Monday 31 January 2011

Barnet Rock Against the Cuts - Media Round up

1. TV 

BBC News

Almost 2,000 residents have taken part in a protest against Barnet Council's budget cuts.


Council protests

6.02PM   Sun Jan 30 2011
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of north London today in a march against government cuts. Barnet residents say the council's planned cuts of nearly 55 million pounds over the next three years will have a devastating impact on the area.
By: Carolyn Sim

2. Big Society

To view click here

3. Papers

Hendon Times stories and pictures

“Hundreds of residents and activists march through Finchley in protests at planned cuts”

HUNDREDS of angry protesters have taken to the streets of Finchley in a mass rally against planned cuts to local and national services.
Around 600 people joined a protest march organised by Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) from Finchley Central Tube station to the artsdepot, which faces losing its grant form Barnet Council.

“Leading TUC member and Tariq Ali address crowds at arts depot in North Finchley”

IMPASSIONED speeches from a leading Trade Unionist and left-wing thinker Tariq Ali have received a rapturous welcome at a rally against planned cuts in Barnet.
Hundreds of people have packed into the auditorium at artsdepot, North Finchley, to hear music from 60s favourites The Foundations and local bands, as well as the speakers.
Today's events have been organised by the Barnet Alliance for Public Services to raise awareness for organisations and groups facing funding cuts.
Frances O'Grady, deputy secretary general of the Trades Union Council (TUC) described Barnet as the “test bed for privatisation” .
Read full article click here

“Barnet Voice leader tells rally cuts will make service provision 'dog eat dog'”

Robert Johnson, of Barnet Voice, made the comments while speaking to a rally of people upset with plans to cut public sector services in Barnet at the artsdepot this afternoon.
He told the assembly his group, a grass-roots mental health organisation, faced a 33 per cent drop in funding and an “uncertain future” helping people in the borough.
Read article click here

4. Photographs

You can view pictures of the march here on Flickr and here 

Save Barnets Library Campaign - Day of action 5th February

As part of the National Day for Libraries on 5th February, 2011, Barnet UNISON are running a stall outside the Broadwalk Shopping Centre, Station Road, Edgware between 10.30 a.m. and 12 noon in support of the Barnet "Save Our Libraries" and UNISON’s "Love Your Libraries" campaigns.
The day of action has been organised nationally by children’s author and Blue Peter Book Award 2000 winner Alan Gibbons, to highlight the danger of up to 400 libraries being threatened with closure.  Upon learning of Barnet Councillors referring to libraries as a 'lifestyle choice' and suggesting that residents should collect their books from supermarkets, Gibbons commented:

"’Let them buy books from Tesco!’ - Barnet's Councillors are posing as latter-day Marie Antoinettes. They want to 'save money' by closing libraries.  Illiteracy is not something we should bequeath our children. Culture and reading are not a frippery. They are an essential element in a democratic society." (Alan Gibbons)
Local author and winner of the Orange Award for New Writers 2006, Naomi Alderman, is backing the event, and remembers how Hendon Library provided her with a quiet area and inspiration to write her debut novel ‘Disobedience'.  In support of the day, she claims:

"Libraries are needed by the poorest and most vulnerable in our community. Children who want to study but have no quiet place in a crowded or noisy home to do it. Pensioners on fixed incomes whose greatest pleasure is reading but who can't afford to buy new books. Those people on low wages who aren't able to afford internet access or reference books at home. They are a way to care for the minds of our citizens, just as hospitals care for our bodies. They should be the very last thing we consider cutting, not the first." (Naomi Alderman)

If Barnet residents agree with Alan and Naomi, they will have an opportunity to sign the petition in support of protecting Barnet's libraries at the stall. The petition is also available for signature online at

For further information about the event on February 5th please contact:

A few home truths

Following the highly successful march and rally in Finchley yesterday, no one can pretend that people are happy with the cuts being imposed by Barnet Council. Let's just recap on what's happened.

A completely useless Tory administration has lost £43 million pounds - £27.4 million in Icelandic investments, £11 million in an overspend on Aerodrome Road and £6 million on the Catalyst Outsourcing contract.

Who do  they want to pay for it?

Residents of Sheltered Housing
Users of Libraries
People with Brain injuries
Young people with needs

to name but a few

It is high time that they faced up to the truth, apologised and let someone who is competent take over. Will they? No chance


Well I really should be tucked up in bed right now, but actually I'm exhillerated (and dyslexic, hence the crap spelling). Barnet was on London news tonight. Why? because we got off our arses and said "No we are not going to take this crap". How does that make me feel. Very proud.

Let me share a private moment with you, which gave me a small moment of personal enlightenment about what we achieved today. My daughter has enrolled in a confirmation class. Again I'm proud of my kids. Today was the first mass for her confirmation group (for those of you who don't know, confirmation is something kids of 13 do in my tradition). The reading at the mass included the line "Blessed are those who fight for justice". Whatever your views, I hope that is a sentiment you subscribe to. Injustice is nothing new, struggle is nothing new. I suspect that there will always be a fight for justice.

I do believe we achieved something today. I also believe that even if we win this battle, the fight will never go away. Sometimes it may be easier and sometimes it may be harder. So long as we can come together, put our differences aside and let no one walk all over us, we can make a difference. Today I have a very strong sense of pride, for a whole host of reasons. I was sent this link to an album of pictures taken at todays march and rally. If you were there, please have a look.

It makes it all worth while.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Barnet Rock Against the Cuts - The Arts Depot

I am completely knackered. I have been working since 9am getting the music (& everything else) finalised for todays big March/Rally at the Arts Depot. I was at the Arts Depot so I didn't see the march or here the speeches at Finchley Central. I heard reports of over 1,000 people on the March.

At the Arts Depot we had International Superstars The Foundations headlining. Also on the bill was Boz Boorer, my band the False Dots, The Hamptons and 13 Riots. We had speeches from Tariq Ali, Frances O'Grady, Yvonne Hossacks, Alex Clayman, Austen Harney, Me, Alison Moore, to name but a few.

As I'm absolutely cream crackered, I won't write a full review other than to say everyone was delighted with the day. Brian Coleman last year stated that the opposition to his bonkers policies couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery. How wrong can be (on a regular basis). Not only did we get the message across, the music had them up and rocking in the aisles. I think we've made the point that the cuts are hellishly unpopular and that there is genuine opposition to them.

It would take to long to name everyone who helped (and with a memory like mine, I'd miss people out) so thanks to everyone who made it happen. I am so proud to be part of the event and to have helped in a small way to make it a success. Thank you

************** Stop Press *************

The BBC says that 2,000 people joined us for the march and rally

 This makes it all worth while. Watch this space for a link to the link of the footage highlights. I understand that hundreds (possibly thousands) also watched on-line

Saturday 29 January 2011

A preview of the Rock Against the Cuts Gig at the Arts Depot

Here's a few clips of some of the bands playing at the Arts Depot for Rock Against the Cuts. Please join us at the arts depot and if you can't make it, join us at - - for a live streamed broadcast of the whole show

The Foundations

Boz Boorer (here with Imelda May)

The False Dots

13 Riots

The Hamptons (solo video by lead singer Charlie Honderick)

Congratulations to the Hendon Times

As regular readers of this blog will know, we have never held back from criticising the local press when they have "backed off" on major stories concerning the Council. I must say that this weeks paper will make gruesome reading for local Conservative Councillors as it plops onto doorsteps around the Borough. Here is a link to the E-edition (scanned version of the paper) :-

Front Page : Brian Colemans crass comment "I never knowingly undercharge residents".

