We should defend freedom of speech
I might not agree with everything Franklin Graham says but he is not the hate preacher you are prepared to let others paint him (The Gazette, February 28).
Graham’s followers argue that he is simply preaching a literal interpretation of the Bible, and his teachings are no stronger than what you hear in many churches.
But I don’t want to get into all that.
What I take issue with is the almost daily and casual attack on freedom of speech (and freedom of religion) by so-called social progressives who further their own agenda, not by argument but by the bullying and shaming of anyone who happens not to agree with every little thing they espouse.
We have reached a point where people’s hurt feelings are more important than allowing issues, particularly sensitive ones such as mass immigration or gay rights, to be discussed from even a remotely differing point of view.
By cancelling their two-day booking at Blackpool Winter Gardens because Franklin Graham is due to speak there eight weeks later, Blackpool Pride organisers are arguably employing a tactic commonly used these days. Venues are exposed to potential shame and criticism if they are seen as condoning anything seen as politically incorrect.
It is a tactic that works.
Witness how quickly businesses pull advertising out of the Daily Mail the instant they are targeted online by sanctimonious social media users with no interest or understanding of freedom of speech.
I suspect Blackpool Pride organisers believe Blackpool Council will follow this pattern and pull Graham’s booking.
I hope they don’t.
For once, let freedom of speech rather than shamed silence win the day.
I wish Blackpool Pride all the best at their new venue but I hope they are big hearted enough to reconsider all this and come back to the Winter Gardens.
Council should step back from risk
I’ve never really subscribed to the cult of the ‘celebrity chef’ so I wasn’t particularly impressed by Coun Marc Smith’s announcement that a restaurant brand with Marco Pierre White at its helm, would be part of the planned Holiday Inn Hotel at the Talbot Gateway development.
People can read the reviews of the existing branches of Macro’s New York Italian restaurants and make up their own minds as to whether it will bring a new dynamic to Blackpool as Coun Smith expects.
However, my attention was drawn to a statement made in the council report which referred to minor alterations in the previously agreed heads of terms, which refers to “an increase in the licence fee as a result of the expanding popularity of the brand”.
May I ask who is play this licence fee?
I sincerely hope the cost will not fall to Blackpool’s council tax payers whom, I suspect, already face a huge increase in council tax bills for the next financial year. Maybe Coun Smith could explain the principles behind the finances for bringing a branch of this restaurant chain to Blackpool?
As this is a commercial venture my feeling is that the hotel or the restaurant franchise should be totally responsible for all costs relating to Marco’s New York Italian and the council should step back and let the private sector bear the risk.
I am concerned that Jamie Oliver has recently announced the closure of a number of his Italian restaurants and the celebrity chef bubble might be starting to deflate.
Could we have a guarantee from Coun Smith that no could tax payer money is at risk in this venture?
Palatine Road Blackpool
Not an organ donor by diktat...
It is obviously a terrible tragedy that people die through a lack of donor organs. But I firmly do not believe that the law in England should be changed from opting in to opting out.
Yes, there is plainly a need for more donor organs but for the State to presume to take a citizen’s organs without explicit permission is wrong. They do not belong to the State in life and should not do so in death.
An opt-out system was introduced in Wales in 2015 and this actually led to a drop in deceased donors so why is it thought such a system will work any better in England?
It is estimated that moving to a system whereby citizens have to opt out will bring an extra 100 donors a year but I think in our liberal society we should retain the existing system but devote much more effort to encouraging people to carry donor cards. It should be a matter of conscience not diktat.
North West MEP UK Independence Party