Letters: Try to be fundamentalist about real democracy

These letters appear in the 22 March edition of The Independent

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Amol Rajan in his “Truth not tribe” article (21 March) wrote that “this paper takes a fundamentalist approach to democracy”.

I do not necessarily disagree with that. However, real democracy only works when  everyone has equal access to information that is understandable to everyone; when key media such as the press, radio and television are not owned or controlled by cliques of minority interests or ideological zealots; and when the interests of the majority prevail while protecting the rights and interests of the minority.  

The huge problem is that, in spite of the West’s enormous economic and educational superiority, real democracy does not exist because none of those three conditions is met. This has allowed a very small minority of vested interests to dictate the agenda and implement their own priorities as the interests of all under the guise of democracy.  

It took more than three centuries for democracy in the West to evolve to where it is today. The American declaration of independence in 1776 states that all men are created equal. Yet it was almost 200 years later in 1965 that African Americans had equal voting rights. In the UK, the first country to industrialise, it was in only 1928 that women achieved voting rights on the same terms as men. Yet today Western establishments constantly try to destabilise and subvert countries and regimes that do not conform to the West by championing overnight democracy, while protecting and conniving with reprehensible repressive regimes that serve the interests of the western establishments.

I am not suggesting that we abandon democracy.  Instead we should redouble our efforts to fight for real democracy. This is what The Independent must do if it is to take a fundamentalist approach to democracy. Otherwise what Mr Rajan writes is a mere pious slogan.

Stephen Chang
Bromley, Kent


“Truth not tribe” is the aim, and the name The Independent was carefully chosen, as your editor reminded us on page 3 on Saturday. Yet by page 25 that had clearly been forgotten. We were treated to a diatribe worthy of precisely those tendentious publications which the Indy was set up to oppose.

Matthew Norman damned the Tories not on points of policy but by  acerating the Camerons for their domestic arrangements in the Downing Street kitchen.

Marianne Rankin
Tewkesbury  Gloucestershire


What well-dressed gunmen ARE wearing

I see from the photograph of the slain Tunis terrorists that they were wearing Nike trainers and Adidas-style sporty track-suit bottoms. It seems that the jihadists’ detestation of all things “infidel” does not extend to their choice of fashionable Western attire. 

Adrian Marlowe
The Hague


Thank you so much to you and to Patrick Cockburn for the excellent series about Islamic State. Big issues like this are easy for us to ignore when they seem far away, but this has brought the shocking truth home to me. Your approach, beginning at the beginning of the story and explaining how these people have become so powerful, and how ruthless they are, has been a revelation.

Jane Penson
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire


No need for ruffled falcon feathers

Peregrine falcons sped through the skies over the Thames marshes long before London grew into a city of some 8.6 million human residents, so I read with dismay the article by Tom Bawden entitled “Protected falcons ruffle Vodafone’s feathers as nests cause London service disruptions” (20 March).

We humans nearly wiped out peregrine falcons in the last century. We now have more wild peregrine falcons nesting in London than you’ll find in the birds’ traditional strongholds of England’s dark peaks. That’s cause for celebration. These magnificent creatures have lived cheek by wing with us in London for the past decade. We know their needs and, although these are wild creatures, there are things that can be done to manage their impact, protect them and safeguard access to our communications infrastructure or other rooftop kit such as air conditioning or elevator machinery.

Peregrines are cliff dwellers. In urban settings they nest on ledges on tall buildings and we’ve long known they will use masts and pylons. This knowledge has been shared with building managers and utility companies, including mobile phone operators. All have ample advice on how to avoid conflict. So it is surprising to discover that peregrines are put in the line of fire of anyone frustrated by dodgy mobile connections or antagonised by spinning buffering icons.

The responsibility for maintaining mobile comms lies with the operators, not the peregrines. The solution is simple and cheap. Provide ideal homes for peregrines. Tiny investments in peregrine nest boxes would hugely reduce the likelihood of them nesting on masts.  No feathers need to be ruffled and no one would have to miss a minute of important online activity such as watching the misty skies on our screens for an eclipse.

Tim Webb
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Sandy, Bedfordshire


Pick the best team regardless of race

I agree with Phil Edwards (letter, 21 March) about picking the best available talent. However, his is the argument that was once used to stop women getting the vote or joining the Army.

To get the best team, one must ensure the widest possible field from which to choose. If some are excluded because of race or gender or sexuality, or lack of education, we will not get the best, and we will restrict potential. If there are no role models, where will young people find their inspiration?

I saw Viv Anderson become the first black footballer to play for England. Laughably, this was considered controversial at the time. I still remember a manager informing us that black footballers were unreliable fancy dans who couldn’t defend. Sol Campbell anyone?

Rod Auton


Phil Edwards has got it back to front on diversity awareness. It needs to come first, not after the fact. Without it, it’s perfectly possible that those with brown, black and yellow skin might never even be considered for a job at (say) a modern Bletchley Park.

It sounds as though he is perfectly diversity-aware, if, as he says, he would perceive no barrier to hiring anyone on grounds of race. He needs to ensure that those working around him hold similar views.

Catherine Rose
Olney, Buckinghamshire


Multiculturalism is difficult and imperfect, but it hasn’t delivered anywhere near the number of atrocities that monoculturalism has visited upon various peoples around the world.

Samantha Chung


If the Scots want to go, let them

Should the SNP secure the large number of MPs forecast, it would be the clearest possible indication that Scotland wishes to have a fresh referendum and independence, and that the Scots should be granted this wish.

There is no point in trying to sweet-talk a reluctant partner to stay in a relationship that it feels has run its course, and while many of us will be sorry to see the end of a union that has worked extremely well for all parties over a long period, it is equally apparent from a recent poll that a substantial majority see an independent Scotland as inevitable.

An early end to the uncertainty will be beneficial for all, particularly Wales and those English regions that feel that reform of the Barnett formula is long overdue, and it will also enable the rest of the UK to address the growing dissatisfaction with our own political processes.

The end of the Union will create its own problems, but I believe that most English voters would rather accept these than have their governance skewed by a single-issue political bloc in this and future parliaments.

Ken Kemp


Yes, but what is junk mail?

While I sympathise with Trevor Beaumont on unwanted junk mail (letter, 19 March) I think he needs to consider that Royal Mail is paid up front for its services, and is in effect under contract to deliver each item to the addressee, whether it is wanted or not. It’s all very well putting a note on the door saying “No Junk Mail” but it is hardly feasible to expect the person delivering the mail to decide what is junk and what is not.  

Andrew Buchanan
Darlington, Co Durham


May I reassure Mike Lewis (letter, 21 March) that I no longer receive from Royal Mail’s Newbury sorting office any of the offending items he fears will keep coming, though the Parish Newsletter arrives by another hand?

Malcolm Watson
Welford, Berkshire