Page 3 - Report on John Hart racist attempts to humiliate a resident
Page 3 - Report on the rally against Tory Cuts in Barnet

Page 5 - Former Hendon Tory grandee attacks Tory MP Matthew Offord for cowardice relating to his charge of anti-semitism
Page 5 - Allotments holders up in arms against Tory charge hikes

Page 9 - Two stories concerning uproar about Tory Barnet Councils parking scheme & it's hike in costs for residents

Page 11 - Story about uproar for Tory Mayor Boris Johnson planning to leave tubestations unmanned and unsafe

Page 16 & 17 - Letter after letter about scandals concerning the Tories

This is completely unprecedented. It is also completely correct. The wheels are coming off the Barnet Conservatives. It must be time for the decent majority of Tory members to call time on the Hillan regime in the Town Hall and the atrocious Matthew Offord MP. I have had dozens of emails and calls from all sorts of Tories this week, from Councillors to regular members. The message "We must put our house in order". It is time for Tory Backbench councillors to form  a 1922 committee and speak as one voice for sanity. They can only be whipped if they don't stick together. If they don't it will be political suicide. Whilst that really doesn't bother me personally, the effects on the residents of Barnet does. We have the Tories for three more years in Council. Please can we have a regime that is not a complete laughing stock

The False Dots live at the Arts Depot Sunday 30th January

For those of you who don't know, as well as writing a blog, I also play guitar in a band. Tomorrow (Sunday 30th Jan) we appear at the Arts Depot as part of the Rock against the cuts event. It's a great chance to listen to some great music. Booked to appear we have :-

The Foundations (60's Superstars - Build me up Buttercup, Baby, Now that I found you)
Boz Boorer (The Polecats, Morrisey, Adam and the Ants)
The Hamptons
13 Riots
The False Dots

There will also be speeches from the likes of Frances O'Grady (Deputy secretary of UNISON) and veteran campaigner Tariq Ali. There will be a host of other speakers from local campaign groups. It is preceded by a march and rally from Finchley Central Station (starts at 11.30 with a rally). The event finshes at 4pm. It is free and is your chance to help save the Arts Depot and other threatened local services

The very best Matthew Offord Soup waiter jokes

Earlier in the week, MP for Hendon Matthew Offord explained on Twitter how the Prime Minister mistook him for  a soup waiter in the House of Commons restaurant. We commissioned a team of the Barnet Eye's finest joke writers to come up with a few other possible conversations :-

To William Hague.
Q: Can we give Peace a chance?
A: No, I had the peas yesterday, I'll have minestrone

To Theresa May
Q: I can give you super sex.
A: I'll have the soup please, I don't sleep with the servants

To Vince Cable
Q: Are you still considering the nuclear option
A: No, the bread and soup option will do fine

To the member for South Norfolk
Q: Hello Bacon
A: No, I'll have the Tomato soup today

We'd suggest that if he really wants to make a career of this waiter business, he nicks his old mate Mike Freer MP's catchphrase "I know nothing". It propelled a certain waiter from Barcelona to international superstardom.

(Please note the above conversations are purely inventions of the Barnet Eye jokes department, and have been specifically written to help cheer up our local MP as he recovers from his eye operation).

Friday 28 January 2011

Did the Prime Minister mistake Matthew Offord for a waiter ?

MP for Hendon, Matthew Offords Twitter service is back on the air !!!!  -

If I was mistaken for a waiter by the Prime Minister in the restaurant, I wouldn't be boasting about it.


Just been in the dining room when Prime Minister asked me what the soup was today. Seems he's been to the dentist and can't chew. Ouch!

Thursday 27 January 2011

The idiots guide to politics - First Edition

When my daughter was about five, she asked me to explain politics to her. I explained. "Well, there's the Conservative Party and they are run by rich people and they hate poor people. Then there is the Labour Party, which is run by poor people and they hate rich people, and finally there's the Liberal Democrats and nobody runs them and they hate everybody". Whilst that explanation was good enough for my daughter all those years ago, it is clear that we need a more comprehensive and updated glossary of terms for the vast majority of us mushrooms. As such, the Barnet Eye is delighted to announce "The idiots guide to politics - First Edition". This is a guide for everyone who has a passing interest, but doesn't understand the all of the terms. Please bear in mind that the definitions found in this guide are only applicable to politics. For general usage, there are plenty of dictionaries.

Allowance - Cash (usually a large amount) given for non job for party lackeys to stop them moaning. Used to enforce party discipline. Often given in smaller amounts, just for turning up.

Cabinet - Bunch of people who have displayed an extraordinary talent for shafting their colleagues

Conservative Party - Bunch of posh people, pretending to be middle class and a bunch of middle class people who want to mix with posh people.

Consulatation - A money wasting exercise, conducted to find out why politicians should ignore the wishes of the people

Consultants - People paid huge sums of taxpayers money to write reports which no one reads, generally because they are completely unreadable. Successful consultants write reports, which recommend further reports written by yet more consultants.

Constituent - Person to be lied to every four years and ignored for the rest of the time.

Council - means of supplying otherwise unemployable idiots (councillors) with money in return for votes for bonkers schemes.

Councillors - 3 types, unemployable idiots in it for the cash, unemployable idiots in it for the status and very occasionally quite nice people who actually want to make things better in their locality. Generally the third group are the ones excluded from all decision making, usually spotted in Council chamber looking embarressed or cross.

Council Leader - The person who the majority of unemployable idiots think best suited for the job.

Democracy - A system of voting designed to ensure that the will of the people is ignored.

Election - An opportunity to decide which useless idiot is elected to the council and which purveyor of porkies is picked for parliament.

Election Pledge - Porkie specifically constructed to con the voter.

Expense claim - Amount of cash given to councillors and MP's in return for (often made up) out of pocket spending

First Past the Post System - Method for ensuring that the majority of voters in most constituencies are not represented.

General Election - Opportunity to replace one useless Prime Minister with another one that is usally even worse.

Government - The lot who are deemed winners in a general election

Hustings - Opportunity for politicians to lie directly to the voter in person.

Inquiry - Method of avoiding taking action when there has been a cock up for long enough so people forget why they were cross.

Jail - Where really stupid politicians end up, when they are either so incompetent or so greedy that they want allowances they are not entitled to and can't lie effectively enough to hide their tracks

Labour Party - Bunch of middle class people, pretending to be working class and a bunch of working class people trying not to be completely shafted by the middle class people pretending to be working class

Lib Dem Party - A bunch of people who want to get into bed with whoever has the biggest **** (in a political sense of course) and another bunch of people who are highly embarrassed at such behaviour

Manifesto - Long list of porkies, designed to con the general public.

Majority - Meaningless term. At present we have a Government no one voted for (Con / Lib Dem was not an option on ballot paper) and they have the "majority of MP's"

MP -  Elected to Parliament. Gets a huge wad of cash and the ability to attack opponents in Parliament without fear of libel. Fantastic perks to enable ownership of multiple homes and marvellous schemes to assist with costs for moat cleaning.

Mortgage - In political terms, this is what the taxpayers pay for MP's with second homes.

Opposition - Bunch of people paid huge sums of money to do nothing useful

Parliament - Exclusive Members club which MP's belong to. Has cheap dining room, great bars and a great view.

Principles - A shop found on the High St which female MP's occasionally frequent when buying clothes.

Question Time - Weekly event in Parliament where Government MP's can further their career by brown nosing and the opposition try and make the Prime Minister look like a berk.

Speaker of the House -  Bloke who decides who's turn it is to talk b*ll*cks

Taxpayer - sheep to be mugged for cash

Television - Where most MP's want to work, despite their usual complete lack of suitability

Vote -  A meaningless piece of paper that people put into a box so their views can be understood and ignored.

Whip - The person who makes sure the useless idiots know they will be out of pocket if they don't do what they are told
As this is the Barnet Eye, here are a few facts about Barnet.

Barnet is made up of three Constituencies - Hendon, Finchley and Golder Green

The MP for Hendon is Matthew Offord MP. Prior  to his election, he was Deputy Leader of Barnet Council. His most notable achievement was letting the Aerodrome Road Bridge Replacement project overspend by £11 million (on an original budget of £12 million). Since entering Parliament, he has made a name for himself by claiming that the person responsible for getting him elected in Hendon is a raving Anti Semite and that once he was elected, he didn't talk to him anymore. Matthew Offord rather strangely told voters that he would like to see a cheese shop open in Mill Hill Broadway whilst canvassing. Sadly, he's done nothing to actually deliver on this promise since being elected. It's probably the one thing he promised which might be useful.

