Letter: It's people the Tories dump on the streets

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Sir: Paul Vallely ("Hidden virtues of loser-friendly Liverpool", 11 March) pines wistfully after those bygone days of communal solidarity which he believes to be manifested in the current "struggle" of the Liverpool dockers. If only such social cohesion pervaded the whole of society, then what benefits could be derived by this selfless devotion to the common cause, suggests Mr Vallely.

But there is a downside to such "solidarity". The worst consequences of such "social cohesion" were demonstrated to the world between 1939 and 1945 - hence Western society's canonisation ever since of the individual and individual rights. The more the individuals in such a group identify with each other, the more they identify non-members of the group as "outsiders", different, inferior.

Every "noble" act of the dismissed Liverpool dockers perceived by national journalists and local clergy alike, is matched by some offence inflicted on the "non-believers". Hence the working docker is a "scab" to be targeted for ruthless persecution; whose house is fair game for vandalism and arson; whose wife and daughter are threatened with having acid thrown in their faces; whose right to follow a different route to the group does not exist.

Social cohesion and solidarity can be attractive notions to the Western mentality - especially to those in nostalgic mood. The dark side is less appealing. Those who choose to write about it should reflect both sides of the picture. Those of us who are the "outsiders" deserve that much.

ERIC LEATHERBARROW

Communications Manager

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company

Liverpool

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