May 20: Our duty to support our democracy

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From: Mr FJ Griffiths, Garfield Court, Radford, Nottingham.

I AGREE strongly with Tom Richmond’s statesmanlike article (The Yorkshire Post, May 7), which shows humility unusual in a political journalist. Perhaps I may add:

1. Teenagers who died in the Second World War (in the Armed Forces, Merchant Navy, Coal Mines, National Fire Service etc) and in Korea in 1950-53 did not have the right to vote. It was a landmark in my life when I first voted, two days before my 24th birthday. Votes at 18 were the work of the Wilson government.

2. Voting is a duty we owe not only to their memory but also to the memory of people such as Wat Tyler, Robert Kett, Lilburn and the Chartists, whose leader was an MP for Nottingham.

3. Three quotes which say the same thing in different words: The above-mentioned Fergus O’Connor: “A coat on a man’s back, food in man’s stomach, that is the Charter.”

A BBC sound broadcast in 
the 1980s by Sir Norman Angell, at the age of 80-plus, recalled 
his conversation with an American senator:

Angell: “Suppose a president of the USA refused to give up power at the end of his term?”

Senator: “It could not happen.”

Angell: “There are 21 republics in this continent. In 20 of them it happens often. The one exception is the one that’s prosperous and powerful.”

As your late former columnist Bernard Dineen wrote: “The most prosperous countries are liberal democracies. They are prosperous because they are liberal democracies.”

From: John Dawick, Acaster Lane, Bishopthorpe, York.

ANDREW Allison’s article “The right man to make the BBC face up to reality” (The Yorkshire Post, May 16) filled me with foreboding and deep concern. His campaign on behalf of the self-styled Freedom Association is aimed at securing a commitment to “privatise the BBC”, and he believes that John Whittingdale, the new Culture Secretary and a council member of The Freedom Association, shares that disastrous goal.

The BBC is as important for the nation’s cultural health as the NHS is for its physical and mental health. Though like all human institutions it sometimes falls short of its high aspirations, the BBC nevertheless sets the standards to inform, educate and entertain which the best commercially-dependent broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4 seek to emulate.

The licence fee enables the BBC, free from commercial advertising, to provide its outstanding coverage of national and world news (both at home and through its World Service), great music of all kinds (including its orchestras, the Proms, the Young Musician of the Year etc), wonderful wildlife and history documentaries, and unrivalled broadcasting of great national events. It also provides, free of intrusive advertising breaks, much excellent drama and entertainment.

Do we really want to have our entire national broadcasting network dependent on advertising or private pay-to-view as in America and elsewhere?

While rightly not exempt from scrutiny and criticism, long may the BBC enjoy the freedom, independence and resources to remain the best broadcasting service in the world.

SNP’s selfie indulgence

From: AW Clarke, Wold Croft, Sutton on Derwent, York.

IS there any end to the self-obsessed habit of taking so called “selfies” by the overgrown teenagers who indulge themselves by intruding into anyone’s space, presumably, to prove to their friends they have been in contact with a so-called celebrity, sportsman or politician?

Apart from making themselves a thorough nuisance they also coerce their victims into agreeing to this childishness on pain, no doubt, of the person in question being roundly abused if they do not agree to their demands.

I had always thought that the fashion was being perpetuated by rather sad souls who had very little to brag about but now I read that the new members of Parliament from the SNP have resorted to the practice. How very immature and pathetic.

From: R Webb, Wakefield.

BE afraid, be very afraid, all who feared the SNP. You have managed to vote in David William Donald Cameron.

New system is needed

From: Terry Morrell, Prunus Avenue, Willerby, East Yorkshire.

THE ratio of the number of votes to the allocation of Parliamentary seats is obviously inappropriate.

The single transferable vote could remedy this over all the UK. There is also scope for a first past the post system. Maybe by making the “upper chamber” suitable for this. But can any other reader provide an alternative solution and is there any political party brave enough to implement such a scheme?

PFI millstone for schools

From: Terry Duncan, Greame Road, Bridlington.

WILL David Cameron first remove the burden of PFI on schools and local authorities before his Education Minister takes out her wrath on teachers?

Many local authorities – many Tory-controlled – have been constrained by costs of having to pay millionaire property owners to maintain the schools.