The MP for Finchley and Golder Green is Mike Freer MP. Prior to his election, he was the Leader of Barnet Council. In the year before his election, he was voted "Private Eye Banker of the Year" for losing £27.4 million of Taxpayers money in Iceland. Mike Freer told RSPCA staff working at a rescue centre that he was "fond of dogs and would look after canine interests if elected" whilst campaigning. He has made a name for himself by investing in a camper van and has toured the Constituency inviting residents to "join him for a chat". It is not known how many have taken him up on the offer.

The MP for Chipping Barnet is Theresa Villiers. Contrary to malicious rumours, being spread around the Borough, she was never at any time a "Backing singer for blogger Rog T's Punk Rock Band "The False Dots". Rog T would like to say that such a slur on the band is despicable and intolerable. Further more, we'd also like to say that we can categorically state that Theresa Villiers did not join the False Dots for the "Stand Stoned Starkers" protest on Hampstead Heath in 1981, where the band were billed to play and the event was broken up by Riot Police. To the best of Rog T's knowledge, there is no known association between the band and Theresa Villiers whatsoever. We suspect that these rumours were started by former guitarist Peter Trayling, after several bottles of strong cider, in the company of his friend, Church of England Vicar "Holy John" purely to wind up Rog T. Sadly, there is absolutely nothing of interest to write about Theresa Villiers, her political career or any other aspect of her career.

Barnet Council is lead by Leader of the Conservative Group, Lynne Hillan. Councillor Hillan has confounded critics of her leadership, by proving even more of a disaster than anticipated. The latest disaster involves a councillor "allegedly" racially abusing a resident at a council meeting. Other PR disasters include awarding herself huge allowance rises, resulting in open revolt, huge hikes in parking charges and appointing Robert Rams to oversee the Libraries closure program, In a fierce put down of critics, she announced that "No one can teach me anything about incompetence" at a recent council meeting. For once, we were inclined to agree.

Please feel free to add your own comments with terms to the guide, for edition 2

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Brian Coleman attacks the people who elected Andrew Harper (from the Barnet Eye Spy)

The Tory Party in Barnet is full of comedians.Councillor Brian Coleman is a funny guy. Just ask Deputy Leader Andrew Harper. At tuesday nights council meeting, Coleman made a point of slagging off the Garden Suburb residents who elected Councillor Harper. Oh what fun Coleman had, as he read out and lampooned letters from residents concerned at the huge hike in parking charges.

The Brian Coleman fan club in the Barnet Torys merrily chortled along. Harper looked like he was about to have a heart attack, turning red and looking far from his normal amiable self. The more sensible Tories either looked disgusted or mortified. Perhaps the funniest facial expression was that of Councillor Helena Hart who looked like she had discovered a new place to store her red  hot poker.

Harper and Coleman have already exchanged emails on the subject. Coleman sort of suggested Harper lacked backbone. I suspect that Harper is worried he'll lack a council seat at the next election.

As it is, the Tories seem to be lining up to insult members of the public right now. Do they know something we don't? A certain very senior council officer made a very interesting observation about the meeting to me afterwards. I'd love to tell you exactly what was said, but then, you poor dears wouldn't have a Barnet Eye Spy anymore, would you. Oh happy days.......

(Ed Note : Thanks to the barnet eye spy for the report - notes dictated via phone. The Barnet Eye always welcomes reports from Council meetings, they can be emailed via the link in the sidebar)

Lynne Hillan : A complete failure of Leadership

Some things are not difficult. Councillors are elected to represent people (even in Barnet). They are not elected to racially abuse them. They are not elected to publicly humiliate them. Councillor John Hart, Chairman of the Hendon and District Residents forum (for which he receives an allowance of several thousand pounds) thought it was funny to "imitate" a Sri Lankan womans accent when she asked him a question. When asked if he was being racist, he replied in the affirmitive. There were dozens of witnesses, including several other councillors.

So how serious does the Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan think this is. This is what she told the local paper.

"An allegation concerning Cllr John Hart has been made to the monitoring officer.Whilst the matter is being investigated we cannot comment, however we are proud of Barnet's record in community cohesion in this diverse borough. Cllr Hart has resigned as Chairman of Hendon Residents Forum as an interim measure whilst investigations proceed."
This is not leadership. This is a disgrace.  All Hillan needs to do is speak to a few of her colleagues who were present, establish that the press reports are correct and then take action. Humiliating someone because they  speak with an accent is totally unacceptable. Once Lynne Hillan had established this, the rest is simple. She should withdraw the whip from John Hart and tell him that he should resign as a Councillor. No investigation is needed. It will cost the taxpayer a fortune, when the facts are plain. In the space of less than a week, we've had the unedifying spectacle of Matthew Offord claiming that a promenent member of the party was an anti semite. Offord's justification for doing nothing was "The Conservative Party is a broad church". Whilst I don't actually believe Offords story, if you take it at face value, it is appalling that our MP doesn't mind such people canvassing on his behalf. He claims he only ceased contact, when he no longer needed people to go out on the stump with him.

When I took Brian Coleman to the standards board, many people asked why I'd got so upset with a few nasty words in an email. I explained that I wasn't bothered on a personal level, but Councillors have to show respect to the people they represent. I had hoped that the lesson would sink in. One of the directives of the Standards committee was that Councillors were given training in dealing with the public.

Was this ever done? If it was it clearly hasn't worked. If it wasn't it shows that Hillan and her predecessor Mike Freer, have no interest in showing the public respect. What John Hart has done shows that he isn't a suitable person to be a councillor. If Hillan needs a standards committee to tell her that, she is not a suitable person to be a leader. Consider this. Brian Coleman was found guity of breaching the Standards code, no action was taken by local Conservatives. Matthew Offord claims a senior member of the local party was an anti Semite, no action was taken by the local Conservatives, John Hart racially abuses a member of the public in his official capacity as Residents forum chair. No action was taken by the local Conservatives (Hart resigned his role as chair, he should have been summarily sacked). So have any Conservatives been "disciplined" by the party? Yes actually, one has. Councillor Kate Salinger was publicly humiliated by the party and stripped of her chair of committee role. Her crime, she abstained in a vote to give herself and other senior Tories a massive pay rise.

This is the Barnet Conservatives under Hillan. Racism, Anti Semitism and disrespect of the public is fine. The only thing that isn't is if you try and stop the troughing. Shame on Hillan. Shame on all of the people who voted to keep her.

Here's the link to the Times :-

I was informed by three people of the story immediately after the event. I must confess that I didn't believe it which is why I didn't post it immediately. I apologise to those people who made the effort for my doubts.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

BAPS rally with music at Arts Depot Sunday

This sunday there is a mass rally starting at Finchley Central Station at 11.30pm. This will be followed by a march to the Arts Depot. At 1pm there will be an event with some great bands and top speakers. The first 1/2 hour will be speeches from Tariq Ali & Frances O'Grady of the TUC, followed by Live music from 60's Soul superstars The Foundations, Boz Boorer, The Hamptons, 13 Riots, and The False Dots, interspersed with speakers from other local campaigns. It is all free.

I just got back from the planning meeting. As well as the agenda, we heard some horror stories of planned cuts (Barnet College cutting Graham Park facility, forcing young people to embark on a 3 hour round trip to Southgate). We also heard about a local Teacher who has just been suspended by her school, pending an investigation for Trade Union activities. All highly depressing

Councillor Brian Coleman explains why he has hiked up parking charges in Barnet

Councillor Jack Cohen asked Brian Coleman for a justification for his decision to hike parking charges. Here is the full exchange, with Colemans explanation.

Question 8 Councillor Jack Cohen
At the December meeting of the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee
meeting Members were informed that “Parking Enforcement” is in “melt down”. Do you accept
responsibility or do you blame your predecessor?
Answer by Councillor Brian Coleman
I blame circumstances.

I presume those circumstances are the election of a completely incompetent Conserative administration last May and the appointment of Coleman into a job beyond his capabilities

Monday 24 January 2011

BNP Activist "regrets" campaigning for Matthew Offord MP at last election

There is a most telling comment on the latest story in the Hendon Times regarding the outrageous comments made by Matthew Offord regarding the defection of Adrian Murray Leonard to UKIP. Steve Curry, BNP activist and councillor for East Barnet Ward has posted a comment claiming that the BNP actively campaigned to get Conservative Matthew Offord elected in Hendon.

