I write in response to the letter from Mr McWethy (Why was bonfire tab so offensive? November 28), not least to correct a couple of fundamental points.
Firstly, although it is of course subjective, I entirely agree that there have been many tabs over the years which you would have thought would have been more likely to cause offense than Waterloo’s tab at Lewes Bonfire Night this year and they have each pretty much passed the nation by without a flicker.
Good, and long may that remain as tabs are created by Lewes Bonfire Societies for Lewes Bonfire. But there’s the point. This was not about how offensive the tab was; it was about what can happen when the fickle jaws of social media bite onto a story.
It doesn’t matter what the story is or even what the truth is, it will continue to feed itself.
Secondly, the police did not at any point require, request or even suggest that Waterloo take the tab out of the procession. The decision was made entirely by Waterloo without pressure from the police or any other authority or agency.
It is certainly true that our society officers received an unprecedented onslaught of emails, telephone calls and letters from members of the public and national and international press after our personal details were intentionally published on the internet; but despite many personal threats to us, to our homes and to our families, none of that affected our decision one bit regarding the tab and nor would it ever.
We do not need to justify our decision other than to our members and as Mr McWethy suggests he is a seasoned Bonfire boy, he should understand that we will not be disclosing the reasons in open correspondence. However, suffice to say we believe we acted in the best interests of our society, our members and indeed Lewes Bonfire and we will not shirk from making these difficult decisions when we need to. There are those who may not agree with us and we respect that, but we will not accept being accused of lacking backbone. Mr McWethy can be assured that our backs are complete and ramrod straight and our heads held high as we look forward to next year and continuing Lewes Bonfire tradition.
Paul Slot, chairman,
Waterloo Bonfire Society