Friday 31 January 2014

The Friday Joke - 31/1/2014

Here's one for all of you aspiring young musicians out there

Why did the A&R manager cross the road? Who knows? Who understands any of their decisions? ;-)

And for those of you who want political jokes

Here's one for all you Tory Voters.
Why did Ed Balls cross the road? Well he's crossed everyone else, so why wouldn't he

Here's one for all of you Labour voters.
Why did George Osborne cross the road? Dunno, but I'm so happy he did

And one for Lib Dem voters.
Why did Vince Cable cross the road? Just to wind up George Osborne and Ed Balls,who he thinks are a bit dim !

And finally for UKIP voters, why did Nigel Farage cross the road?
Because he saw the other three and wanted to ask why they hadn't invited him!

Have a great weekend !

The difficult questions for Barnet Labour at the Council elections

In May, we will see elections for Barnet Council. For the past 12 years, we've had a Conservative administration. The Barnet Eye has covered in depth many of the failings of this administration, but the important question is whether Barnet Labour would be any better? So the Barnet Eye has some questions that we'd like Barnet Labour to answer, because their position is less than clear.

1. Your Choice Barnet. The Labour Party representatives on the task and finish committee investigating the failure of this company concurred with their Tory counterparts, stating that there is no alternative to the outsourced model. This is a huge issue for many disabled people. Labour has to state what its plans for Your Choice Barnet are.

2. The Committee system. The Tory administration has recently voted for a return to the Committee system, abandoning the Cabinet system brought in by Labour/Lib Dems in 2001. We believe the Cabinet system is undemocratic and corrosive. Alison Moore, Labour Leader stated she prefers the Cabinet system. We believe this system is the reason for One Barnet. What is the official Labour Position.

3. One Barnet. Labour has not said what its plans are for this. Will they modify the agreement, try and scrap it or accept the status quo.

4. Parking. Cashless parking has been a nightmare for residents. Will Labour restore it?

5. NSL Parking contract. We have seen aggressive cash raising parking enforcement by NSL in Barnet, with ticketing being seen as a cash cow by the Council and NSL. What are Labours plans for this and the NSL contract.

6. Green Belt and Overdevelopment. Sadly Labour seems even worse than the Tories in this respect. The Brent Cross scheme and much other overdevelopment was originally instigated by the Labour party when in control. What is there official position on this?

We know from their record what the Tories will do. Now Labour must demonstrate that they will be different. We invite the Barnet Labour party to tell us their position on these issues.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Barnet Council votes to return to the committee system

Barnet Council has voted to return to making decisions by committee rather than with the Cabinet system. Back in 2011, when the Tories were selecting a new leader, Richard Cornelius indicated that if he was elected leader, he would bring back the committee system. This commitment persuaded the Barnet Eye that he was the best choice. Sadly he waited until the decision to sign the One Barnet contracts with Capita had been made before bring his proposals in, but we have to congratulate him on this move. It means that all 63 councillors have a role to play in the governance of the council, not just the leader and the eleven people in the cabinet. The Labour/Lib Dem coalition brought the cabinet system in back in 2001 and it has been a disaster in Barnet. Last year I met Richard Cornelius and he advised me he was committed to the change. It is good to see that he's delivered on this promise. The Barnet Eye believes that this will make the governance of Barnet Council more democratic.

Time for BT Sport to sort themselves out

Yesterday I spent the evening in the Mill Hill Services club watching Manchester City stuff Tottenham Hotspur. I love watching football in pubs and clubs with a crowd. You get a completely different perspective on a match to sitting at home, where the atmosphere is calm and you can analyse things in a completely rational manner. Yesterdays match turned on the decision to disallow a goal scored by Tottenham Hotspur for offside. TV armchair fans have become used to the slick and professional presentation of SKY TV. What we witnessed yesterday was nothing short of scandalous. The coverage completely failed to show the relevant camera angle showing the offside line properly until several minutes after the incident. They also failed to show the view from the Linesman until much later. The graphics they used were derided in the club as looking like "subbuteo players". BT have spent a huge amount on the football contract, but seem to have spent nothing on investment in a proper backroom staff. One of my ex studio staff works as a live VT editor for SKY TV. When we discussed the job of a live VT editor, she told me that it is a highly specialised skill and few people are any good at it. Being able to supply the best camera angle and the best clip within seconds of the incident is a key part of the job and involves a whole team of people. It seems to me that BT are scrimping on this. Whilst the viewers at the club were interested in the football, by the end we were talking more about how bad BT Sport are at covering games, compared to SKY than what a great game of football we'd been watching. I wonder if the executives at BT who decide how much they want to spend on technical support for the games ever watch football at all, let alone in clubs and pubs. They need to sort it out ASAP as they are in danger of becoming a laughing stock.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

10 Facts you never new about the London Borough of Barnet

Regular readers will know that this blog is keen on lists and trivia. Every Saturday, we publish a Saturday list, which is a list of exciting and informative trivia that has caught the Barnet Eye !!!

As they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so we were chuffed to see that the Barnet Times have ncked the idea and printed their very own trivia list today. It is Ten Things you didn't know about Barnet. Oddly enough I knew most of them, but it is a good list and hats off to the local rag for something entertaining! Here is the link

Not to be outdone, we thought we'd share our list with you. How many of these interesting facts did you know.

1. There is a huge underground reservoir in Mill Hill, on the west side of The Ridgway, running parallel to Milespit Hill.

2. The London University Observatory was donated by famous comedian and amatuer astronomer Will Hay. Mr hay also discovered the White Spot on Saturn.

3. Billy Fury is buried in Mill Hill Cemetary.

4. Brit Award winner Kate Nash once performed a gig at the Mill Hill Sports Club (now demolished) to raise funds for MacMillan Cancer Research.

5. The National Institute for Medical Research was used as a location for a Batman film.

6. An episode of the seminal 1960's TV series Budgie was filmed in Mill Hill Broadway.

7. Hendon Cemetary has been used as a location for filming Eastenders.

8. Modestep, who supported The Prodigy at the O2 for New Years Eve come from Edgware and started their career rehearsing at Mill Hill Music Complex, Mill Hill.

9. Church Farmhouse Museum, closed by the Council, is the oldest dwelling in Hendon.

10. Sri Lanka once played Hendon & Edgware cricket club at Mill Hill Park.


There are a few other facts about Barnet which aren't so amusing.

1. The current Conservative adminstration have spent over £82 million pounds of your money on the One Barnet program, although this wasn't in their election manifesto.

2. The One Barnet program has resulted in 300 jobs being lost in Barnet, although this wasn't in their election manifesto.

3. Barnet Council Conservatives outsourced parking control shortly after the Tories won the 2012 election, although this wasn't in their election manifesto. The number of parking fines and successful parking appeals has since hit record highs.

4. The Barnet Council Conservatives have imposed a huge CPZ on Mill Hill for Saracens Rugby club, despite denying this would happen during the planning hearings for the stadium. During every game dozens of local residents are getting parking tickets. Needless to say, this wasn't in their election manifesto.

5 Barnet Conservatives hiked parking charges across the Borough after the 2012 Council election. They abolished cash pay and display parking. Needless to say, this wasn't in their election manifesto

6. The first decision the Conservatives took after winning the 2010 Council election was to vote for big rises in their own allowances, although this wasn't in their election manifesto.