You can read the entire comment here :-

In the opening paragraph, Mr Curry say
"Freinds  (sic) of mine distributed thousands of leaflets containing this text to hopefully see the back of Dismore we would not have bothered if we knew that he would be replaced by someone that makes malicious accusations against a person simply for wishing to join another party."
There are a couple of points which need to be spelled out. Firstly there was no BNP candidates in either the council or general election in Hendon. The only credible alternative in terms of votes to Labour was Matthew Offord, the Conservative Candidate. Mr Offord won by a mere 106 votes. Why on earth were the BNP diverting resources from target seats to one where they didn't even have candidates during general and local elections? What on earth was their motivation for "doing Offord a favour"? I think that many people who voted for Offord would like to know why he was done this favour. Just to be 100% clear, for those of you who don't know election law, all printed materials have to have the details of who issued them. It would be 100% clear where they came from and from who. As a candidate myself, we collected all leaflets from our opposition and used this to manage our campaign and plan our responses. It is 100% clear that Matthew Offord, with a far better party machine would be aware of all leaflets. Knowing this, the question is whether Matthew Offord was happy to receive support from this quarter. I've searched the web for any sort of statement from Offord on the subject, in vain. If anyone can find one, please post a link in the comments section.

I know for a fact that Andrew Dismore was furious about alleged "smears and untruths" told about him during the campaign.  He presented a large folder of alleged irregularities about various incidents at polling booths. During the campaign I knocked on thousands of doors in Mill Hill. I counted about five who told me that they supported the BNP. Each of them told me the same thing "I won't be voting for you mate, but I will be voting Tory to get Dismore out in the General Election". In each case they then gave me a long list of the sins of Andrew Dismore, punctuated with expletives. In hindsight, having read Steve Curry's comment, I realise that they must have read the leaflet (possibly they handed it out ???).

In his commons interjection, where he called Adrian Murray Leonard an "Anti Semite", Matthew Offord stated that the Conservative Party was a broad Church. It seems that his campaign team was an even broader church. The one thing everyone I've spoken to who campaigned for Offord has expressed is their bitter disappointment with his performance and behaviour. Steve Curry seems surprised and disappointed that Offord had turned out the way he has. If he'd have read this blog a bit closer, it would have been no surprise at all . We called him Captain Useless when he was Deputy Leader of Barnet Council. We called him Captain Useless when he was the Conservative Candidate for Hendon and we see no reason to call him anything other than Captain Useless now. Whilst Steve Curry bitterly regrets helping to get him elected (according to his comment), we here at the Barnet Eye feel sadly vindicated that we were proven 100% spot on with regards to Offord.

Of course, the Barnet Eye supports the right of anyone to campaign for whoever they like, be it Steve Curry for Matthew Offord or Adrian Murray Leonard for UKIP. We support the right of people to change their mind about who they think is the best man for the job, again as Steve Curry and Adrian Murray Leonard have done. In fact when it comes to this matter, the only thing we object to is the cowardly way Matthew Offord has hidden behind Parliamentary privilige to smear a former supporter for having extremist views. I suppose that Steve Curry must now be wondering if he'll be next to get it from Offord, as Offord despatches the reputations of those who helped get him elected.

It is high time Matthew Offord "man'd up" and explained his comments about Adrian Murray Leonard. He has to put up or shut up. I believe that the people who elected him are also owed an explanation as what he knew about the BNP actively campaigning on his behalf and whether he was happy to get support from this quarter.

Interestingly enough, since I started writing the blog, the original comment by Steve Curry has been deleted.  Now whilst I loathe and detest the BNP's politics, the post contained no content which warranted its censorship. The only information in his post which I'd not heard before was his claim that Andrew Dismore bought a rug in Afghanistan. I wonder who objected to Curry's comments, on what grounds and for what reason was it removed. I've asked for numerous BNP supporting messages to be removed from the Hendon Times for racist content, but there was nothing in Currys message which could be deemed offensive. If the Hendon Times has imposed a blanket ban on BNP messages, then they should say so in their T & C's. If they are just removing messages which are not sympathetic to Offord, then that is a scandal.  Could it be that Offord doesn't want the world to know that the BNP were helping him get elected? Again another question which needs answering.

I have to say that much as I loathe and detest the BNP and its policies, if they are forbidden from leaving comments which are not offensive, racist or anti semitic and are on topics of main stream interest, then we as a society will actually allow them to stoke up sympathy. Free speech means allowing people to say things we don't like. The only time that this should be curbed is when it stokes up fear, hatred, prejudice or violence. Curry for all his sins, did none of these on his deleted comment. As this sorry saga progresses, the list of people who are not covering themselves in glory grows by the day.

One other thing, whilst we're on the subject of Steve Curry, I'm still awaiting a public retraction on the London Patriot BNP website where Steve Curry insulted my fathers war record. That is long overdue and I'd suggest that people bear this in mind when reading his suggestions that Offord was out of order. It is also instructive to read some of the commentary from the BNP on the decision of their sole GLA rep to jump ship.

Open Letter : Adrian Murray-Leonard writes to the Barnet Eye regarding Matthew Offords comments

Dear Roger

I would like to say a personal thank you to you and your fellow bloggers for the fantastic support I have found in you all .

Please let me express how I feel at the moment. At this time I feel extremely hurt by this vicious slur that has been put upon me,and the same goes for my family,close friends,and Conservative officials, and political opponents in Hendon. Yesterday I found it be a very sorry day when yet again politics was driven further down into the sewer by a certain individual who chose to make a false and baseless allegation against me using his parliamentary privilege.

So if I am such a raving anti-semite,why is it that I chose to work alongside my close friends and campaigners Alain Bornstien,Lisa Fachler,Mark Shooter,Maureen Braun,Brian Schama,Darrel Yawitch,Brian Gordon,and the current Mayor to Barnet no less Anthony Finn,and other life long friends i have made in the Jewish community.

So i now would like to say to Mr Offord. I now lay down a challenge to you sir,that is if you are man enough of course, to offer me no less than a public apology or step out of the chambers of the house and repeat what you have said about me to my face and give me one strand of evidence to back your allegations, very doubtful you are not man enough!!!!..

I shall also be taking this matter up with Conservative central office at the very highest level as Saddleworth comes to mind at the moment as I can now empathise with the gentleman up there who was himself on the receiving end of utter un-truths i know how he must of felt sir not a pleasant feeling. Roger again I would like thank you for your support on this heinous issue i,m very moved by all the support you have all given me, thank you....

My warmest of regards to you
Adrian Murray-Leonard.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Official Statement from Matthew Offord clarifying a vicious attack on him

The Barnet Eye is pleased to carry this clarification from the office of Matthew Offord MP following the recent vicious attack on him.

"I have taken the opportunity to put my side of the story to Barnet Eye readers regarding speculation regarding the recent vicious attack on my which caused much press comment. Having spoken with the mug which flew out of the cupboard, defying the laws of gravity, hitting me in the eye detaching my retina, I am now satisfied that their was no anti semitic intent on the part of the mug. I wish to apologise to the family of the mug, if I had inadvertently implied that such intent existed. I also wish to pay tribute to the service the mug gave me, assisting me in my campaign. Clearly it is a shame that the mug has decided it no longer wished to work for me, and can in no way condone the vicious physical assault which the mug subjected me to. I in no way accept the mugs contention that the assault was in anyway provoked by my actions in opening the cupboard.

I must say that I am pleased that there are still plenty of other mugs in Hendon left who do my bidding and will vote for me. I promise to do my very best to enjoy myself on the their behalf and occasionally turn up to the odd debate in Parliament, when it suits me. I'd like to thank all the mugs in Hendon for their hard work in May and hope I've given everyone a good laugh with my antics".

As ever the Barnet Eye is always pleased to hear from our local MP's. I was slightly suspicious at first that maybe this wasn't actually from Matthew Offord, but as he's so full of wit, I discounted this possibility.

