Fringe Box



Letter: If We Give Up on Democracy the Country Is Finished

Published on: 31 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 31 Mar, 2024

From: Pete Bennett

chair of Residents for Guildford & Villages (R4GV)

Labour activist Brian Creese seems to be suggesting that the populist right invented the three-word soundbite. I am sure that The Mail and The Express would be quick to point out that we should be blaming foreigners. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” from the French Revolution is the earliest example that I can find, so maybe for the only time this year, Trump is not guilty of the charge.

Otherwise, I can only echo Brian’s hope that we will see a move towards honesty and openness in politics, but so far we have just been seeing more of the same. R4GV has been doing fact-checking on the local claims made by the candidates, but the response seems to have been that the candidates have just put less local “facts” into their literature.

Instead, we have just seen more and more bland statements that the candidates think that we need to protect the green spaces and have more infrastructure, pharmacies, public transport, apple pie and other good things.

Unfortunately for democracy, the reality is that most of the electorate, even in Guildford, do not read The Dragon. They are content to form their opinions based on sound bites. The problem is that answers to complex problems like the NHS or immigration don’t fit into three words, no matter how many focus groups they impress. They need an honest debate and radical (= easily attacked by the other party) solutions.

Given the polling position, we can’t expect that from the Conservatives, who will continue with meaningless slogans and scare tactics. The Lib Dems will promise to fix anything and everything, knowing they won’t actually have to deliver. That leaves Labour.

Maybe, just maybe, they might eventually be brave enough to put forward some policies that would actually improve the NHS, but I am not holding out much hope. After so long in opposition I suspect that caution will win out. Winning the election will take precedence over what is best for the country.

But like Brian, all we can do is continue to challenge the politicians and continue to hope. If we give up, then, as Slyfield Man said, the country is finished.

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Responses to Letter: If We Give Up on Democracy the Country Is Finished

  1. David Roberts Reply

    March 31, 2024 at 6:56 pm

    “Veni, vidi, vici” predates 1789 by even more than “Fellows, Romans, Countrymen!”

  2. John Perkins Reply

    April 1, 2024 at 5:43 am

    An early three-word soundbite: veni, vidi, vici.

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 1, 2024 at 4:31 pm

    Many thanks to Pete Bennett for his letter commenting on without criticising other parties and their local leaders (as his comments can be taken as criticisms or compliments according to taste).

    This is important for those of us who want a change from the current government (even if it’s only a change to better people in the same party), because, due to our current party system, the best hope in Guildford, based on current opinion polls, is probably to vote for the Lib Dem candidate in the hope of getting a Labour government (until such time as we change to some form of proportional representation. So it would be unwise for the Lib Dems to say nasty things about Labour.

    Of course, as I’ve implied elsewhere, it would be advantageous if we could just vote for the best candidate regardless of party. This would be even better if we could give second and third choices for use if our preferred candidate gets too few votes. A big party like the Conservatives, containing many different views within it, could then even put forward two or three candidates, allowing people to choose eg between sensible, moderate pro-EU people and extreme right-wing anti-EU candidates of the same party.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 3, 2024 at 6:59 am

      Oh dear. That last clause is so inflammatory it rather suggests the writer has little interest in real choices unless they suit his particular viewpoint.

      “Extreme right-wing” is a nonsense frequently bandied about in the hope that some will eventually accept it without thinking.

      Sense and moderation are not limited to one side. Nor are their opposites, as is perfectly illustrated by the intemperance shown here.

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