|North Finchley traders representative, Helen Michael|
At 6pm I was standing with a friend outside the entrance to Alexandra Palace, at the count for the Barnet and Camden London Assembly member election, when Brian Coleman arrived, with his mother.
It was clear by then that he had lost his London Assembly seat to Andrew Dismore, and people had been speculating on whether or not Coleman would show his face.
Now, here he was, against a spectacular backdrop of all of London, walking towards me. What did I do?
I'll tell you what I did. I failed to take a picture. And I have the audacity to call myself a journalist!
On reflection, it's lucky I didn't. Lucky for me, lucky for Coleman, lucky for everyone. His miserable face was a picture of studied light-heartedness; he was clearly utterly miserable. He lost by 21,000 votes, after all. (Full result here.)
He went into the big hall where the counting took place for the very end of the count; then he stood in the Palm Court while a knackered Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Barnet Council and its returning officer, read out the result, and then, I understand, sloped off while a justifiably delighted Andrew Dismore made his victory speech. No speech from Coleman. No chance for the rest of us to practise our agreed upon dignified applause.
Yesterday was a great day for me and lots of other Barnet campaigners, trade unionists, anti-cuts activists, and residents who are simply browned off with Coleman. All of these 'constituencies' were represented up at Ally Pally. It was also a great day for the local Labour Party.
After such a day, month, year it would be tempting to write a blogpost along the lines of "Brian Coleman: My Part in His Downfall", casting oneself as Spike Milligan (although much less funny, of course).
If I'd got That Picture yesterday I could have stuck it at the top of this blogpost and written: "Errr, look at me! If nothing else, I'm the one with the camera who whips it out at the right moment." Instead, I'm the one with the camera who forgets all about it at the crucial moment and rather too compassionately steps aside to let a wounded man, not to mention his mother, pass unhassled.
I'm too soft, that's my trouble; it's why I'll never make it in politics. Or journalism.
I'll write some more analysis of the election result soon, and say What I Think Should Happen Next. In the meantime, I hope you like the picture I did put at the top of this blogpost. (I hope Helen Michael doesn't mind it.) It's a hommage to a rather famous picture of Brian Coleman, celebrating his councillor's code of conduct hearing - which he lost, by the way! - against "Barnet Eye" blogger Roger Tichborne.
Helen, a representative of the North Finchley traders who have suffered so much as a result of Barnet council's - in the first place, Brian Coleman's - parking policies, has borne the brunt of Coleman's legendary rudeness recently. She is one of the people who has helped to defeat him in this election and deserves a place of honour.
UPDATE: A few pics from yesterday taken with my crappy compact camera, none of Brian... oh, I told you that already: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11722019@N03/sets/72157629969910817/