Saturday 22 January 2011

The Barnet Eye directory of Stupid Signs

A very stupid sign indeed. Everyone who knows anything about Barnet Council knows that no self respecting executive at Barnet would get out of bed for less than three times that. I ask you !!!!!!

This reminded me of the famous Tambourides at Barnet Council, the highest paid couple in Barnet Tory Politics. A true bargain, two for the price of, erm two.

Seems like there is also parking for some of our more esteemed councillorsm !

Have a nice evening !

Free Parking on Barnet Streets

Great news - Barnet Council has a fantastic scheme where you can park free of charge in designated parking spaces all over the Borough. There is even better news. The scheme is available to all, you don't need any special talents to qualify, you just get the permit and it's valid for four years. Doesn't cost you a penny.

Sounds great doesn't it? Sadly the scheme is limited to 63 people and they only let you enter into it every four years (unless one of the lucky 63 dies, emigrates or meets some other sad mishap). The good news is that it is one of the few things we all get to choose. All you have to do is put your name forward and if enough people think you are marvellous you get the permit. I tried myself, but the good people of Mill Hill think I'm a W*nk*r so I failed.

Yes, the free permits are for Barnet Councillors. How do they fund it? By hiking up the charges to the rest of us. Strangely enough, I didn't stand for council to get a free permit, or a huge allowance. I didn't even know I'd get one. I'd give them a free Bus pass (most of the Tories have one of those anyway). If you are sick of this troughing, please sign the petition in the left hand sidebar.

Councillor Lynne Hillan outrageously claimed that "we are all in it together". She can prove it by abolishing the "permits to trough" and paying for her parking like the rest of us.

Friday 21 January 2011

Time for David Cameron to sack Matthew Offord MP for Hendon

Of all the dark days in Barnet Politics and all of the porkies and distortions, today we've seen something that caps the lot. Our local MP, Matthew Offord has used Parliamentary privilige to attack a political rival, in the most disgusting terms, in the knowledge that he can't be sued for liable. A clear abuse of the system.

Let's start with how it all kicked off.   Yesterday there was a story in the Hendon Times stating that the former Chairman of Hendon Conservatives had resigned from the party and would be standing for UKIP. His reasons? He felt the local MP, Matthew Offord wasn't serving his constituents properly and that UKIP reflected his own hardline Thatcherite views. This sort of thing happens all the time, although on a local level it is a good story. I've met Mr Leonard-Murray and he struck me as honest, straight talking and reasonable, even if I don't agree at all with his political opinions.

You can read the story here :-

This morning, I noticed that a comment had been left on the story. The comment said this :-

Carolynne, Hendon says...
11:15am Fri 21 Jan 11
(Carolynne, Hendon is an ID that has exclusively posted highly complimentary posts about Matthew Offord and is clearly extremely close to Offord)

I immediately pasted the link into a browser and found that it was a contribution by Matthew Offord MP for a debate on anti-semitism. In it Offord says the following :-
A useful illustration comes today from my local paper, the Hendon Times, where I have been attacked by someone who helped us in the general election campaign. I was always rather concerned about some of the views of this individual, but we are a broad church in the Conservative party. However, this individual started making anti-Semitic comments. Once I was elected, I would have no truck with any such individuals. I hear today through the local press that he has decided to join UKIP. UKIP is welcome to someone who makes anti-Semitic remarks, because he is certainly not welcome in the Conservative party.
 Now realising that Offord had used parliamentary privilidge to attack a political rival and accuse him of anti-semitism, I immediately contacted the Times and suggested they remove the comment as it was unfair, which they did. I believed that it was not fair for Offord to exploit his position in this way and not let Murray-Leonard respond. It is a terrible slur.

I then re-read Offords comment. When I analysed it, I noticed that it was even worse than it originally appeared. I noticed that Offord had said
"However, this individual started making anti-Semitic comments. Once I was elected, I would have no truck with any such individuals."
In other words, if Murray-Leonard really had made such remarks, Offord was happy to let him work his socks off campaigning for him, but once he was elected and he didn't need him, he ditched him. What is even worse  is this comment :-
I was always rather concerned about some of the views of this individual, but we are a broad church in the Conservative party.
Now Mr Murray-Leonard wasn't just an ordinary member, he was THE CHAIRMAN of the Hendon Conservative Association. If you take Offords comments at face value, he was happy for this person to be a senior officer of the Hendon Conservatives. His justification is that they are a broad church. Broad enough to allow someone Offord says is a raving anti-semite to run the association?  I ask all Jewish voters in Hendon (and all non Jewish ones as well) to ask themselves this question. Would you vote for a man who lets someone they believe to be a raving anti semite run the local party? Not only that, but it is clear from Offords comments that the only reason Mr Murray Leonard left the association was because he was sick of Matthew Offord (ie he wasn't kicked out or asked to leave). If Murray Leonard wasn't welcome in the Tory Party, why wasn't he kicked out? He was clearly very welcome till he started criticising Offord.

Which brings me to the key question. Is Mr Murray-Leonard an anti semite. I thought there was a simple way to find out. I immediately rang a Conservative Councillor from the Hendon Constituency Area. I asked him this simple question :- "Hello, it's Roger Tichborne from the Barnet Eye here. Please can you comment on the allegations that Mr Adrian Murray-Leonard, former Chairman of the Hendon Conservative Association is a raving Anti Semite and this was well known by senior local Conservatives".  The answer was as unequivacable as it could be "You are talking complete rubbish, for your information Mr Murray Leonard has a Jewish grandmother. Whoever made this drivel up is pathetic". I then informed him that Matthew Offord MP had said it in Parliament yesterday. At this point the conversation ended. To spare the blushes of the Councillor I agreed not to name him. He promised to get back to me when he had checked the facts, I am still waiting.

The Hendon Times ran the story today about Offords attack, but sadly there is no comment from Mr Murray-Leonard. I have since spoken to other local Conservatives (all of whom wish to remain anonymous) who are deeply unhappy at this allegation. Making such vile allegations against an individual with no evidence and in parliament, invoking parliamentary protection is both repulsive and cowardly. David Cameron is the leader of the Tory Party. He came to Hendon to campaign for Offord during the election campaign. He presumably met Mr Murray-Leonard in the process. Parliament cannot be used by MP's such as Offord as a means to besmirch the reputation of his political rivals. That is a clear abuse of privilige. David Cameron must sack Offord for this.

I have this message for all local Conservative Councillors and activists. This isn't about politics, it's about common decency. Matthew Offord has treated a man who worked hard for the association in a terrible manner. Sadly mud sticks and Offord must be hoping that Mr Murray-Leonards reputation locally will be finished. If this is on the basis of porkies, then that is absolutely disgusting. Of all the things I've written about and seen in Barnet politics, I believe this is the worst of the lot. I'm sure Offord and his clan of supporters think it's hilarious. Do you?

********** Clarification *************

I have been informed by an official of the Hendon Conservative Association that Adrian Murray Leonard was not chairman of the Hendon Conservative Association, although he was a ward officer in the West Hendon Conservative Association.Many apologies.

Thursday 20 January 2011

naughty tories and councillor maureen braun

A rather naughty opposition councillor sent me a rather dodgy leak suggesting Councillor Maureen Braun would be Mark Shooters replacement on the scrutiny committeee. Nice try. We really aren't that stupid.

Completely bonkers

As a blogger, you never really know which blogs will catch peoples imagination. I really didn't expect anyone to give a s**t about my last one re road humps, when so much is going on in Barnet.

How wrong I was. We've had all sorts of Tories, (the good, the bad and the ugly) leaving comments, as well as all sorts of other people. I suspect our Tory bretheren believe this is possibly the only issue where Barnet Tories are united, so they feel a tribal urge to expungugate together.

What does all of this give me? A feeling of great wellbeing to know that when it comes down to it, the Tories car more about travelling the 0.8 miles which constitutes Millway than they do about the lives of kids who might want to cross the road. Their excuse "my car may be damaged by my totally antisocial habits with my car"

Quite sad really

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Getting the hump

Sometimes the human race makes me sick

An interesting quote, don't you think. Where does it come from? Now this may surprise you. It comes from Chapter 10 of the Cursed Earth Chronicles, which was part of a Judge Dredd story from around 1978. It was said by Judge Dredd in response to the senseless slaughter of the children of a harmless and defenceless alien.