7. Barnet Council set up a private company called Your Choice Barnet, to run adult social care. This company had no proper business plan, and within a year had to impose harsh service cuts and get a £1 million baleout from the Taxpayer. Needless to say this wasn't in their election manifesto.

8. Shortly after the 2010 Council Elections, Barnet Council announced a strategic library review. This resulted in the closure of Friern Barnet library. The building sat empty for six months, until squatters from Occupy reopened it as the Peoples library. When it was opened up, squatters found the council had left the central heating on at full pelt, costing taxpayers thousands. The Library closure programs wasn't in their election manifesto.

9. Following an investigation by bloggers (including this blog), Barnet Council were exposed as breaking their own rules and employing Metpro, an unlicensed security company. It subsequently turned out that the company was being paid 30% over market rate, needless to say this wasn't in their election manifesto either.

10. Barnet Councils own risk register shows that the quality of life of Barnet residents is seriously at risk from the Barnet Tory Council policies. We will be very interested to see if that makes it into the manifesto for this May's Council election.

Every single one of these scandals has been documented in detail in the blogs of Barnet. These Stories have all been highlighted on the blogs long before the Barnet Times picked them up. Lets hope that now they've started copying our popular feature on lists, they also start covering these stories in the detail they deserve.

Monday 27 January 2014

Dyslexia vs Ignorance - an unequal battle

For those of you who have read my dyslexia blogs before, you may wish to skip this paragraph as it is just the background. If you haven't read my dyslexia blogs before, here is a little preamble and introduction, so you know who I am and what I do and why I write this stuff. For those of you who know the story, skip to the end of the paragraph for todays installment. Let me give you a bit of Background so you know who I am and what I do. I was born in 1962. I didn't start talking until I was 4 years old (at all, not a single word). My parents thought I was deaf. My reading age at eleven was 5. When I was fifteen I started a rock and roll band called the False Dots, the band is still going strong. When I was 16 I started a business called Mill Hill Music Complex (although then it was simply called the studio), a rehearsal studio, as we had nowhere to rehearse. The business has grown into a very successful enterprise, one of Londons biggest and most well respected independent studios. We now have 16 studios and a music shop and also have a photography/video studio and a dance studio. I also have done IT work, mostly on a freelance basis since 1983. In 2012 I also moved into film production, producing two highly acclaimed documentary films, both of which had screenings at the House of Commons. When I was 31, a friend suggested I had a dyslexia test. To my surprise I was told I was moderately dyslexic. This made me interested in the subject. To my amazement, what I have learned over the years is that my lack of educational aptitude, my feelings of anger and injustice and the core of my personality have been formed by the fact I cannot read words in a linear fashion.

Not for the first time and not for the last time in my life, I find myself staring down the barrel of the gun of ignorance of dyslexia. When I was a child at school in the 1960's, dyslexia was called by another name. It was called stupidity. I have recounted all manner of humiliations and privations as a result of not being able to read words or sentences in a linear fashion. As I hit my mid teens, I developed a coping mechanism, which enabled me to progress from having a reading age of a 7 year old at age 12, to pasing 9 O levels and 3 A levels aged 18. The journey took me though two secondary schools and a whole host of new and exciting ways to be belittled. I only came out of the closet as a dyslexic to the world a couple of years ago through this blog. I always felt that I had to hide my dyslexia and try and convince the world I was tough and hard. I felt that to admit any weakness was the first step on the road to ridicule and damnation. Deep down inside me, there is a fear that all the things I have achieved will be stripped away, people will sing "He's a thicko" when I walk into the room and my wife, my children, my job, my music and all of my other achievements will disappear in a puff of smoke when people realise that I am a moron. Better therefore to pretend I'm a genius and hope no one notices. I sometimes have a dream (or is it a nightmare) where I log onto my blog and the 1,211,000 hits have gone and no one has read it ever. It has all been a delusion. In my dream I turn on the telly to see all the other Barnet bloggers on the Jonathan Ross show talking about Barnet and I realise my life as a blogger was simply a sad escape from my lonely world on my own in my bedroom. In my dream I am wracked with self doubt and self loathing. Then I wake up and I am usually disorientated to be in the real world, a world far nicer than the fantasy world my mind plunges me into. 

But here I am, in this world, with my family, my business and my blog with its 1,200,000 hits. I often wonder why on earth so many people have bothered to read it? It is truly staggering for a dyslexic to comprehend such an achievement. It is the sheer scale of this that feeds my self doubt and makes me doubt myself and sometimes my sanity even more. Why do people read the Barnet Eye? It is not particularly well written. Shakespear and Tolstoy would have no competition from me. It covers subjects which are largely mundane such as Barnet Council. Why? I continually ask. The answer can only be because this blog, however badly, fills a huge gap in the local media. In short, I believe that the the success of the Barnet Eye (and the other blogs) is a direct result of the failure of the local press to properly cover the issues of living in Barnet in 2014. A journalist on the Barnet Times tweeted last week about the number of hits they get on their website, but for a well established local paper, that is delivered to every home in Barnet, I felt it was actually a very poor show. Whilst the Barnet Eye gets maybe 1/10th or 1/20th the number of hits, I am a bloke on my own spending half an hour a day blogging. The Barnet Times has a team of paid full time journalists. It also has properties for sale & all manner of other things. There is a huge readership of their coverage of football and people will always go to them with stories. On their website they have the top twenty stories in order of number of hits


  1. Pupils dig up 500-year-old cannonball in school allotment
  2. Meeting over school location
  3. Davids 'did only good' for Barnet
  4. Dentist awarded for going 'above and beyond'
  5. Hollywood stars descend on Barnet to film new movie
  6. Andrew Flintoff to launch cricket academy in Barnet
  7. Man jailed for preparing to sell £41,000 of drugs
  8. 'Cheeky and curious' baby wins modelling contract
  9. Labour Councillor Ansuya Sodha defects to Conservatives
  10. Man sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering lover and hiding body in suitcase
  11. Developer ordered to tear down 'Swiss Chalet of High Barnet'
  12. Northern Line suspensions as new signalling system installed
  13. Student therapists providing vital help to people with learning disabilities
  14. Plans to open new primary school revealed
  15. Student's work to be played by Prince William and Kate's wedding organist
  16. Barnet swimmers await England fate
  17. CCTV images released after bank card theft
  18. Cats Protection opens new charity shop
  19. Ashton: I don’t see how it can work any better
  20. Police cordon outside Artsdepot related to alleged sexual assault
It is interesting that only the 9th most read story is what we could define as abut politics. Schools, football, Crime and celebrity stories are clearly far more popular with the readership. I've always had a lot of time for the Barnet Times. In the early 1980's in the days of Kevin Black and Clarence Mitchell, they were always highly supportive of my band. Under the editorship of Phil Crowther, I got into blogging writing a blog on the Times website. Interestingly enough, had I published this list any time between May and October 2008, when my blog on the Times was running, you'd see at least two or three of my blogs featuring prominently most days in the top twenty. For a while, people started looking at the website specifically to see my blog. Having access to the Times  group website, I could see how many blog hits my posts were getting and it was impressive. Not impressive enough to persuade Mr Crowther to retain the blog when the local Conservatives started to turn up the heat, but impressive enough. Sadly, for reasons I cannot comprehend, no other blogger on the site, with the exception of the late and sadly missed Dennis Signy had the same impact as this dyslexic numpty.

