Saturday 9 January 2016

Have the "Barnet Blogs shot their load"?

There was an interesting interview with our old friend Brian Coleman in the Camden New Journal this week. In it Brian made a couple of rather interesting claims about the Barnet Blogs.
"The blogs in Barnet seemed to have shot their load, though. They got a bit carried away with themselves but it was all very nasty. I was warned by the chief executive of Barnet Council no less that I was being watched everywhere I went."
Gnat brained Borisand loving admirer
 There  are two rather interesting claims there. We will deal with the second one first. Did Barnet bloggers "watch Brian Coleman everywhere he went". I would be very interested to find out whether this is simply Colemans over fertile imagination, or whether the council was so deluded and out of touch that they really believed myself, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable have the slightest interest in Colemans movements.I think a blog which ran along the lines of "Well today I followed Brian Coleman around LIDL and guess what, he bought a jar of gherkins" would not exactly win the blog of the year. In fact to the best of my knowledge, I've only ever seen Brian Coleman four times outside of council meetings etc. Once was when he turned up to watch the Salvation Army at The Mill Hill Music Festival (possibly in 2009) and I sold him a glass of wine, once when he turned up at the Watling Festival, where I was running a five aside competition and once last year, when I was invited to a party and to my horror, he turned up. The most embarrassing time was when Coleman and his mother turned up for a Sea Cadet dinner, which I had also been invited to back in 2012. The Commander of the Sea Cadets put us both as guest of honour on the top table. Coleman threw a hissy fit. I am by nature good mannered and seeing the embarrassment of the Commander, I simply said "move me to another table, I have no objection". It seems Coleman subsequently went around boasting he'd had me "thrown from the top table". As I was seated with some delightful people who were great company, it was no problem for me. I don't support charities to be stuck on the top table, so I found it all a bit sad on his part. My wife was extremely cross about it though, as she thought he was being a complete arse (I'd long since realised).

In fact I've generally done everything I could to avoid Coleman. When Coleman was Mayor, my daughter, who at the time was the best female swimmer in her age group in the country, was given a prestigious award by the London Borough of Barnet. As Coleman was Mayor, he was presenting it. Knowing his vindictive nature, I didn't attend. I most certainly didn't want him throwing a hissy fit and upsetting my wife and daughter. As it was, he didn't realise who my wife was and actually spent half of the event gossiping to her and telling her how beastly people were being to his mother. As for the other Barnet bloggers, they have even less interest in following Coleman than I have. Mrs Angry has told me on several occasions that Coleman makes her feel physically sick and Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable are just not interested in him at all. I have sent Nick Walkley, who was Barnet Council CEO when Coleman was in his pomp an email asking whether it was true he'd issued such advice. If it is then the council are even more out of touch than I thought.

As to the first of Colemans claims that "The blogs have shot their load". I am really not sure what this is supposed to mean. I suspect it simply confirms what many of us have long suspected, that Brian Coleman is a narcissist and if blogs are not writing about him, then they have simply lost their reason for existence. In actual fact, I cant speak for the other Barnet bloggers, but I found Coleman to be a crashing bore to write about. His actions were uniquely predictable. If Rowan Atkinson and John Cleese collaborated to invent a character who was the epitimy of an awful Tory in a little council, with a string of non jobs, who was pompous, officious and downright unpleasant, I am sure they would come up with Coleman. The only reason any of us ever blogged about Coleman was because he was the best way of persuading people that the Tory regime at Barnet Council was beyond the pale. But often, it simply detracted from what we were trying to say. At the height of the struggle to stop the Council committing the folly that is the One Barnet outsourcing, Coleman was at his very worst. Wheras us bloggers should have been focussing on destroying the case for the outsourcing, often Coleman would pop up and take everyones attention away, by doing something revolting and outrageous. Council Leader, Richard Cornelius, who I get on well with, once told me that "Brian goes around upsetting everyone, which means the rest of us can get on with our jobs". I warned him that Coleman would eventusly blow up in their faces, but he said "Oh no, Brian is quite clever really, he knows where to draw the line". Sadly for Richard, he couldn't have been more wrong. First Coleman took on the Boroughs traders and motorists. This turned pear shape and they lost Barnet and Cameden GLA seat, giving Labour a huge boost. Then Coleman got arrested for beating up Helen Michael. The Tories for a while were caught like rabbits in a torch beam. In a rather stupid act of ostrich like denial, many bought into Colemans story that nothing happened and that he'd been set up. The CCTV footage shown on the news exploded that myth and exposed the lies.

