Council Leader has a blog funded by the Barnet Taxpayer called LEADERLISTENS.COM
This is part of his Leader Listens initiative, to get him out and about in the community and to meet the people who elect him. His latest blog, entitled "Local Housing Allowance pays for £1m house, not the Council" (Click HERE for link)makes a rather disturbing claim.
Mike said :-
So why am I blogging about this? Well, if you scratch the surface of 90% of the e-mails I have received what you find is ignorance, namely the flawed Local Housing Allowance banding that can see in excess of £60,000 a year being paid to a landlord to house a family. A system that the Department for Work and Pensions won’t review or cap until April of next year at the earliest.
More worrying in my view is that most e-mails had racist tones and in some cases were just downright racist. They did not object to the tenant living in the property or the level of benefit being paid, they were more concerned about the colour of her skin and ethnic origin than the amounts being claimed.
Mike's previous jobs include being a bookie (working in retail gaming according to his profile) and a banker. As such, we've got to assume he's pretty numerate. Accuracy with figures is essential for both jobs. His statement about the contents of 90% of emails, means that Mike received a minimum of 10 emails on the subject. He claims that "Most Emails had racist tones". From his statement, this means that a minimum of 6 emails were potentially racist (it could possibly have been 60 or 600?). Now one of the BNP's favoured tactics is to claim that there is a huge, suppressed groundswell of support at grassroots level. They claim that "real people" support them. Fortunately this is not borne out by election results or any other method of measuring the views of "real people". In many areas the BNP consider getting 5% of the vote a big success (so much for the groundswell). The mere fact that Mike Freer made the claim about his postbag has given a propaganda victory to the BNP. They can quite honestly claim that the Leader of Barnet Council stated that most of his postbag on the case was from racists.
As if that isn't bad enough, he then added the following comment in response to a question as to whether he intended reporting the racist emails to the police (sending of such emails is illegal).
He said :-
In reference to comments with racist overtones, the email was a from a member of the BNP - a racist organisation - but sadly a legal one and of course whilst an individual on a video clip can be identified, many people hide behind false names and email addresses.
Now all of a sudden the postbag has changed from being most of the emails (of which there was a minimum of 10) to just being a lone BNP fanatic. Which statement is true Mike? they can't both be, can they? Mike has put himself in a position where the BNP can make use him both as a propaganda tool and an example of a mainstream politician lying.
Now I'm going to give Mike Freer the benefit of the doubt on this one. Let me tell you what I think happened. He got a few emails from various sources all telling him a few things he didn't like. In amongst that was a BNP supporter having a rant. Mike was upset by this and wrote his blog. He probably hoped that his blog would nip in the bud any attempt to hijack the story by the BNP. He later realised what he'd done and set out to ensure that he limited the damage caused by the earlier blog which could be construed as useful to the BNP.
Whether my take on it is correct or not, Mike really needs to clarify what he's said. I think the blog has shown poor judgement on his part. He really has to learn to engage his brain and think things through before making statements in the public domain. In answer to my headline - Can we trust Mike Freer? - I guess that I may be able to answer that when we see what he does next.