Fast forward from 2008 and Phil Crowther to today. The News editor is Mr Martin Buhagiar. Now Mr Buhagiar is a fine chap and he has no qualms about publishing stories that upset the local Conservative bigwigs. He proudly posted this tweet to show that a couple of weeks ago his paper bravely took the Tories to task over a faulty sprinkler system

Now I have to admit I have a big problem with Mr Buhagiar. It isn't with his editorship of the Times, he works for a commercial organisation and they pay him, not me. I don't have to read his website or his paper, so nothing he writes really matters to me. No the problem with Martin is with his name. Nope, not Martin. Martin is a very nice name. I really like the name Martin as it is my middle name. Being a Roman Catholic, I was named after St Martin De Porres. There are only two things I know about St Martin De Porres, one is that he is black and the other is that he's the patron St of Lepers - A true saint giving his life for the most hated and feared of minorities, those with leprosy. I always think anyone with the name Martin must be blessed for this reason. When I was a kid my parents bought me a relic of St Martin, a small fragment of his bone and a statue. Sadly both have disappeared. No my problem with Martin is his surname. You see to a dyslexic such as myself, it is not only unreadable but unspellable. There are certain words that are pretty impossible for my brain to process, so it reorganises the letters in a way which seems more sensible to its own logic and rules. Therefore Martin Buhagiar becomes Martin Buhgaria. Now I know this is wrong, but it is how I read it and how I spell it. Now as my own name is unspellable for many non dyslexics, I can sympathise with how annoying Martin may find his name being misspelled. Unlike the lazy sods who are just too lazy to listen to my name, I have an excuse. I've always found words with lots of a's, i's and r's in especially hard. I've recounted several times how I once got the cane at St Vincents for spelling Train wrong, so what chance do I have with Buhagiar? Strangely enough, I didn't realise I was spelling it incorrectly until Martin posted a tweet ridiculing my spelling prowess.

Now when I first saw this, I couldn't even figure out what he was on about. So I forensically examined his name and thought "Sh*t I've misspelled it". Now my first reaction was to simply apologise. I didn't do it deliberately and so that would be the natural response. Then I thought "he must be aware I'm dyslexic and he's taking the piss out of me". Why do I say this? Because the first line of my profile on the Barnet Eye website says "Dyslexic punk rock guitarist, studio owner and author Barnet Eye blog. " Martin is a journalist and so it is his job to check his facts, get things right and know what he's talking about.  I am sure he's aware of the existence of me and this blog and what we blog about, after all the Times has knicked many of our stories. Then I thought "what right has he got to take the piss out of me, simply for having a disability which has caused me so much grief". He clearly has never struggled with English as he's risen to the post of News editor on a local paper. I wondered if he ever suffered the humiliations of having to insult yourself in front of the whole class when you were five years old, under the tutilage of a malicious teacher. I wondered if he was one of the kids who would join in the humiliation and call the names? As I sat there with ever rising anger towards him, I suddenly realised that I am no longer five years old and in a class where the teacher was organising the other children to bully me, because my brain is slightly different. Nope, I am 51 years old and I can look after myself. I don't need to feel belittled and humiliated by such a crass comment designed purely to wind me up over a well publicised disability. 

So I thought that rather than have a go at Martin on Twitter I'd sit down later and write a calm and rational blog explaining to Martin why it is not OK to ridicule anyone about their defects and problems. Now clearly Martin thinks that because I'd ribbed him about his name (mistakenly) sounding like a famous womble, he can have a go at me for being dyslexic. Well of course he can, I can't stop him if he so chooses and after I got over the initial shock at the crassness of the comment I thought "So what". But I really thought I should try and at least explain why he should think twice before lampooning people for their problems, disabilities and issues. Now before everyone in Barnet I've ever upsets thinks "We can wind him up about this, it's his achillies heel", think again. Of all the wind ups you could possibly pull, this is the one I have had most practice with and am least likely to get annoyed about. The reason Martin's comment irritated me was simply because he made it from his official work Twitter account and to be quite honest, I expect a little more from the editor of the local paper in his official capacity. So Martin, I'm not going to ask for an apology, though I will give one for misspelling  your name. I am simply going to ask you that you treat dyslexia as you would blindness, deafness or any  learning difficulty. By all means lampoon things I say that are stupid, incorrect or irrational. I just ask that you give some consideration to the fact that dyslexia is a form of learning difficulty and I for one do not believe learning difficulties are suitable subjects for belittling people. My life has been a battle between dyslexia and ignorance, my own and other peoples. All I ask of the editor of our local paper is that when he is acting as the editor, he shows a little self control.I hope that is not too much to expect.

I speak to many dyslexics who read this blog, especially the articles on dyslexia and it appalls me to report that the general feeling is that a large number of people steadfastly refuse to even accept that the condition known as dyslexia exists. The more I research the subject and the more I come to terms with my own condition, the more I realise that many people will suffer huge mental pain, indignity and suffering, until such time as people wake up to the fact that dyslexia ruins some peoples lives. I committed to write this blog whenever I came across any example in my life where I felt dyslexia was being used against an individual, be it me or anyone else. I am not going to take it and I really don't see why anyone else should.

Guest Blog - Richard Cornelius and "Those People" by Ruth Kutner

Dear Sir

This morning Cllr Richard Cornelius accepted the BBC's invitation to appear on their Sunday Politics Show.  In contrast, he did not have the courtesy to send any kind of response to the invitation to appear before his potential supporters at the public meeting organised by the Barnet Alliance for Public Services.  In addition to his disdain for those hosts, on live television he referred to the participants at the meeting as 'those people ...' for which he was upbraided by Jeremy Corbyn who expressed shock at Cllr Cornelius's contempt for the voters of his borough.

Does anyone really want such a person to represent them and organise their lives?  Borough councillors are supposed to be the representatives of all the residents, rich and poor, able and disabled, workers and retired, employed and unemployed.

Although Cllr Cornelius not appear at the meeting, he nevertheless felt able to comment (incorrectly) on what went on stating "Occupy disrupted the meeting".  Members of the Occupy campaign were indeed present but contrary to disrupting the meeting, they were actually a great help in quietly removing a UKIP so-called supporter who was the one trying hard to disrupt the meeting.  Is their no end to the arrogance of Richard Cornelius and the party he represents.

I cannot understand why any decent person would vote for such a party and I implore all of Barnet's voters to put their cross by any other party on 22nd May.

Yours faithfully,

Ruth Kutner (Ms)
Ms Ruth Kutner is a Barnet Resident

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Barnet Eye national news round up - Anelka, Income Tax, The Weather, Watford & Ed Balls !!!

Did last years big freeze damage the economy?
As it's Sunday, here is my take on the weeks news in brief.

