15 JUNE 2002, Page 30

Too many yes-men

From Mr Frederick Forsyth Sir: Andrew Gimson ('Germany isn't working'. 8 June) is, as ever, perceptive in all matters concerning Germany, but in lamenting the death of voter-accountable democracy and its approaching demise right across Europe, I believe he missed the crucial point.

This is the pandemic selection of constituency-MP candidates by party HQ and their Hobson's choice allocation to any possibly winnable constituency. In this manner only yes-men, forelock-tuggers and party-line sycophants have a cat in hell's chance of becoming an MP.

Nearly 40 years ago I covered the East German dictatorship for Reuters. The doctrine beyond the Wall was `parteilinientreu' — true to the party line. It was the absolute requirement of anyone thinking of entering politics. The result? The grovellingly obedient Volkskammer. Today most Ell parliaments, starting with the Bundestag, look like another Volkskammer.

The media treated the Dutch elections over Pim Fortuyn's dead body as another 'swing to the Right'. Wrong. This was the eighth poll shock in 30 months, by no means all in favour of a geriatric stormtrooper like Le Pen. Millions were simply voting against the status quo because they saw that their 'mainstream' party MP was a useless cipher.

Their objections were listed as crime and immigration. However, there was a third bete noire in every case — rule by Brussels, a Volkskammer-style dictatorship if ever there was one. But the reduction of an MP to a servant of party caucus and not the people is coming here — and fast. Recall the 'closed list' system for our MEPs. Recall the imposition of Shaun Woodward on St Helens South. Even the Conservative party is seeking power over the constituencies.

An MP must be selected, elected and profoundly loyal to his local voters — or democracy dies here also.

Frederick Forsyth


From Mrs Jennifer Miller Sir: Regarding the excellent article by Andrew Gimson, Germany can hardly be a pure democracy when its written constitution forbids monarchists to campaign for their beliefs politically.

This is in sharp contrast to our constitutional monarchy, where republicans may stand for Parliament openly, and where many of that persuasion have been able to infiltrate the House of Commons.

Jennifer Miller

London SW15