous blood-red prose demanding Holyrood kicks Sandwick Road’s ass has been replaced with a lukewarm call for some kind of an unexplained dull-as-dishwater and unspecified “review” with no mention of the previous “serious implications”, risk to the “future of all internal flights”, or descriptions of the “appalling move”. See for yourself:

Here’s petitioners Councillors Gordon Murray and Rae Mackenzie’s promised wording which they announced last week:

“To petition the Scottish Parliament that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar maintains its support for the lifeline air services between Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra; the petitioners believing that the Comhairle’s current proposals risk the future of all internal flights within the Outer Hebrides and would severely undermine the transport connections which have been built up between the islands over the last forty years, with serious implications for the local economy and community; asks the petitions committee of the Scottish Parliament to ensure the Comhairle fulfils its air transport Public Service obligations in the Hebrides and to examine the implications for people in all Scotland’s island communities of this appalling move”.

Now here’s the actual comparatively-dreary wording they posted on the petitions website:

“Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review its national policies on the provision of lifeline air services between Scotland’s islands, consider the impact on local communities by the withdrawal of subsidies which enable such air services and to develop air transport public service obligations in the Hebrides and throughout Scotland”.

Good grief. Not one mention now of the evil comhairle or any “appalling” moves. Why? There was no announcement of a change of stance. Were they not going to tell us? If not, we have all been misled. Who was responsible for the change from the text they published last week? Will we ever be told why?

I wonder what poor Andrew Walker – now languishing in Coventry where he has been banished by the entire local SNP for telling uncomfortable truths – thinks of the incredible change to the petition wording in response to the damning strategic errors he so helpfully pointed out to Messrs Mackenzie and Murray?

Mr Walker says: “What a climbdown! As I have also said, this will go nowhere fast, and an urgent decision is required to ensure some continuation of the Barra to Benbecula route from April (six weeks). Urgent funding and intervention is required from the Scottish Government.”

New Year celebrations shifted as Stornoway quango caves in to religious maniacs who make town a laughing stock

The anticipated intolerance of a few has led the bungling fools who call themselves Stornoway Amenity Trust to bring forward Hogmanay to avoid causing offence (see link below).  It didn’t work. I am deeply offended. Who was asked if it was OK to make their town out to be a laughing stock under the control of religious maniacs? Nor me.

I suspect not even churches were consulted or have even complained. The local bigotry is so deeply ingrained that people in the amenity trust will not even bother to challenge it.

Nothing will change if people sit on your hands. Why didn’t they ask everyone instead of sounding out church elders and deacons who make up their minds before they’re even asked? They knew their dismal record on anything democratic.

These decisions are pathetic and damaging to us and our children. The message they put out again is that Hebrideans are a backward people.  If we allow this nonsense in our name, we are absolutely backward. This is why so many potential employers will still not cross the Minch. Things are getting worse here. There is now more religious tolerance in some Arabic states.


The Uig Chessmen belong here on Lewis but what can we do to keep them here?