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicholas Anelka has been charged over making a racist gesture when celebrating scoring a goal. The striker made a "quenelle" gesture, widely associated with far right/nazi groups. Mr Anelka claims it was nothing of the sort, simply a getsure of solidarity with his mate, who happens to be an anti semite. Anelka claims in France the gesture is simply anti establishment. Given that the Nazi's invaded and did unspeakable things to many people in the French establishment, it is always possible that he is just a complete moron. If someone tood outside a synogogue in Golders Green performing Zeig Heil salutes and was arrested for incitement, a defence that  they were simply showing solidarity with vegetarians and dog lovers, as Hitler was both, would be laughed out of court. Anelka performed his gesture in front of thousands of people and a TV audience potentially of tens of millions. I'd never heard of the Quenelle before or the racist thug who invented it. Mr Anelka has succeeded in promoting the vile gesture beyond his wildest dreams, with Nazi  morons photographing themselves making the gesture outside all manner of sites associated with the holocaust. I rather hope that Mr Anelka is banned from playing football in the UK for good. That will cost him a fortune and it will serve as a warning to the next moron who wants to behave in such a manner. In Barnet we have a large Jewish population, many with familiy ties to holocaust victims. I personally do not want any scumbag who insults the memory of the these innocent victims to be allowed any platform at all.

This week, Ed Milliband and Ed Bollocks launched a commitment to reintroduce a 50p top rate of tax for the highest earners. The Tories have a long term ambition (meaning when and if they can ditch their Lib Dem partners) to reduce the top rate to 40p. I find this to be a very interesting debate, as it won't really affect anyone apart from a small band of "the slightly rich" . Millionaries employ accountants to ensure they pay nothing and the majority of rest of us don't pay it. The Tories claim that by cutting tax rates, more people simply pay up and don't employ accountants to avoid it. So if we did a straw poll of multi millionaires and said would your rather pay tax at a rate of 50p, 40p or nothing, what do you think they'd say. In truth to get multi millionaires to pay income tax, you'd have to cut the top rate to 10p in the pound. Then they would probably not bother to avoid it. I discussed the matter with a couple of friends who were accountants. They said that if you borught in a top rate of 10p for earnings over £1 million, the treasury would rake in zillions. I am not an accountant so I have no idea whether this is true. When I asked why no government has ever proposed this, they laughed and said that the accountancy firms who advise the government keep schtum because it would be like turkeys voting for Xmas to let the cat out of the bag. Who would employ an accountant if it was cheaper and easier just to pay tax.

Being British, we all love a good moan about the weather. We have certainly had a lot to moan about this winter. Last year it was absolutely bloody freezing at this time of the year. This year, it is warm and wet. As a dog owner, it has been a nightmare. The garden is a quagmire and every comfort break for our two hounds results in the mop coming out. Many areas such as Arrendene, where we like to exercise the mutts are almost impassable. Having said that, as a businessman it has actually been great for business. Last year, the big freeze caused hellish travel disruption. This resulted in mass cancellations of sessions at our studios and the weather probably cost us £50,000 in lost revenue one way or another. Just for example, our takings last week were approx 45% on the same week last year. If people aren't going out, they don't spend money. I believe that Mill Hill Music Complex wasn't the only business to suffer due to the freeze. I am of the opinion that the reason for the poor economic figures this time last year, with stalled growth, were largely due to the freeze. On Friday night I attended our football club late Christmas curry at the Mill Hill Tandoori restaurant. Every table was full and Mr Lemon who runs the establishment said it was his best night for years, even without our party of 14. Which leads me to a very interesting conclusion. Could it be that the result of the next general election will be defined by the weather next winter? If we get another big freeze, then Osbourne's recovery will stall. If we get mild and pleasant weather, the economy will power ahead. In a week when UKIP announced that the wet weather was the result of God's opinion of the decision to pass Gay Marriage legislation, a cool rational view is that as it has boosted the economy, it will also boost the chances of Osborne and Cameron getting elected. Given that God is the supreme intelligence (assuming you accept the premise that God exists), then it is most unlikely that God failed to take into account the effect of this weather on the election chances of the party that passed the legislation. Of course trying to figure out exactly what message God is trying to send us by watching the weather is perhaps a little bit futile. I'd suggest that UKIP would be far better taking account of the story of the "Good Samaritan". The moral of this story is that despised foireigners (The Jewish population of Israel at that time despised Samaritans) can be as good, if not better people than the rest of us.

We started with football, so we'll end with football. This week has seen two rather extraordinary games. The victory of Sunderland over Manchester United at Old Trafford was perhaps the most extraordinary game of football I've ever seen. United ultimately paid the price for being so conservative at a time when they had the advantage. What was extraordinary, was the fact that so many professional footballers, men paid a kings ransome to kick a ball, having been trained since the age of six or seven, couldn't hit the target from ten yards. Then we have the performance of Watford at Manchester City yesterday. City have swept all before them, yet Watford played without fear and were desperately unlucky to lose, with their young goalkeeper making a howler at 2-2. Unlike United (and many others) Watford went to the Etihad and threw the kitchen sink at City. At half time they lead 0-2. City sent on the big guns and pulled it back, but all credit to Watford for having such a go. As a City fan, I was relieved at the end, but my many watford supporting friends can be proud of their team. A special mention to Sergio Aguero. Yet again he was the saviour for City. He is a sublime talent, unlike Ed Milliband he is admired for the way he can use his talent to Ed Balls and score ! (groan !)

Have a great Sunday.

Guest Blog - The story of the Bohemia occupation - A documentary by Aaron Jolly

Last year, there was a brief flourishing of artistic and community creativity in North Finchley. This documentary tells the story.
Aaron Jolly is a musician and videomaker. He is currently studying Broadcast Media at Brighton University

Saturday 25 January 2014

UKIP candidate apologises for party stance on the disabled

Perhaps one of the better things to come out of the BAPS meeting on Wednesday was a frank admission by the local UKIP candidate that the party had let itself down in regards to the comments of its former member Owen Lister, who stated that disabled children should be guillotined at birth. UKIP candidate Adrian Murray-Leonard was confronted by an incensed disabled rights campaigner, Mr John Sullivan, who angrily asked Mr Murray-Leonard whether he supported the comments of Owen Lister. The Barnet Eye spoke to Mr Murray-Leonard on Thursday and he was bemused by Mr Sullivans comments. As a result of the Barnet Eye blog and conversations with the local party, Mr Murray-Leonard read the full story. He states that he'd never heard of Mr Lister and his comments prior to being approached by Mr Sullivan. I suggested that Mr Murray-Leonard should read the full story and then comment. He has now read the full story and here is his comment

Hi Roger

After reading that Daily Mirror article,it made me feel quite sick to be honest.

I have never heard of Owen Lister nor do i particularly want to know him.I fully understand Mr Sullivan`s anger towards me on Wednesday evening.

UK independence party have now set up a dedicated vetting team to root out the fruitloops of society,i will certainly bring this individual (Lister) to their attention and do my best to have him brought to account,i have no powers to their decisions.

Please send my warmest regards to Mr Sullivan,as you know me better than he does


It can only be a positive thing that the UKIP candidate has made his position on this 100% clear. In private talks with UKIP officials, they agreed that given the fact Mr Sullivan has a disabled daughter, Mr Sullivan was well withing his rights to raise the matter in such a forthright manner. They also agreed that a man who had publicly made such disgusting comments, should never have been given a platform by their party. 

