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Choice is the very basis of our democracy

I am indebted to my fellow correspondent Malcolm Morrison of his latest attempt to persuade your readers of the need for parliamentary reform, but he is absolutely wrong to suggest that I am not in favour of reform.

I am on record as wanting to reduce the number of MPs, change the parliamentary boundary system, amend the way in which the upper chamber is constituted, using people with skills in government (who are not necessarily MPs) and adding a line to ballot paper which states ‘none of the above’.

Malcolm’s original letter to which I responded was attempting to make the case for a change in the first past the post voting method and not parliamentary ‘democracy’ per se.

In his recent letter (SA, January 10) Malcolm doesn’t mention FPTP, AV or STV (terms he used in his original letter) but instead concentrates his message on the three new fronts.

The undoubted fact that MPs are sometimes elected despite not getting a majority of the votes cast. The political party system, and the financing of the parties.

I do not believe that AV or STV would provide a better system by which to elect a parliament.

Malcolm asks “How can it right for a majority of MPs to be elected by a minority of the votes cast?”

But he answers his own question when he states that the “will of the people” is determined by the majority of those who vote.

Short of compelling people to vote, our system which ensures that everyone has the opportunity to vote or not, the choice lies with the individual, which appears to me to be the very basis of democracy.

We do agree that the party system is less than perfect, but a Parliament comprised of independents is for the birds – and it wouldn’t fly.

The reality is that our system of government is dependent on the Pprty system.

Finally, Malcolm expresses the view that “When MPs vote in Parliament they should be doing so on behalf of all their constituents.”

I’m not sure that he can provide any evidence that they don’t.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Community forest has transformed fields

I have followed the recent stories in the Advertiser about the Hreod Burna Community Forest, and the controversy about where trees were planted in December.

I used to live in Gorse Hill and took my children to play in the land between Cricklade and Pinehurst Roads.

This morning I decided to go and look at how things had changed since the establishment of the community forest myself.

It was wonderful, with a far greater diversity of trees, animal habitats and birdlife. And yet there is still plenty of room for families to play.

A wonderful community asset and a much nicer place to spend time in!

We are lucky in Swindon that volunteers have worked hard to create this wonderful community forest, and continue to work to maintain and develop it, and I would urge the Parish Council to grant permission for the recently planted trees to remain.

Future generations will depend on the trees we plant today: don’t make things more difficult for the volunteers who do this vital work.

Anne Bennett, Address supplied

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