View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sunday 6 February

A sunny day, but with varying amounts of cloud and one or two showers passing us to the south.

I could not believe my eyes when local broadcaster STV reported that Molly Campbell had returned to the UK. Molly made headlines in the summer of 2006, when she vanished from the Nicolson Institute here in Stornoway to be with her father in Lahore, Pakistan. Her mother, Louise, reported her missing, but the daughter later turned up in Pakistan. Molly (now called Misbah) voluntarily went east. She has now returned of her own free will again, and is living with her sister in England. Their mother has travelled south of the border to be with her daughters. Misbah's return is said to be permanent.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has enunciated that the multicultural society has failed, and we should return to a sense of national pride. That, to my mind, opens the door to negative discrimination of ethnic minorities and the victimisation of those who adhere to the Muslim faith. It is perfectly possible to be proud of your nationality, and you can take even more pride by being welcoming to those who want to join you from overseas. Mr Cameron's remarks are more redolent of the extreme-right BNP party than of a party in national government.

Saturday 5 February

Was treated to the unusual sight of MV Muirneag hoving into view this morning. Our freight ferry has not put to sea at all this week, and last night was the first time she ventured out. The Muirneag is more than 30 years old, and is not good at manoeuvering in adverse conditions. Long term readers of my blog may remember an episode in 2005, when she was caught in stormforce winds which forced her 60 miles off course, well on the way to the Faroe Islands (250 miles north of here).

I have completed another big chunk of transcriptions from the reports from the Napier Commission (1883), which is a crucial document in the history of the Highlands and Islands. The county of Sutherland was the scene of the some of the worst abuses of crofters. Bear in mind that there was more to the clearances than people being shunted off to Canada or Australia. The session at Bonar Bridge e.g. revealed how the rent of some crofters was bumped up from 1s to £6 - an increase of 1200% [£1 = 20s] over a few years. It is a long read, but if you take the time, you'd be horrified.
The next batch of transcriptions will cover Ross-shire; for Scottish readers, this is strictly speaking Wester Ross, from Ullapool south to the Applecross peninsula; as well as a session at the county town, Dingwall.