There is however a far more disturbing story, one which both Mr Murray-Leonard and Mr Sullivan have missed. Whilst UKIP have not covered themselves in glory, the original story in the Mirror shows a far more scandalous story  - 
Mr Lister was a member of the Conservative party and a deputy Mayor when he made the comments. The local authority he was serving on took disciplinary action against him and suspended him from the Council. The charge was for bringing the council into disrepute with his comments. The Barnet Eye fully agrees that this was an appropriate punishment for the authority to take. What became clear however is that whilst the Council recognised that Mr Lister was beyond the pale, the Conservative Party did not. One has to ask the question "WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET SLUNG OUT OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY". Researching the story of Mr Lister  I found the answer  Mr Lister was later slung out of the Conservative Party. You may ask "what could be worse than suggesting that disabled babies should be guillotined?" Well if you are a Conservative, it appears that joining UKIP is a worse crime. That is the warped world of British politics. Whilst Mr Murray-Leonard of UKIP conceded that if he agreed with Lister, Mr Sullivan would have been within his rights to thump him, let alone tell him off, the Tory Party think that Mr Lister was a valued member until he joined UKIP. So what can we conclude about the Tory party attitude towards the disabled? Well of all the groups in society, the disabled have been hardest hit by the Tory cuts both locally in Barnet and Nationally. Whilst I have no doubt that many Tory members would recoil at the thought of guillotining handicapped babies, they are quite happy to champion cuts, which will ruin the lives of such babies. We hear stories of "care packages" being cut. If a handicapped person needs care and it is cut, we can only conclude that they "dont care".

So what can we conclude from this. Well what I would conclude is this. I am not a Conservative voter. If however I was a Conservative voter and I lived in Barnet and believed the UK would be better off outside of the EU (which I most definately don't), I would defect to UKIP. Whatever his faults, Mr Murray-Leonard at least has the human decency to state unequivicably that the views of Mr Lister are abhorrent. In the Barnet council chamber, Conservative members have voted time and time again for policies which hurt the disabled. They may not be so crass as to call for them to be gullotined, but their policies are extremely cruel and heartless, to a group who has no choice but to suffer them. The one character trait I despise above all others is dishonesty. I admire people who can admit they got it wrong. Mr Murray-Leonard admitted that when he realised the reasons for Mr Sullivans anger, he fully understood it and actually felt Mr Sullivan had probably been more reasonable than the situation warranted. It is almost unheard of for a Politician to admit they deserved a thump, but in this case, it shows a realistic understanding of the situation. Sadly, Mr Murray-Leonard seems to be unique in the world of Barnet politics for acknowledging that parents of disabled children such as Mr Sullivan are not being "unreasonable" or "cranks" when they stand up for their childrens rights.

For the record, I do not agree at all with the majority of UKIP policies. I believe that the only way the UK can remain prosperous and influential is to remain in the EU. I disagree with many UKIP policies on immigration and I find their economic policies to be naive in the extreme. With regards to local policies, I agreed with the fact they weren't invited onto the BAPS panel, as they haven't published any. I suspect that Mr Murray -Leonard is going to cause a lot of trouble in Barnet in the coming months. I suspect that most of it will be for the local Conservatives, because despite all of his faults, he is not afraid to stand above the parapet and take the shots. Given the total anonymity of the local Conservatives and their total cowardice in not turning up for the BAPS meeting, Mr Murray-Leonard is onto a winner. Only the dimmest Tory will fail to realise that Mr Murray-Leonards stunt at BAPS has gained him great publicity and raised his local profile. We can only conclude that he relished the role of the hard done by outsider and that this will do him a lot of good with disgruntled Tory voters.

The Saturday list #52 - My ten least favourite roads in Barnet

For todays Saturday list, I thought I'd compile a list of my ten least favourite bits of road in Barnet. These are the bits that I always groan when I approach in a car. |Most of them I like them even less on a bike.

1. Apex Corner, Mill Hill, approaching from A41 from Edgware.
2. Henleys Corner approaching from A406 from the East
3. North Circular between Brent Cross and Staples Corner
4. Edgware Road between West Hendon and Colindale
5. A41 Southbound approaching the Boroughs in Hendon
6. Partingdale Lane
7. Tally Ho Corner
8.  Edgware Road at Burnt Oak
9. Mill Hill Circus Roundabout
10. Stretch of road by Jack Straws Castle Hampstead

Do you have a stretch of road in Barnet that you don't like?

Friday 24 January 2014

The Friday Joke - 24/1/2014

As it's the weekend, here are a few on the subject of inebriation !

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink I feel shame. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this wine, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver."
~ Jack Handy

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your bra and panties.

 "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they Wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."
~Frank Sinatra

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.


"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
~ Henny Youngman

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to
 think people are laughing WITH you.


"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case . Coincidence? I think not."

~ Stephen Wright

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.


"When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let's all
 get drunk and go to heaven!"
~ Brian O'Rourke

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy.


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

~ Benjamin Franklin

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a retard.

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"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."

~ Dave Barry

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To some it's a six-pack, to me it's a Support Group. Salvation in a can!

Dave Howell

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.


And saving the best for last, as explained by Red Phlegm , of Merrylands. One afternoon at The Melton, Redfer was explaining theBuffalo Theory to his buddy Jim Campbell.
Here's how it went:

"Well ya see, Jim, it's like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

BAPS Election meeting - The fallout

On Wednesday night, BAPS held an election meeting at the Larches Trust. Representatives from Labour, Lib Dems & The Greens attended, along with Mrs Angry. About 50 people turned up to see what they had to say. One person who wasn't on the panel was local UKIP candidate Adrian Murray-Leonard. Mr Murray Leonard was incensed because UKIP were excluded. The official reason for the exclusion, according to Tirza Waisel was because UKIP have not published any policies for Barnet, hence they clearly had nothing to say. Mr Murray Leonard turned up to complain about the exclusion and was promptly turfed out, allegedly for being disruptive.

The Barnet Eye spoke to Mr Murray Leonard yesterday. He said "BAPS are just a bunch of champagne socialist, middle class housewifes, who plot revolution then return home to their million pound houses in Totteridge". Mr Murray Leonard then went on "They are not working class and are out of touch with middle class people". He continued "One guy even blamed me for the death of disabled people, claiming it was all my fault". Mr Murray Leonard was referring to an incident where disabled rights campaigner, John Sullivan confronted him as he left. Mr Sullivan is not a housewife and does not live in a million pound mansion. The Barnet Eye spoke to Mr Sullivan who said "A member of UKIP stated that disabled people like my daughter Susan should be guillotined at birth. No member of UKIP has ever rejected this policy" Mr Sullivan was referring to this story in the Daily Mirror  He said "People like Murray-Leonard make me sick, my daughter Susan is 50 years old. What right have UKIP to say she should have been guillotined. He had no answer to my question and didn't reject the comments of UKIP on the subject. As far as I am concerned, he is the scum of the earth".  (updated 18:21 - Mr Lister, who made these comments, joined UKIP after this story received National coverage. See this story - Mr Sullivan has explained that the fact UKIP accepted Mr Lister knowing his record implies approval of his views. A UKIP Hendon spokesman told me that Mr Murray Leonard was unaware of the story and did not know what Mr Sullivan was referring to. They have promised to comment when they are fully aware of the story).

The Barnet Eye also noticed a stream of rather biased tweets from the Chris Hewitt, a reporter on the Barnet Times, calling the meeting a "Lefty Love in" (despite the fact that it was open invite, the Tories refused to come) conveniently ignoring the fact that the Lib Dems who are a Centre Right party in a right wing government were on the panel. When challenged, the Times Editor Martin Buhgaria (no relation of Uncle Bulgaria the Womble) pointed out on twitter that the paper had once published a story about sprinklers that upset the local Tories.

What more can I say !

