LETTERS: The referendum, tweeting, and democracy - The Solihull Observer

LETTERS: The referendum, tweeting, and democracy

Solihull Editorial 9th Dec, 2017   0

In last week’s Observer R. Cliff of Knowle seemed very annoyed with those “moaning “about the referendum result. He appeared to suggest that those voting to leave were unanimous on why they wanted to leave and the nature of the relationship they wanted Britain to have in the future with the EU and the rest of the world.

There was of course a myriad of conflicting reasons why both Leavers and Remainers voted the way they did.

When we placed our X on the referendum ballot paper how much consideration did any of us give to the impact on the Irish peace process or the risk and consequences of not reaching a deal with the EU on barrier free trade?

One thing is certain, all voters including government ministers are on a steep learning curve on what’s involved and how to manage a successful exit from the EU.

If we are to move forward as a country all sides must respect and listen to the legitimate concerns of each other.

It is in that spirit I support the UK leaving the EU but retaining our membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

Phil Beyer

Broad Oaks Road


While Councillor Bassett may have learnt more precise ways to handle in future tweets by other people i think it is wise to keep some sort of perspective and sense of proportion rather than a knee-jerk witch-hunt approach towards any perceived shortcoming in this context.

With immigration into the UK over the last two decades in particular the official statistics show a massive and accelerating change in composition of the UK population. Such drastic changes in this country are unprecedented in the past 1,000 years – or may be ever.

Sadiq Khan is I think a good model of positive integration but the former recent very dubious power-mad and race-based Mayor Rahman of Tower Hamlets was the opposite.

UK citizens must have the right to discuss issues and not only from the ultra-PC perspective that increasingly threatens to stifle any meaningful factual public discussion of issues in this country due to fear of being automatically demonised if we do so.

We see that various ethnically homogenous countries of eastern Europe are not eager to copy the UK’s immigration record. Does that mean they are committing a crime? I do not see why.

I would be interested to know which Muslim majority country in the world is setting a wonderful and better example of respect for human rights and minorities so we can learn any helpful lessons from them. None spring immediately to mind. I think Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Dubai, Iran, Egypt and Bangladesh would not leap to the top of any such list.

Dan Hartley

Thelsford Way


Perhaps your correspondent Raymond Cliff could do with some instruction into how democracy actually works in the UK.

In his letter last week he made two valid points:

The majority of UK voters voted to leave the EU (although he rather ruined this by stating that it was a majority of UK residents: in fact it was 37% of eligible voters, and the majority did not “run into millions” but was 1.27 million).

There should not be one law for one set of voting and one for another.

To the latter point, I can only say “Hear, Hear”. There will be many amongst those who voted to leave who simply wanted to quit the EU, however dire the effects upon the British economy and their own pockets: that is their democratic right which we must all accept.

However, there will also be many who are now worried about the devastation ahead of us and who may well be regretting their decision. After all, mention of the £50 billion divorce bill, and the £3 billion wasted in the recent budget, were pooh-poohed during the election as “Project Fear”. In the voting system that we have long had in this country, if voting for a particular party turns out to be not as expected, or not to our liking, or to have been obtained through falsehoods (such as £350m a week for the NHS?) then we have the right to kick them out a few years later.

We have never had a voting system whereby one vote, on one day, decides the outcome for a lifetime: that could have led to the awful prospect of Life-President Blair or Life-President Thatcher. One can only shudder. There should not be “one law for one set of voting and one for another” so there ought to be the opportunity of a referendum on the actual outcome

Why should anyone be against this? If democracy was served by one referendum, what could possibly be undemocratic about a second one once all conditions were known, and all of the fabrications from either side pared away? Those who would deny one are themselves being undemocratic.

Peter Cottrell

Waldeve Grove,


I know feelings are running high over the disaster that is Brexit, but Raymond Cliff in this week’s letters accusing reader Wendy Cottrell of being a ‘moaner’ , just because she thought remaining was a better option, is going too far.

In his criticism, Mr Cliff repeats the mantra that ‘the majority of UK residents’ voted leave. Not true. Yes, it was 52% leave against 48% remain, a lowly 4% majority, but in fact, only 37% of the eligible population voted to leave, therefore certainly not the ‘majority of U.K. residents’!

Secondly, it was an advisory referendum that whose terms clearly stated that: `It does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented.’

Also as a matter of record, 76% of MPs voted remain (including both Caroline Spelman and Julian Knight), but such was the pressure and power of the ultra Euro sceptics in the Tory Party, once David Cameron resigned and the leadership bun-fight took place, it was they that ruled the day and led us down this slippery slope into the abyss.

Finally, if democracy means anything, it’s the right to express one’s views, no matter which way a vote went. And long may it continue.

Jeff Stone

Whitefields Road


I am pleased to hear that our Ambassador, Anne Wafula-Strike MBE, finally has some financial redress, almost a year on from the embarrassment and indignity endured when forced to wet herself on a train. Whilst a financial settlement is welcomed, rail companies and all organisations and venues must use this disgraceful episode as a catalyst for massive change.

It is alarming to read that over 50 per cent of disabled passengers who use rail services are not even aware that assisted travel service is available, and not all trains yet have basic facilities to enable the disabled to use the toilet. In our own YouGov research last year, 72 per cent of the population were concerned that many of the UK’s top tourist attractions do not come up to scratch on general disability access.

Anne’s experience represented a failure to make ‘reasonable adjustment’, to take care of her individual needs. I know Anne personally, and I know she has been energetic in driving this campaign for the benefit of the millions of other people in the UK affected by poor accessibility and a lack of disabled facilities. The government and the train companies have thankfully responded positively to Anne’s demands for action, and a public consultation is now complete. That is a great achievement of Anne’s and she should be applauded for this real success. We watch with keen interest to see how the government’s findings are implemented and monitored next year.

Ted Hill MBE

CEO, The British Polio Fellowship www.britishpolio.org.uk


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