This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Democratic opinion ignored
I would be grateful for the opportunity to highlight what I consider to be apparently contradictory statements that appeared in the open letter from Sir Peter Soulsby on your front page ("Don't let protests tear our city apart", Mercury, February 4).
In one paragraph the letter effectively stated that despite the fact that very few people wanted the two marches due to be held that day to take place, because we live in a democracy then we have to accept that organised groups have a right to demonstrate – the latter, in this case, meaning to commandeer some parts of the city centre.
I'm quite sure it is safe for me to assume that there are innumerable opinions on the meaning of the word democracy, but I would suspect that intrinsic in most definitions would be the belief that, in general, the wishes of the majority within a democracy ought to prevail.
Of course, this is not to make the argument that the views of minority groupings are of no consequence, but only that in the final analysis on any particular issue, where sensible, it is the majority view that should take precedence. Surely this must be one of the basic tenets of democracy?
So, if the assumption made in Sir Peter's letter that the vast majority of Leicester residents were against the marches being held, then doesn't this beg the question of why it was not possible to prevent them happening?
I have little doubt that many Mailbag correspondents will be keen to enlighten me about the legal, moral, and desirable reasons why this situation exists, but I would also find it quite heartening to hear that there are others, like me, who wonder why our established systems allow minority groups with extreme views to cause so much disruption.
I think, personally, I would rather see such people given the chance to air their views on television than take to the streets and prevent the peaceable majority in our society from going about their normal daily business.
Such an alternative might not be ideal, but at least one would then be free to treat their campaigning with apposite contempt.
J T Bingham, Broughton Astley