Letters: Banning proposed parade is no sign of a free society

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The councillors on Edinburgh’s licensing committee should be ashamed of themselves for banning a proposed parade by around 200 supporters of the Scottish Defence League (News, August 20).

Given the modest size of the proposed rally, the matters reportedly raised with the SDL’s representatives and the fact that Lothian and Borders Police did not object to the application, it is hard not to conclude that this demonstration was really banned because the councillors did not like the views of SDL members.

Furthermore, it is quite wrong to ban a parade on the basis that a larger counter rally will lead to problems. If the SDL march on Saturday, September 10, then there is no reason why their opponents cannot do so the next day or the next week.

The tactic used by groups such as Scotland United of holding counter demonstrations on the same day and in proximity to those they oppose is deeply illiberal.

If we live in a free society then people must be perfectly entitled to hold minority opinions, to express them and to parade in support of them. Whether their views are wise or foolish is entirely immaterial.

Our councillors should take to heart the words often attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh

Folly shown in force cutbacks

I REFER to your article detailing the fact that Lothians and Borders Police failed to meet their target with only 76 per cent of reports arriving before the four-week deadline (News, August 19).

Last year in your edition of August 31 you stated that 89 per cent arrived before the four-week deadline and that in 2008-9 79 per cent arrived before the deadline.

This just shows the folly of making low-paid clerical officers redundant in order to maintain the numbers of relatively well paid front-line officers and then holding these officers in an office to write reports rather than put them on the streets.

Bruce Collie, Drum Brae Park, Edinburgh

Democracy was real loser in poll

STUART Tooley of Edinburgh University Students’ Association is absolutely right to lament the timing of the City Centre by-election (Interactive, August 20).

The 23 per cent turnout was appalling given the closeness of the contest and the potential impact on the balance of power in Scotland’s capital city. The timing, of course, affected students, who make up a large part of the city centre population.

It also led to some odd choices of polling stations as, quite rightly, the schools were not available given that term had just started the day before.

The fact that it was slap-bang in the middle of the world’s largest arts festival meant it was difficult for political parties to get a clear message over (as well as simply getting people at home). And added to that, the foolish decision by the city council to ban lamppost placards meant there was no visible reminder of an election being on.

In that context I think the Green candidate did really well, to move from fifth up to fourth, well-poised to take one of the three seats in City Centre next May. But the real loser, once again, was democracy.

Gavin Corbett, Briarbank Terrace , Edinburgh

Put the interests of the city first

IT is ironic that it was Labour voters whose second votes helped the SNP to victory in last Thursday’s council by-election. Clearly grassroots Labour supporters do not feel the puerile tribal hatred which their elected representatives often show to their Nationalist rivals.

With the Liberal Democrats seemingly on their way to political oblivion in the city, it could well be that the most sensible arrangement for a coalition after next year’s council elections could be between the SNP and Labour. However, do Edinburgh’s Labourites have the political maturity to put aside their narrow-minded prejudices for the good of the city?

Gavin Fleming, Websters Land, Grassmarket, Edinburgh