Letters: How hypocrisy undermines democracy

The following letters appear in the 31 October edition of the Independent. Spooky!

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Friday 30 October 2015 18:33

Matthew Norman (“The myth of Osborne’s great reinvention has been exposed”, 28 October) is quite right to be shocked at the hypocrisy of Government cries that the Lords have just committed “a defiance of democracy”. Cameron, as Norman notes, had repeatedly insisted before the election that he would not cut tax credits. So Cameron lied in order to get elected.

So what? They all do. But that’s the point: what’s truly shocking is that we barely notice any more when this should be front-page news. Because lies like this are an instant and more perilous threat to democracy than any terrorist act.

If we had teeth we would attach a criminal penalty to lying in manifestos or election speeches, like the penalties attached to perjury – because electing a government is as important as the decision to imprison somebody.

How can we ever elect the right people if we have no accurate information about what they will actually do once they are in power?

Emma Fox Wilson


I remember the Tories’ fury in 2004 when Labour used the Parliament Act to overturn the Lords’ undemocratic blocking of the ban on hunting. The Countryside Alliance even mounted a (doomed) legal challenge to the use of the Parliament Act to overrule their pro-hunt chums in the Lords. The promise of a ban on hunting was a Labour manifesto pledge, and therefore convention dictated that the Lords should not block it. It was also a measure that had both public and House of Commons support.

How ironic to see the Tories, including many who once argued for the House of Lords’ will to hold sway in order to protect hunting, now fuming against the Upper House who, this time, are actually doing something commendable.

Penny Little

Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

I suspect that if peers were to block any legislation introduced by a Corbyn-led Labour government (unlikely I know), the Tories would praise the House of Lords for being a bulwark of democracy against an over-mighty House of Commons and dictatorial government.

Pete Dorey


I don’t agree with Terence Blacker that George Osborne has an “...uneasy smile” on his face. On the contrary – it’s just the expression that, when I was at school, would have led him to be told to “wipe that smirk off your face, boy”.

Christopher Bolger


Given that Chancellor George Osborne and the Tories think their handiwork has helped Britain’s economic revival, I wonder whether they’ve read your report (27 October) about the enormous increase in Victorian diseases and malnutrition that has taken place on their watch?

Mark Holt


How many more times will Cameron and Osborne repeat the mantra about a “high-pay, low-tax, lower-welfare economy?” That is not a policy; it is an aspiration in the same vein as “Next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires”. Del Boy did eventually turn his mantra into reality but it all ended in tears. In Cameron’s case, it is likely to be the tears of the poor.

David Mason

Darlington, Co. Durham

The Conservatives are within their rights to argue for a high-pay, low-taxation regime, but high pay has to come before low taxation if society is not to disintegrate. They are within their rights to argue for reduction in the deficit. But they have no democratic mandate to make these savings mainly at the cost of the poorer sections of society while giving tax breaks to the better off – a truly morally indefensible policy. One hopes that no government representative will ever utter again the hypocritical claims to be in support of “hardworking families”.

Tom Simpson


Iain Duncan Smith is putting jobs advisers into foodbanks, where 25 per cent of those attending are already in low-paid jobs (report,29 October). No doubt many of these people will become more dependent on the food banks when the government takes away their tax credits.

Paul Donovan

London E11

Misuse of terror laws will backfire

While the police and security services need strong powers to deal with terror threats (“Police use terror laws to seize BBC reporter’s laptop”, 29 October), heavy-handed or ill-considered use of them can only result in further dissent and radicalisation.

If only our political leaders had a bit more imagination and a view of the future that went beyond tomorrow’s headlines or their desire to stay in power. Perhaps then they might see that greater understanding of people and situations, through the skills of journalists and others, would lead to a better solution than hitting everything with a big stick.

Peter Cole


Could it be that the police confiscated Secunder Kermani’s laptop because the Government is cheesed off because this one man with a limited budget has done better than the intelligence services with their huge budgets?

David Critchard


The future of public service television

There are a number of points in your 26 October piece about the A Future for Public Service Television inquiry that need clarification and correction.

The inquiry is based at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is supported by a council drawn from the media industry and academia, as well as a range of partners including the British Academy, Bafta, the Hansard Society, Vice and The Guardian. I am simply the chair of the inquiry, not its owner.

In the article you attribute to me the statement that the “BBC and Channel 4 faced huge challenges from ‘political zealots on the right’ ”. What I actually said was: “Both the BBC and Channel 4, the other public service broadcaster, continue to face huge challenges from some political zealots – noticeably, but not exclusively, from those on the right.” As someone who has always strived for impartiality on matters such as these, I would strongly refute the partisan tone that your misquote implies. The claim also gives the impression that the inquiry has an established viewpoint before the process has actually begun. Indeed, it does not.

Lord Puttnam

London SW1

Nothing funny about Corbyn’s situation

Terence Blacker (29 October) is expecting too much if he wants Jeremy Corbyn to display his (fine) sense of humour.

Corbyn has done very well in the six weeks since he was elected: he’s changed the idea that a huge and increasing gap between rich and poor is acceptable and inevitable, and even tamed Prime Minister’s Questions.

But life is difficult for him. In the Commons, he can hear the knives being sharpened behind him. Many of his party would seem to prefer a Tory government to a Corbyn-led one. He is under extreme scrutiny from hostile press and television, with daily attacks and little fair reporting.

This is a serious time in our history. If Corbyn and McDonnell were ousted, right-wing Labour would return. This would mean the death of Labour as a major party, and the end of any serious opposition to this unprecedentedly vicious Tory government.

If we want the NHS, BBC and state education to exist in 2020, we need Corbyn to succeed. I wish this honest, clever, principled man well, but when his every word and expression are scrutinised and if possible misinterpreted, to expect jokes, smiles or irony is too much at present.

Sally Parrott

Cranleigh, Surrey

Our courts are not just for the guilty

Tony Somers (letter, 29 October) is perfectly right in his statement of communal responsibility for paying for the courts. The Tories seem to think that only convicted defendants are “users” of the courts. But we are all users of the courts, which are run on society’s behalf so that justice can be dispensed in the interests of society as a whole. We should all be happy to pay our fair share (via taxes) towards the justice system in the knowledge that laws enacted by those whom we elected are being properly applied.

Sam Boote


Vanishing road markings

One consequence of “austerity” has been little remarked upon: the apparent abandonment by highways authorities and local councils across the country of the maintenance of road markings. Mini-roundabouts, zebra crossings, stop lines and lane arrows have all but vanished.

Either this is leading to a spate of accidents, in which case it is a “scandal”, or the statistics remain more or less unchanged, it which case there are indeed savings to be made, with also an improvement to road aesthetics.

Richard Harvey


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