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Labour Councillor defects to Tories

Congratulations to Cllr Sodha on becoming Barnets newest Tory Councillor following her defecton from the Barnet Labour Party. The Barnet Eye believes this to be a very positive move for the London Borough of Barnet as in our opinion, this has raised the average IQ of both the Barnet Labour and Conservative groups.

Rather amusingly, when I tweeted this earlier, Ex Tory Councillor Dan Hope posted the following tweet.

Luckily for Dopey Dan, Mr Mustard rode in to his rescue and gave him a lesson in elementary maths ! If Dan needs a good maths tutor, we can recommend a very good one, who helped our son pass his SATS when he was at primary school.

To be fair to the Tories ( I am in a very good mood), they probably have the two Councillors with the highest IQ's in the council. John Hart and Sury Khatri are extremely intelligent and well qualified gentlemen and always good value for a private conversation. I suppose you can conclude from this, that one or two of the others, haven't impressed me, to draw my conclusion about the average. (Dan if you require an explanation of this statement, I suggest you ask Mr Mustard privately and spare yourself the embarrassment of another daft public tweet).

Sadly I couldn't make the BAPS meeting tonight. A guest blog would be most welcome if anyone did attend.

The Women problem. Equality in 2014 from a bloggers perspective

It's quite interesting that in 2014 we are still discussing the issue of equality. There are two big political issues centering on blatant sexism at the moment. We have the Lord Rennard issue for the Lib Dems, where Rennard has been accused (and apparently cleared) of behaving innappropriately with female staff within the Lib Dem organisation. We also have the issue of UKIP's Nigel Farage making disparaging comments about women in the workplace.

Given that women make up over 50% of the electorate, I find it truly bizarre that they are so often referred to in a way that implies they are a minority. Are political parties really unaware that women are the majority? I have to congratulate men on somehow managing to conceal this issue to such an extent that in a thousand years we've only had one woman Prime Minister. Given the rather bizarre we chose the actual head of State, we've faired a bit better with monarchs. Is it truly any coincidence that the Queens of England have usually done a better job than their male counterparts. Both Elizabeths have been very successful in the terms of their times. Our current Monarch has somehow managed to cement the role of a totally undemocratic head of state, who is subject to repressive religious discrimination, into our hearts. The first one ruled over some of our greatest military conquests. Then there was Victoria, who reigned over a huge expansion of British power and Empire. You could make the case that women have done a far better job than their male counterparts. Given the long list of men who have been Prime Ministers, it is perhaps odd that only Winston Churchill would displace Thatcher as the most popular for the Tory part of the nation. Labour have yet to dip their toe in that pond, which is shameful. As for the LibDems, they haven't even bothered to give any a serious job.

In Barnet, we have a female leader of the Labour Group, who has not exactly shone. The Tories had a female leader at the last election, who secured their best election result in recent times. Sadly she passed away soon after.

In business, few women make it to the top. The hackneyed old excuse is that  they don't get quite so far because of time taken out to bring up children. I believe this to be a lame excuse. If this was true, once women had stopped breeding, the field should again be level, but it clearly isn''t. I suspect that it is because women network in different ways. You don't get anywhere near as much stitching up deals in golf clubs with women. If you believe that business decisions should be made in smokey back rooms amongst the boys, it is clear you will expect women to do badly. If however you are judging candidates on their ability to do a job, then surely "clubbability" should not matter. If you run a firm or a department and you are passing over the best candidate, you are letting yourself and your company down.

In Barnet, we have nurtured five excellent bloggers. Two of these are female and three male (for once I count myself in this list). We all have different skills and bring different things to the table. I do not believe that the Barnet blogging scene would have created anything like the impact without Vicki & Mrs A. I think Vicki's defection to Nottingham is a huge blow. When I started to blog, it was viewed as a "male" passtime. Vicki & Mrs A destroyed that myth. It is interesting just how often I speak to people who have only heard of Mrs Angrys blog out of the Barnet bloggers. Generally these readers (although not always) are women. It is quite clear that Mrs A connect with different people to the Barnet Eye, when I speak to readers of the Barnet blogs. I find that as with the Sun and the Guardian, people prefer one particular blog and one particular style. The point I am making is that in blogging, any success is built purely on hard work. No one forces people to read blogs, it is an entirely qualatitive decision to follow a blogger. As such it is clear to me that Mrs A can compete on an equal footing and has done exceptionally well. It is perhaps one sphere of life, where you are totally judged on your talents alone. When you take all the bullshit away, it shows that talent is what matters. Sadly in most spheres of life, talent is the least of your worries if you want to get on. Your sex, your parents, your school and your bank balance matter far more. Until we, as a country, choose to address that, we are simply wasting so much of our natural talent.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Cricklewood regeneration - The new city on our doorstep approved by Barnet Council

The papers detailing the approval of the Cricklewood "regeneration" scheme are on the Council website. You can view them here.

Interesting highlights -

A new Brent Cross Thameslink station. oddly this is not actually guaranteed as part of the scheme. It seems that the Barnet Taxpayer, rather than the developers are bearing the financial risk. The report says "A bid for capital funding is being considered by Cabinet on 25 February 2014 to fund this work. Should the station go ahead, this funding will form part of the overall project cost and will be recouped by the Council as a development cost. However, this funding will not be recouped should the station not go ahead as proposed.
Consequently, the budget and programme will be managed throughout 2014 to ensure that only the necessary work is undertaken in advance of securing a funding strategy. " Seems to me that yet again, the taxpayers is being taken for a ride.

Council to subsidise developers by  bearing risk for funding land. The report says "It is currently envisaged that the Council will need to bear the CPO costs for land required for the Brent Cross Cricklewood South proposals. It is also envisaged that these acquisition costs will be recoverable from the Brent Cross Cricklewood South development in due course."

Why is it that in Barnet, it is always the taxpayer that takes the hit?

Monday 20 January 2014

UKIP and the long range weather forecast

We hear that a UKIP Councillor has decreed that the recent flooding was the direct responsibility of MP's passing legislation allowing Gay marriage. I must admit I found myself laughing. So it seems that UKIP believe that you can predict weather patterns by the legislation passed in Parliament, whilst at the same time disbelieving the sound scientific evidence for climate change. This idea quite appeals to me. What seems rather odd though is how UKIP seem to think that God, who is all seeing, all knowing and all powerful reacts to such legislation with seemingly random flooding in areas not especially associated with Gay Marriage. Now if areas such as Hampstead Heath had found themselves under nine foot of water, one could perhaps see a pattern, but to the best of my knowledge God has arranged the flood to be in more rural areas and on flood plains (strange place to build houses?). Being raised in a God fearing house, I am very familiar with the bible stories, however usually it was people who upset God who attracted his wrath, not random people who had little to do with the decision. So perhaps UKIP have got it wrong? Maybe God is more upset with attempts to repeal the Foxhunting ban? Or maybe he's fed up with the number of people in the countryside who drive gas guzzlers.

One of our local MP's Mike Freer, was a keen advocate of Gay marriage. According to UKIP, surely Finchley and Golders Green should be under 20' of water now, especially given the large population well versed in the old testament of his constituency. Surely if God really was angry about the Gay marriage legilsation, he would have laid waste to Mr Freer's constituency. Which has to make us conclude that perhaps God isn't too bothered. Perhaps God has better things to worry about.

