IS Michael Fry trying to distract us from Brexit with his fawning over the Rich List (The latest Rich List reflects a big change that’s happening here in Scotland, May 14)? This shameful list does not show how well the most successful among us are doing, unless you accept the simplistic assertion that rich equals successful. It just shows how rich the richest are.

It pays scant attention to how that wealth was acquired, in particular whether private firms actually get (abhorrent) state subsidies to become so “successful”, whether in the form of tax breaks, direct investment or the subsidising of poor pay by means of tax credits for poorly paid workers.

In his world the poorly paid are unsuccessful. Maybe they did not work hard enough or try hard enough? No matter that some of the most poorly paid in society work extremely hard for long hours in some of the most essential jobs, such as teaching assistants taking the brunt of often violent pupils (even if their violence is not intended or is due to special needs, injured is injured and for these staff there is often scant support from employers).

Why do we as a society defer so much to the rich, but say little to support better wages for those who do the kind of jobs the rich would shun? Is a teacher less successful if “all” they do is inspire a generation to better themselves, or a doctor taking a post in the back of beyond to serve the public? How are we to define success? The tried and tested neoliberal view of “successful equals wealthy”, or something with more depth to it?

I do not have an issue if any of the rich are not Scots born. I have an issue that many of them would claim to be acting as custodians of wealth for the common good, but baulk at actually putting their wealth into common ownership, which should be the logical conclusion. No doubt it is well meant if one of them says they love Scotland so try and come here at least once a year. Many people love Scotland and live here all year round and would love to have enough to live on and enjoy their country.

And Michael’s idea of what is “self-made” can be argued to be “exploitation of the workers” who are the actual wealth-creators, if you are of a Marxist turn of mind. Kevin McKenna rightly berates the self-perpetuating elite who keep power and wealth (and land) largely to themselves. It is hardly a social revolution that a few of the rich did not inherit their wealth. They are just a handful, and many in Scotland live in poverty, including up to one in four children. How is the wealth of the few bettering their lives? It’s not trickling down, it is flooding up, and merely enriches themselves and their families.

Ours is not the politics of envy and resentment, it is the politics of anger. We are angry that Scotland is kept in relative poverty compared to its potential, we are angry that the few own the wealth and a few hundred own the land, and whatever you personally believe of redistribution of wealth, it is the easiest and quickest way to lift generations out of poverty.

Don’t forget, if you do not redistribute wealth, then ultimately you will have no public services. It is all a form of wealth redistribution. It does not involve Ruthie’s “Mugabe-style land grabs”, it still leaves the wealthy plenty, but it lifts society as a whole if everyone has more disposable income to spend in the economy, and does not have to hoard what little they get for fear of suddenly losing everything. It even makes economic sense.

Julia Pannell

MICHAEL Fry is being a little disingenuous when he chides Kevin McKenna for his stance on the “elite”. I can’t speak for him but I have gleaned from his comments over time that he is criticising the iron grip that the privately educated in Scotland have on the top jobs in the civil service, the judiciary, the law, academia etc. This is far from democratic, and criticising their aggregation of these positions to a small clique is to be commended.

I am fairly sure that Michael Fry is well aware of this but chose to spin instead.

James Mills