Barlow's Beef: Warning do not voice an opinion


What's happened to free speech in our country? I've never witnessed so much vitriol aimed at anyone brave (or foolhardy enough) to voice an opinion. It's a very worrying trend.

There's a whole raft of topics and issues that cannot be discussed in any rational way without inviting condemnation. Those living in communities struggling to cope with the immigration crisis must remain silent or risk the wrath of the political elite who have as much first hand experience of the problem as Queen Victoria had of The Gorbals.

Immigration is a toxic issue that immediately brands commentators as racists. In many professions it's a career wrecker. These people have learned to stifle their opinions.

Prior to the referendum politicians of both major parties implied that anyone disagreeing with their stance was either elderly, racist, ignorant or poor. It was a damning insult intended to stigmatise those who disagreed.

Hardly a tolerant attitude to what was supposed to be an open invitation for each individual to register an opinion.

When the Chancellor threatened a punitive budget should the public dare to vote against his recommendation it felt like bullying and undoubtedly swayed the undecided to vote against him.

Westminster was totally astonished by the referendum result proof, if ever proof was needed, that it was totally out of touch with public opinion. Into that vacuum stepped Mr Farrage and UKIP forcing the Prime Minister to consult the people.

None of which would have been necessary had they listened to the genuine concerns of the electorate instead of dismissing those voicing a different opinion. It's clear those living within the Westminster bubble regard public opinion with contempt to be dismissed as the ranting of the uneducated.

No lesser person than the self-aggrandising Kenneth Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently urged MP's to ignore the referendum result, as he did not believe in consulting the public. Sadly indicative of the Westminster arrogance.

A similar situation now exists across the Atlantic where voters feel sufficiently disenfranchised they are prepared to elevate the outrageous Donald Trump to the Presidency.

These are not political activists but ordinary Americans tired of rule by a political elite that shows little knowledge or interest in their opinions and problems.

So great is their fervour anyone foolish enough to publicly criticise Mr Trump is likely to receive a very rough ride indeed.

It's a dangerous situation when ordinary people lose faith in democracy.

I have never witnessed such anger in the UK before. The extremes of both left and right are wallowing in mutual intolerance. Comments on social media aimed at anyone holding an alternate view are frightening.

If we are to avoid extremism we must re-established trust and respect for the political process. People must feel their views are being honestly represented.

Based on what we have seen so far... it could be a long wait.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow