LETTER: True democracy needs no compulsion to vote

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The Independent Online
From Mr Tom Kilcourse

Sir: So, Peter Hain would force us all to vote, to protect a democracy (letter, 26 September) which he considers threatened by the "increasing exclusion of the young and the underclass". He seems to think that compelling us to turn up at the polling station would force political parties to give more consideration to policies. Such expectations of parties whose policies cannot arouse sufficient interest to get us to use our rights voluntarily verge on the naive.

The logical flaws in Hain's letter give one the impression of special pleading, from someone who has a career interest in the present arrangements. What is under threat is the parliamentary bun fight between two self- serving groups which is the substitute for democracy in this country. As a 58-year-old who has been politically active for most of his life, I can tell the MP for Neath, and his ilk, that alienation from the Westminster farce is not confined to the young.

No compulsion to vote would be required in a society where people felt that their institutions were truly democratic, and where the benefits of democracy were apparent. These benefits include the opportunity to influence the direction taken by society, equality before the law, and the right to live unmolested and in peace. None of these pertain to today's Britain. In effect, an increasing number of us have little reason to care which bunch is running the shop.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Kilcourse

Colyton, East Devon

26 September