Sunday, 22 December 2013

Has this Barnet Troll got a conscience?

Since I started writing this blog in 2008, I've come across all manner of people. There are some people I have the highest admiration for. Some people humble me with their commitment and passion to do the right thing in the face of adversity. Sadly I have also come across some despicable people, people who sometimes undermine my strong faith in human nature.

 I try my very hardest never to hold feelings of bitterness, hatred and resentment towards my fellow man, because these are negative and will always do you far more damage than the person who you feel these feelings towards. There are times when I am nearly pushed to the absolute edge. As we approach the Christmas season, it is vital we put these feelings aside and concentrate on what is good in the world. It is a time when we should fight for justice. Whatever your beliefs and whatever your religion, the sad truth about the Christmas story (whether you believe it or think it is a fantasy) is that the baby we remember did not have a happy ending. His life was taken by a brutal state as a result of lies, injustice and jealousy. Whatever else you may or may not believe, there are millions of innocent babies born in our history, who have died as the result of lies, jealousy and injustice for holding views that people have sought to suppress. Ultimately the way to a better world is through all of us learning mutual respect and learning to consider other peoples thoughts and feelings and circumstances before we act.

So what has that got to do with a particularly nasty cyber bully in Barnet? Well the papers are full of stories of teenagers driven over the edge by cyberbullies. Sadly many teenagers are unaware of the impact of their actions. They lack the life experience to understand the consequences of saying nasty things and making things up on the internet.

As I mentioned above, I have met some people through my blog that I am in awe of. One such person is John Sullivan. John is a septugenarian in very poor health. Him and his wife have a daughter called Susan, who is 50 and has downs syndrome. I also have a cousin called Theresa who has downs syndrome, so I am only too aware of the challenges faced by the families of people in Johns situation. I try and take my cousin on holiday every year and as a result, I see the challenges John faces every day at first hand. Susan and Theresa were friends and used to attend a centre in Mill Hill for many years. Theresa moved to Barnet and so now goes elsewhere.

John Sullivan with his Daughter Susan in 2011
John has fought passionately for the rights of disabled people in Barnet. He organised the Your Choice Barnet week. He arranged for many of his friends, fellow carers, disabled people and other campaigners to write blogs highlighting the challenges faced by the Barnet disabled community. When I speak about such issues, I can only scratch the surface and speculate. The people who wrote these blogs are at the coal face of social care. A little appreciated fact is that these family carers save the Barnet taxpayer a fortune. If they were heartless and simply handed the people they care for to the Council to look after, the council would have a legal responsibility to assume the role of carer and the social budget would have to increase massively. This could only be paid for by a hike in taxes. So when John Sullivan and his fellow campaigners call for better transport and better facilities for the disabled, he is not asking out of a selfish desire to fleece the taxpayer. He is asking so that him and his fellow carers can cope. When Susan is at a daycentre, John and his wife can do the things that you or I can take for granted. When Susan is happy, she is joy to be with and her care is easy. When she is upset, she is a different proposition. That is why it is vital that people like John are supported.

John is not a saint. Over the years, I've got to know him. He's a working class boy from Burnt Oak who has done well for himself. When he was a lad, he went to Watling Boys club. His regular watering hole was the Bald Faced Stag in Burnt Oak, a pub well known for its raucous atmosphere. His family are steeped in army traditions and recently John was telling me of the experiences of his nephews in the various theaters of war that the army has found itself in. John has a very close and protective family network and is lucky that like many such families, he has plenty of support. I don't see eye to eye with John on many issues. John calls a spade a spade and if he disagrees, he says "You are talking b*ll*cks". Unlike me, he can't afford to take a theoritical view of the situation in Barnet. As he has pointed out on numerous occasions "while you lot are holding meetings and waffling, there are people out there at their wits end". When he sent me one guest  blog for submission, I suggested that describing one particular councillor as "sick and evil" was a tad strong. John replied "can you suggest another way of describing behaviour that causes vulnerable and disabled people distress". John doesn't beat about the bush. He calls things how he sees them and expects other people to be equally straightforward. When I discussed what he had to say in his blogs, he said "look, what you've got to realise is that everything I say is the truth and I can back it up. If you simply tell the truth, then you have nothing to fear". Mr Sullivan is not a left wing subversive. He speaks with enormous pride of his hephews service in the armed forces and the their efforts on our behalf in the various combat areas. He is looking forward to seeing them over Christmas, to catch up on their latest news and the latest stories. That is the sort of man John Sullivan is. That is why I respect him.

