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

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alastair Jones
Tuesday 26th July 2016 at 9:51 am
Whilst I agree with a lot of what Mr Barlow writes, I will not have a word said against Ken Clarke. When he came to my 50th birthday party (in1993) he did not leave until the second barrel of beer had been emptied. Respect!
Paul Case
Tuesday 26th July 2016 at 2:18 pm
You missed out what is happening in the Labour Party. On purpose!
John Clegg
Thursday 28th July 2016 at 12:32 am
Ah, yes. The Labour party.
The party of the people.
Where the people are ignored.
It's a party of several halves - all out of touch with each other.
Jeremy Corbin doesn't have the support of the PLP.
The PLP doesn't have the support of the activists.
The activists don't have the support of the voters - who support Corbyn.
As of late last week, Corbyn had a 20% lead over his challenger (whoever that is).
Mind you, there's still about 8 weeks before anyone is elected.
Is it me or is it beginning to look a little 1981 with a Gang-of-How-Many? splitting off to form a new centre left party?
I don't care - I can't vote Tory, and I won't ever vote Labour so I have no vested interest.
Simon Worthington
Tuesday 2nd August 2016 at 8:47 am
With regard to objection to immigration being treated as racist how much support would there be for all those of English, Scottish and Irish heritage (Welsh excluded as most had the sense not to brave the new world, Patagonia excepted) to return to what is left of England's green and pleasant land. Of course not necessarily England but I can't see a rush to Scotland or Ireland. And, of course, those who have fled to avoid repaying their student loans would not be in the queue.