Monday, 24 November 2008

Councillor Brian Coleman - You're an embarrassment

The London Fire Brigade Museum in Southwark Bridge Road could be shut down according to fire authority chairman Brian Coleman who told a City Hall committee that "when you've seen one brass helmet you have seen them all".

Earlier in the year, I organised a gig for Cancer Charities at the Bull Theatre in Barnet. Top of the bill was Madness Sax player Lee Thompson and the highlight of his set was the Madness hit "Embarrassment" which Lee wrote. This song is all about the situation a young girl finds herself in when she becomes pregnant. It tells how her parents view her behaviour as bringing shame onto the family. Madness are always rightly considered to be a fun band, but I think that the quality and depth of their songs is often overlooked.

I happened to be listening to the track over the weekend and a thought suddenly occurred to me. Do politicians ever get embarrassed by the behaviour of their colleagues? Do they ever think "oh my lord, he's making us all look like fools"? Do they ever think "He's bringing us all into disrepute"? Now maybe I'm biased (no maybe at all really) but I happen to think that Barnet Council is lucky enough to possess the biggest embarrassment on the whole British political scene. Who do I mean (as if you didn't know)? Brian Coleman. This blog isn't about Mr Coleman though. This is about his colleagues in the Conservative Party. Brian Coleman in a recent Newspaper article complained that bloggers are undermining trust in politicians. Councillor Coleman's colleagues should ask themselves this question :-
Who is responsible for the lack of trust?

I can only speak about my blog, but I write about items of interest and public record. If Councillor Coleman runs up a taxi bill at public expense greater than the rest of the GLA members put together, who has undermined trust? If he is in charge of road safety and he loses his license for speeding, who's fault is it? If he makes outrageous statements about British Athletes returning from their most successful ever Olympic games, who's fault is it? If he has a list as long as your arm of free lunches (many in aid of Charity) whilst earning £85,000 a year at the taxpayers expense, who's fault is it? If he complains about the lack of trust in politicians caused by unfair bloggers, yet makes unproven accusations about a deceased Prime Minister and Tory Leader's exploits in public toilets, in his now defunct magazine blog, who's fault is it?

Leader of Barnet Council, Mike Freer clearly thinks that Coleman is a shining example of a modern Conservative politician. He has given him a senior cabinet role. The North London Conservative Association think Mr Coleman is the best example of a Tory Politician, as they chose him as our GLA member. All of his Barnet Council colleagues clearly agree with his comments about the Olympic athlete's as not a single one offered the mildest criticism about him. The nearest I got to any sort of censure was a comment on Mill Hill Broadway from Deputy Leader Matthew Offord, who told me "Brian is Brian" when I asked of his opinion. The trouble is, Matthew, that he's not only "Brian", he's a senior Tory. He is an example of what you all aspire to. He is the highest paid Barnet Tory. He's the highest profile Barnet Tory.

Let me tell you a very sad thing about Councillor Brian Coleman. My children don';t read my blogs, they are not at all interested in Politics. My eldest daughter is a highly talented swimmer and at 13 is in the Olympic development program. When Coleman made his outburst about the British Olympic team, she heard about his comments in the Press and read his article. She was disgusted by them. Recently she had to receive a couple of awards from the Mayor. A few days before the presentation, she took me to one side and said "Is that guy from the council, who said those things about the Olympic team going to be at the reception". I honestly didn't know. She said that she didn't want to go if he was. I had to explain that the award was recognition from Barnet and that if he was their it was in his official role. I told her that if her career takes off, she would have to receive many awards from politicians she didn't like and she'd have to learn to be polite and have manners. As it was, Coleman wasn't their and she had a very nice chat with the Mayor, Councillor John Marshall, who impressed her greatly. She later asked me whether Councillor Marshall agreed with Coleman, as he certainly seemed to be interested in sports. The only honest answer I could give her was "I doubt it, we all know people who say silly things occasionally and politicians are no exception".

Councillor Coleman clearly doesn't care what I think of him. I suspect that his "I don't like my freer dinner to be disturbed by boring speeches" rant was a direct riposte to my blog about his free dinner list. The interesting question is what his Conservative Colleagues think. If they think he's what a modern Tory should exemplify, fine business as usual. If, as I suspect, they find him to be an embarrassment, who lurches from one gaffe to the next, consuming all free hospitality before him, surely they should do us, the taxpayer and their own reputations a power of good by sacking him.

To part with, here is a little ditty my dad used to sing to me when I younger. I think it rather describes the situation the Colleagues of Mr Coleman find themselves in. Maybe they should follow the example set :-

The Famous Pig Song

The Famous Pig Song
(Clarke Van Ness, music by F. Henri Klickmann)

'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Walked away, walked away,
He was really too particular to stay.
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

I began to scratch the gravel, on my all fours I did travel,
I rambled down the road the best I could.
When I awoke next morning, just as the day was dawning,
I was in a hog pen away out in the woods.
Then the hogs began to grumble, I started and I stumbled,
I fell right in their midst and there I lay.
Then one by one they started, till all the herd departed,
Yes, every hog got up and walked away.

Walked away, etc.


Don't Call Me Dave said...


Love him or loathe him, the public re-elected Brian with a big majority. Whether people voted for him because they like him personally or were merely voting for the Conservative candidate (without knowing or caring who that was) we may never know.

I have said it many times that, deep down, I think Brian is, politically, a proper right wing Tory. Unfortunately, hubris has set in and it will be the cause of his eventual downfall. Enoch Powell's maxim on political careers will apply.

If the public want to remove a politician from office, the best way to do it is at the ballot box. Brian can hardly be blamed if the other parties put up such weak candidates against him. Don't hold your breath expecting the Conservatives to sack him!

Rog T said...


I don't expect the Tories to sack him, but I think he causes them enormous damage. If they are happy to tolerate his shenanigans, then that is up to them.

The point I'm making is that if the wind changes in Barnet and the Tories start facing a proper challenge, he'll cost them very dear.

do call me dave said...

Exactly who is:

"The North London Conservative Association" many google attempts have not found them!

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

Rog T - you've hit the nail on the head!

Embarrassed Tories can be found right here:

And yet more red-faced blues here:

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go!:



Don't Call Me Dave said...


I don’t dispute that BC suffers from foot-in-mouthitus but so does (did?) Boris and he got elected Mayor! I think many party members and councillors are indeed embarrassed by some of Brian’s more outrageous remarks - the attack on Edward Heath being a case in point.

But I am happy to defend his right to say stupid and unpleasant things. If we, the people, keep voting for people like Brian, we only have ourselves to blame if he subsequently does something we don’t like. It is up to the other parties to get their act together.

Rog T said...

Do call me Dave,

In response to your question, who are the North London Conservative Association? They are whoever decided that Brian Coleman would make a good GLA candidate, whoever they may be? Maybe you could enlighten us?

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

In honour of this post, I have changed the song at:

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

Rog - I was reading another blog which reminded me of this post - so I thought I'd share the link: