In the last few weeks we have, if we've any humanity, been transfixed by events in Egypt. We were even able to watch the protests and the heroic struggles by democracy campaigners to hold Tahrir Square on television. No doubt, Egypt was (still is?) a police state, but it is a relatively open society.
The state-owned Egyptian Lying Broadcasting Corporation covered the events - dishonestly, yes, but you could read what was happening by what they omitted, eg, close-up scenes of the crowds in Tahrir Square after Mubarak told them on 10 February that he wasn't going to go.
And these broadcasts were supplemented with almost continuous coverage by independent broadcasters such as Al Jazeera (independent of the Egyptian state if not of the Qatari!).
Contrast this to the uprisings in Iran in 2009 - and, possibly, today. The little that we could see of comparable sized demonstrations of at least a million on the streets of Iran (from a population of comparable size to Egypt's) squeaked out through tweets on Twitter and mobile phone footage smuggled onto YouTube.
Yes, Egypt was (still is?) a police state, but the repression in Iran is that much more complete and suffocating.
What has this to do with Haringey and Barnet? Of course, both are paradises for anyone who wants to do anything remotely political compared to Egypt and Iran. But, relative to each other, Haringey is to Egypt as Barnet is to Iran.
In Haringey, council meetings, all of them, as far as I can tell, are filmed and painstakingly indexed, so Haringey residents can see who has spoken, how long they spoke for, etc! I haven't watched the broadcasts for long - they're council meetings, for heaven's sake! - but I would bet that the general standard of behaviour of councillors in Haringey is much higher than that of councillors in Barnet.
You can see the range of what is available to Haringey residents here.
Contrast that to Barnet, where a hapless member of the public spectating the Cabinet meeting on Monday 14 February, mistakenly believing that he was living in the 21st century, attempted to make a film of the meeting on his phone. He was threatened with expulsion from the meeting.
Residents who wanted to share with interested parties outside what they were seeing with their own eyes, were reduced to discreetly Twittering. As we are often reminded in relation to the recent Iranian uprising, Twitter is a great new tool for getting around the barriers put in the way of democracy by repressive regimes.
No less true in Barnet than in Tehran.
A while back David Miller, on his "Not the Barnet Times" blog, reviewed the most-up-to-date knowledge on why Barnet won't allow broadcasting of meetings - or, even, private broadcasting in the form of residents making their own videos.
I suspect the main reason is that Barnet's Conservative regime would not long outlast any more scrutiny.
Hey, hey, ho, ho, Lynne Hillan has to go!