This is probably the strangest way to start a blog about the removal of road humps in my road, but I'm sorry to say this is exactly how I feel about what has happened. Since the Labour / Lib Dem administration were booted out of office in 2002 by the electorate of Barnet, Barnet Council has been persuing a policy of road hump removal in Barnet. The messiah of this "motorist first" policy is Councillor Brian Coleman and it is the reason for the existence of this blog.

Have you ever been run over? I was in 1988. I was hit, crossing Burnt Oak Broadway in 1988. The driver told the police that he was travelling at 40 mph. let me tell you what it was like. The pain in my thigh, which bore the brunt of the impact was so severe, that I screamed like a baby until I was given some pethadin. Then I was a bit more chilled. The doctors told me that usually people died when they were hit at this speed. They said that if I hadn't been training to run a marathon and I didn't have well developed muscles in my legs, I would be toast. Sadly at the time they missed the stress fractures in my spine, which have caused problems ever since. It rather made me appreciate the difference between 30 pmh and 40 mph.

My son is now 10. Do you have any children (Brian Coleman doesn't so most likely doesn't understand this). On Saturday, I took him for the first time to the City of Manchester Stadium, for the City Vs Wolves game. We had a great day. My kids bringme more joy than anything. When he was 3 years old, I was putting the rubbish out and left the front door of my house open. My son ran out of the house, across the pavement and into the road. As there was a road hump, the car which was travelling down Millway, was doing 20 MPH and stopped short of him. I felt terrible. I would say that any parent who has experienced such a moment would understand. I guess a man such as Coleman doesn't. You make a silly mistake and seconds later, given the grace of God you are on your knees giving thanks for sparing your sons life.

So why the blog? Last Tuesday, we got a letter from Barnet Council saying that the following day our road was being resurfaced. By Friday, our road had a fantastic new surface, free of potholes. It is also free of humps. As it is used as a ratrun between Mill Hill Broadway and the A1/A41, we now have a speed track outside the front door. Before the humps were put in, we'd regularly lose wing mirrors and get scrapes. Had my son ran out today in front of a car, he'd be toast. Were we consulted? No, the letter said that the consultation will follow. Residents of Uphill Road were consulted, all but 3 said they wanted humps retained, Barnet Council ignored them. According to Brian Coleman "The Motorist comes first".

The consultation is a waste of money. Nothing will change Colemans mind. It is money down the drain, to pretend that they care. They don't. The cost of the consultation would save a care assistents job. It is all window dressing. The road has been resurfaced, the consultation should have taken place beforehand. Getting the road amended now will be prohibitively expensive.

If and when my car is damaged, I will be sending Coleman the repair bill and taking the Council to court for it if necessary. If any of my loved ones are injured or killed as a result of cars speeding, then I will sue the council for failing in their duty of care to my family and for negligence in preventing an accident which would not have happened previously.

What really makes me sick though, is that this administration which cares nothing for the children who cross our roads has been re-elected twice now and Coleman has been put in charge of the Fire Authority by Boris Johnson, when his attitude to the well being of the people he has a duty to has been known for years.

Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a Barnet resident.

Councillor Mark Shooter Sacked from Scrutiny Committee

The Barnet Tories have sacked Mark Shooter from the Scrutiny Committee job. He was deputy chairmen. I asked an opposition member what he did to upset them. The answer? sending parking outsourcing back, objecting to removal of free spaces, increases in parking charges, objection to crematorium sale, objection to outsourcing of planning, inviting charities to next budge amongst other things.

In other words doing his job properly. Have the Barnet Tories gone completely bonkers? What is the point of scrutineers who don't scrutinize. They really are bonkers

Tuesday 18 January 2011

The madness of King George

"Those the gods wish to destroy, first they make mad"

We have the news that today inflation is again rising - - public spending is being slashed and taxes such as VAT has been hiked. Councils have had huge budget cuts which will result in mass redundancies. Strangely, the right wing press lauds George Osborne as an economic genius. I happen to think the current program is completely bonkers. Here's why.

Council budget cuts will add half a million people to the dole queue. They will be paid to do nothing, rather than something useful. How will this help the defecit? Many will be removed from programs which have huge social benefit. The long term results will cost even more. George Osborne says that the private sector will pick up the slack, but he's hiked VAT which will add massive costs to customer facing businesses, making it harder to employ staff. I estimate that the VAT hike will cost me the equivalent of one part time worker at my business. We are not a charity, so where does that come from. We also have huge hikes in fuel costs, rates and stealth taxes such as parking charges. There is no "small business RPI" but my costs have increased by 14.4% this year as a result of various tax hikes. That is way beyond the tax quoted as the RPI. What does that mean? There is no way I can recruit any out of work social workers and retrain them.

A banker yesterday wrote to the BArnet Alliance for Public Services and asked how the government could fix the budget (amongst other things) without damaging public services. The answer is dead simple. They could ask large companies to do what I have to do as a small business - pay all their taxes. Vodafone were recently let off billions of pounds worth of taxes. Why? No one has given me a good reason. I know I haven't been at my business. Banks were bailed out. Surely they should be paying the taxpayer back, rather than paying huge bonuses.

Soon we will have the spectacle of George Osborne announcing his next budget. What will it contain? More cuts and more hardship for those at the bottom. Will the top 1% of earners, who control 60% of the nations wealth be materially worse off? Will they have to have readybrek instead of smoked salmon bagels for breakfast? I don't know. Who is the mad one. Me or King George Osborne. I really don't know

Nomura Banker attacks the Barnet Alliance for Public Service Leaflet - BAPS response

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services received an Email from a Nomura email account this evening. Nomura is a Japanese Investment Bank. The full text is available on the Barnet Future Shape website :-

The email criticises the fiscal policies of the last Labour Government (without acknowledging the role of Bankers in creating the crisis). It attacked the campaign for not being able to create wealth ???? It stated that the Barnet Council cuts will make no difference to anyone. It stated that University is an excuse to "Drink Cider and blackcurrent for thee years and then go backpacking around Thailand at someone elses expense". It ended up by claiming that there was a likelihood of violence on the march on the 30th January.

I personally found the email disgusting. Everyone is entitled to express their views, but to do so in such an abusive way, was for me beyond the pale. It is the policy to put such things on the Future Shape blog without comment. Let people make their own minds up.

This is the blog where I give my opinion. Unlike many people, I don't have a down on Bankers. Banking has helped build prosperity in the UK. London would collapse without the industry, that is why I supported the bale out. What I don't support is the ignorance and arrogance shown by certain members of the industry. At a time when the industry should be pulling out all the stops to improve it's image, the last thing it needs is people like Colin Hewitt attacking people who have a genuine concern for public services. Mr Hewitt may believe that the Council has no effect on peoples lives, but then he clearly isn't Elderly, Disabled, a Disadvantaged Young person, someone with a Brain Injury or someone who relies on Meals on Wheels.

I took the trouble to politely write to Mr Hewitt to explain why I felt he was out of order in sending his email and using the tone and language that he did. Here is my reply to him, in full :-

Dear Mr Hewitt,

Thank you for your response to the Our Barnet Newspaper.

I note with interest that you work for a financial institution. When you refer to the leaflet having a poor grasp on reality, are you aware that the current financial problems faced by the UK are a direct result of poor decisions made within the banking industry, leading to a massive bail out? Whilst you state that this was the result of "irresponsible government", are you aware that the problems were caused mainly by lax regulation, which is a policy advocated by all senior members of the current Conservative administration?

As to your comments regarding the BAPS campaign not being "in a position to generate revenues", the Alliance is made up of private individuals such as myself. I run a successful company, employ nine people and have helped launch several award winning artists who have brought millions of pounds of revenue into the UK PLC. I trust that you actually didn't read the newspaper properly, therefore failed to spot this. All very well, but you should really check your facts before launching a tirade of insults.

