September 8, 2020 3.50 pm This story is over 43 months old

John Marriott: Give free speech a chance!

Let’s talk more

I see that the first reactions to Barry Turner’s latest offering are pretty negative. Mind you, as I have never done Twitter or Facebook or any of the social media platforms for that matter, I guess that what the editor allows to be published are generally a relatively mild tip of what might be a rather one sided iceberg.

Since I started writing this, I’m pleased to see that there are a few brave souls on social media also prepared to come to his defence.

Now, I hold no brief for Mr Turner who, judging by the photo he has submitted, appears to be far from a long haired, bearded ‘leftie’ and, judging by the selection of books behind him, a well read individual as well.

In fact, he’s a dead ringer for Greg Wallace, who hardly strikes me from his TV performances as coming ‘from the left’.  In his latest article, he could be accused by some of us to be stating the bleedin’ obvious; but that doesn’t mean that he is necessarily wrong in his analysis!

My immediate reaction to some of his ‘critics’, who dismiss his opinions as automatically coming from the left, would be to encourage them to expand a little, even on the kind of limited platforms they use to tell us WHY they think the way they do.

I would go further and say I find it quite disappointing how the ‘Columns’ on The Lincolnite appear to have dwindled over the past couple of years. What has happened to free speech and the exchange of views, sincerely expressed, that used to be a part of our daily lives?

I suppose that most people just want a quiet life and find politics rather distasteful, which actually probably suits many politicians at all levels down to the ground.

Besides Mr Turner, the other ‘bête noire’ of some Lincolnite commentators would appear to be Cllr Martin Hill, whose every utterance, however reasonable – and, believe me, he can be reasonable at times – is immediately met with excoriating comments from certain quarters.

As for myself, well, I used to be a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (although I never supported the abolition of tuition fees) but no more, I supported Remain not out of any great enthusiasm for the European project, and now accept the reality of our leaving the EU, with all the pitfalls we could encounter.

I haven’t voted in any election recently as there was nobody I could bring myself to vote for, although I did go to the polling station each time and spoiled my ballot! So, where does that put me on the political spectrum? I’ve spent most of my adult life in the minority so I’m pretty used to criticism.

What I would like to see is more of a willingness from both sides of the political argument just to pause a little and see whether there really was some sense in what the other side had to say instead of immediately shutting down debate by the odd well rehearsed slogan.

So, come on, give Barry and Martin a bit of slack. Perhaps most of us are too set in our ways to budge. And yet, as the late John Lennon told us in ‘Imagine’; “You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one”.

A few more ‘Columns’ might be a good start.

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John was a councillor for thirty years, finally retiring in 2017. A schoolteacher by profession, he served on the North Hykeham Town Council (1987-2011), the North Kesteven District Council (1987-1999, 2001-2007) and the Lincolnshire County Council (2001-2017). He was also a County Council member of the former Lincolnshire Police Authority for eight years until standing down in 2009. In 1997 he was the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham. He is currently not a member of any political party.