Tag Archives: Scotland on Sunday

In Search of Compromise

Dear David,

In your letter on Scotland on Sunday, 11th December 2011 (two days after the equal marriage consultation closed) you say “I still hope some sort of compromise can be reached that might enable Christians of genuinely held but differing convictions to continue to worship together.”

There is. It’s the perfect compromise, and one I’m pretty hopeful will be enacted by the Scottish government.

At the moment, there’s a legal ban on all same-sex marriages, and a legal ban on all religious solemnisations of same-sex marriages in places of worship. This is fundamentally against freedom of religion.

The probable result of the recent consultation will be to lift these legal bans, which will allow same-sex couples who wish to marry to get married, and will allow churches and pastors who wish to marry same-sex couples, to do so. No church and no minister of religion will be forced to do so.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will doubtless argue it through to the bitter end and will come out on one side or the other – some ministers will wish to treat their parishioners equally, others will wish to discriminate, others yet will want to have no lesbian or gay or transgender parishioners at all, and bisexual parishioners only if they’re in the closet and in mixed-sex marriage. That isn’t the concern of government, and shouldn’t be.

You and your other homophobic friends will gather together and decide how important it is to you to oppose the idea that God loves everybody equally, and take your stand where you see fit. My personal thinking is that it would be advisable for you to argue for ministers in the Church of Scotland to have a personal right of refusal to wed same-sex couples, and thus put yourself on the moral high ground of religious freedom. If you argue that regardless of conscience, a minister must be forced to deny marriage to parishioners based on sexual orientation and gender identity, you are arguing against compromise and for a continuing fight – you cannot expect ministers to go against their conscience to make you happy forever.

Sincerely,

Jane

PS See also: “Allowing same-sex couples to marry is said to be an attack on religious freedom! The line is consistently pushed that if it is legal for religious organisations and ministers of religion to celebrate the marriage of a same-sex couple, it will become illegal to refuse to do so. There is no instance of this ever happening: the fears that it might seem to derive from T H White’s totalitarian anthill, ‘Everything not forbidden is compulsory’.” What to expect from the anti-gay marriage brigade

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Filed under LGBT Equality, Religion, Scottish Politics

Tramacle: Take the Train

Edinburgh Trams Taking You To Work In 2011In this morning’s Scotland on Sunday, Kenny Farquharson, the former Political Editor and now the Deputy Editor, writes that the only thing that can save Edinburgh from the tramacle is for Alex Salmond to put the trams on the right track.

I’d been directed there from Twitter by several people I follow who thought it was a great article, but:

It’s crucial we find an efficient way of whisking visitors – be they tourists or business people – away from the airport as quickly and comfortably as possible to the bus and rail connections that can take them to wherever in Scotland they are heading

Oh Kenny, how can you have lived in Edinburgh for 23 years and never taken the train from Waverley into Fife over the Forth Rail Bridge? (Well worth doing, by the way – when I was an Edinburgh-Rosyth commuter, every weekday morning I’d look up from my reading as the sound of the rails told me we were reaching the bridge, and let the glorious burst of view over the Forth feast my eyes: and notice that all through the carriage, commuters who saw this view twice a day every working day, were looking up from their work or the coffee wide-eyed to enjoy.)

But this post is not about the Forth Rail Bridge. Simply that if you ever had, you’d have known that the “efficient way” to whisk visitors from airport to train already exists.

(Mind you, the Airlink buses are pretty efficient as airport connector buses go – airport to city centre in less than half an hour: comfortable and inexpensive.)

You see, the railway line runs right past the airfield. All we need is to build a halt (platforms either side and a connecting bridge): a feeder road from the halt to the airport itself: and a fleet of buses to take passengers from halt to airport. If we hadn’t already wasted so much money on the Edinburgh Tram Debacle (the Broughton Spurtle* suggests Tramacle as the appropriate name) we could have considered more expensive options, but the beauty of the plan to build a halt, a bridge, and a road is that it’s possible Edinburgh Airport could expand on this when it’s proved successful.

That project, which was the most obvious solution even back when Edinburgh Trams were first mooted, has become even more appealling now Waverley Station is in the process of making itself accessible for the 21st century. But Haymarket station is already accessible, with lifts to all platforms and to street level.

We don’t even need a new set of expensive trains, as London has done for train connections to Heathrow: we just need to add a new stop on the line. Even more efficient than the Airlink buses, far cheaper than any trams project, and neatly allowing tourists who intend to land at Edinburgh and travel to other parts of Scotland to do so seamlessly.

The original plan to replace the 22 bus route with a tram line that could whisk people from Newhaven to the airport didn’t have much of a point to it: the current plan, which amounts to replacing the Airlink buses as far as Haymarket with a tramline that will cost over a billion, is so monstrously stupid I cannot believe anyone who knows Edinburgh transport could listen to it with a straight face, let alone vote for it! We need to take the train, not build a brand new tram line that replicates the train route!

Incidentally, Edinburgh Trams have already cost more than covering Princes Street with gold. Let’s not throw more gold on the streets. Please.

*Update: Greener Leith seems to have been the originator: Twitter misled me. There’s a slideshow at the Greener Leith blog of Twitter reactions to the Edinburgh Council debate:

to give you a sense of the strength of feeling the debate has produced. It would seem most Leithers simply want to get Leith Walk repaired as quickly as possible.

Amen to that.


Update: on Twitter, last night, I got into a discussion with Tom Parnell (@ArchHist) who asserted and repeatedly defended that the #TakeTheTrain alternative to the trams is not workable because it would require more trains which would require building new lines which would require rebuilding Waverley Station, all of which would cost billions. (He also asserted that the Airlink bus service, which can get you from the airport to Edinburgh in 15 minutes to half an hour depending on traffic, is “not mass transit!” but I’ve been on a lot worse and more expensive bus-connections between airports and city centre in my travels.)

There is a purpose-built trainlink between Paddington Station in London and Heathrow Airport. Trains run every fifteen minutes and take fifteen minutes there and back.

The trainlink between Waverley Station and Edinburgh Airport, presuming only existing rail lines and the same train frequency as now were used, would run four times an hour and take less than fifteen minutes to reach the airport. So the argument dismissing #TakeTheTrain as too costly presumes that Edinburgh Airport will need a faster and more frequent train service from Edinburgh than Heathrow does from London.

Edinburgh Airport saw 8,596,715 passengers in 2010.

Heathrow Airport saw 67 million passengers in 2010.

Seriously?

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Filed under Public Transport, Scottish Politics