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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Readers' letters

Rich-poor divide reaching obscene levels

April 12 2013

Sir, The inequality within our society is now reaching obscene levels. On the one hand we have benefit reforms. These will push a further 400,000 children into poverty. Already overstretched food banks will be further strained as more and more people cannot afford to feed themselves. At the start of this winter it was predicted around 27,000 people will die as a result of fuel poverty. That was before it was known this winter would be the longest on record. Today there are increasing numbers of suicides as desperation makes victims decide they cannot face any more. This will become worse. To take just one example from the other hand, we have a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 which will put an average of £43,000 in the pockets of around 250,000 people. The 13,000 people earning over £1 million will be better off to the tune of £100,000. Chancellor George Osborne tried to justify this cut by saying the 50% top rate of tax was not worth collecting. It raised something like £2.4 billion that sounds well worth collecting. The total amount of benefit fraud in the UK each year amounts to only 0.7% of the welfare budget. It is not the huge widespread problem we are led to believe. Tax dodging, however, costs the UK between £160 and £200 billion each year. That is a staggering problem. Would it therefore not make sense to clamp down on the amount of tax dodging and evasion as it would reap far greater returns? As things stand, the phrase “we’re all in this together” has a very hollow ring. Steve Flynn. Westfield Avenue, Cupar. An important world figure Sir, I am appalled that, almost uniquely among the British press, The Courier affords Margaret Thatcher’s death little more than a strap-line on the front page (April 9), with all further detail relegated to the minor pages. I accept she was a divisive character little loved in Scotland, however, your paper’s presentation reeks of cowardice and fear of offending readers that the news of her death be published thus. Irrespective of her politics she must be recognised, as indeed your editorial admits, as unquestionably one of the most significant world (not just UK) figures of the second half of the last century. Your paper could so easily have done its duty without opening any political debate by simply publishing a respectful photograph without significant text on the front page. I can be sure, without resorting to your archives, that no other premier of recent times, most of whom are of much less lasting import, has been treated in such a manner. Sandy Green. The Old Rectory, Cupar. Of historical interest Sir, I write as a Gaelic speaker. There are very few of us in Perthshire, Angus and Fife. However, Gaelic was spoken throughout this area during the formative period of the Scottish kingdom until the 14th century. From then on it became confined to Highland Perthshire and the Braes of Angus. Now it has slipped away almost entirely to the western islands. It is really unnecessary to add Gaelic to motorway signs and road direction signs. Duplication of names would probably add an element of confusion to the passing motorist. However, it would be of historical, cultural and touristic interest to show the Gaelic form on the entry sign of a town or village, for instance: Pitlochry, Baile Chloichrigh; Dunkeld, Dun Chailleann; Ballintuim, Baile an Tuim; Crieff, Craoibh. This is specially true of Highland Perthshire, but could apply to towns elsewhere like St Andrews, Cille Rimhinn, or Perth, Peairt. This is our patriotic duty. The original meaning of “Scot”, a thousand years ago, was a Gaelic speaker to be distinguished from a Welsh (British) or English speaker. Hamish Robertson. Creag na Sith, Princeland Road, Coupar Angus. Plastic bag tax is needed here Sir, I read with interest the articles in The Courier, April 9, regarding charging for plastic carrier bags, and I thought back to the time before the advent of these, when every housewife would automatically take a shopping bag with her, whatever she was going to be buying. I remember some stores supplied paper bags, but I don’t know how good these were. The practice of charging for plastic bags is quite common in some other countries. I know that it has been normal in Bavaria for a very long time, this was before any environmental issues came into being. I for one consider that the government would be doing the country a huge favour if legislation was brought in to do this here. June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Fintry, Dundee. How can it be carbon neutral? Sir, There is considerable statement and comment on the proposed biomass plant in Dundee, emphasising the potential output. Electricity is relatively easily connected to the national grid, but how is the heat output (enough for three Ninewells Hospitals) to be distributed? To where? And how is this to be charged? Personally, I cannot see the justification in cutting trees in Canada, transporting them, chipping the timber, compacting it into pellets, more transport, shipping to Dundee, then burning. How can all this be carbon neutral? Jim Reid. Birkhill.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Readers' letters

