ON reading Fraser McAllister's letter (August 26) I paused and re-read his paragraph where a Glasgow University team estimated that between 2012 and 2017 Tory austerity policy implemented by the DWP caused 335,000 excess deaths. From time to time I have read that very many people suffering under this austere regime had been driven to suicide, but I didn't have any knowledge of numbers until now.

I now think that some learned legal mind should crusade against this Government by using the Corporate Manslaughter Act. According to the provisions of the Act a case could be made under Section 11(1) where it provides that specified government bodies can be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter. The statute provides an exception to the general rule that Crown bodies cannot be prosecuted for criminal offences.

If this is correct, at the very least some legal body with a conscience should be capable of severely rattling the Tory Government and the DWP cages and bringing the whole despicable Westminster club into disrepute. At the very least the public needs to be made aware of this possible remedy.

It should also be remembered that it was New Labour's policies that encouraged the financial system to do what it wanted with relaxation of regulation. Gordon Brown also stated numerous times that his policies would bring an end to boom and bust; we all know how that turned out in 2008/2009 and Britain is still paying the cost, except of course if you are a banker, an energy company executive or a member of the Westminster ruling establishment.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.

Concentrate on helping our own

SIR Tom Clarke (Letters, August 28) expresses sentiments which help explain why so many UK citizens are sceptical about foreign aid and charitable giving.

UK tax and National Insurance contributions are collected to provide UK-based services in the first instance. Our NHS is under pressure, there is an acute housing crisis and families face many financial challenges. Sir Tom notes a sense of distance between the Indian poor and their elitist government which has landed a space vehicle on the Moon. A similar problem unquestionably exists across the political spectrum in the modern UK, with our PM and his Tory associates insulated from the everyday "bread and butter" problems ordinary citizens face.

Woke policies, whether emanating from the Tories or the deluded and shameless SNP, are a symbol of a broken political system in which lots of ordinary UK people do not even bother to vote. If we cannot deliver ferries to the Hebrides why imagine a resolution of India's poverty is within our grasp? Let's try to fix things in Oban, but respect the right of Indians in Orissa to make their own decisions.

James Hardy, Belfast.

Letters: We must not abandon the blameless poor people of India

The tragedy of today's Labour

HOW heartening to see Sir Tom Clarke cogently putting the case for overseas aid, in this instance to India. He passionately puts the case for Britain's moral obligation to that country in terms of our own benefits from its people and resources, including those who served in wars as our allies, as well as those who now constitute the majority of our clinicians in the NHS.

As a lobbyist for the Royal College of Nursing back in the distant late 1980s, I well remember Sir Tom as a Scottish Labour MP; he was considered "mainstream", or even, possibly like the late great John Smith, on the right of the party. The tragedy of today's Labour Party under its vacuous and shape-shifting leader and his automatron front bench, is that both Sir Tom and John Smith would be seen as off-message troublemakers, especially with their unshakeable commitment to what used to be Labour values.

Indeed, I expect that the breakaway founders of the SDP would find nothing to object to in today's "New Labour Mark 2". It appears that David Owen is still attending the House of Lords; perhaps he can "come home" to Labour now, having engineered the split that gave us 15 years of Conservative government.

History does repeat itself, the second time as farce.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh.

Higher taxes are a good thing

BRIAN Taylor’s argument ("Are you prepared to pay more tax for services?", The Herald, August 26), it seems to me, is overly influenced by his quote from the Scottish Fiscal Commission, that “spending intentions are potentially outpacing available funding… presenting a challenge for the Government in setting the Budget in future years.” Thus, the fundamental constraint on planning spending can only be the availability of revenue, in Scotland a relatively fixed tax take.

This Micawberish view of spending - “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery” - treats government as the equivalent of a household, a view proselytised by Margaret Thatcher. Government spending, though, is different. The poorest in society must spend every penny of income, but among the more affluent some income will go to saving or buying financial assets. The taxation powers of the Scottish Government are limited, but they can transfer income from the more to the less affluent, increasing aggregate demand and thus the tax revenue of the Scottish Government. Increasing income tax though is generally treated as "obviously" a bad thing, and political suicide. But why should this be so? After all, when we use public services, we expect them to be high quality, but right now provision of public services is under almost constant attack, suggesting they are not at the quality level the public expect. Should we not give consideration to the possibility that this is because they are under-funded? Several public sector “initiatives” can be seen to be driven by a lack of funding, whether it be closure of police, libraries or fire stations, the closure of small rural schools, because “they are not financially viable” or the withdrawal or diminution of services, too often those that the most challenged in society depend on.

Indeed, is "financial viability” the right criterion, or should we balance it with social need? In particular does the electorate not need to accept that if it wills the ends, it should also will the means?

In any event, do we really need to debate that if we want a la carte quality public services, we cannot expect to pay greasy spoon café levels of tax?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

Read more: Brown is wrong to decry our precious social security system

Many Scots are better off

PERHAPS it would be a good idea for Steph Johnson (Letters, August 25) to check facts before making assertions such as that Scotland is the highest-taxed part of the UK, which is certainly not the case, even if the top band is marginally higher than elsewhere.

Probably the vast majority of the population pay only the basic rate of tax, which in Scotland is 19%, as against 20% in the rest of the UK. Moreover, even the richest benefit from this on the first tranche of their income. Only the wealthiest few pay a slightly higher rate than elsewhere. In population terms, that small number hardly makes Scotland the highest-taxed overall.

I suspect that those earning too little to pay tax at all, or paying only the 19% basic rate, might quite happily pay the highest rate if it meant increasing their wealth to a level that incurred it.

P Davidson, Falkirk.

Letting politicians off the hook

THE Home Secretary was interviewed by the BBC today with regard to the Bibby Stockholm. During the interview she stated: “This barge has accommodated people in the past – asylum seekers, oil rig workers – and barges of this kind have been used to accommodate asylum seekers, for example in Scotland.”

This statement is disingenuous in a number of ways. It does not reflect the fact that the UK Government has more than doubled the capacity of the barge, nor that many of the occupants will not have a good, or indeed any, grasp of English or have had any emergency response training, all of which add significantly to the risk profile of the accommodation. It would also be interesting to hear the Home Secretary explain where and when she believes “barges of this kind” have been used to accommodate asylum seekers in Scotland.

The fact that politicians can appear on TV and make unsupported or uninformed statements of this sort without either challenge or follow-up clarification from the broadcaster is nothing short of scandalous. If the interviewer did not have the have the wit or the opportunity to press her on the issue, the BBC website, from which I took the quote, could have provided some balance to the reports.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.