Organisers booking speakers will know all about the dangers of content including racism, sexism, ageism or homophobia, and the capacity to offend and upset members of an audience. It is probably a good idea for speakers to avoid religion and politics too.
However, given a poor choice of speaker by cruise firm Cunard, organisers might want to add Brexism to the growing list of speaker no-no’s, as ably demonstrated by Patience Wheatcroft. Ms Wheatcroft, a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal and now a peer in the House of Lords, was invited to speak to the paying passengers on a luxury Cunard voyage from Rome to Athens on the Queen Victoria last month. Unfortunately for Cunard, and Ms Wheatcroft’s reputation as a speaker worth listening to, she chose to use the opportunity to attack the recent Brexit people’s vote and to voice her determination to campaign for a second referendum, saying that she would do everything in her power to stop Britain leaving the EU, a determination shared by many of her fellow peers.
This, not surprisingly, annoyed the large proportion of the audience who had voted for the Brexit and some walked out, with one man standing up and asking what gave her, and the rest of the unelected House of Lords, the right to go against the will of the people. Others complained to Cunard about their choice of Ms Wheatcroft.
Since this, but presumably not related to it, there have been many calls in the press, and from the new Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, for the “bloated” House to shrink from more than 800 unelected members to nearer 600. Doubtless those Brexit-backers on the Cunard cruise will be uncharitably hoping a former editor will be one of the casualties.
Meanwhile, Brexism. You read it here first.