Letter of the week: Nothing to see here

A selection of the best letters received from our readers this week. Email letters@newstatesman.co.uk to have your thoughts voiced in the New Statesman. 

Sophie McBain’s article (“The rise of the Proud Boys”, 9 October) reminded me of the 1935 satirical novel by Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, about the potential for a full fascist government in the United States. It was all there: presidential dictatorship, suppression of the opposition, media control, eliminating the power of Congress, attacking the checks and balances of the constitution, setting up a paramilitary police force, gerrymandering of elections, illicit funding and bully-boy tactics. Are we so far away?

In Britain, we may not have reached such depths, but there have been similar, significant trends within a year of the Johnson government: proroguing parliament, haranguing the judiciary, the avoidance of executive scrutiny. Allied to this is a media that vilifies opponents as “enemies of the people”, and attacks on the BBC.

The effect on international organisations must also be recognised. Donald Trump treats the WHO and the UN with contempt and sees no role for international cooperation. Democrats, of all hues, have their work cut out.

Keith Maton
Crickhowell, Powys

[see also: The rise of the Proud Boys in the US]

Teamwork time

Philip Collins’s analysis of the scale of the challenge to defeat the Conservatives (The Public Square, 2 October) was spot on. To form a government, Labour would need to win back most of Scotland as well as former seats in the so-called Red Wall. Can anyone really see this happening any time soon, notwithstanding Keir Starmer’s efforts to restore sanity to the Labour Party?

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As a former Liberal Democrat MP, representing Cheadle from 2005 to 2015, you might expect me to agree with Collins’s view that my party is still a part of the answer to the conundrum. As he says, there are many seats where the Liberal Democrat contender is well placed to defeat the Conservatives next time. Cheadle is just one such example.

Yet Labour put more effort into attacking the Lib Dems than the Tories, which, you might say, represents business as usual. Here in Stockport, Labour and the Conservatives seem to agree on one thing above all – their mutual dislike of the Lib Dem challenge. Time to drop the blinkers and focus on the real opposition?

Mark Hunter
Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester


Reading the letters (Correspondence, 9 October) responding to Philip Collins’s column on possible electoral cooperation between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, I was transported back to similar dead-ended pleas. In 2010 the Liberal Democrat leadership preferred to cooperate with David Cameron’s Tories than Gordon Brown’s Labour. At grass-roots level, the prospects for an alliance are even more remote. Most Liberal Democrats are members not only because they are not Tories, but also because they loathe Labour. Local activists of both parties will rarely withdraw their candidate in favour of one from the other party. Under the first-past-the-post electoral system, pleas for inter-party cooperation are pointless. What the writers really want is proportional representation – …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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