YEP Letters: May 14

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Check out today’s YEP letters.

Is new council leader really the best for the job?

D Boyes, Rodley

WITH REGARD to the election of Councillor Judith Blake as leader of Leeds City Council, when did the hundreds of thousands of Leeds citizens entitled to vote get asked their opinion?

It seems like democracy has been replaced with an oligarchy.

Also, will Councillor Blake have the full confidence of everyone in Leeds?

I recall her being put up as Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Leeds North West 10 years ago, and being rejected by voters there; losing the seat held for so long by former Labour MP Harold Best to the Lib Dems.

Councillor Blake is one of the many ‘absentee’ Labour councillors, ie those who may believe the ward they purport to represent isn’t a suitable location for themselves or their families to live.

Ms Blake resides in middle class Otley, as far away from Middleton as you can get without being in another local authority area.

Bramley now has only one ‘local’ councillor, Kevin Ritchie, and a good man he is, with the other two living in ‘superior’ post code areas.

But this attitude seems endemic to Labour here and socialists across the world – remember Stalin’s Soviet ‘Commissars’ who living the high life while the workers starved?

Ukip defeat was only bright spot

Phil Cook, Meanwood

Derek Barker’s letter (Your Feedback, May 11) squealing about some imagined slight illustrates everything that is wrong with Ukip.

They are inherently averse to being treated like any other party and this is, I’d suggest, because at heart they are fundamentally anti-democratic.

Despite the thousands of hours of free publicity on 
BBC TV and radio Nigel Farage has enjoyed over the past five years they could muster no more than one MP in the whole of the country. This, by any index, is a massive, massive failure.

Little wonder, given how Farage managed to insult live TV audiences and just about everyone’s intelligence during the campaign and keeps it up with his small-minded and dangerous talk of “anger” at Ukip’s dismal electoral performance.

All of a sudden, because Farage didn’t get into Westminster, he develops a sudden passion for proportional representation. Anything rather than admit people do not like him, or what Ukip stands for.

Like all nationalists and the parties they fashion to serve them, from Oswald Moseley to Alex Salmond, the truth is that Ukip is “all about Nigel”.

We don’t need to read so very far back into history to see the road such cults of personality can lead down.

It’s clear to anyone not blinded by the purple mist that Ukip are a one-policy aggregation of the lunatic 
fringe and only take the democratic route because they are obliged to by law in this country.

Give them any power and you’ll find yourself back in the Dark Ages. Their complete failure at the general election is just about the best thing to come out of it.

Bike routes, not races, needed

Martin Stanley, Leeds Cycling Campaign

Councillor Roger Harington is correct (YEP, May 7). In terms of a cycling legacy, enabling everyday cycling for everyone is far more important than bringing big cycle races to Leeds and West Yorkshire.

It is clear that much needs to be done for both pedestrian and cyclist safety in order to bring them up to the level of the best European cities.

It should be noted though, that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks of a collision, so we would encourage anyone thinking of starting to cycle or getting back on their bike to do so.

In order to enable mass cycling for everyone, we do need to address the issue of perceived safety and the only way we can do this is by building protected routes on main roads and making our residential streets calm places by removing rat-runs.

Building these quality routes benefits everyone, it allows people to do short journeys by bike instead of their car and hence reduces traffic for people that still have to drive.

However, among the decision makers, despite their apparent appetite for cycling we are still finding that they are unwilling to compromise on motor vehicle delays at junctions in order to put in safe and convenient crossing facilities for pedestrians and people on bikes.

Until this happens we will not achieve any meaningful increases in active modes of transport.

It is also notable that a report published by the World Health Organisation projects rising overweight and obesity levels for the UK. The Netherlands, a country with high bicycle use, is expected to see a drop in these same measures.

Our democracy gets it wrong

Martin Phillips, Cookridge

The one thing the recent General Election has exposed is the lack of real democracy.

The Conservatives only gained 36.9 per cent of the votes yet acquired 51 per cent of the seats in parliament. The SNP only obtained 4.7 per cent of the votes yet picked up 56 seats in parliament while Ukip got 12.6 per cent of the votes and ended up with just one MP.

It is hardly surprising that nearly a third of the electorate didn’t even bother to vote when, under the present system, over 60 per cent of those MPs sitting in government have no influence on policies. They may as well go home! Under a truly democratic proportional system of voting the number of seats would have been: Conservative 240; Labour 198; Ukip 81; Liberal Dem 51; SNP 30; Greens 25.

Seats do not reflect votes

Alan Freeman, Bramley

Green Party – one million votes, one MP. Ukip – four million votes, one MP. Scottish Nationalists – 1.5 million votes, 56 MPs.

Is there any stronger condemnation of the outdated and undemocratic first-past-the-post system? Or a more compelling case for true proportional representation?

I will point out that I have never specifically supported any of these parties. With PR I might change my outlook.

As it stands we are back to the Thatcher era whereby the country is at the mercy of Tory excesses, a situation that many, many people did not vote for.