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Freedom - what does it mean to you?

(76 Posts)
Greta Fri 25-Sep-20 11:19:00

The Prime Minister commented that we are a freedom-loving country and therefore cannot be compared with other countries. He was, I think, trying to explain why we haven't managed to match the German C19 track and trace success. I'm not sure if most Brits feel they love freedom more than other nations do.

I do believe it played a part in the Brexit referendum; the idea that we want to be free” from the shackles of the EU”. But it must mean more than this, surely.

I sometimes wonder if the average Brit knows just how restricted their freedom is. Growing up in Sweden I was used to having the freedom to roam. This means the right to swim in our lakes and rivers, access, walk, cycle, ride, ski, and camp on any land, -with the exception of private gardens, the immediate vicinity of a dwelling house and land under cultivation. The only thing we have to pay is respect for nature and the animals living there.

Many years ago, before I fully understood the British way of life, my husband and I were out for a country walk. We came to a wire fence and spotted a sign ”Trespassers will be prosecuted”. I didn't understand what it meant. My husband explained and commented: ”you are no longer in Sweden!”

lemongrove Fri 25-Sep-20 17:11:31


Lemon ''Freedom is having General Elections and referendums where we, Joe Soap, make our votes count.''

in the UK, your vote will only count if you live in the 'right' area- due to First Past the Post system. I know for sure, that my vote has never ever counted in General Elections (it has at local level) - not very Democratic, nor very inspiring. I have always voted, on principle- but knowing, every time- I might as well not bother- just because of where I lived. Same for friends down the road, but t'other way round.

Every vote counts.....doesn’t matter if you live in a constituency where a Labour MP holds sway and you vote Conservative or vice versa.Every vote for a different MP takes away from the votes from him/her, and is never a waste of time.In any case many places have very close calls with numbers.
Fortunately we don’t have the situation here of vote rigging on a massive scale which affects some countries, or a leader for life (Putin, amongst others.)

Alegrias Fri 25-Sep-20 17:27:30

Hear hear lemongrove.

In the 2017 election the MP in our constituency won by 2 votes. My vote counted then more than it ever had before!

crazygranny Sat 26-Sep-20 09:48:56

Sweden has a much smaller population and a much larger geographical area and can perhaps afford these freedoms better than we can.

Callistemon Sat 26-Sep-20 09:59:22

but of course you don't walk across someone's garden - that would be ridiculous. We don't have rights of way - just look at the key on an Ordnance Survey map and you will find that is says the the markings for rights of way don't apply here. Common sense is required!

There are some gardens not far from here where the right of way is right through them.
I don't think the local Ramblers and U3A have got it wrong.

Obligations of Land Owners
If you own or maintain land on which there is a public right of way, you are responsible for keeping it accessible and useable. This will generally include a duty to:
Not Obstruct the Right of Way
Ensure that any brambles / hedgerows etc are kept cut back to enable access
Ensure that any hazards (such as electric fences) are clearly marked as such and steps are taken to ensure that members of the public can still pass safely.

Teetime Sat 26-Sep-20 10:11:25

2 things came up today for discussion at breakfast re this theme.
1. Victoria Coren Mitchell's column in todays Telegraph talks about why the idea of 'snitching' on our neighbours re Covid is so abhorrent to her personally. Worth a read defintely
2. Social media reported that a woman had been trampled to death by cows as she walked her dog in a field where cows with their calves grazed. A respondent said its 'irresponsible of farmers to put their cows near where people want to go walking!'

A lively debate re freedoms before 10am.

Callistemon Sat 26-Sep-20 10:15:22

A respondent said its 'irresponsible of farmers to put their cows near where people want to go walking!'


Illte Sat 26-Sep-20 10:22:15

If we only had 10,000 people living in Britain we could all enjoy more space.

Doesn't really compare does it Greta?

Callistemon Sat 26-Sep-20 10:27:52

2019: England's population was 432 people per square kilometre
Sweden'polulation numbered 25 per square kilometre.

Callistemon Sat 26-Sep-20 10:28:24

Sorry - Sweden's population

Mollygo Sat 26-Sep-20 10:38:19

Freedom is an impossible thing to define. One person’s freedom is another’s constraint or anathema. How many people feel they have the freedom to ignore rules and guidelines without retribution? How many feel they have the freedom to criticise others or to dump rubbish without redress?
My freedom has been curtailed and I don’t like it, but at least I still have the freedom to come on here and share my irritation.

Rosalyn69 Sat 26-Sep-20 10:54:24

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”.
I always thought that summed it up well.

biba70 Sat 26-Sep-20 10:58:18

Lemon ''Every vote counts.....doesn’t matter if you live in a constituency where a Labour MP holds sway and you vote Conservative or vice versa.Every vote for a different MP takes away from the votes from him/her, and is never a waste of time.In any case many places have very close calls with numbers.''

well, where I have lived, it always was a total waste, as the numbers were not very close - and the same but t'other way round for friends who lived on the Estate just down the road. I voted on principle- but I can assure there was not a single chance it could make a difference.