Too early to criticise, let’s wait and see

July 22 2013

Sir, I am writing with regard to the article written by Jack McKeown, Worth the struggle? (July 17), and the nonchalant view towards Gaelic displayed by many in Scotland. What the writer failed to state in his article was that both the Inverness and Glasgow Gaelic schools have had such a huge success rate with pupil numbers that there are talks and hopeful plans to build either an extension or another GME school in both cities. Edinburgh has recently opened its first GME school, which also has a full take of pupils. The race is long and the plan is for a five-year period of growth. I believe it’s far too early to be critical of it, and it is not as if there is a decline. There was a 6% increase in students being educated through the language. Let’s wait and see over the whole timeframe before we start criticising. You wouldn’t hear a Formula 1 commentator dismissing Vettel after 10 laps. For decades Gaelic was underfunded, its use was discouraged and in some extreme cases beaten out of people. Gaelic receives only 0.7% of the Scottish Government’s budget. It’s a small price to pay for what is a hugely important, beautiful part of Scotland’s culture and an official language of Scotland. Kevin Gillies. 42a Barry Road, Carnoustie. Thousands are enjoying it and more will join Sir, In your edition of July 17, Jack McKeown poses the question, Worth the struggle? with regard to the teaching of Gaelic. The thousands of parents whose children are enjoying the benefits of education through the medium of Gaelic clearly think so, as do, presumably, upwards of 20,000 people across Scotland who are currently learning Gaelic at all ages and stages The article, however, raises a further question: would a reasonable person expect that the effects of centuries of language suppression and institutional neglect can be overturned within a decade of the establishment of the first Gaelic Language Act? Regarding funding, in this context, it should be noted that apart from what is spent on Gaelic education and broadcasting it could be argued that the majority of the Scottish Government’s £30 billion budget promotes English in one way or another. Finally, children receiving their education through the medium of Gaelic derive additional benefits from this experience associated with bilingualism. Arguably, Gaelic-medium education gives better value for money than the alternative. The 428 new entrants to P1 Gaelic-medium education in 2012/2013 will be followed by many others. John A. MacKay. Ceannard (CEO), Bord na Gaidhlig, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness. Cowed into silence Sir, What I find intriguing as yet more scandals unfold is why so few of those observing such deplorable activity in the NHS felt able to blow the whistle or raise some warning flags? Sadly, it appears decent workers were cowed into silence not only by the management but by a Labour government who had come to view the NHS as an electoral asset. Again and again such life and death issues remain hidden until it becomes impossible to continue the cover-up because people prefer to believe they are helpless. Yet it is absolutely essential to have the likes of a Climategate whistleblower uncover nefarious activity going on behind the closed doors of public institutions. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. It works both ways . . . Sir, I am grateful to Morag Stephen for pointing out that Carnoustie Ladies is also a ladies-only golf club. (Letters, July 17) I had previously pointed this out to Gavin Corbett, a Green councillor in Edinburgh, who was trying to discredit the Conservative councillors because they disagreed with Alex Salmond’s boycott of the Open at Muirfield. I asked him if he would be as vocal with ladies-only clubs and other organisations. Silence. Ladies are perfectly entitled to have ladies-only organisations and long may they continue and prosper. Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow. Not Silver but Dark Green? Sir, In response to the recent picture of the day by Eric Niven of a butterfly near Tullybaccart, I would say it is more like a Dark Green Fritillary than a Silver-washed Fritillary. The Dark Green has a distinctly smaller spot in the centre of the row and more arrow shaped row below these. I am not an expert, though, and would suggest Eric send his photograph to David Lampard at the McManus Gallery for an accurate identification. Art Sangster. Community Safety Hub, West District Housing Office, 3 Sinclair Street, Lochee, Dundee.

