So says my very favourite Councillor Brian Coleman. He's not alone though, Hazel Blears agrees with him. She says "Political blogs are fueling a culture of cynicism about politics" in an article on the BBC website - click HERE to see it.
So can I or can't I??? Is Brian Coleman correct in his assertion that "There are too many people out there who have no life except sitting in front of their computer". Given the way various Tory councillors were pointing at me at the Council meeting on Tuesday evening, I guess Brian and his cronies think I'm one of the Billy No Mates brigade, sitting alone with my blog, hour after hour, night after night, only trekking down to Marks and Spencers for my meals for 1. Strangely enough, the opposite is true and I really struggle to make time to write this. Along with running one of London's most successful independant studios (2 Brit award winners started with us in the last 5 years), running a punk rock band, organising music festivals (which Brian Coleman has been known to frequent) and charity gigs, playing football once or twice a week, running around after 3 children, cooking gastranomic feasts for my beautiful wife and drinking far too much, I somehow make time to fit this in.
Am I cynical as Blears states, no I'm generally pretty optimistic, although I must say that our current council has seriously pushed me. Unlike Blears and Coleman, I think that political blogs are part of a wider debate. If you don't like a blog don't read it, but I find it quite incredible that figures on both the Left and Right seem to dislike debate. Maybe they just dislike the unwashed masses criticising them and threatening their nice big fat juicy allowances.
As to Coleman's charge that we are "blessed with that most annoying of gifts - hindsight". Sure there is plenty of discussion of what has happened in the past, but there are plenty of cases of Barnet Bloggers setting the agenda and driving council policy and actions. David Miller's Barnet Council Watch blog was the first source of news to discuss the "Barnet Nazi video clip". Some days later Mike Freer trumpeted his "Swift action" to have this removed. It wasn't 20-20 hindsight that took both myself and David Miller to the council meeting and lead to us expressing our disgust at a Tory Councillor likening the Lib Dem's to The BNP for having the audacity to criticise the council's investments Iceland. If we hadn't reported this, it would probably have passed completely unnoticed.
It is interesting that Brian Coleman calls Twitter "a site for Twits". Well he is a cabinet member of Barnet Council and they have their own Twitter website - click HERE to visit it. Does he actually talk to his colleagues. He says "one facet of the world wide web is the desire of politicians to appear hip and trendy and have their own blog". Could he possibly be having a swipe at his boss, the Council Leader who recently had one set up at the cost of £400 to the taxpayer - Have a look at this fascinating site HERE.
Brian Coleman says "I have my doubts as to how many constituents want to know what their MP had for breakfast, of for that matter who with". Then he gives the game away by saying "I regularly glance at the blog of a North London Liberal Democrat MP ...". If it was as boring as Coleman claims surely a visit or two would be quiet enough. He reminds me of an old TV comedy sketch where an old lady accidently gets a porn video from the rental shop. "It was awful, awful, I had to watch it five times just to make sure how awful it was".
Which brings us quite nicely around to the subject of Mr Coleman's double standards. He doesn't like my blog, fair enough, that's his issue, but it isn't financed by prostitution. He has a Column in the Edgware and Mill Hill Press. It's on page 9 this week. On page 52 there is an advert in column 1 at the top announcing "High class service where fantasies come true, latest escorts online - Hotel visits to Home Visits" amongst other things with a rather appealing picture of a rather lovely looking lady. On the same page is an advert taking 1/3rd of the page from Barnet Council advertising planning applications. There is another one of 1/8th of a page advertising traffic enforcement. The council spent nearly £80,000 in The Press last year (compared with approx £30,000 in the Times group which recently banned adverts for sex). At Tuesday's Council meeting, Coleman was asked if he intended to ask the paper he appears in if it would ban adverts for sex. His answer "No". I would have thought the council would have a positive policy of avoiding papers which promote such services. I am alarmed to find the opposite is true.
There is a page and a bit of full colour adverts in The Press advertising a whole range of sexual services, all shapes and tastes catered for. Many of these brothels will be using girls who have been brought to the UK under false pretences to work in the sex industry and are held as virtual slaves. These girls pay for the paper on which Councillor Coleman's column is printed, in many ways, none of them very nice.
I would suggest Brian Coleman takes a long hard look at what he stands for before he starts criticising anyone else. Oh yes and let me put a lovely image in the mind of anyone choosing to use these sexula services advertising in his paper. The next time a young girl is pleasuring you, just remember you are ultimately paying for Brian Coleman's smiling face to appear on page 9 of the Barnet Press.
LOL - for internet newbies like yourself Rog T - that means LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!
(methinks the lady dost protest toooooo much!!)
Brian Coleman writes in the Press:
"Particularly incidious are the ridiculous rumours and false stories that get circulated"
Coleman wrote in his New Statesman blog 23 April 2007:
"...Mark Oaten had a taste for rent boys or that Simon Hughes has had gay relationships (never trust a man who dyes his hair says my Mother).
... The late Ted Heath managed to obtain the highest Office of State after he was supposedly advised to cease his Cottaging activities in the 1950s"
Unbelievably Councillor Coleman demands - "Just as sending an anonymous malicious letter to your home is a criminal offence, so it should be to post anonymously on the internet".
Statler and I were wondering if he thinks that that crime should be extended to off the record briefing to the press for Councillors sniping at their colleagues?
In reply to the observation that "There are far too many people with no life...", let us recall some of the titles of the stunning contributions to British journalism that Councillor Coleman made (before his New Statesman blog was terminated)
"Time to abolish the City of London?" followed by "Up the City of London" !!
"A few cans of Hairspray"
"Thatcher the gay icon"
"The closet is a lonely place"
Off for some Ovaltine.
"internet newbies" - Heh Heh Heh, if only you knew what you were talking about - ask yourt mate Jane one day.
There are too many councillors out there who have no life except sitting in the back of a taxi, at taxpayers expense, on their way to yet another free lunch.
Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go!:
The most remarkable aspect of Brian Coleman’s column is that he wrote it at all. Why should he suddenly care about bloggers when he has always made it clear that he simply doesn’t give a stuff what anyone else thinks?
Is it a coincidence that Hazel Blears also attacked bloggers this week?
No. This is part of a concerted effort by the political classes to undermine the democratic right of the electorate to hold them to account. Politicians consider themselves to be professionals - and they certainly award themselves professional salaries - but what exactly are their qualifications for the job?
The simple truth is that everyone is qualified to be a politician, and thanks to the internet and blogging, everyone can now have their say. And that is what the politicians fear most, because they have lost their monopoly on having an opinion.
Nobody is forced to read this. Unlike Mike Freer’s blog, it doesn’t cost the taxpayer a bean. If the public don’t want to read blogs, they will soon die out.
Brian says that bloggers have nothing to do all day but sit at a computer screen. I can’t speak for every blogger, but you and I both run successful businesses which create employment. Our endeavours generate tax revenue to keep the economy going. What exactly is Brian’s contribution to the economic well being of the country?
Isn't it odd that Brian Coleman picked up some parts of Hazel Blears' speech but strangely omitted to praise:
Ms Blears, a former solicitor from a working-class family in Salford, said:
"Politicians must not live on 'Planet Politics' and behave in ways alien and strange to the electorate. This happens partly because there is a trend towards politics being seen as a career move rather than a call to public service."
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