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Political parties real enemy of democracy.

Roads rage: Cyclists protest over traffic volumes at Paradise Circus. See Help us stop this roads disaster.

Sir, - One cannot expect the supporters of the British "first past the post" voting system to point out its failings as they usually belong to the two political parties which have done very well out of it and fear losing their dominant positions.

The claim that the system produces a stable government is partially true but it is a reactionary, secretive, and arrogant government with few ideas on how to solve current problems.

Just look at how Britain's standing in the world has slipped since 1945.

If there are more than two parties it produces a government that is not supported by the majority of the electorate. That is not democracy.

And don't forget that Mrs Margaret Thatcher was not removed from power by the electorate but by a "palace coup" and that is not democratic either.

The fact that the Knesset is held hostage by a handful of "intransigent bigots" is not the fault of PR but the fault of Mr Netenyahu.

He chose them to be his running partners - he could have chosen any of the other parties in the Knesset.

Similarly, the large number of Italian governments highlights the inability of their politicians to agree, which is not the fault of the system that elected them.

Both cases demonstrate failures of the political party system in which the elected representatives are not free to express the wishes of their electorate as a whole.

Political parties are medieval, almost tribal, in their organisation; too much power rests in the cabal of unelected, often unknown, advisors and backers. That is why I believe that the real enemy of democracy is the political party system.

If political parties cannot be banned let us have so many of them that no one party can ever have power on its own.




Big Issue sellers

need our love

Sir, - As a regular purchaser of the Big Issue I was most upset by the comments from two "gentlemen" letter writers.

I have been purchasing the Big Issue for the last two years or so, and have never seen a Big Issue vendor with a mobile phone. As for their dogs, I love to see them, lying or sitting, wrapped in a blanket by the side of their owner. Admittedly they are n ot all 'prettied' up; for goodness sake, they are dogs.

I have never seen one that looks underfed and generally these animals look quite happy with their lot. I think it is the sort of life a dog would enjoy, all a dog needs is food, warmth and love and that applies to humans too.

There are some very interesting Big Issue sellers and they are all remarkably cheerful. The Big Issue is worth reading too - perhaps it should be compulsory for the "I'm Alright Jacks" that can't cope with reality! Big Issue sellers need our support and love, not criticism.

To the two gentlemen - come down from your ivory tower; you are no better than anyone else!


Sutton Coldfield.

Big Issue sellers do

care for their dogs

Sir, - I am writing in reply to the two gentlemen who wrote in complaining about the state of Birmingham compared to Paris and about Big Issue vendors. What a pair of hypocrites.

How can they compare Birmingham with Paris? We are very much bigger and better and cleaner than Paris is. But what I really have a problem with is over their comments about Big Issue vendors. Being a Big Issue vendor mysel all I can say is they are pig-h eaded and arrogant.

I have been selling this magazine for over two and a half years now and I know nearly all the other vendors, and believe me, we certainly wouldn't be able to afford a mobile phone, so these letter writers couldn't be further from the truth.

Also the statement that "all the vendors have pet dogs" - how can they say these animals aren't looked after?

If they ever thought to stop and speak to some of them they would know that most vendors would go hungry to make sure their animals are fed.

I, and I'm sure a few more vendors, would love to meet these men face to face just to ask them why they feel this way about homeless people.

In most cases it's not their fault that they're in this position and I'm sure they would rather be living in a nice comfortable house/flat.

But these days it's not easy to get a place if you have no income and this is the whole point of the Big Issue - for people to try and earn a little extra cash to support their own and their pets' needs.

Believe me, our pets are very much looked after. They get the same amount of help from the Issue office as we do, including vaccinations and any other medical care they might need. So, as you can see, these letter writers are very, very far from the trut h.


c/o Big Issue office,


Why not try selling

the Big Issue?

Sir, - With reference to the letter writers complaining about rubbish and litter in Brum, they, in fact, seem to run down The Big Issue vendors more than the rubbish.

As a vendor myself I am very angry and displeased with the way they portrayed us.

I know most, if not all, the vendors in town and to see any one of them with a mobile phone is absolutely daft. I myself could not afford one, so I don't see them owning one.

I do own a dog and to say they are scruffy and unfed is wrong and unfair.

I'd very much like to meet them, so they can see my dog and see that he is not unloved, scruffy and malnourished.

I love my dog and I put him before everything. He'll eat before me and I'll go without for him.

I enjoy my job - it gives me satisfaction and I get on with most of the general public. I also get a hell of a lot of compliments on how well my dog looks.