Personally I would quite like it if God's retribution came down occasionally on evil do'ers. In my book though, evildoers are not people who shut the curtains and don't hurt other people. I would like to see a few arms factories flooded. I would like to see a few mass murderers and tyrants struck by lightening. I'd even like to see a few greedy property developers see the horrible schemes washed away in a deluge. Sadly though, we live in a time when humanity seems to have to take responsibility for dealing with its own problems. I suspect God thinks we've grown up and should deal with the problems we've made for ourselves.

And before I am deluged with disgruntled UKIP supporters claiming that this particular nutcase is a rogue individual, may I suggest that they take some responsibility. Nigel Farage claimed that the bloke was really a Tory who had somehow slipped through the vetting process (see this story in the Evening Standard ). If this is how Farage will deal with such a crass and idiotic man, then it is clear UKIP are doomed. Oddly Farage claims that the bloke always held these views but they have only been reported now he's joined UKIP. Why on earth did Farage accept him if he disagrees?

He should have instigated a full review of their selection criteria and should be working to ensure that his party maintains discipline and doesn't give a platform to people who are clearly not the full shilling. As a party Leader, Farage has to take responsibility for the people in his party. It seems like we live in a society where no one will ever step up and say "We got this wrong". It is always someone elses fault. If you thought UKIP were different, think again. Every party has nutcases in its ranks. It is how they deal with them which defines the party. I think Farage has displayed a complete lack of leadership in this issue.

Election meeting on Wednesday at Larches Trust Edgware 7pm

There is an election meeting at The Larches Trust Edgware on Weds where you have the opportunity to grill members of the Green Party, Labour party & Lib Dems on their election manifesto. Blogger Mr Reasonable will also be on the panel. The Barnet Conservatives will not be attending, apparently because they see nothing in it for them. We think that this is a shame. Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher backing down from the daunting challenge of a debate with Alison Moore?

Sunday 19 January 2014

Theatre Review - Once a Catholic - Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn

Due to work commitments, I have been very behind on the blogging of late. The Saturday before last I went to see "Once a Catholic" at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. This was an interesting experience for me, as it became the first production I've ever seen twice. I saw the play in its original form in the West End back in the 1970's. The play is set in Willesden in the 1950's at a Catholic Convent Girls School. Kathy Burke is the director of the reprised version and as you would expect, it was gritty and funny.

As someone of Irish ancestory who went to Catholic Schools (St Vincents and Finchley Catholic High School) at a time when the North London Catholic population was predominantly Irish, the production was at times a bit uncomfortable and close to the bone. I got the feeling that there were two distinct groups of people at the theatre. Those with my sort of background and those who had a different experience. It seemed to me that the non Irish/Catholics laughed at different times. I suspect they found the portrayal of nuns and priests hilarious and probably thought it stylised and humourous. In my experience, it was actually pretty accurate. As that was like some of my own school experiences, it wasn't really that funny at all. We had it drummed into us that missing mass was a Cardinal sin. I can't remember if any Nun/Priest ever actually said it was worse than "murdering your wife", but the reason I can't remember is because we were told so many things of that ilk. We were told about babies dying without baptism and going to Limbo. We were told not to let ourselves be alone with girls, because "bad things can happen".

One big difference from the new production and the old one, is that in the old version, the dynamic between the girls was different. It was the Sassy Troublemaker who decided she wanted to be a nun, to the astonishment of her classmates. In the new version, she is portrayed as a bit dim and a bit unworldly. Maybe Kathy Burke felt that in todays climate that would simply not be credible.

One thing that also struck me is the fact that women don't seem t become nuns anymore. In Mill Hill we have the Daughters of Charity, but the ones I've seen are all relatively elderly. In the 1970's women were expected to accept the fact that if they wanted a religious life, they'd become nuns. I expect that in todays world, accepting what is to many a "lower" form of religious order is not acceptable and is offputting.

When I first saw the play, I'd turned my back on the Church and was quite happy to see it lampooned mercilessly. I can remember taking delight in laughing at my own cultural roots. Second time around, I find it a completely different experience. I think Kathy Burke has done a great job. The play is funny and such things are necessary. I think we'll only truly be able to understand Islam, when Muslims can produce such plays without running the risk of Fatwa. What some see as blasphemy is actually a way of saying "we are comfortable with our religion". Ultimately the reason that the Church in the 1950's was so prone to being lampooned was because it had many things wrong. Only by exposing such things to debate, can we move on. If you are a North London Catholic and raised in the Catholic education system before the 1980's you will find the play a guilty pleasure. If you are not (like my wife), you'll just find it funny. If you find yourself laughing at different times to half the audience, that is probably down to this divide.

I would heartily recommend the play. I would also recommend the Tricycle theatre as a venue. From Mill Hill it is convenient and a comfortable and relaxed venue.

Thatcher vs Cameron - No comparison?

Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979 and after 4 years sought re-election. David Cameron was elected in 2010 and so on the Thatcher timetable would be up for election this year. I thought it may be interesting to compare and contrast their records.

Thatcher presided over two major military conflicts in her first four years. The Falklands and Northern Ireland. The Falklands war was a major victory and will perhaps always be viewed as the defining moment of her career. At the time of the war, the USSR did not consider that the UK had the capability to mount such a campaign. The Argentinian generals did not even consider such an option, thinking Britain would roll over and say "kick me". At the time the USA had an aversion to foreign adventurism, having its fingers burned. Thatchers war changed all that. Reagan realised that a successful military excursion is good for votes. I believe the Iraq and Afghan adventures are a direct result of Thatchers PR victory. What is never discussed in such glowing terms is the Northern Ireland situation. Under Thatcher there was a terrible military stalemate, where the ordinary people suffered under a repressive state and terrorism. Thatcher never really had a clue where to start with Ulster. In my opinion her period was one of unmitigated failure, but due to the Falklands success, the airbrush has been applied.  Nevertheless, with her leadership during the Falklands conflict, no one could argue that Thatcher wasn't a proven leader in a time of war.

Cameron has presided over the Afghan debacle in much the same way. It is clear that Cameron doesn't know what to do, hasn't got a plan and is simply a passenger in the process. British servicemen die without a sense of what the mission really is. When the British and americans go, everyone knows things will soon degenerate. When the UK leaves Afghanistan, will it be a better place than when Cameron took over? I doubt it. The problem is that, unlike Thatchers Falklands war, there is no plan, no objective and no idea what we are really trying to achieve. In four years, I've yet to hear a single coherent sentence from Cameron on the subject. Whilst I believe history proved Thatchers non engagement with the IRA wrong, at least she was consistent and could elucidate why whe was persuing this course. Cameron simply comes across as vacuous.

When Thatcher took over, Great Britain was in terminal decline. We were the "sick man of Europe". Whatever you may think of the UK when Cameron took over, we have maintained a high degree of economic prosperity and the problems with our country have not resulted in others viewing us as a complete basket case. In 1979, the UK was viewed as a spent force which had nothing left to offer. Thatcher believed that the key to fixing the economy was to cut the balls off the Trades Unions. She believed in "moneterism" (a phrase which seems to have disappeared). The first two years of her rule were met with a huge fiscal squeeze and spiralling unemployment. Thatcher despised socialism and sought about taking an axe to the low hanging branches on the tree of social government. What people don't appreciate about Thatcher was that she was firstly a pragmatist (most successful Tories are). She kept well away from the NHS and when she was looking to privatise, she picked off easy targets and by doing mass share offers that made the ordinary man a few quid, she made herself popular. The targets for privatisation were carefully picked. They were not picked for ideological value, but for the likelyhood of success. BT was the first. It was clear to all that Telecomunnincations needed deregulation. I don't think anyone can argue that privatising BT was successful. In this day and age, the concept of waiting three months for a telephone line is uniimaginable. However harsh, Thatchers medicine for the economy eventually worked. The economy was booming within ten years, Harry Enfield parodying Thatchers children with his Loadsamoney character.

