Your recent letter “Conspiracy theorists at Stroud anti-covid rally” (SNJ Letter of the Day, November 4) contains a number of – to put it charitably – inaccuracies, which cannot pass without a considered and proportionate response from the local group organising the reported rally.
In this age of fake news and casual demonisation, it’s all too easy for people indiscriminately to cast around unsubstantiated smears and slurs. So to correct any misleading impressions generated by the November 4 letter, we wish to set out the positive agenda that underpins the campaigning and consciousness-raising work of our group. We consist of local citizens from right across the political spectrum – centre, left, right and no political affiliation – who share common concerns about the direction in which current legislation is taking our long and hard-won civil liberties and human rights.
First, our group uses a variety of names for different actions, enabling us to avoid the old patriarchal politics of ownership and control, and allowing us all the freedom to pursue our initiatives without top-down control. In the spirit of bottom-up responsibility-taking, we therefore ask those joining our movement to create new names for actions or campaigns that they initiate.
Moreover, no single-issue, identity- or party-politics is either pushed or brought into our actions. The over-arching motivation underpinning all our actions and work is for the full restoration of liberties, freedoms and rights.
Our group does not organise publicly linked actions with other pressure groups or established political parties; this is to avoid shared names and mantras which can obscure and mystify far more than they reveal. In our meetings we try to avoid, and we actively sideline, the old party-political paradigm and associated Machiavellian power-games (one reason why we might not be popular in certain establishment circles, we suspect). We therefore welcome everyone to work with us, regardless of previous political labels, affiliations or work.
In all our activities we will always work to maintain free speech, freedom of thought and expression, and to accept that we are a coalition of very different people from every kind of class, and occupational and minority background. We place respect for difference at the heart of our work, and to this end, there is no toleration of bullying, verbal or physical abuse, hate speech or intimidation towards other attendees at meetings or amongst those working with us.
With basic human rights and freedoms currently under unprecedented and sustained attack and curtailment, it is essential that citizens actively stand up for and defend those freedoms – and especially when they are being eroded under highly questionable pretexts. To date we have found that a considerable number of local citizens share our concerns – and are actually greatly relieved when they discover that it’s not just them questioning recent developments, and that there are others who retain an open, critically inquiring mind about recent events, rather than unquestioningly believing whatever mainstream narrative we are being fed.
Nor are we the “conspiracy theorists” that our “othering” opponents like to claim. Indeed, we deplore the lazy playing of the “conspiracy theory” trope in order to close down and silence any critical thinking.
For further information about the group, please email Stroud4freedom2@protonmail.com
Signed by the Stroud Freedom Group below;
Marcus Blackett – Owner of the Beacon (Pro-life, Pro-Nature Community Hub)
David Brewin – No political affiliation
Bruce R. Fenton – Scientific Researcher, Author & Media Personality
Kathryn Francis – Health & wellbeing business owner
Des Hicks – Carpenter
Debbie Hicks – Higher Education lecturer
Graham Hobbs – Business owner – Meditator
Dr Richard House, MA Chartered Psychologist, writer, former university senior lecturer (Roehampton and Winchester)
Rhondda Lee – Age 64 Nutrition Therapist and CBT, no political party
Sheila Macbeth – Choir leader/carer/Green party member
Louise Maclellan -Former nurse, Peer Reviewer of mental health services for the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Richard Nurse, Oil & Gas industry, Christian values/conservative with a small c