Your Choice Barnet week came about because John felt that the disabled were a forgotten underclass in Barnet. When Barnet Council sought to fleece motorists, by hiking prices of CPZ permits, the law came down on the side of the motorists and the hike were reversed. When the Council hiked parking prices in the High Streets, Helen Michael led a rebellion and the council backed down. The Tories in the Town hall realised that the traders were there core voters, so the Councillors may lose their jobs. Parking prices were slashed and the meters have returned. Sadly for the disabled, it is a different matter. At the task and finish group, Councillor Brian Salinger, a former Tory leader of Barnet Council stated that he had no problem with "making a profit out of services for the disabled". So motorists and businesses are protected, but the disabled are up to be fleeced. When Brian Salinger was Leader of the Council, his right hand man and enforcer was ex Councillor Daniel Hope. Hope represented Brunswick Park ward. Sadly for Mr Salinger, Mr Hope was not very good at this role. His local ward tired of Hope and replaced him with the lovely Lisa Rutter, Hope was banished to an unwinnable ward for the 2006 election. The role of the chief whip is to maintain order, but sadly for Brian Salinger, Hope had missed the fact that his colleagues were plotting and the day after the 2006 election, Salinger was sacked by the Tories as leader and replaced by Mike Freer, now MP for Finchley.

Since then, Hope has set up a succession of blogs and twitter accounts. The latest of these is the website and the website. Interestingly, the majority of the 18 followers of Mr Hope on this twitter account are actually local bloggers, and other people on the left. Mr Hope has had a steady stream of juicy tip offs from his former allies in the Tory ranks in Barnet, which have often been unhelpful to the Freer regime. Mr Hope has been a useful way for the anti Freer faction of the Conservatives to get their views across, without getting their hands dirty.

In his recent blogs, John Sullivan and his fellow carers have been less than complimentary about Mr Salinger and his comments. They feel badly let down by the local politicians, over the cuts to services being enacted by Your Choice Barnet. As many people will realise, there is a council election next year, and the last thing that councillors want is bad press, especially from a group such as the disabled which attracts widespread sympathy. One of the tactics that is tried and trusted for unscrupulous people to dismiss genuine concerns, is to pretend that criticisms are not genuine and are simply part of some other campaign, orchestrated by people merely seeking political gains. Of course anyone who actually bothered to read the guest blogs would realise that Mr Sullivan and his fellow bloggers were simply seeking a better life for their loved ones.

On Friday, Mr Hope used his BarnetGrassCons twitter account to mount such an attack on John Sullivan and his campaign for disabled rights in Barnet (the comment at the bottom was first). As you can see this clearly implies that this blog was "bought" and written by "cranks" . The second tweet implies(completely without any evidence) that the campaign was orchestrated by the Barnet Alliance. The third tweet calls the Barnet Alliance Cranks. Clearly when Hope posted the first tweet, he was referring to Your Choice Barnet Week and the posts of Mr Sullivan and the other YCB week bloggers.

  1. Twist and spin all you like, what tabloid gossip bloggers do! are the cranks.
  2. Clearly been taken over by the cranky 'anti Tory' this week. Maybe you waive ur fees to SETs?
  3. So who's bought your blog for next week? Unions? Other cranks? Labour Party?

When John Sullivan saw these comments hewas livid. John Sullivan contacted Hope. Hope admitted that he hadn't bothered to read the Your Choice Barnet week blogs. Here is this admission in an email to Mr Sullivan

Please ask Mr Tichbourne to provide you with the evidence that I have called you, specifically, a 'crank' (as opposed to my comments about BAPS writing his blog for a week). It is clear from your email that your are going on hearsay or you would have quoted what I had apparently said.

Until he raised your name I was unaware you had even written something during BAPS week. Are you on their Executive now? 

