Of all the freedoms we supposedly enjoy, freedom of speech is now well and truly dead.

Opinion has either been watered down to such an extent that the only way to get a message across is via mob mentality, where protests are undertaken to no one in particular (Extinction Rebellion) or you are quickly demonised as either far left or far right should you dare to avoid splinters from sitting astride the fence.

There is no ambiguity anymore and we are branded as ‘extreme’ if we dare to have an opinion that differs from others.

In recent weeks, online, I have been accused of being far left and far right, yet it seems we are further away than ever in being accepting of differing views, with the situation becoming ultra-emotive post referendum.

I am not sure, and neither do I care to be frank, of the political opinion of this publication. I do what is required and write my thang, thoroughly enjoying the process and I am glad they continue to put me to print.

As for my political party of choice: to be honest I, like many, cannot pin my colours to any mast, although I would class myself as middle of the road with little love for the extremes of either the blue or red contenders.

That said, I fervently believe that any democracy demands an effective opposition and I have been somewhat vocal in stating that Labour missed a trick by getting in the wrong Miliband when they had the opportunity, as I have little doubt he would now be leading us.

Alas, they went for the clumsy, two-kitchened brother which, once he had finished his Frank Spencer skit, led to Abbot and Corbyn who, like Abbot and Costello, deserve their own comedy show, perhaps called You Do the Math.

Whether the Labour party are inherently anti-Semitic or not, they have undoubtedly acted ineffectively in dealing with such a serious issue, yet we continue to be collectively shot down in flames should we dare criticise.

Dissenting voices have been demonised as Nazi scum and other such pleasantries as they try to explain their point in a logical, level-headed manner, yet soon came to realise that others have no interest in differing opinion.

Political allegiances are so deeply, generationally ingrained, that there is absolutely no scope whatsoever in admitting they may had erred with their opinion as they have too much personal capital tied up in it.

I believe it was this frenzied response to any differing opinion that led to Brexit. Without blowing my own telepathic trumpet (I called it 52-48 remain), the vote was not about whether we remain in the EU but more the population, or 52 per cent or them, firmly giving the powers that be ‘the bird’ for having their views silenced.

Unpalatable or not, Brexit was a protest vote, and, ultimately a vote on those in power silencing dissenting voices about issues such as economy, crime and immigration.

Those who attempted discussion, particularly regarding immigration, in a rational manner, were consistently attacked as uneducated simpletons. This demonisation had gone on for years and eventually, through the Brexit vote, those swathes of silenced members of the public spoke through the ballot box.

But has the situation changed since 2016? If anything, it has got worse. It seems the right honourable member for the 18th Century, Jacob Rees Mogg is fair game for abuse, as are his kids. Johnson and Swinson are sitting ducks for abuse, as are any political heavyweights. It is Turkey shoot season with no end in sight.

Dare to mention the criticisms of Corbyn’s lack of support for the armed forces, and you are shot down ceremoniously. Child poverty is also met with disdain by the true blues as they quote lies, more lies and damned statistics. Admins of Facebook groups are asked to remove you as your questioning ‘offends’ fragile constitutions.

As for the ‘far right’ claims, it is difficult for a middle-aged man such as me, with a shaved head, to argue against stereotypes. Most of us aren’t racist, homophobic, Islamophobic or ‘haters’ or any group, but that’s not to say we cannot have an opinion that differs with others.

People are people are people and underneath we all suffer similar problems and issues. Despite my hairstyle making me look like an extra from This is England I can claim the following: in a radio interview I undertook some years ago with the former BNP leader, Nick Griffin, I challenged him on not only race but homophobia.

Still, I would argue that differing opinion is a good thing when used correctly. Collectively we have lost the ability to approach such discussion in an adult manner and I think I may avoid the stress the abuse incurs and instead retire back to the fence, leaving me with nothing but a bum full of splinters as I clutch at a handful of broken post-election promises.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney