Thursday 20 June 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Democracy the only solution to stop hierarchy of power'

Eye on the prize: (top L-R) Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, (bottom L-R) International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former works and pensions secretary Esther McVey, former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
Eye on the prize: (top L-R) Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, (bottom L-R) International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former works and pensions secretary Esther McVey, former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Who will be the next Tory leader? Does it matter?

Absolutely, for all sorts of reasons, but not least the fact that we expect too much of our leaders, the “chosen” ones.

Look at the platform given to presidents and prime ministers across the world and how the media hangs on their every pronouncement as being absolutely right or completely wrong.

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This suggests a deference to leadership not unlike that given to royalty in the past.

But why does this hierarchy of power exist? Could we do things differently?

I have worked on many committees and observed chairpersons good, bad and indifferent, but what I have learned through experience is this: the chair of a committee has a lot of power.

They have the power to determine the agenda; to bring an issue back to the vote; to guillotine a discussion; to stall decisions; to push things out; to influence members outside meetings.

When this power goes wrong it causes havoc.

Try watching the film ‘Conspiracy’, which dramatises the 1942 Wannsee conference which was a committee of Nazi officials during WWII who were agreeing their final solution.

Power is exerted by the chairman of this committee, Reinhard Heydrich, played by Kenneth Branagh in chilling form. No guns, no physical aggression, but a frightening use of the simple committee structure to push through a murderous plan.

Committees could operate differently, more democratically.

The chair’s role should rotate through all committee members changing at every meeting; meetings always be held at round tables; for controversial topics members are allowed to speak once, in turn, with a time limit on their contribution.

No comebacks except for clarification by the chair. If another round of timed contributions is needed, the same rules apply.

This method sharpens the mind and prevents repetitive contributions and dominant personalities who often bully committees.

An effective chair will listen to all points of view, summarise and present the fairest and most democratic way forward.

He or she will only use a casting vote when there is a tie.

Let the committee have power – but the power of a democratic group, not of a couple of individuals. And if the committee is stuck in a treacle of indecision, insist that all meetings are held standing up.

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire Co Dublin

Our nation can’t accept ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’

There was a large British Travellers’ annual horse fair event held on Sunday in Appleby, Cumbria, north England, which has been held under a protection charter towards them granted by King James II since 1685.

Meanwhile, here in Ireland two Irish Travellers’ caravans were recently attacked and burned out in the Dunmanway region in Co Cork.

The same fate befell the accommodation prospects of asylum seekers/refugees in another county of Ireland a few months ago.

Whether one is Syrian, African, Irish, Eastern European, Asian, etc, the methods of “protest” by some patriots against those they do not approve of being in our/their country are very liable to become a sinister statistic of a tried and tested “Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

Please, we are a civilised country and we know violence solves nothing and is but a terrible expression of fear and extreme prejudice under the guise of “acceptable” nationalism. Just think. Our neighbours down the road are just that; issues can be resolved in courts and mediation. We must protest against extremists.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

Voters didn’t elect Trump – it was the US electoral system

In his letter of June 10 (‘Our double standards on greeting Hillary and Donald’), Eric Conway wants to know why when Hillary Clinton visits these shores she is treated like a heroine and Donald Trump is treated like a villain.

The answer to that question is that the people of this country are wiser than the US electoral system.

Despite Hillary Clinton being a highly competent, experienced, female candidate in the US presidential election and getting two million more votes than the incompetent, inexperienced, misogynistic candidate that is Donald Trump, the US electoral system elected the misogynist moron.

So full marks to the people of this country for a bit of sense in relation to their attitude to Clinton and Trump.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Irish Independent

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