Scotsman Letters: Arts cuts reveal economic incompetence of Scottish Government

I can only reiterate David Gerrard’s shock (Letters, 2 October) at last week’s announcement of the Scottish Government’s support for the arts sector being, effectively, slashed. Scotland is immeasurably poorer.

I am not an artist, but like every individual living in and visiting Scotland have benefited and been enriched by attending and participating in all manner of creative enterprises over the years.

So, as an adult, it has been my privilege to give countless (unpaid) hours serving on the governing boards of numerous organisations, from the Edinburgh International Festival to Scottish Ballet and the Traverse Theatre.

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The decision will decimate the sector, triggering job-losses, associated strains on individuals, families and the economy at large – and for what? To save a relatively inconsequential amount of money: this is incoherent and sadistic, and reveals the small-mindedness, economic incompetence and laziness of the current administration. It is easy to lop off low-hanging fruit – easy, comprehensible – and wrong.

Scottish Ballet is among arts organisations which could be hurt by government cuts to funding (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Scottish Ballet is among arts organisations which could be hurt by government cuts to funding (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scottish Ballet is among arts organisations which could be hurt by government cuts to funding (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

And it sets a dire example to the philanthropic and corporate sector, whose goodwill has complemented erstwhile governmental recognition of the role the arts play in boosting, the economy and society, and sustaining mental wellbeing.I am embarrassed to be represented by this grim regimen.

Sheena McDonald, Edinburgh

Poor solution

I have just read that Humza Yousaf is committing to funding a solution to the annual landslides that take place on the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful beauty spot. It seems some sort of road shelter is to be built. Will he upset his Green colleagues with a construction of reinforced steel and concrete, one wonders. If so, how tall should it be as heavy high-sided vehicles use this road all day, every day.

So now the beautiful view down Glen Croe will have a monstrous construction put in place. Didn't anyone think of a bit of reverse engineering? Planting trees whose roots could bind and hold the soil in place? Or is that too simple for our boffins, who must have spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to come up with a glorified bus shelter construction.

Please don’t say we need a solution now and trees would take too long to grow, we've been mulling over the road solution for 25 to 30 years

J Moore, Glasgow

Sick society

For the third year in succession, after decades of slow and steady rise, life expectancy has fallen under the watch of the SNP. More than a decade in power, further than ever from their Holy Grail of breaking up the UK, there is simply no point to supporting the SNP anymore.

Who can the SNP blame? This is something from which there is no obfuscation, hiding or deflection. People of Scotland, if you do not already know it, SNP administrations are not good for you.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

What about…?

Jill Stephenson (Letters, 3 October) criticises the Scottish Parliament and does not consent to her “taxes being spent on unnecessary commissioners to absolve MSPs of the need to do their job” but appears content for her taxes to be spent by the UK Parliament on sustaining an anachronistic House of Lords, which is an affront to democracy.

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Instead of complaining about the relatively minor cost of employing commissioners to improve the delivery of our public services I suspect most people struggling with the impact of the cost-of-living crisis would, at least to some extent, question the actions of the Westminster Parliament.

Perhaps Ms Stephenson should focus her ire on a grossly incompetent UK Government which has wasted more than a hundred billion pounds (including considerable tax revenues from Scotland) on useless PPE, a failed Test\Track\Trace service and a catastrophic public transport project that will “never be delivered”.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Tough everywhere

The current strike actions by doctors and consultants that causes pain and distress to patients is totally insupportable. The justification for strikes is that the value of medics’ take-home pay has declined due to the effect of inflation.

But, does not the same problem affect all people, not only consultants on over £100,000 a year and fully qualified doctors on £75,000+? What about the fact that NHS staff are part of a public-service system?

Is it a service to patients to cause them suffering and distress due to long delays in treatments caused by strikes? What about the support provided to the medical profession during education and training ?

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Sunak off rails?

“We’re gonna do things differently now” was Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s summary at the end of a turgid interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. His party has had 13 years to change, nearly a year of which was on his watch. Why change now rather than, as usual, cut taxes to bribe the electorate before an election?Ditching HS2 to Manchester, or at least postponing it, with Government climate policy, seems likely given Sunak would not answer whether Phase 2 will go ahead. Instead he wants to save “millions” of households thousands of pounds by delaying switching to an electric car or heat pump.

It’s all a far cry from the Tory manifesto which was committed to promoting such change, frontloading many difficult lifestyle decisions as the UK led the world on combating climate change. Such delay could therefore be seen as undemocratic, and by going slower the UK is falling behind, leaving other countries to wonder why should they bother too.

Moreover, as political scientist Professor John Curtice states, the Tory party is heading “unwaveringly” towards a landslide election defeat because of its failure to address migration, the NHS and the cost of living crisis. All this therefore seems like a sideshow to deflect criticism from Sunak’s delivery on his key pledges.

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Prof Curtice also warns that the country is still reeling from Liz Truss. Her obsession with a vanity economic policy proved out of touch with the electorate. Overuse of “I” and “my” by Sunak throughout the Kuenssberg interview was borne out by a word map in which “himself” and “rich” are words the public most associated with him. Time will tell whether Sunak is just another Tory narcissist PM or whether he, like HS2, has gone off the rails.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

End the war

Ukraine's much heralded-counteroffensive has failed. It has cost thousands of lives and expended a great deal of military equipment to capture a few destroyed villages. Experts say that Russia is likely to launch its own offensive once the mud of the autumn rains has frozen in the harsh winter. We have to accept that Ukraine is not going to win this war, and that prolonging the killing makes no sense.

Opposition to the war is growing across Europe and in the United States. Hungary has always opposed supporting Ukraine, and now Poland has stopped all military aid. The recent election in Slovakia of Robert Fico means that Slovakia, which gave Ukraine all of its Mig warplanes, will stop all funding. Anti-war movements in France, Germany and the Czech Republic have attracted millions of people

In the US opinion polls show a majority of Americans in favour of stopping funding the war. Republican congressmen have prevented President Volodymyr Zelensky getting the additional billions he demanded in his recent trip. They object to the huge cost when America is $33 trillion in debt. They object to the lack of supervision of how the billions were spent, and where the arms went, saying that weapons sent to Ukraine had fallen into the hands of criminal gangs and gun traffikers. They say that Ukraine is a corrupt country and that its defence minister, six deputy defence ministers and 24 regional military recruitment officials have been sacked for corruption. They say that Ukraine is not a democracy because all opposition parties have been banned, all television channels placed under state control, scheduled elections cancelled and “regulatory powers over journalists introduced”.

All our efforts should be directed to stopping this dreadful war, not prolonging the suffering any further, and not escalating it further and risking a nuclear disaster.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire

Help Ukraine

With reference your article “Slovakia’s swing to pro-Russia government a blow for Ukraine” (3 September), how can the Slovak politician Robert Fico, leader of the Smer party which won only 23 per cent of the national vote, be in any way, pro-Russian? Enjoying, as a member, the protection of Nato, how long will it take for Slovaks wake up to where the real threat is?In seeking to halt any kind of assistance to Ukraine, it is astonishing to see Fico lining up with Viktor Orbán in Hungary – another nation which was invaded by the Soviet tanks. Thousands were killed and a quarter of a million people fled the country.

As for Fico? Former Czech leader Alexander Dubcek, who sought to resist the Soviets and eventually was forced to step down, must be turning in his grave. Russian-led Warsaw Pact nations invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 resulting in many deaths; again thousands fled to safe countries.

Invading other countries seems to be in the DNA of certain Russians, Vladimir Putin being no exception. Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

Doug Morrison, Cranbrook Kent

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