UK & World

The internet is fascinated by this garlic which is just one solid clove all the way round

March 23 2018

It’s every vampire’s worst nightmare, a piece of garlic so monstrous it’s just one solid clove all the way round.Or does its solidity in fact mean this garlic is cloveless?The garlic in question was found by Reddit user vseznayka, who told the Press Association: “My first reaction was to doubt if it was really garlic. I had to cut it and smell it to make sure.And while thousands appeared enthralled by the images of this unique seasoning, apparently there’s a very simple explanation.“There is a type of garlic called monobulb and apparently it’s very common in some places,” said vseznayka.Thousands commented on the bulbous foodstuff, with GalacticCarpenter saying, “You’ve hit the motherclove” while GuyGoma said: “Years working in kitchens, never seen that before… Wow”.There you have it, no need to panic if you pull one of these out of the bag. Unless you’re a vampire, of course.

Readers' letters

Why leave nice house to live in a but and ben?

April 15 2013

Sir, Scotland is currently investing considerable resources to create single units of control in our police service and our fire and rescue service with the aim of gaining the benefits, financial and operational, which will accrue from these larger bodies. If we elect to abandon the UK will we not therefore see a reversal of such benefits, across a much wider platform, in the reduced economic unit that Scotland will become? Listening to Mr Salmond blustering to deal with, not answer, questions in parliament he would have us believe that we own much of the North Sea and all that lies beneath it. Does the EU not control the fishing rights? Why should we assume that Norway might not choose to extract a larger share of the oil that is so important to Scotland? Surely the oil only becomes Scottish when large multinational companies choose to bring it to Scotland. Can we assume that even larger multinational companies choose to bring it to Scotland. Can we assume that even larger multinational corporations will not extract oil, using capital funds, that we can hardly aspire to, and take the oil to England? Norway uses its wealth from oil to save for a rainy day. In Scotland we appear to need our wealth to meet day-to-day running costs. Mr Salmond proposes to set aside oil money to create a capital fund. How will he make up the resultant shortfall in running costs? He might choose to cut the expenditure by reducing employment and services or he could raise the income by increasing taxation and other levies. Aged 75, I might not suffer too much from the foolishness of independence but it appears to me that Scotland electing to leave the UK is akin to a family electing to leave a decent, comfortable and affordable house to live in a but and ben. A A Bullions. Leven. Better to stay out of it Sir, Coming from a part of Northern Ireland where we had both Loyalist and Republican marches on a regular basis, I wanted to offer some advice to Pete Wishart MP who seems intent on intervening in the parade due this summer. In an open and diverse society, we have many reasons for congregations of people. Some of them we agree with, some of them we don’t. The way to deal with it is very simple. You support those causes you wish to support and you stay out of the way of those you don’t. They are over in a few hours, and we can all organise our lives to fit around them if needs must. This is always easier than going out of our way to take offence and it demonstrates tolerance for those we don’t agree with. These parades become divisive when politicians are gullible enough to take one side or the other and thereby raise the temperature. The decision is for the police to make and no-one else. I have every sympathy with anyone who wonders what an Apprentice Boys of Derry march has to do with Perth and it is not immediately obvious on first reading. However, Perth has been here for 800 years and all sorts of groups have a history here. We should not deny them their right to celebrate this as long as they stay within the law. My recollection is that the 2010 parade passed off without any incident, despite many months of ineffectual talk by politicians beforehand. They would have been better just staying out of it. Victor Clements. Mamies’ Cottage, Aberfeldy. What if there are no signs? Sir, I refer to the letter by Garry Barnett of Guildtown, Perth. Over the years I have read many such letters in various newspapers about Gaelic signs being a “total waste of taxpayers’ money” and this is yet another one of these tiresome whinges. When will it ever stop? Garry Barnett claims that Gaelic signs are likely to cause accidents because drivers will take their eyes off the road for too long. In that case, how do road accidents happen when there are no Gaelic signs? John Devlin. 57 Blackwood Court, Glamis Road, Dundee. Problem solved Sir, Your correspondent Mr Barnett has a problem with bilingual road signs. Well, Mr Barnett, the solution is quite simple. Remove the foreign language and leave just the one Gaelic. George T Watt. 4 Ancrum Drive, Dundee. Not the largest naval exercise Sir, I read with great interest your article regarding the key tactical naval exercise taking place off the Angus coast which you state is the largest tactical military exercise in the history of Europe. Can I just say, I think you are a little off the mark. Maybe this is the largest exercise in modern times, but I was involved in Exercise Strikeback in 1957 which consisted of 480 ships and submarines along with army and RAF units from the UK and Europe along with other NATO forces which I think may considerably outnumber the ships and other units taking part in this coming exercise. In fact,we had more submarines participating in Strikeback than total forces in Joint Warrior. Of course, that was when Britain still had a fleet. Ron Blanchard (ex-RN). 177 Kinghorn Road, Burntisland.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