The Big Issue has done a lot for me and my dog, like providing sheltered accommodation, clothing and blankets, free treatment for my dog. But if you think that Paris is better than Brum then take another glance, Brum is bigger, better and cleaner than Pa ris will ever be.

So, gents, get your heads out of the clouds and see what's in front you and stop criticizing those who have not had it so easy.


c/o Big Issue Office,


Help us stop this

roads disaster

Sir, - "Dreadful Traffic Jams", says Dennis Ellam, arguing that it's time for a road's re-think (Post, Nov 2).

Excellent idea Dennis, first axe the proposed BNRR.

We in North Warwickshire know this proposed toll road will increase road congestion, because the M6 and M42 have already reached overload.

If anyone can explain how the BNRR traffic can leave the M6 at Coleshill, and merge and progress through the stationery traffic of the M42, to reach the proposed BNRR toll road at Dunton Island I will be delighted.

The opposite is also true. How can traffic leave the BNRR, progress to the M6 via a stationary M42 which will have some widening, but only the extra use of the hard shoulder under the bridges of Gilson.

I was relieved for the road system that "The Dome" was sent to Greenwich, the NEC traffic always produces road congestion.

The expansion of Birmingham Airport will again mean more cars fighting for the same traffic lanes.

The air and noise pollution is already high and unacceptable for our children in Coleshill, Water Orton and Curdworth. I will be happy to meet anyone who can help us STOP this disaster that could happen.


Mayor of North Warwickshire.

Send the protesters

somewhere else

Sir, - I see those dreadful "Fiends of the Earth" are on the rampage again. Like 19th century non-conformist Bible thumpers, unelected, unqualified, and above all, unrepresentative, but over endowed with selmportance, they seize upon the flimsiest fragme nt of supposed moral high ground and use their assumed unassailability to lecture, pontificate and generally contrive to be thoroughly squalid nuisances.

They never seem to have had proper jobs; ie contributing to the economy, but then of course that would be anathema to them.

Like the characters in Orwell's Animal Farm, "ecology good, economy bad".

We never get to hear what sort of bucolic nightmares their endeavours would inflict upon us, because, presumably never having been subject to any accountability, they are, like silly, spoilt children, quite incapable of seeing further than the ends of th eir ever-poking noses.

What a pity their fatheaded idealism doesn't run to throwing themselves in front of the bulldozers busily ripping Borneo apart, or failing that, there is 11,600,000 square miles of stinking slum called Africa that is crying out for interfering busybodies .

And it would keep them out of our hair.

But first, as P Thompson (Post, Oct 30) has suggested, would they care to make a contribution to the pounds 200 million cost caused by the delay to the BNRR.



More balanced

view needed

Sir, - I was not surprised to read Dennis Ellam's article supporting the BNRR, more roads and more cars. I was shocked, though, not to see rail mentioned at all.

Centro's pounds 11.00 admission and return fare was excellent value and the sort of thing that journalists should be supporting.

Truly international cities like Frankfurt and Amsterdam have high quality exhibition halls that can cope with large numbers of visitors with Public Transport Systems.

We don't need more roads - but more balanced journalism.


Friends of the Earth,

Wyre Forest.

Seeing the wood

from the trees

Sir, - I fully endorse G Osborne's remarks regarding Harold Nash (Post, Oct 31) and Argentina and the Falklands.

However I think that Harold Nash is to be pitied for not being able to see the wood for the trees.

He probably doesn't know that General Galtieri was the fascist in charge of the invading army in 1982.

Harold Nash was probably brainwashed by the Germans when he was a POW having been shot down as a member of the bombing crew or so he told us. So he is to be pitied rather than blamed.


Leamington Spa.

No Post, no toast

and no queue

Sir, - Birmingham International Airport is the gateway to our city. The second city in the country.

In the departure lounge for international flights there are five shops and three food outlets.

Thankfully, as there are few places in the world to which you can fly from Birmingham International Airport, I assume there is rarely a queue.

I recently enjoyed a couple of hours in the departure lounge. It was not possible to buy The Birmingham Post. It was not possible to buy toast.

"We ain't got no toast," we were told. Bread is scarce presumably. A very small container of marmalade cost 35 pence.

Let's face it, it is a captive audience.

However, the most graphic statement was made in the chemist's. It is not possible to purchase travel sickness pills.

It is the little things that make the difference. Thanks to all concerned for making our trip a little bit special.





The Editor

28 Colmore Circus

Birmingham B4 6AX

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 6, 1998
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