Thursday, 2 July 2009

Brian Coleman and the right to offend

I generally steer clear of tarring all politicians with the 'greedy bastards' brush. Regarding MPs, their major crimes, as far as I am concerned, have been the policies they have passed or condoned: kowtowing to big business, the privatisations, the murderous war in Iraq... Those and the careerism. What did the Telegraph say about all of that?

I was part of the left in the Labour Party that was not strong enough to stop all of that. We lost the battle for Labour's soul. The answer now is to rebuild, not to join in the populist, anti-politics hullabaloo.

That said, there are some examples of egregious robbing from the public purse that must be challenged, and Brian Coleman's taxi bills are such. Why do we tolerate him? We grumble about him, we blog about him, we (at least, I do) hope that Barnet Tories get their act together to end his 'political' career soon. But what do we citizens of Barnet do in the public sphere to make our anger known?

I have been canvassing opinion about making a public statement of dissatisfaction that would at least ask for his removal as mayor. The first citizen of Barnet is an embarassment to all the other citizens of Barnet.

But I've had a lukewarm response: it's a distraction, pointless, populist, a bloody good idea (but only from a few). Why? Is this not how politics is done in Barnet? If so, I want a more robust and rude and public politics! Brian Coleman regularly exercises his right to offend, I want mine!


Rog T said...


Interesting question. Was the lukewarm reaction from politically active people or from Joe Public?

The reason that the Sheltered warden campaign has done well is because we've connected with the public. I suspect that a similar campaign against Coleman may have similar results. I may be wrong.

I suspect that the "distraction" mob are activists, who see future shape as the big prize. I think the way to win the big prize is to buy lots of tickets. Rallying people against Colemanesque behaviour is one way to buy lots of tickets.

I lost count of how many people at the festival last week approached me and said "I didn't realise what was going on till I read your blog"

Citizen Barnet said...

Well, your surmise is sort of correct. People make calculations. The more implicated in things, the more people will calculate how this action would impact on their own plan of action, the less implicated they are, the more they just want to protest vociferously.

I am for getting the maximum number of people on board in a loud protest. It's the first (sometimes the only) engagement they will have, but it is important to have that at least.

My general philosopy for most things is 'advance on all fronts'. Obviously, at some points one will want to advance a little further on one front, but, overall 'advance on all fronts!' is a good plan! Or having 'several irons in the fire'. Then, as the occasion demands, one can take out one of the irons and...

Rog T said...

Yes, I have a plan for a resting home for that Iron as well