You are also unaware of the situation regarding the finances of Barnet Council. The proposed cuts amount to £43 million. Are you aware that Barnet Council has suffered the following financial crises as a result of mismanagement by the local Conservative administration, losing far more than this. You can find full details of these by following this link

Briefly though

Failed Icelandic Investments - £27.4 Million
Overspend on Aerodrome Road bridge project - £11 Million
Legal duspute with Catalyst for contract for care Homes £8 million

The Council has also earmarked millions for the Onebarnet/ easycouncil/ Future Shape project. This has employed consultants and cost millions thus far, producing no savings in three years. Given Barnet Councils record of managing contractors, this is likely to be yet another black hole. The Alliance is committed to reducing waste on such schemes.

I am rather diappointed by the abusive tone of your comments regarding students. Surely you accept that the vast majority of the highest wage earners in the UK attended University. Whilst I'm sure many of them enjoyed the odd drink, they also went on to earn significant amounts of money and to pay taxes in copious quantities. As someone who runs a music studio, I would also take the opportunity to inform you that the market for Rap music is a multi billion £ industry. Whilst you may be unaware of the important contribution made by the music industry to the UK economy, I would suggest that a bit of research would be order of the day before making such comments.

As to your comments about the BAPS march breaking windows. May I draw your attention to the fact that the organisers of the event have organised many protests and demonstrations all of which have been entirely peaceful. I myself helped organise a rally at Montrose Park, to protest against the closure of Edgware general hospital. This was attended by people from accross the politcal spectrum and was addressed by the then Tory MP's Sir John Gorst and Sir Rhodes Boyson. Other marches include the one supporting residents of Sheltered Housing who are losing their wardens.

We are all entitled to our own views, but I personally would take a dim view of one of my employees using company time and resources to send abusive emails such as you are offering from your Nomura email account


Roger Tichborne

I don't mind if someone thinks some aspect of our campaign is unrealistic, they have every right to say so. I don't believe they have the right to do so in abusive terms and to insult people who have a genuine interest in the well being of the London Borough of Barnet. When that person is a director of a large investment bank, I believe it becomes a matter of public interest.

Monday 17 January 2011

Toxic Friend Syndrome


My least favourite subject in the world came up tonight. The subject of someone I used to consider to be one of my best friends. I'm not going to bore you all with the details of why I now think that his life story should be played by Gareth Hunt, if you get my drift, but I do feel compelled to write about what I call Toxic Friend Syndrome. There are many types of Toxic friend, but the one thing they all have in common is that they repay your trust and friendship with poison. Here are some examples (and no I've not experienced all of them).

They use friendship to steal your partner
They use friendship to steal your friends
They use friendship to steal your money
They use friendship to hurt your feelings for their own pleasure
They use friendship to stop you achieving your goals in life
They use friendship to strangle your spirit

Sometimes they do a few of the above. It is quite interesting to note that often other friends will warn you, but you don't listen until it's too late. Often they will undermine your relationships with real friends (as they recognise that these are likely to try and break whatever hold they have over you). How do yous spot one? It is really hard when you are a teenager and have little life experience. As you get older, you tend to get a bit better at spotting the signs, but sometimes only when it's too late. A female friend of mine once spent an evening telling me how her best friend nicked her husband. She said the thing that really irked her, was she'd told the friend all of the things wrong in her marriage and the friend was able to use this to snare the poor sod. Sadly, when you hook up with such pondlife it usually ends badly all round.

Friends who want to rob you are perhaps the hardest to spot. If they are plausable and pull the old sob story, they use your own guilt and good nature to get the better of you. Then there are the friends who steal your friends. This is where you have a really good friend, who you introduce to another friend and before you know it, they have shut you out of the loop. It can be hard to spot this type of scumbag and perhaps you only realise when it happens a few times. An auntie of mine told me of a certain character who was an expert at this and used to take great delight in it.

Then there are friends who are just cruel. You know the type, you need some help or advice and they just convince you that you are a pathetic idiot. They seem to take great pleasure in this and will usually seek to justify it by saying things like "I'm only telling you this because you are a friend".

Then you get friends who stop you achieving the things you want to do in life. I had a friend who decided that he wanted to travel. A group of us were up the pub and her best friend (supposedly) kept throwing up reasons why it was a bad idea. I realised that the friend just wanted her friend to hang around in a dead end job here, so she had company in her own dead end job. It was like a drowning person, dragging down the person who is rescuing them.

Lastly, there are the people who delight in crushing your spirit. These are the people who when you have done something you are really proud of, pick holes in it and make you feel bad about it. In the early days of the band, I had a few of these around. In the end, I realised that if people don't get what you are trying to do, then their opinions are really not worth anything. Recently, I bumped into one of these people. In the early days of the band, we did loads of fundraisers for things like greenpeace, friends of the earth etc. I happened to bump into this character and I told him about the blog and about the rally on the 30th. His response "Some of us have grown up" with a sneer. Strangely, when I started the band I used to think this guy was really cool and value his opinion. I asked what he was doing with himself "Divorced, boring job, playing a bit of golf, blah,blah". I wished I hadn't bothered. As he droned on, I found my mind wandering. How on earth could I have ever let what this bloke said bother me.

I've no real advice on what to do. You always realise when it's way too late. I'm sure there are American self help websites that tell you how to spot them, but franky who wants to spend their life looking at them, when the pub is open. It's true, in some ways I haven't grown up and sometimes I'm damn pleased I haven't.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Hugh Rayner - The next MP for Hendon?

I hear through the grapevine that Hugh Rayner is going to be taking over the wheels of power at Hendon Conservative Association meeting tonight. The association is in turmoil, with three officers quitting to spend more time with, er, um, er someone who isn't Matthew Offord. Offord has become a bit of a liabilty, continually having unexplained accidents, such as torn retinas, broken hands, in supposedly freak circumstances at home. I would suggest that Offord gets proper builders in and fits safety devices around the place, given that usually only my mates who are boxers (and I don't mean of the canine variety) suffer such traumatic injuries on a regular basis. His house must be a death trap !

Anyway, following his string of high profile injuries, his spat with the chief whip and his, shall we say, growing reputation for being one of the more chilled out MP's when it comes to doing constituency casework, rumours abound that he may be up for replacement. Hugh Rayner, having his hands on the wheels of power would be ideally placed to fulfill his long standing dream of becoming the Hendon MP.

I asked Hugh back in May if he had any ambitions in that direction, as a few people have told me that it was his long term ambition. His reponse - "Not unless something unexpected happens to Matthew Offord". I hadn't appreciated the nuances of the response at the time. Given Matthew Offords spate of "accidents at home", I have started to wonder if Offord got a mate of Hughs to fit his cupboards. If I was Matthew, I'd get the spirit level out and give them the once over.

Rather ominously, I spoke to a leading Conservative benefactor in Hendon recently, who advised me to "keep an eye on Hugh". I asked why, hoping that maybe he'd been involved in some sort of scandal. "Far from it, he's a steady pair of hands and that's what they need right now".

I also heard a rather interesting tale of how Mike Freer MP for  Finchley and Golders Green is starting to tire of helping out his Tory mates in Hendon with casework, because they know at least they might get some sort of result. For all my previous comments about Freer, he does actually seem to be getting his hands dirty and doing some work for the people who elected him. It is only the fact that people have given huge sums to the Tories locally that has made him put up with the situation. It strikes me as rather sad that this is the only way to get stuff done in Hendon. I have had literally dozens of emails from people who are dissatisfied with Offord and how he has dealt with casework. I had wondered if it was a put up job by Labour in Barnet to get him some dodgy coverage, but alas not. He's even upset some staunch Tories.

Anyway, the rumour mill is on for the next Tory Hendon MP, here's the Barnet Eye odds

Hugh Rayner 2/1
Mark Shooter 4/1
Daniel Thomas 12/1
Brian Coleman 100/1

Is that the sound of knives being sharpened I hear?

Brian Coleman Porn Star

I noticed from my stats that someone had arrived on the blog having googled BRIAN COLEMAN PORN STAR - I was intrigued, so I did the same search. I was shocked to see the third item down. I thought better of clicking the link though, as I was eating my breakfast (if the order has changed it is to a myspace site, you won't miss it).