Published: Press and Journal Sep 12, 2011

Since April, a procession of people wound their weary way up that hill.
Heads down, they trundled up forsaking even the charms of the Carlton Bar. They were all following patiently-explained directions for the Isle of Lewis Chessmen at our museum in Stornoway.
Most got it wrong. Told to keep going up Francis Street and it would be on their left just before Matheson Road, the dozy walkers would always turn into Lewis Street, the last turn-off.
On that street, the bewildered culture vultures and archaeology addicts soon spotted the courthouse and, convinced they had finally found Museum nan Eilean, made for there in their endless search for something ancient and interesting.
In fact, some of them did find a couple of old treasures in there. However, the sheriff and the procurator fiscal don’t count so the visitors were ejected and told where to go.
The curtain twitchers of Lewis Street used to wonder just how popular were the little men from Uig round the corner in the museum. In fact, I have found out that no less than 20,000 visitors have been to see them since the exhibition began at Easter.
It’s now ending although the chessmen can be seen for a final day at Uig Museum tomorrow. You should go. If you’re reading this in some distant wilderness, like Aberdeenshire, you may just make it with a wee tailwind from Hurricane Katia.
The Isle of Lewis Chessmen are probably the one thing around the world that this wee island is known for – apart, of course, from intolerant sabbatarians. It must be nearly 14 or 15 years since they were last here. So on Saturday I decided I would go along for a decko before they are spirited away to be wrapped up and stuffed into someone’s drawers in the British Museum for another 15 years.
So I got up and asked Mrs X if, by any chance, she wanted to see the chessmen. Her ears pricked up straight away, she threw down her knitting and she had wheeched me out the door before I could squeak that I was still in my wincyette pyjamas.
Actually, there were one or two fibs there. Mrs X doesn’t knit and I don’t wear any jammies, wincyette, nylon or knitted. I only said that in case my auntie Kirsty Ann read this. She’s always telling me to wrap up nice and warm if I’m going out. In fact, she’s always telling me to wrap up, period.
It’s a great wee exhibition. Not only is it fantastic to see the wee Uigeachs in the flesh – OK, in the walrus ivory – but it is really informative. There are cards and wallcharts with the most fascinating facts clearly explained.
Did you know, for instance, that there is nothing certain about where the chessmen were actually found? Oh, it may indeed have been by Uig Sands but it may also have been at Mealasta, a fine beach up at Breanish. In fact, let’s be honest about this; it wasn’t properly recorded at the time so it could have been anywhere in the parish of Uig.
It could even have been on Great Bernera, a charming wee island to the northern boundary of the parish, and a place I happen to know. I have often experienced the call of the ancients there myself. That’s when I had to go in for my tea.
The point is that these 91 ivory pieces are a big draw. They should be permanently based on Lewis – ideally Bernera, but we would be open to negotiation – because they would be a real help to the fragile economy of these islands.
Back in the mid-1990s, when we had councillors who had a bit of bottle, there was an attempt to have the whole caboodle kept here. Of course, the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland, kept arguing there would be no proper security here because they were uninsurable and CCTV was still in its early developing stages where, even close-up, all faces captured on video looked like fuzzy snowmen.
People like then-councillor George Lonie, a man of principle if ever there was one who is due to do well if, as I hear, he stands for the Scottish Socialist Party, would quiver with rage at the thought they would have to be handed back. How I remember the despair in his voice as he asked the packed Criterion: “Whit are we gonnae dae? I jist dinnae ken masel’.”
Someone shouted we should kidnap the wee coves. That was probably his councillor colleague Callum Ian MacMillan. He was always full of bright ideas. The suggestion brought the house down. They heard the roars of “We’re right behind youse” and “Let’s dae it the night, lads” as far away as Charles Morrison & Sons Ltd, a supplier of paint, pots and pans.
The raid to liberate the chessmen didn’t happen however. If only George Gawk, who after long deliberation was chosen to lead the expedition, hadn’t been dipping his sheep the following morning, who knows what course history would have taken.
So worried were the museums that the rebellious Leodhasachs would sober up enough to seize the chessmen that the museums flew up a couple of security guards to escort them back down south. That actually happened.
Now the chessmen are in Uig Museum for a final few hours tomorrow. Of course, I would never suggest kidnapping anyone or anything but I just wonder if the intrepid Gawk has a few hours free …

The Uig homophobe writes again

Thank you to the many people who wrote to let me know the spiteful, hate-filled Uig homophobe has been writing to Hebrides News again – this time to attack Janine Mackenzie, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting. He takes umbrage at her eminently-sensible letter taking him to task for his extreme views.

Predictably, from someone born too late to be Adolf Hitler’s speechwriter, the latest missive is yet another vacuous attempt at self-justification which tries pathetically to paint everyone else in the same dark colours as himself.

Miavaig used to be such a nice place

To try and justify the illegal and continuing anti-gay discrimination practised by certain Lewis bed-and-breakfast operators – with famous support from a certain bigoted political failure who now wants to bring his particular brand of twisted hatred to Western Isles Council – by referring to the untimely death of Freddie Mercury of Queen, is not just laughable but shows there is no depth to which this guy will not plumb.

Did any great heterosexual rock legend ever die because of his or her lifestyle, by any chance? None that the Monster of Miavaig thinks are worthy of mention, apparently.

His is a very sad letter, he is a very sad person and we should all be deeply saddened to know there are unbalanced people with such views living in these islands. He always points out he doesn’t hate alone.

Anyone who calls themselves a real Christian should be praying for him to be released from his delusions and the hammered-in intolerance that permeates his very soul.


Uig homophobe says sorry … but doesn’t mean it

Homophobe Iain Macdonald of Miavaig, Uig, replies on Hebrides News after I criticised his earlier letter, which was removed after several complaints by open-minded readers, in which he said he would rather sit by a septic tank than share accommodation with gay people.

Much of what Macdonald now writes is a desperate attempt to excuse his pro-discrimination stance – as usual with such bigots, he portrays himself as a victim – yet he feels entitled to his foul views and pet hatreds because  other islanders sufer from the same “inner revulsion” he so publicly admits to.  There were many in pre-war Germany who supported Hitler. Didn’t make that right either.

In the hetero-friendly Macdonald guesthouse

Clever fellow that he is, he even tries to rewrite the textbooks on homophobia. Whereas the best brains in the world say it’s linked to the dominance of ‘machismo’ culture – fuelled by all the world’s most extreme hatred-based religions – as well as severe personal feelings of being unloved which causes sufferers to be jealous of anyone who is in love, Macdonald has wild theories of his own.