So Mr Hope launched an attack on John Sullivan and his fellow campaigners, having not even read their blogs. To me this a staggering admission. These comments were posted on Friday, the day John posted his second YCB week. It had John Sullivans name and picture on the title (Your Choice Barnet Week - Thank you for listening ...).
Mr Sullivan sought a meeting with Daniel Hope to explain to him why he was mistaken (a not unreasonable request). Mr Sullivan had hoped that Mr Hope might realise he'd made a mistake and correct his misleading tweets. For the absence of doubt, the Barnet Alliance for Public Services were not in any way associated with the Your Choice Barnet week. John Sullivan is not a member and he is not on their executive. In actual fact, as Mr Hope knows well, Mr Sullivan is not at all well. He is in his seventees and is undergoing treatment for a serious illness. He was so unwell that he could not address a recent council meeting and asked a friend to read a prepared speech, by agreement with the committee chair. This was featured in his first blog

So how did Mr Hope respond to Mr Sullivans request to meet him? Sadly rather than realise he'd made a mistake and apologise, he responded by claiming Mr Sullivan was threatening him and he was worried for his own safety. He suggested that unless Mr Sullivan stopped harrassing him, he would contact the authorities. To me, the concept that Mr Hope would be scared of a man who is in his seventies and so ill that he can't speak at a council meeting is ridiculous. It was clear to me that the intention of Mr Hope's email was to intimidate Mr Sullivan. One has to ask, what sort of a man threatens a man in his seventies, with a life threatening illness, five days before Christmas.

Let us remind ourselves that John Sullivan has a wife and a disabled daughter. He should be spending his time preparing for the festive season and keeping Susan happy. Whilst John is committed to the fight for disabled rights, his wife is highly concerned about the effect that Mr Hope's campaign may be having on John. The last thing he needs is stress. Mr Sullivan contacted me yesterday, forwarding the emails he'd exchanged with Mr Hope. I emailed Mr Hope and suggested that given Mr Sullivans age and ill health, maybe he should reconsider his spiteful campaign, especially as he'd clearly got his facts wrong.

Sadly, like all bullies, Mr Hope didn't think "hang on, maybe I've overstepped the mark". Nope, he unashamedly posted another tweet denigrating and taunting an elderly, unwell man.

Just had to block two users following very unsavoury trolling incident involving repeated threats to turn up at my home address.

I wonder whether Mr Hope has any conscience at all. Just to recap, he posted a series of tweets calling guest bloggers campaigning on behalf of their loved ones cranks. He accused Mr Sullivan of being on the executive of an organisation he doesn't belong to. He claimed I'd taken money to publish guest blogs. To compound all of this he admitted that he hadn't read the blogs which he was attacking in his comments.

Now I am quite used to being abused by Mr Hope in his various guises on Twitter. I really don't mind and try and give as good as I get (which has resulted in Mr Hope throwing his toys out of the pram on more than one occasion). It is however a completely different matter when he starts trying to bully a sick man in his seventies into submission. The dilemma I have is whether I should ignore the lies put about by Daniel Hope. If I do, he will say "he didn't deny it, so it must be true". When Mr Hope claims that he's been harrassed and people have threatened to turn up at his home, he doesn't say that the person in question was a sick man who was in his seventies and who simply asked if he could have a chat about some inaccuracies in his comments, so they could be corrected. In his weasel words, he claims that BAPS organised YCB week without a shred of truth. He also calls BAPS cranks, which is itself another slur. People unfamiliar with Barnet Politics should be aware that BAPS organised a very successful Peoples question time last year, which featured the Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius and the other two party leaders. It was packed to the rafters and Mr Cornelius complemented BAPS on their efforts for organising it.Mr Hope was present at this meeting and haas attended many events organised by BAPS.  Mr Hope may disagree with the views of individual BAPS members, but to label everyone involved as Cranks is plain ignorant. I disagree with many of the policies of the current Tory administration, but I don't call them cranks as a group. If a specific individual says something ridiculous, then fine say so, but Mr Hope attacks people without even reading what they have to say (as admitted in his letter to Mr Sullivan). What sort of way is that to behave? One has to say that if this is the way Mr Hope conducts his business, it is unsurprising that he got deselected in Chipping Barnet and his Boss Mr Salinger got the sack.

As I said at the start of this blog, I try not to get upset at peoples behaviour and I try and see the good in all people, especially in the season of goodwill. Sometimes this is difficult.

No comments: