Letters: We want MPs to represent the popular view

These letters appear in the Friday 11th December edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Thursday 10 December 2015 18:54
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Jeremy Corbyn in 2012, speaking at Stop the War coalition's 11th anniversary protest against the war in Afghanistan calling for troops to be brought home by Christmas
Jeremy Corbyn in 2012, speaking at Stop the War coalition's 11th anniversary protest against the war in Afghanistan calling for troops to be brought home by Christmas

Andy McSmith (8 December) seems to imply that suggesting the reselection of MPs constitutes a witch-hunt.

Seventy-five per cent of Labour Party members opposed the bombing in Syria. Less than half of the British population were in favour. In Stella Creasy’s constituency of Walthamstow, there have been large, peaceful marches and meetings against the bombing campaign.

I, like many others on these protests, want an MP who represents my views. The right of constituents to recall their MPs is a basic democratic right which the Socialist Party campaigns for. This is an issue both inside and outside the Labour Party. Since Stella Creasy and all Labour MPs were selected, the Labour Party has been transformed. Corbyn’s leadership election victory saw a huge number of people joining Labour, many because they were inspired by Corbyn’s anti-war, anti-austerity message.

These new members have every right to have a say in who represents them in Parliament and throughout the life of a parliament, not just every five years.

I’m proud that I went on TV and raised mandatory reselection of MPs who voted with the Tories. This issue has been discussed and debated and now a new poll for YouGov published in Labour List says 52 per cent of Labour members support it. I believe there was so much anger at this vote for bombing because people felt powerless in the face of MPs not listening to them. People want to know how to hold their representatives accountable; mandatory reselection offers one avenue to bring them to book outside an election.

After this demand was raised, the right wing in the Labour Party appeared on TV and in the media to condemn “the rabble” who dare threaten their positions.

Leading figures in Momentum are attempting to mollify the right wing of the Labour Party by calling, in practice, for a ban of myself and other organised socialists from all meetings. Momentum was founded to organise Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters inside and outside the Labour Party. I and others from the Socialist Party are putting forward a strategy to win a Labour Party that best represents the anti-cuts, anti-war majority in Labour and in society.

To argue that that shouldn’t be part of the conversation within Momentum meetings, let alone within the Labour Party, will weaken both.

There is a real danger it will embolden the right who clearly want to remove Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest possible opportunity.

Nancy Taaffe, Socialist Party Walthamstow, London E17

I was irritated at the Stop the War Coalition being criticised by followers of Tony Blair for not opposing Bashar al-Assad (10 December), and Jeremy Corbyn being criticised for not being critical of Enver Hoxha (hardly a household name even during his presidency of Albania) while a few pages later I see that Tony Blair himself faces questioning for his “devotion” to Muammar Gaddafi, former president of Libya.

I am afraid that once you leave the comfortable democratic societies of western Europe, political necessity generally involves dealing with less than perfect leaders.

Michael Godwin, Bath

Winter fuel money should be taxed

Pensioners, including my husband and myself, will by now have received their winter fuel payments. I appreciate that for some, those who are likely not taxpayers, this money is entirely necessary, but for many of us it really isn’t.

I know that many better-off pensioners give the money to charity or to their children, many of whom will have lost child benefit.

I think the winter fuel payments should be subject to tax in the same way as the state pension is. That would be seen as fairer and could make a real difference to the Chancellor.

Susan Chesters, Winchester

The Donald Trumps are already here

David Cameron and the rest of the political establishment may pretend to raise their eyebrows over Donald Trump’s selective Islamophobic bigotry, but in fact it resonates well with their and the UK media’s divisive political agenda of blaming Muslims, refugees and migrants, especially now we’ve started to bomb Syria.

Consequently, there’s no point in banning Trump from London, because there are thousands of Donald Trumps in the UK with the same outlook. If he is banned, which is very unlikely anyway, it will merely galvanise them and the far right even more.

Many on the Tory right here in the UK would say the same as Trump if they thought they could get away with it.

Nick Vinehill, Snettisham, Norfolk

Give Donald Trump a visa as soon as possible, invite him on TV for a debate such as Question Time, and put him in front of a multicultural and well-informed audience. It may not hinder his cause in the US one iota, but it would certainly expose him and his views to a wider public in this country where they could see him for the dangerous fool that he is.

Dr J E Finch

Matlock, Derbyshire

Pay every citizen – and every child too

I agree with Sean O’Grady (“We should copy Finland and give every citizen a basic income”, 9 December). However, I think it would be even better if the citizens’ income were paid to everyone, not just adults.

Children need an income just as much as adults, for food, clothing, education, transport, let alone saving for the future university, housing, pensions etc. This is already recognised in our means-tested benefits where child benefit and child tax credit together are virtually the same as the basic single adult benefit of £73.10 a week, and the addition for each dependent child in housing benefit calculations is similar to the single-room rate of the local housing allowance in most areas.

We need people who are not always at work simply to maintain the fabric of a civilised and creative society.

With a citizens’ income we could all be confident that no one would be destitute whether they choose to be in remunerative work or not.

Of course, if we have a simple payment system to anyone with a birth certificate who is resident in the UK, there will be an awful lot of redundancies among benefit assessors, decision-makers and software producers.

Hilary Chivall, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire

When we all sang together

Simmy Richman (“All together now”, 10 December) mentions a recent Oxford University study into the positive effect on wellbeing from taking part in community singing and writes about how enjoyable it was being involved with the Chaps Choir.

Those of us of a certain age may remember when community singing in cinemas was commonplace, with the words of popular songs being projected on the screen, and a little bouncing ball hopping from one word to another to keep the singers all together.

The BBC broadcast daily Workers’ Playtime and factory workers sang along to the latest popular tunes.

Local pubs frequently had singalongs, particularly later on in the evening when inhibitions were reduced.

This community singing certainly helped lift the spirits during the austere days of the 1940s and 1950s and there was no need for Oxford academics to tell us what was intuitively known.

Patrick Cleary, Honiton, Devon

The full stop is still going

Rhodri Marsden’s obituary for the full stop (Geek Mythology, 10 December) is not only premature, it is also based on a highly questionable report. It could only have come from that well-known generator of spurious “scientific” reports so loved by journalists: Backwoods University, USA.

I can assure him that in the rest of the English-speaking world, to say nothing of those parts of the world speaking French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Greek, Polish, Russian et al, the full stop is alive and kicking, and seems to be destined to remain so.

John Williams, West Wittering, West Sussex

Is there no limit?

Which motorway (speed limit 70mph) was Lisa Markwell on when she found the Suzuki Vitara’s engine “seeming to strain a little above 80mph” (Wheels Etc, 10 December)?

Warwick Hunt, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire

Kanye and Kim have got nothing on Zappa

The name of the new Kanye West/Kim Kardashian child, Saint, shows how limited today’s celebrities are in their thinking.

Way back in the 1960s and 1970s, Frank Zappa called his kids Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Muffin.

Old Frank took some beating – on any level.

Alan Gent, Cheadle, Cheshire

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