The Campaign To End Homophobia defines personal homophobia as feelings of fear, discomfort, dislike, hatred, or disgust with same-sex sexuality. That should end the discussion on what Macdonald actually is.

He does manage to say sorry but still drags up irrational nonsense over sodomy. What if the gay guests gave a written undertaking not to undertake that particular practise? Would that be OK? Does the Macdonald ban extend to non-gays who practise it?  Would he encourage accommodation providers to spy on guests to make sure they were doing it right?

A bizarre assertion, albeit tiresomely dramatised, that a male must inherit a strong aversion towards homosexuality in order to develop into a heterosexual is not funny and it’s not clever. It’s just a lie.

Macdonald’s glorious, unbridled ignorance even leads him to speculate that I’m an athiest. Standing up to the various splintered, in-fighting, self-seeking sects – what passes for organised religion in these parts – which impose their mediaeval rituals on others, does not make me an athiest. Whereas he claims to be undecided on spiritual matters himself, the arrogant philosopher makes out he knows my conscience. He is as mistaken about that as he is about everything else. Utterly pathetic.

His attempt at self-justification leads him to dream up many unfathomable, irrelevant questions. I’ll answer the one in paragraph 2 like this: if the conscience, belief or mental deficiency of any B&B operator means they cannot operate their business without practising the same type of anti-gay discrimination pioneered by the Nazis, they really should use their talents to do something else.

Keen to tell everyone he was in the hostel with me, Macdonald was obviously untroubled by reports over the years of the sudden deaths of some of our contemporaries. It is not that long since a family member of one such schoolmate told me he died wrestling with his sexuality after being made to feel condemned to hell by one certain, hateful, hurtful, unforgiving island minister.

So, yes, what Macdonald says is true. He is certainly not alone in nursing irrational fears and hatreds that threaten to destroy the tourism industry of these self-dubbed holy islands in one fell swoop. It is obvious he is comforted that fellow haters are even to be found in the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, Mr Macdonald shouldn’t fret about the possibility of getting an invitation to a gay wedding. The gay people I have spoken to in recent days – including some with Uig connections – aren’t likely to put him on their lists. Some said they’d rather sit by a leaking septic tank.

Another homophobe breaks cover

I am disappointed that Hebrides News withdrew a vile letter today by a vicious homophobe who is currently living on Uig, Lewis.  Yes, it was ghastly but it is far better that the community know who these bigots are and can put a face to a bigot’s letter.

I am delighted to see such muck published so we can all see for ourselves who are the wicked haters responsible for writing it rather than only being whispered about – as was previously the case in these islands. I am referring to the activities of one person and it was some years ago.

Not everyone in the churches – or even in in Uig – thinks like this man – sadly, another bitter and twisted local. Many will tell you they are ashamed of that writer. I have just spoken to some of them.

He is one of a dwindling tribe of self-righteous extremists who think they know it all. They care little that their religion – and all religion – is just an accident of birth. They’ve had a particularly hateful interpretation of scripture drummed into them and they cannot exercise rational thought or tolerance of anyone who is in any way different to what they have been told is normal. They are wrong but they are to be pitied – something they are incapable of doing.

What they claim is also illegal.

VisitScotland made it clear to me this week they will kick anyone exercising discrimination against gay people out of their accreditation scheme. So please let them know so action can be taken against them

And please let me know. Much more can be done to haters to point out the error of their ways.

These B&B bigots can also be sued if they act in the homophobic way suggested by the Uig writer and also even more famously by failed Labour wannabe Donald Crichton, who has single-handedly ensured that, for an entire generation, that party in these islands will be associated with religious extremism, hatred, intolerance and shame.

I hope Hebrides News – despite the complaints they probably had – will reconsider and publish the letter by Iain Macdonald of Miavaig again – in the interests of free speech, if nothing else.

Lest we forget, there was another bigot, seared at birth by an assortment of hatreds and prejudices and begat of a churchy family of impeccable pedigree, we were led to believe, who also composed diatribes of hate which were published on Hebrides News just a few years ago. He couldn’t stand the heat as right-thinking people lambasted him.

Now reduced to a gibbering wreck, scribbling garbage knocking Alex Salmond, a former pal whom he also betrayed, for a newspaper with links to Adolf Hitler, that similarly-flawed hypocrite is nowadays to be found rattling around a rest home somewhere out by Marybank. If you spot him, say hullo.

No problems in local Labour Party – claim

Labour failure Donald Crichton was given much of page 3 of the Stornoway Gazette to tell us all why the local party is not falling apart despite having a vile homophobe trying to call the shots.