VIDEO: Watch as Highland politician delivers entire Holyrood address in Gaelic

March 29 2018

An MSP has called for Gaelic to be given Unesco status as she delivered an entire Holyrood speech in the language. Kate Forbes, the member for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said she wanted to demonstrate Gaelic was a living language as MSPs used headsets to listen to a simultaneous translation. She became just the second female MSP, and the first in the current Scottish Parliament chamber, to deliver a whole contribution in Gaelic during a plenary debate. There have been a handful of Gaelic contributions in the parliament’s history, including a full speech from SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing in 2000 and, in more recent years, from current International Development and Europe Minister Alasdair Allan; and Ms Forbes’ predecessor in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch seat Dave Thompson. Ms Forbes spoke as MSPs were considering a motion on Scotland’s support for the Unesco convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Speaking afterwards, the SNP MSP said: “It was really important not only to talk about Gaelic, but to actually use the language in the Holyrood chamber, to demonstrate that it is one of Scotland’s most significant cultural assets. “There is a lot of political support for the language, despite the inaccurate negativity about money spent on Gaelic and occasional politicising. “Gaelic is the key to elements of our history, culture and music. That is why I believe it should be granted Unesco status as an intangible cultural heritage. “It is a sad day for any society that forgets the rich cultural heritage of their past, and we need to protect Gaelic.”