And for the Barnet blogs and Brian Coleman, that was pretty much that. But as I said before, it was never about Brian Coleman for any of us. of course we were in good company getting slagged off. He also called Boris "gnat brained" and Zac an out of touch posh boy. Oddly he had nice words for Dan Thomas, who previously he loathed, the two having a massive falling out about Thomas residency arrangements. Apparently Brian was supposed to be writing a book, which would lift the lid on the Barnet political scene. The reports I had were that it was virtually unreadable, simply being a long list of diatribes against people no one had ever heard of. When Brian said that the bloggers had shot their load, I sort of assumed he was simply referring to his own blog, which was last updated in 2014. I suspect that this may well be the last time we talk about Brian. I for one hope so. In the article, he states that his time has passed. We heartily agree and we won't miss him.

So are we finished? Yesterday, this blog got 863 hits, on a day when there wasn't anything earth shattering on it. We get far more hits than in 2009, when Coleman was Mayor and under investigation for disciplinary breaches. At the 2015 Barnet Eye awards at The Chandos Arms, I was told by dozens of people who had turned up, that the blog has got far better over the last couple of years. I heard the same thing, time and time again "I don't like everything you put on the blog, but its the first thing I look at when I want to know what is going on locally". We continue to break strories that are then picked up elsewhere. The latest big story that we featured first was the dodgy shenanigans in the Unison election. That story made it on to the Guardian. Mrs Angry was featured in great length in their article. Hardly sounds as if the Guardian think she's shot her load. As to our other bloggers, Mr Mustard has become a national celebrity and is the "go to" expert on dodgy council parking regimes for many TV shows. Mr Reasonable does what he has always done. He writes a couple of well thought out and well researched blogs a month, that in all the time I've followed him, no one from Barnet Council has ever even tried to refute. He doesn't write blogs to draw attention to himself, he blogs because he thinks it is the right thing to do.

In fact I am quite surprised that the Barnet blogsphere has survived and is as strong as it is. The only thing which could realistically be levelled at the Barnet blogosphere is that maybe its become stale, with no new bloggers emerging. It would be great to see some new blood, but in the absence of such activity, I think the four of us are doing a fine job and I can assure you that my load is far from shot.


Mrs Angry said...

Hmm. Coleman doesn't make me feel 'sick':, and those are not my words. I have no feelings about him at all, anymore, now that he is removed from office, or rather, if anything, I feel rather sorry for him.

I think he meant about bloggers having shot their load, that no one writes about him any more - well, why would we? He has admitted his time is over, and that is actually the only dignified response, in his circumstances.

What does make me nauseated is the continued war by Barnet Tories on those most in need of help, and support: their housing policies, for example, and their assaults on anything that supports residents who are vulnerable - disabled children, the users of Your Choice Barnet, and now the terrible plans to destroy our public library service.

Rog T said...

Mrs A,
I don't want to start an argument about this, but after his trial for the attack on Helen you told me (from my notes) "it makes me feel sick, just looking at him after what he did". Of course you may feel different now, but those were your words.

Mrs Angry said...

Any violence against women sickens me, and what happened to Helen was reprehensible. Also reprehensible - and sickening - was, and is, the failure of Barnet Tories to speak out in clear condemnation of the incident. Coleman is gone: they are still here.