Ach, he claimed, there was no split at all at all. Everything’s fine.

“It’s only a few people trying to sow seeds of disunity within the party. This is a non-story …” blah, blah, blah, he snorted in his usual interesting style which so seems to ape his lord and master, Red Ed. Sorry, maybe not lord. That just came out.

Only a few people? Not according to the people who called up me earlier. They’re not happy the church elder is not only ignoring them but also publicly belittling them. He is also ignoring letters to him suggesting he is not a fit and proper person to be involved. What else did he say? Well, Mr Crichton really turned on the PR charm big-style in his Gazette interview.

“I am being portrayed in an internet blog (er, is there any other kind of blog?) as bigoted and homophobic and if you are trying to link it with the party directly you are treading on very dangerous ground, I would say, as a newspaper.”

Gosh. As well as being a bigot, he is also a newspaper. All that as well as being a threatening, charmless homophobe whose sentences make as much sense as his pathogical hatred of some of God’s own creatures.

Why do I say Mr Crichton is a homophobe? After all, he has gone to great lengths to ensure that certain poor folk who believe everything that comes out of his mouth phone me up and tell me he is not. He is a decent man, they keep insisting.

I still say it because Mr Crichton made it clear himself at Stornoway Primary hustings on May 3. Below is the Hebrides News report which showed everyone how Mr Crichton, in his own words, was prepared to flout the law because he, wrongly and illegally, claimed excluding gays from our islands’ allegedly-welcoming B&Bs was “an issue of conscience”.

So here we had someone standing for the party of equality and fair play for all who, taking his cue from the Free Church elder chairman and rabid homophobe, wanted these businesses run in the manner favoured by the Nazis, the Taliban and the BNP, all of which expressed the desire to curtail the freedoms of people whose sexuality they disapproved of.

As far as we know, Mr Crichton has never apologised for having made a mistake with those awful remarks. Yeeuch, it sickens me to think how low the once-great Labour Party, who I campaigned for myself as a teenager, has plummeted when such people are allowed to represent it.

VisitHebrides, on the other hand, is full of people who are all open-minded and welcoming to everyone. Yet, puzzlingly, they have simply failed to comment on what Mr Crichton said that night about B&B operators’ rights to refuse people they suspect of limp wrists, lisps or even too-dusky complexions. Maybe they too think the laws banning discrimination does not apply in the good ol’ Western Isles. Maybe we should just ask VisitScotland.

The sole candidate to suggest defying the law on this point, Mr Crichton’s seemingly-innocuous but actually hateful answer sparked a Facebook and Twitter backlash at the time, and is partly the reason why Labour is now in bits in the islands. The disgust spread like wildfire. He, and some of them, still can’t see it. The rest of us look on in astonishment.

A member of his audience that night, a local man who had been a regular attender for nearly three years, after confirming that being a homophobe is part of the job description for Free Church elders, told me recently that he vowed never to set foot in that church again after being sickened by Mr Crichton’s comments. What can I say? Apart from well done and remember that some other churches here also encourage similar homophobia.

Sadly, the campaigning and utterly brave Gazette, despite discussing Mr Crichton’s own references to being called a homophobe, failed to put any of these points to Mr Crichton. Observant readers will also note that nowhere in the Gazette piece is Mr Crichton actually quoted as denying he is a homophobe.

Threatening and talking drivel about it, yes, but not actually denying.

That may have something to do with the fact that to extremist members of loony religions that claim, according to the religioustolerance.org website, to revere the Bible – the Baha’i faith, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism – it condemns homosexuality and states that, after death, sexually active lesbians and gays will end up in hell, not heaven.

Religious homophobia is not just homophobia and a crime like any other but it has been accepted in the courts of this land already as being one of the most vicious and heartless of all.

HEBRIDES NEWS   May 3, 2011
The debate chairman Murdo Murray raised a personal predicament with the law obliging him to go against his conscience and provide a double bed for a gay couple in his own home.
He said: “I want to say no if a homosexual couple wanted a bed but under the law I couldn’t refuse.”
Peter Morrison “totally disagreed with Murdo.”
Donald Crichton highlighted: “It is an issue of conscience and the state should not intervene over who you do or don’t have in your home.”
Alasdair Allan said: “If it’s a B&B then it is none of your business what people are and you shouldn’t be asking.“ He pointed out any B&B is a commercial enterprise and is not allowed to discriminate.
Charlie McGrigor said: “I don’t recall Jesus saying you can’t be homosexual. I appreciate it is your house but once you become a business you open up to the outside world.”
Roddy Cunningham asked Alasdair Allan “what role does government have telling businesses who they can deal with?” He pointed out banks reject people every day.
Mr Allan replied that businesses were banned from discriminating against people on the basis of being gay.