ALLUDING to austerity, Michael Fry states: “In practical terms this means that, ever since the financial crisis of 2008, the overall purpose has been to cut the fiscal deficit to proportions more like we had in a distant past. Progress has often been slow, but the UK Government has got there in the end” (New PM is about to spend big – and the SNP need a new strategy, July 31) Never mind the human cost, eh?

READ MORE: Boris Johnson is about to spend big – and the SNP need a new strategy

Actually, the slash-and-burn economic policy referred to as “austerity” was nothing more than the Tories (with the help of their LibDem lapdogs) using the financial crisis to further their long-term Tory agenda of shrinking the state and redistributing wealth in a decidedly upward direction.

The SNP are absolutely justified in their ongoing condemnation of this, especially given the considerable human suffering that continues to be caused by such an ideologically callous approach.

According to a recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, more than 130,000 deaths in the UK could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy hadn’t stalled as a result of austerity cuts.

The report states that “had progress been maintained at pre-2013 rates, around 131,000 lives could have been saved”. Just one statistic, among many, that is shockingly illustrative of the human cost of austerity.

Mr Fry goes on to opine that “the basis of the Scottish Government’s entire critique of Tory economic policy over the last 10 years is now being dismantled. Austerity will just cease to exist”.

Not so: austerity, as experienced by the millions of people on the receiving end of it, will continue for a long time to come, and its social and economic costs for wider society will reach far into the future.

Some window-dressing cash-splashing by Boris Johnson’s government will make little if any difference to the ongoing dismantling of the social safety net, the brutal cuts to essential services etc.

The long-term Tory project is ongoing and we need to highlight this while offering a genuinely hopeful alternative for Scotland – for our poor people above all.

Mo Maclean

I COULDN’T agree more with Dan Wood’s long letter in the Sunday National, along with the other letters in the same vein published recently. One of the key skills of statecraft is being able to read the political runes and act accordingly. We need a leader who can read the runes now more than ever.

Solomon Steinbett

READ MORE: The answer to indyref2 timing question should be clear to us​

THE two SNP MPs who voted against the Northern Ireland Abortion Bill voted with their conscience, which is exactly what they are employed to do in a free vote.

Your correspondent Mr Noble (July 31) apparently feels they should have voted as he would have wished, or indeed as I would have wished. I am not a pro-lifer.

I believe the SNP should be more supportive of these MPs who voted as they saw fit in a free vote.

R Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian

READ MORE: Letters, July 31

YOUR article in Sunday’s National regarding the omission of Scots artists on the Mercury Prize short list has prompted me to write (‘London-centric’ music prize shortlist ignores Scots artists, July 28).

So, what is it that has prompted me to compose this piece ? It is YOUR omission in your music features that irks me ... and that omission is an almost total disregard for the rock and blues scene in Scotland.

READ MORE: ‘London-centric’ Mercury Prize shortlist ignores Scottish artists

Since March, admittedly Patti Smith, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Woodstock have featured, but hardly Scottish bands. Other than that I cannot recall any mention of the rock and blues scene in Scotland. When you consider the legacy left by major Scots rock artists, I feel you are bypassing a major area of the music scene in Scotland.

You’ve featured artists in synth-pop (whatever that is?), indie, dance and disco, dub, reggae, house and techno, country and electronic ... but why no blues or rock ?

Scotland has a multitude of first-rate rock bands, the likes of Mason Hill to name but one are now garnering UK-wide recognition. The blues scene is equally vibrant, with a multitude of venues now featuring excellent musicians.

And I have just returned from Arran, where at weekend the Arran Rock and Blues Fest took place in Lamlash, but no mention in the paper when you list festivals.

Finally I’ll add that the organisers of that festival deserve much credit for an excellent two days, hosted by our very own rock aficionado, the one and only Tom Russell (and if anyone ever deserves a feature in the music section it has to be Tom).

So, National, the ball’s now in your court – let’s get the balance of music right and feature more rock and blues.

Iain Lyall