AS we all know, it’s traditional to greet folk after the bells with a cheery “Happy New Year”. Some folk may well go on to have a good year, but many others will have a thoroughly miserable one.

At the risk of sounding preachy and sanctimonious (ok, I sound preachy and sanctimonious), this year, instead of making personal New Year resolutions that will no doubt be broken by the end of January, maybe it’s time to spare a thought for the millions of people throughout the world who will have a thoroughly dreadful 2022.

Those that in the seemingly endless conflicts will be killed, tortured, beaten up, raped, and even if they survive serious physical harm, will be mentally scarred for life and grieving for less fortunate loved ones. Bairns that will witness atrocities that no bairns should be exposed to in a laughably named “civilized world”. Not just conflicts but many, many more people that are made refugees by climate disasters which are now commonplace.

Guess what the natural instinct of those victims is? Naturally to get the hell out of the country that has become a living hell for them and try to find safe sanctuary in another one.

From UNHCR statistics, there are 84 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. The country that hosts the largest amount of refugees is Turkey with 3.7 million people. This is the same Turkey that Brexiteers cynically used as an example of what would happen if the UK didn’t leave Europe. We would be inundated with hordes of (in their eyes) these awful people.

Germany has the largest amount of refugees from central European countries (1.2 million). In a totally depressing contrast, at the end of 2020 the UK had a mere 132,349! As we are constantly reminded however by Patel and those of her ilk, this is what the British public voted for. She makes it sound like it was 100% support. Someone needs to tell her just under half didn’t vote for that and 62% of us “Jocks” were against it.

In an independent Scotland, it’s my wish that not only the inequality gap is drastically reduced within our country, but that some of the dosh is spent making Scotland one of the most generous contributors of foreign aid. Also, that we welcome many more refugees and asylum seekers.

In any case they will no doubt be invaluable in helping to fill the numerous vacancies in social care, hospitality and throughout the economy in general. It’s the right thing to do morally but also a “no-brainer” for the economy.

There are no certainties in this world. We never know what’s round the corner. How would we want to be welcomed in a safe country in the event of our one, for whatever reason, becoming a living hell? Well, it’s obvious what the answer to that is.

It’s a massive cliche but one everyone should have at the forefront of their thinking. There but for the grace of God ...

Have a happy, preachy and sanctimonious New Year!

Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay, Fife

I AM beginning to wonder if the Scottish Land Fund should be renamed the Scottish Pub Fund.

It appears from the article “Outlander pub in Fife among sites to be sold in local buyouts” (December 22) that West Fife Community Trading Ltd has received £504,500 from the fund to take over ownership of the B-listed Red Lion Inn in the village of Culross.

Apparently the reason behind this grant of taxpayer’s cash is “to retain a social meeting place for residents and an important visitor attraction”. It seems the current owners are retiring after running a “very successful business for over 30 years”.

It begs the question – if it was so successful, and presumably profitable, why does the community need to come to its rescue?

Earlier this year, Outlander actor Sam Heughan asked the show’s fans to support an appeal for the community to buy this pub where he shared his first drink with co-star Caitriona Balfe. However, a crowdfunder page appears to have raised less than £11,000.

Only a few months ago another £500,000 of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash from the fund was used to finance the buying of Britain’s remotest mainland pub, the Old Forge on the Knoydart Peninsula. At least I will not have to walk the 18 miles or make a seven-mile sea crossing to visit this latest “community” asset.

I’m thinking of getting together with a few friends to see if we could put produce a bid to lay our hands on a similar sum of public money. For example, established in 1901, The Bull Inn is the oldest pub in Paisley and retains many of its magnificent original features including stained glass windows, snugs and bar frontage. It has featured in several TV programmes. I am sure that £500,000 would secure its future for my wee community of friends.

On a more serious note, is buying pubs for community use really the best use of more than a million pounds, to date, of taxpayers’ cash? Which pub will be next?

Brian Lawson