Lizzie44 Sat 26-Sep-20 11:01:13

There is freedom "to" and freedom "from". Freedom to express (respectfully) my views, and freedom to protest (peacefully) are important to me. Freedom to travel has always been important to me but is now restricted.
There is freedom "from" fear, oppression, pain etc. For me, a prized freedom is freedom from fear. Sadly Covid is taking this freedom from me as I am in a state of fear and anxiety a lot of the time.

NannyDaft Sat 26-Sep-20 11:05:28

I agree Freedom to me is as you say to do what I want when I want - to see anybody when I want ! Especially my family ! Not to keep checking the rules and made to feel guilty !

Aepgirl Sat 26-Sep-20 11:14:41

Freedom is not living in a police state. Sadly much of our freedom of speech is being taken away as we are not allowed to express an opinion without annoying somebody.

popsis71 Sat 26-Sep-20 11:21:01

I would go further than that aepgirl and state that in Britain today we risk odium & shaming if we express any opinion that runs contrary to the government narrative.

Dustyhen2010 Sat 26-Sep-20 11:26:37

I think Boris went on to say "It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary". So in saying we like freedom he was really saying we don't do as we are told and follow restrictions imposed by government. My OH worked in Germany and they followed a lot of day to day strict rules without question that the general population here would not. The lack of rule following here has led to where we are with the infection increasing. It is a really depressing thought. Some people's 'freedom' restricts others!

halfpint1 Sat 26-Sep-20 12:00:49

I live in one European country , my sister in another and
we meet in England for a long weekend and to enjoy all things English . Inevitably one of us will say to the other during the break
"what is the matter with these people, they are out of control".
When you watch Brits' behaviour on holiday in Europe
it becomes obvious that there is a lack of self control and self discipline which unfortunately is shielded by the
word 'Freedom' Tin hat on.

Greta Sat 26-Sep-20 12:20:03

If we only had 10,000 people living in Britain we could all enjoy more space

There is plenty of space in this country. It is a myth that we are such a crowded island because we lack space. This is from New Statesman: ” England, one of the most urbanised countries in the world, has abundant spare acres. This is because less than 6 per cent of the entire island of Britain - and 10 per cent of England - is urban.”

The whole article here:

Illte Sat 26-Sep-20 13:07:11

I meant 10,000,000 of course Greta. Thanks for not shaming me on that! 😱

But I still think it's not comparable.

Farmland in England (to include pasture, arable, forestry, livestock) accounts for around 65% of non urban space. Farm land is owned and is not public space to roam except for designated pathways.

In Sweden arable accounts for around 6% of non urban space and livestock is farmed in a very different way, predominantly with roving herds.

And you can't get away from the difference between ten million people and seventy million.

icanhandthemback Sat 26-Sep-20 13:14:23

I suspect that part of the trespass differences are due to the fact that often, after snow fall in Sweden, boundaries are not easy to spot! In most parts of Britain, we don't get such snow fall.
Trespass is usually a civil offence so a lot of the signs you see are not necessarily easily actionable and mean nothing unless you damage property.
Freedom seems to mean selfishness when it comes to the Covid restrictions being bemoaned.

dustyangel Sat 26-Sep-20 13:39:01

I seem to remember being told as a child when I asked what a Trespassers will be Prosecuted sign meant, that it meant that although you could walk on the land you could be prosecuted if you damaged it.

ExaltedWombat Sat 26-Sep-20 13:58:48

I really wouldn't worry about Boris' rhetoric, particularly when he's covering up a failure.

Bluecat Sat 26-Sep-20 14:51:17

I hate the jingoism that politicians resort to, when they are trying to make excuses or rally support. Johnson does it all the time and now Starmer has started too. Off-putting in both cases.

Where freedom is concerned, I am with the OP. The right to roam is very restricted in England and Wales - I don't know about Northern Ireland. Scotland has greater freedom under the law. Why has much of Europe got greater freedom to roam than we have? If their children can be brought up to respect nature, so can ours.

I would also take issue with the idea that we are losing freedom of speech. I would agree that there has to be sensible discussion of issues, without people being abused or shouted down, but there have always been idiots who won't even listen to the opposing view. However, opposition or criticism isn't the same as being silenced. How many people are actually prevented from expressing their views? Even if their opinions incite hatred, most people manage to make them known.

People often say (or, more often, write) something and then say "but you're not allowed to say that, in case you offend someone." Well, you just said it, didn't you? It seems to me that the so-called silent majority never shuts up.

LauraNorder Sat 26-Sep-20 15:36:04

In my opinion our society has become too focused on rights, and not enough focus on responsibility.
A press that oversteps the bounds of holding to account and reigns over project fear and disrespect.