Thursday 16 May 2013

Guest blog - The Silence of the Lambs - by Dr Julia Hines

Yesterday I had a twitter spat with local MP Mike Freer and today the Barnet Press published this

I ought to declare at this point that I count Helen Michael as a friend and currently have a complaint pending with the Standards Committee against Brian Coleman relating to separate issues.

I think that it is extraordinary that no local Conservative politicians have made any comments whatsoever on the conviction of Councillor Brian Coleman for assaulting a woman. I want to say that although I directed my comments yesterday to Mike Freer, it is only because he at least has the courage to engage on Twitter.

The fact that it is undeniably difficult to condemn the actions of a friend or colleague does not make it unnecessary. It is necessary, because it violence against women is always unacceptable. This is particularly true given that Coleman made no expression of remorse and offered no apologies, something which is extremely unusual in the context of a guilty plea.

Men who abuse women try to persuade them and others that the woman was to blame, that she instigated the attack. That is exactly what Coleman said in his plea for mitigation. It was not true. It is what he has repeated in the Barnet Press today.

In my opinion it is important to highlight this, if for no other reason than to encourage women in much more serious situations than Helen found herself in, to come forward. If they see men like Coleman being convicted without any word of condemnation from close associates, how much harder will it make it for them? The message should be, no matter how powerful the perpetrator is, violence is unacceptable. No matter how close their relationship to the perpetrator, people will acknowledge the experience of the victim and condemn the act.

I am also a firm believer in rehabilitation, but that involves an acknowledgement on the part of the criminal of both their actions and the impact they have had. I have seen no evidence of that from Coleman.

The silence from our three local MPs and every single Conservative councillor has been genuinely shocking to me. The fact that it may be politically or personally difficult makes it all the more important, and all the more powerful if they were to speak out.

I do not buy the conflict of interest for one moment. Given the fact that Coleman pleaded guilty it cannot be an interference in due process. It is perfectly possible to condemn the act without commenting on his future career.  Every single Conservative politician should hang their head in shame.
Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye


Mrs Angry said...

Well said, Julia. Enough is enough: I suggest everyone does what I have just done and write to the Chair of the Conservative Party to complain - via

Morris Hickey said...

The Press giving the oxygen of publicity to a piece of vain political detritus makes them complicit in his crime. Disgraceful.

[One of the CAPTCHA words is "toryfur" - honest!]

Lindsay said...

The Press may have given that disgraceful man a platform but he hardly came out smelling of roses. To admit he pleaded guilty only to save his driving licence - well that says it all. And it says a lot about the law's perverted concept of justice too.

Jaybird said...

It was reprehensible that CPS chose not to pursue the driving offence, which could easily have resulted in a life changing injury.