Protest not sedition

I read with interest Mr Woodham’s recent letter trying to compare the actions of seditious far-right Trump supporters in the USA to the actions of “Remainers” following the Brexit referendum. I also note that he conceptually misunderstands what UK democracy is and how it functions.

He tried to compare the peaceful and law abiding marches of the “Remain” campaign with violent rioters in America trying to disrupt Congress from carrying out its legal duties.

The “Remain” marches were agreed with police in advance and were totally non-violent despite huge numbers attending. Unlike the American rioters, “Remainers” did not storm the Houses of Parliament in session. Remainers did not trash the Speaker’s chair or steal the Mace. Remainers did not need to be dispersed by riot police with acurfew and tear gas. Remainers were not sporting a variety of Nazi and Holocaust memorabilia or armed with baseball bats.

In our democracy you are allowed to peacefully protest, and lobby MPs and others to promote your political position. This has been hard-fought and has been a fundamental part of our democracy for many decades from the Jarrow Marches to the Iraq War. It is not anti-democratic and any attempt to remove or reduce this right strikes at the very heart of what our democracy is and tyranny will follow. To try and compare legal peaceful marches with illegal seditious violent rioters shows a fundamental and basic lack of understanding of the Social Contract of liberal democracy.

I was particularly amused to read the statement: “Remainers” tried to use “Acts of Parliament.. to thwart the result”. Using Acts of Parliament to amend or improve legislation is fully in line with UK democracy and the Parliamentary process and has been for centuries. If that Parliament then chooses to reject that by voting it down then that is also totally democratic. The UK is a parliamentary democracy. We do NOT live in a direct democracy (more akin to the Swiss model). In the UK, we elect our MPs as representatives to exercise their “good judgement” and Parliament’s view is final, regardless of any result of any referendum. You may not like it but it is a fact.

Democracy also does not start or end with any result or any election. It is in permanent flux and permanently evolving. And when a government is formed from the MPs we elect, that is also not a “blank cheque” for them to do whatever they like, ignoring the rule of law. That would be an elected dictatorship. Therefore as part of our democracy, citizens are entitled to take court cases to our independent judiciary (again a corner stone of our democracy) to ensure the government abides by the laws put in place by Parliament. The Government tried to bypass our elected Parliament to avoid any meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit legislation and they were found to be breaking the law. After the courts rejected the Government’s case, Parliament was allowed to scrutinise the legislation and was consulted, however imperfectly. An Executive untrammelled by Parliamentary scrutiny ultimately leads to tyranny.

That is UK democracy. You may not like it. It’s awkward. It’s messy. It’s frustrating and at times it may also be inconvenient but to pretend otherwise shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic concepts on which our democracy is built. The alternatives are far worse.

Graham Cole

Old Town

No parallel between pro-Europeans and US mob

There is simply no parallel between pro-Europeans, who have acted peacefully and in accordance with the law, and the seditious mob which entered the US Congress with the intent of stopping by force a constitutional process from taking place.

Allan Woodham complained about acts of parliament being used to delay Brexit, however by definition these are expressions of the peoples' will through their elected representatives. Allan also mentions court cases - something which we all have recourse to in the case of illegal or unconstitutional activity. Even court cases which seemingly frustrated the referendum result were totally legal, because they can only make things happen according to the law. Finally, demonstrations are a cherished part of our democracy, and as long as they stay peaceful simply allow people to express their opinion.

In contrast, what we saw in Washington was neither lawful nor peaceful. An armed mob prevented lawmakers from doing their work. Indeed, the only instance of anything with the same outcome as this happening in the UK was when Boris Johnson illegally prorogued Parliament, preventing them from meeting and going about their business.

Dr Sam Hollings