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Letter to the Editor, Wetherspoon News, 23rd December 2018

December 28, 2018 10:30 AM
By David J Gourley

David GourleyThe following letter was sent just before Christmas by the Honourary Secretary of Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrats.

Dear Tim Martin,

I have a feeling that you are not going to print this! Nevertheless, I must get what I have to say off my chest.

Your magazine has been delivered to our house. It was not requested. However, I would have been happy to have received it, had it not been a pro-Brexit propaganda sheet.

Up to now I have quite liked Wetherspoon. I have from time to time enjoyed a meal and a drink in one of your pubs and have generally been satisfied and liked the fact that there is no music. Your company has done a good job of adapting and thus preserving some historic buildings, including in Surbiton, not far from where I live.

I was aware that you are a prominent Brexiteer and you are of course as entitled as any other individual to expound your views, including in the media. What I find surprising is that you are using your company as a vehicle for your opinions. Wetherspoon is thus clearly identified as a pro-Brexit company albeit the 48% of us who voted 'remain' will include many of your customers and, I daresay, a fair number of your staff. Let me add that I would not expect either that a large customer-facing company such as Wetherspoon would propagate the 'remain' cause.

You purport to be fair to both sides, printing articles from three Brexiteers and three remainers. However:

  • The front page is pure propaganda. It is insulting to 16.1m 'remain' voters to associate our cause with a 'metropolitan elite' and a bit rich too given the photograph of you with Jacob Rees-Mogg, a member of the elite if ever there was one. I suggest that you study the area-by-area results of the referendum from which you will see that 'remain' won in many places, including in London, that are in no way influenced by an 'elite'. For example, I not long ago had a pint of cider in your pub, the Last Plantagenet, in Leicester, a city that voted 'remain'.
  • Pages 3 and 4 are entirely taken up with pro-Brexit propaganda, including 'Tim's viewpoint' taking up all of one page. Your editor feels sure that you "tell the truth and would never knowingly misrepresent the facts". Well, he would say that wouldn't he but what you are giving us is your opinion.
  • Then we have pages 68 and 69. all about your spiteful and childish decision to "scrap EU brands".
  • The six articles are preceded by two pages of yet more propaganda.
  • Each of the six articles is preceded by a "Tim says" statements so we have the "very intelligent Tony Abbott", the "brilliant Cambridge University professor Robert Tombs" and "another illuminating article from the former Aussie High Commissioner to the EU". On the other hand, you pour scorn on the other three contributions, remarking, apropos Carolyn Fairbairn's piece, that the "equal worst financial judgment emanates from the CBI", then you go on to insult 16.1m people by claiming that remainers are "less trustful of democracy" than leavers.

It seems odd to me that a company such as Wetherspoon, whatever the personal views of its founder and chairman, is happy to alienate customers who from your perspective are 'wrong' about Brexit. I find myself wondering, as a 'remainer', whether my custom is wanted by Wetherspoon. And whether I want to go on giving it that custom.

David J Gourley