There are some images that just don't go with a bacon butty.

Saturday 15 January 2011

A Proper Newspaper for Our Barnet !

What do you do when you're sick to death of the press not telling the truth about what is going on? Well if like myself, Vicki M and the rest of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services, you are not prepared to let the Council get away with spouting porkies for the press to slavishly reprint verbatum, you write and distribute your own newspaper setting the record straight. I have written a column in the paper detailing why it I started the libraries campaign and why we haven't been told the truth. Click on the link to read it. We are delivering it to homes all around Barnet this week and it is also available at key places. Please look out for it and take the trouble to read it. If you can help deliver it or want to know more about the campaign, please email us at

The worst recent example of this uncritical press coverage is this justification of the cuts by Councillor Daniel Thomas.

Surely the press should contact an opposition councillor for balance? Here is one porkie which he spouted which was completely unchallenged :-

Councillor Daniel Thomas, cabinet member for resources, said the increases will help plug the £43m hole.He added: “The enormous financial challenges we are facing at the moment mean we are having to look in detail at every aspect of the services we provide to residents.
So you may ask, what is wrong with this. Well, I couldn't let it go unchallenged so here's the comment I left
Please can the Hendon Times stop slavishly stop spouting Tory propoganda and tell the truth. The financial mess was caused by the failed Icelandic investments which lost £27.4 million, the Aerodrome Road overspend which cost £11 million and the freemantle court case which cost £6 million. If you add all of these up, you will see that it's exactly the amount Daniel Thomas claims has been withdrawn - £43 million. The Times is meant to investigate and inform. It is not meant to repeat propoganda for lazy, useless and incompetent Tory Councillors who have mismanaged the Boroughs finances.
Given that all of these issues are widely known and have been reported many times, why didn't the Times pull up Thomas for his blatent porkmeistering?

Here's a few links to prove that unlike Thomas, I'm not bulls***ing.

Icelandic Investments

Aerodrome Road

Fremantle/Catalyst (I got this wrong, the claim is £8 million, not £6)

That is why we wrote the newspaper. That is why it is vital that the residents of Barnet read it. I believe that if people know the truth about these cuts and the councils incompetence, they will take a very different view of what is going on. Once we realise that the £43 million of cuts is directly down to Barnet Tory Incompetence, maybe we'll ALL do something about it

Friday 14 January 2011

Give me your money and I'll change your life !

Every day I get emails from people making me this kind offer in some shape or form.

This now seems to be the refrain from Barnet Council. Charges for everything go up. We have no choice but to pay. The changes will change lives. Sadly (apart from the lucky few Tory Councillors and Council officers), the changes will be for the worse.

People who will suffer :-

Residents of Council Sheltered Housing
Young People who use Youth Services
Victims of Brain injuries
Users of Libraries
Car owners who have parking permits or use free bays
The staff of Barnet Council
Recipients of Meals on wheels (expect cold dinners sometime soon)
Groups using the arts depot
People who visit Barnets museums
Have a pleasant Friday evening. I'm off to get smashed

A few stark facts about Barnet Council cuts

The following are Frontline Services which are to be cut (there are others)

Adult social care:-

· Reduction of mental health social workers
· Reduction of brain injury social work and closure of brain injury unit
· Closure of gardening project for adults with learning difficulties
· Cuts to staff working in residential and independent living services (learning difficulties)

Social workers are going to be asked to re-assess vulnerable adults with a view to finding a reduction in the budget.

Older people’s services:
· Sheltered housing – removal of onsite wardens and replacement with BT panic alarms

Children’s services:
· All school crossing patrol (lollipop man/lady) staff to be cut
· 33% cut in staff working in Youth & Connexions
· 33% cut in staff working in youth offending service
· No youth services by 2014
· 97 children’s centre workers at risk
· More social work posts to go in 2012 and 2013

Perks for Tory Councillors:
Allowances for Tory Councillors who chair committees for a couple of hours every couple of months  raised by 54%

Salary for CEO of Barnet Council
Including pension and perks - approx £240,000 per annum

Monthly Bill for Contractor acting as Deputy CEO of Barnet Council
Approx £17,000 PCM

Annual income for Tory Councillor Brian Coleman for a string of part time jobs 
Over £114,000 per annum
Now take a deep breath, think of lovely things and meditate on the words of Tory Leader of Barnet Council Lynne Hillan "We are all in this together". Does it feel like that to you?

Thursday 13 January 2011

Barnet Council are selling my dead Grandma !

I really hope I don't bump into my local Tory MP, Matthew Offord tonight. The way I'm feeling about him and his chums right now, I may be tempted to "fix" his other retina, the one the "psychic mug of karma missed" (click this link if you haven't a clue what I'm talking about - )

You may ask what they've done to get my goat now? Well let you give me a little list of people - My Mum, Dad, Grandmother, Grandfather, Godmother, Best Friend, Dad's Best Friend, Next door Neighbour - What have all of these people got in common? They are all buried in Hendon Cemetary. Barnet were boasting about how much money they make from renting the cemetry out for filming scenes from Eastenders (my Godmothers grave is featured in the picture just behind Barbara Windsors handbag) in their last Barnet First.
Check the full story here -

Barnet Council want to flog off this cemetary. A place of special meaning for many of us. Next to my Dads grave is a beautifully tended grave of an 8 month old baby, who died a couple of months after my Dad. His mum goes nearly every week, to make sure that it's tended. The baby would be 24 now.

Many thousands of people in our area visit the cemetary for quiet periods of reflection. They view the cemetary as Hallowed Ground. The trouble is that to Barnet Tories, nothing is sacred. They see the cemetary as an asset to be milked, by having film crew there disturbing the peace (I used to work in Television so I know how much respect would be given on a tight shoot schedule). As if this wasn't bad enough, now they want to flog the lot as part of their property review.

This has been done before. Westminster council sold various local cemetaries for 5p. They were left untended, plans were put in for housing developments and graves desecrated. The fiasco ended when the council spent a million quid buying them back. What amazes me is that all of our Tory Councillors and MP's think that it is a truly marvellous way to plug the hole in the finances left by their mismanagement.

I had wondered how on earth a mug could fall from a cupboard and detatch MP Matthew Offords retina. As Offord is nearly six foot tall, it seemed to defy the laws of gravity that a cup should fall sideways, rather than down. Having read the proposals to flog off the cemetaries again, I think there may be a logical explanation. A previous resident of his home, now residing in Hendon Cemetary may have chosen to take direct action ! Let's hope for the sake of Robert Ramsbottom, his home wasn't owned by any departed librarians. I'm not a believer in such psychic phenominum, but if Ramsbottom turns up at casualty with a copy of War and Peace embedded firmly in a place where the sun doesn't shine, as a result of a "freak accident", I will abandon my previous scepticism. Now my mum, who as I mentioned is buried in the Cemetary, as a lifelong Catholic always encouraged me to pray to the Patron Saint of whatever cause I was supporting when the going gets rough. The patron Saint of Libraries and philosophers is St Catherine, who was put to death on a burning wheel (hence the term Catherine wheel) and got her head chopped off when the wheel broke - my sister is named after her, due to my mums love of books and reading. When I read the story of St Catherine, I was reminded that this is what happens under repressive regimes where ignorance and brutality are used to combat reason and intellectual argument. Can it be any coincidence that the government are embarked on a policy shutting the masses out of education and Barnet are closing libraries? Could it be that they see a stupid population as one which is easier to manipulate?

On VickiM57's blog today she posted a link to all of the consultations being run by Barnet - - I am doing the same. Every one of these will result in worse services or more stealth taxes. Vicki talks of consultation fatigue. I am sorry to say that isn't a luxury we can allow ourselves to use as an excuse. I'm going to do everything I can personally do to stop the Sell off of our dead and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that those of us who are still here have decent public services. Please make a start by joining me and signing the petitions in the sidebar.

(many apologies if this particular blog is even more unhinged than normal. I am genuinely very upset by this cemetary proposal for a whole number of reasons).