Friday, 13 July 2012
Barnet Council - Tories Behaving Badly Part II - Brian Coleman
Let's go back to May 2012. Brian Coleman lost his GLA seat by over 20,000 votes to Andrew Dismore. Every local commentator puts this down to his parking policies. The person who lead the campaign against High Street parking charges was Helen Michael. She collected 13,000 signatures. Helen tells me that nine out of ten people who signed the petition were former Tories alienated by Colemans policies. By collecting this many signatures, she earned the constitutional right to address Barnet Council on the issue. If her maths are correct, that means that she represents 11,700 people who may have switched their vote. Given the marginn, had they voted Tory instead of for Andrew Dismore, Coleman would still be earning his £52,000 a year from the GLA (and £27,000 a year from the LFEPA). Helen informs me that thousands of people informed her they had never voted Labour before, but made the effort for Dismore purely because of Coleman and his attitude to local businesses. She said that other businesses displaying the poster said exactly the same thing. Helen herself had only voted Conservative before this election. She had believed that the Conservatives "looked after" local business.
So on Tuesday, we had the big day. Helen got her five minutes. The interesting question for me was whether Brian Coleman has learned from his mistake. Contrary to Councillor Robert Rams claims that the Council chamber was "packed full of left wing activists", there were actually about 15 traders and other customers of Helen's there, including a Rabbi, who sat next to me. They had come to support her as she spoke. How would Coleman react to Helen's appearance in the Council chamber. Would he apologise for his policies, which so damaged the traders business? Would he speak up to acknowledge the mistakes. No, of course he wouldn't, even though his policies could cost the Tories the council in 2014, unless they show that they can change. Would he show Helen courtesy as she spoke? The Barnet Eye was videoing Helen's speech, but noticed Brian Colemans extraordinarily boorish behaviour and broke of his filming of Helen to record it for posterity. You will notice every other councillor is paying attention to Helen. Even more interesting is how Coleman starts to behave himself when he realises the Barnet Eye is pointing a camera at him. Enjoy