Unlike Thatcher, Cameron doesn't seem to have a coherent plan or too many answers. The British economy has many structural issues to address, government debt, welfare dependency and a money supply crisis for small business. The economy has returned to strong growth in the last year, but oddly this even confounded George Osborne's own predictions from this time last year. There have been huge cuts to the benefits system, but so far this has had no effect on government debt. Unlike the Thatcher "Loadsamoney" boom, this recovery shows no signs of ending up in the pockets of anyone apart from rich bankers who started the problems. Like Thatcher, Cameron seems to like the idea of privatisation, however unlike Thatchers BT privatisation, he didn't see the Post Office privatisation as an opportunity to make the ordinary working man a bit better off. There was no TV campaign to persuade us all to buy shares and pocket a few quid. Wheras Thatcher always knew what she was doing, Cameron gives off the air of bending with the wind. I was talking to an economist, who was explaining that the most successful economic policy of the coalition was raising the income tax threshold to £10,000. He pointed out that this was actually one of the policies the Lib Dems brought to the table. No one seems to know what the basis for Camerons economic vision is. Least of all David Cameron. Unlike Thatcher, we suspect that Cameronism is a byword for bending with the wind.


Perhaps the biggest misconception of people who haven't studied Thatcher is the concept that she was "anti European". This is complete baloney. She never advocated withdrawal. She signed every treaty put before her, most notably the single European act. This is the single most important pro euro piece of legislation. She never advocated a referendum. Thatcher recognised that the UK had to be "in the club" or our vital interests would have no protection from our European neighbours. She was a total pragmatist. She realised that the European commission was  democracy free zone, dedicated only to making itself ever more powerful. Her strategy was to limit the power of the commission in the UK as far as possible and to get the best deal possible for the UK in fiscal terms. She had no interest at all in the smooth running of Europe, she couldn't care less. She wanted free access to trade markets and as little European interference in UK affairs as she could manage. She also wanted the UK to keep as much of our cash as possible. That was her method for dealing with our EU partners. She was single minded and once they got over the initial shock, they found that they simply had to horse trade with Thatcher. To give her her dues, she was probably  the most effective UK Prime minister in protecting our interests.

Cameron suffers from a complete lack of authority in his party. Whatever he says on the Europe issue, no one believes him. He has made himself a hostage to the right wing of his party with his pronouncements, without actually buying himself any bargaining power. As with many issues, Cameron needs the Lib Dems to keep him afloat so he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. As a result he has no policy on Europe. Who knows what Camerons true position of UK membership of the EU is. Does he see any benefit? He is too scared to actually say so. Does he want to pull out? He is again too scared to say so. We expect some sort of Leadership from Cameron, but we get none at all. Our EU partners see Cameron as a man of straw, because they know he has no authority.

Social Responsibility.
Thatcher famously stated that "there is no such thing as society". She passionately believed that the UK was simply a group of millions of individuals and that we only cooperated with each other because it suited us to do so. She despised anything "co-operative". She saw no value in community and her response to the miners strike, which completely polarised the country exemplified this. Thatcher once commented that any man in his thirties on a bus was a failure. For her, the concept of having to share your personal space with a bunch of other bus passengers was an anathma. She believed that social care should simply be an act of personal charity. She despised other Tories who viewed the weaker members of society as people and people who required care. She referred to such Tories as "Wets". She despised them more than she despised Socialists and viewed them as the real enemy.

Again with Cameron, no one knows what his policy on social responsibility really is. Following the death of his disabled son, he gave interviews praising the NHS. I for one felt that given his experiences, there is no way he'd let the NHS come to harm as Prime Minister. I thought he'd see the value in what it offers. Being fair to Cameron, the NHS has had its budget ring fernced. Given the cuts elsewhere, it has to be conceded that he has shown a degree more care than may have been expected. This is perhaps the only area where Cameron has shown any social concern. The changes to the Benefit system have been cruel. The "bedroom tax" has caused real unhappinees and hardship for many. I cannot see how penalising families when a child goes to college can possibly be seen as socially fair. The rise in food banks is the most tangible sign that Cameron doesn't care. It is odd that even with Thatcher despising social responsibility, we never saw a mushrooming of food banks in the way we see today.

The working class.
Thatcher believed that the working class by and large wanted to become middle class. She believed that there were large numbers of votes to be had on council estates. She believed that the British working man was aspirational. She designed policies to try and tap into this belief. The two keynote policies were selling council houses to their owners, with the right to buy and the popularist share issues, with attendent advertisng campaigns. Millions took advantage of these policies and they voted Tory to show their appreciation. Labour never really got to grips with this assault on their core vote. This failure kept them in opposition for 17 years. Thatcher created a whole new subgenre of Tory voters.

Cameron just doesn't get the working class at all. I think it is probably fair to say they don't get him either. Wheras Thatcher always kept this group in the corner of her eye, to Cameron they are invisible. Thatcher ensured every budget in her raign always threw this group a bone of some sort, even if that was taken away elsewhere. Cameron and his buddies from the poshest public schools don't see this, so they don't know where to start. Cameron was widely expected to sweep the board at the last election. I believe the reason he failed so miserably was because he had no policy that talked to this group. Thatcher always recognised that there were working people who wanted to own their own homes, run a car and go on a holiday abroad. Cameron doesn't talk to these people. It is there children who have borne the brunt of the hike in student fees. It is them who have been fleeced by utility companies. It is them whos parents are hardest hit by cuts to Council Social care budgets.

Whilst researching this blog, the Barnet Eye was struck by the fact that when you compare Thatcher to Cameron, the differences are huge. What is perhaps the most difficult thing to quantify is how the influence of the Lib Dems has tempered the policies of Cameron. We have to conclude that without the input from his coalition partners, Cameron would without doubt have been more harsh and more right wing. The Barnet eye believes that the Lib Dems have given Camerons uber right machine a small figleaf of social responsibility. We also believe that the influence of Vince Cable, an economist by trade, has managed to inject some sanity into the regime's economic agenda. It is impossible to be sure, but we believe that the economy would not be in recovery without this injection of sanity. The one thing we must give Cameron credit for, which I doubt Thatcher could ever have achieved is that he has managed to hold together a coalition for nearly four years of two very different parties. Whatever his faults, the UK is now experiencing strong growth, bucking the trend of the rest of Europe. I believe that Cameron is actually lucky that he has the Lib Dems as his partners. It gives him an excuse for all his errors and it gives him a safety catch on his most right wing nutcases. If Cameron loses the next election and a Milliband regime takes over, I suspect that this will be seen as a massive achievement. If the Tories win a majority, I would not be in the least surprised to see Cameron dumped in a palace coup, and replaced. Lets face it, if they could stab Lady Margaret in the back, having delivered three stunning election victories and an economic boom, why on earth would they persist with "Dave", who the vast majority of them despise.