Letters: Welcome to the banana republic of Britain

The following letters appear in the 22 September edition of The Independent

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I am horrified by the suggestion that the military might consider a coup if they were to dislike the actions of a future Prime Minister Corbyn. Even if that is simply the musing of a possibly unhinged general, it is worrying in the extreme.

The outrage and panic that have set in after the selection of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party are unacceptable in a free society. There has been nothing but negative publicity from the outset. Not a single broadsheet has presented a balanced picture, and nearly all columnists attack the leader in intemperate terms. The tabloids are not worth mentioning, except for the fact that the public falsely believe that they are getting a true picture from them.

Party members who feel they have lost their place on the gravy train are examining ways to get rid of their recently selected leader, or pushing to establish another party that will bend to their will. We have seen that before, and I hope they will remember what happened to the SDP.

A free society needs access to information. Where is that going to  come from? Newspaper owners are wealthy, reactionary, and often  non-resident. Television  is little better; even  the BBC is running  scared of the Government.

If we can’t have a proper debate and there are threats of political or military coups, what distinguishes this country from a banana republic?

Larry Johnston
Modrydd, Brecon


Our democracy would not be served by an unthinking Hitlerian Wehrmacht which followed orders without question, and our armed forces must always consider the legal and moral aspects of their duties. This does not mean generals can cry havoc when they find the political climate disagreeable.

In 1914, Asquith’s Liberal government faced a mutinous army in Ireland over the Home Rule bill, and was forced to back down. Wilson’s government was dogged by talk of a military coup to end the “national decline”. Perhaps Corbyn, if he comes to power, should consider decimation of the generals before axing Trident.

Ian McKenzie


Do I detect a fear on the part of the anonymous general who has suggested that the Army use mutiny against a democratically elected left-wing Prime Minister?

What can we expect next? A drone attack on Labour headquarters? Somebody clearly has some uneasy feeling that things could change, and we have had Jeremy Corbyn as leader for only nine days! Roll on the future; it could be interesting, for those allowed to live to see it.

Bill Fletcher
Cirencester, Gloucestershire


I hope that the Ministry of Defence is taking steps to pension off the general who threatened mutiny in the event of a Corbyn-led Labour election victory, and that he will then remain under scrutiny by MI5 on the grounds that he is as much a threat to national security as any Isis jihadist.

Patrick Cosgrove
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire


Cameron and the dead pig story

Given the media’s harassment of a wonderfully sincere man, Jeremy Corbyn, as to whether he is of prime ministerial quality, perhaps now they have bigger fish to fry and can ask if a man who allegedly likes frolicking with dead pigs is of prime ministerial quality.

Mark Holt


Five months on from the general election I think those who voted for David Cameron can now see that they voted for a pig in a poke.

Sasha Simic
London N16


Technology replaces humans at toll gate

Two weeks ago a friend and I drove from Nottingham to Belgium, going over the Dartford Crossing into Kent. There were lots of signs approaching the crossing asking if we had paid the charge, which I was confused about as I knew there were toll booths there and we were expecting to pay cash.

When we arrived at the tolls they were closed, so we just drove through like everyone else.

A week later I received a letter from the Department for Transport telling me that I was being fined £70 for going through the crossing without paying the toll. Before this I had no idea that the tolls have been closed and it’s now necessary to pay online beforehand. Halfway down the letter there was an “offer” saying I could just pay the £2.50 charge if I contacted them within 14 days.

This is just one example, among many, of the brazen and cynical racketeering operating in Britain today with the blessing of our government and its obsession with free-market capitalism.

No need for any sense of social responsibility, such as paying people to staff the toll booths, thereby creating employment, as happens in other European countries. The Highways Agency can just sit back, put its feet up and wait for the money to roll in.

I wonder how much profit they are estimating they will be able to make from people who simply pay the £70 fine because they don’t read far enough down the page, or are afraid of getting a criminal record, or do not open the letter within 14 days.

Julie Barrie


Greek verdict on the Euro

I was chatting to a lady who runs the local grocery shop in Thassos town and asking her about the Greek election and the drachma, and she was telling me that she really didn’t know which way to vote.

All she could say was that when they had the drachma, tourists spent a lot more money than they do now, and shops in the main high streets (for example, in Salonika) sold a large number of Greek-produced goods.

Now the tourists spend less, and Greek shops have been replaced by H&M, Starbucks and other foreign shops, often selling ultra-cheap imports from the Far East.

One has to ask what the euro has brought to the Greeks. Not many benefits, a good number of factory closures and a mountain of debt.

Alan Mitcham


Trains in public ownership

The expressions of horror from certain parts of the press at Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestion that the rail companies could be taken back into public ownership as franchises end seems not to recognise that a large part of our rail system is already owned by the public – the German public.

Arriva Wales, Chiltern, Cross Country, Grand Central, Newcastle Metro and the freight carrier formerly known as EWS are all owned by Deutsche Bahn (DB). and the majority of its shares are held by the federal German government. It also owns 50 per cent of London Overground.

Similarly, does anyone need reminding that the energy provider EDF is wholly owned by the French government.

These arrangements of ownership are normal elsewhere. What do the Germans and French Governments know about running such important services, that we don’t?

Tim Brook


Corbyn’s wardrobe under scrutiny

It seems a lot of people thought it important that Jeremy Corbyn wore a tie for Prime Minister’s Questions. Angela Eagle did not wear one. I doubt she will be criticised. Why do we have sexist rules that discriminate against men?

Rob Edwards


I like the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is not dressed up like a dog’s dinner, that he doesn’t smile for the cameras, that he has better things to do than attend a sports match, that he doesn’t pretend to be a Christian monarchist.

I’ve actually had enough of smiling politicians dressing up and attending public events just to be seen, and mouthing beliefs most of them clearly do not understand.

John Davison
London SW16


Power lines in national parks

I have just seen the article by Tom Bawden on undergrounding electricity power lines in National Parks (15 September). Are readers aware that National Grid is currently proposing to run a new stretch of 24km of 50-metre pylons through the west of the Lake District National Park, to connect to the proposed new nuclear power station at Moorside?

A case of left and right hands operating independently? Or just cynicism? Will NG come along later for further cash to bury the new power line?

Hilary Scannell
Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria


Sucking up to China

George Osborne uses £2bn of taxpayers’ money to back China. Why this sucking-up to a totalitarian country that murders or imprisons people who cry for democracy or try to speak freely? Why doesn’t Osborne back British-run firms with British engineers?

Peter Brooker
West Wickham, Kent