Readers' letters

We await the full final costings with interest

November 3 2014

Sir, In his “fabricating a statement” complaint (October 24) Councillor Bryan Poole merely denigrates The Courier, which unambiguously quoted the words attributed to him. He blames Pipeland’s delays on what are surely straightforward “planning approvals” (October 17). Does he deny that quotation? He might also explain why, notwithstanding the judicial review, the planning-to-completion duration of more than four years for Madras/Pipeland (1450 pupils) contrasts with two years for Dunfermline HS (1800 pupils) although “the scale of the engineering challenge regarding Madras is no different to . . . other major construction projects”. Who is “deluded” and “detached from reality”? He asserts “incorrect information demands a response”, but still refuses to publicise his “email evidence” allegedly contradicting the university’s statement on their 2012 discussions (May 22). Finally, he claims Pipeland’s £42.7 million current forecast reflects “construction industry inflation” on the £40 million budget. Certain costs like Muir’s £1.7 million windfall incur no inflation. The extra £2.7 million equals 14% annual-ised since April 3, when Cllr Poole and Depute Leader (Planning) Lesley Laird assured us Pipeland would definitely be “within budget” and a staggering 22% pa on the school building cost alone, as Cllr Poole says it has “nothing to do with site preparation”. We await the full final costings with interest! John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews. Development to continue? Sir, There is (until December 8) a consultation on the FifePlan, the new “local” plan covering the whole of Fife. The plan represents Fife Council’s “settled view” of what the final plan should be. Paper copies have been placed in local libraries, but there is no drop-in event in St Andrews. Under the heading St Andrews Area Strategy, para. 61 states: “The importance of the St Andrews green belt is underpinned by TAYplan and the policies in this plan. The new secondary school to be built at Pipeland to replace Madras College has been an exceptional proposal justified by community needs and does not open the remainder of the green belt to unjustified development. The plan also provides planning guidance on the re-use of the existing Madras College sites at South Street and Kilrymont once the new school is built.” The reference to the new school “to be built at Pipeland” implies that Fife Council has pre-determined the outcome of the application (14/02249/ARC). It is still under consultation and was supposed to come to committee in September, but has not yet been approved by councillors. There is also the strange reference to “unjustified development”. Who is going to decide whether development is “justified” the Muir Group and Fife Council? Given the rate at which, and the way in which, local plan policies are currently being overridden, this statement seems to flag up the intention to develop the southern hillside and the rest of green belt. It would be unwise to depend on any protection from Fife Council (including its officials), who see the landscape setting of St Andrews simply as a development opportunity. P M Uprichard. St Andrews. Language ideas a bit confused Sir, I yield to no one in my admiration of James Crumley as a writer on nature and landscape, but his article in Tuesday’s Courier showed that his ideas on language are somewhat confused. He describes the Pictish and Brittonic languages used in Dark Age Scotland as being “The Welsh version of Gaelic”. Now Gaelic and Welsh are both Celtic languages, but Welsh is not a version of Gaelic, any more than Italian is a version of Portuguese. He correctly identifies Balgay as being a place name of Gaelic origin, but goes on to claim that the name of the River Tay is also Gaelic. This is quite mistaken as the first mention of the Tay is by Tacitus in the first century AD, several hundred years before Gaelic was spoken in Scotland. I agree with Mr Crumley that a variety of languages was spoken in Dark Age and medieval Scotland but it is ludicrous to use that to justify the expenditure of millions of pounds of public money on the self-perpetuating clique of Gaelic educators, bureaucrats and broadcasters. In the Dundee context it is disproportionate to even consider issues such as bilingual signs on the basis that Gaelic was used by the ruling elite in the area for a few hundred years about a millennium ago. Mr Laurie Richards (Letters, October 29) suggests Gaelic is in the position Welsh was “50 or so years ago” and suggests it has since become “revitalised as a living language”. The facts tell a different story. In the 1961 census 26% of the Welsh population spoke Welsh. By the latest census in 2011 that had dropped to 19%, despite enormous expenditure and some elements of compulsion on people and organisations to use Welsh. Of course anyone wishing to learn Gaelic should be encouraged to do so but the bureaucratic imposition of “Gaelic Language Plans” will achieve nothing and will be at the expense of other more necessary local authority services. Robert Cairns. Eastergate Cottage, Harrietfield, Perth. Insulting words from Jennifer Sir, How dare Jennifer Dempsie dismiss “Nigel Farage and his party south of the border” as “unsavoury”? Is she not sufficiently grown up to accept that the electorate strongly dislikes this mudslinging between parties? It does not matter for whom we vote, it has been our right since 1872 to vote according to our consciences without fear of criticism. In one short phrase she insults thousands of voters as virtual idiots or loony right-wingers. Any reading of the better papers, amongst which I include The Courier, would understand that people north and south of the border support UKIP with what they believe to be very good reasons. For intelligent people it is highly regrettable they should be insulted by a journalist in even the worst of rags. Shame on both you and her! Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. They want the British back Sir, I have followed the discussion between Derek Farmer and Allan MacDougall with interest, but for Mr MacDougall to suggest that the people of our ex-colonies might feel well rid of us is total nonsense and betrays a lack of personal experience of these nations. Before I retired I was involved in work all over the world, including ex-British colonial lands. In the main, the contractors I was working for would hire local people when they could. It was my pleasure to find myself working alongside these people and learning about their history and culture. Often, while chatting over a cup of tea or coffee, the subject of freedom from British colonial rule would come up and I have lost count of the number of ordinary working people in these lands who told me that they “wish the British would come back”. Many of these countries are blessed with natural resources which should make them among the richest per capita nations on Earth. Sadly they are plagued by the corruption and blatant nepotism of their political leaders. Thus, while some of the richest people on Earth live in, and run these countries, the ordinary people remain among the poorest on Earth. It is no surprise therefore that the ordinary people would like to see us back, while Mr MacDougall only hears the view of the political leaders who would be horrified at the idea of Britain getting involved with their countries again. (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie.