Thursday 30 April 2015

David Cameron and an uncomfortable truth


 Sad when the facts don't match the rhetoric, isn't it

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Why Sarah Sackman would be a great MP for the local Jewish community

Last night at the Finchley and Golders Green hustings, it seems Sarah Sackman was given a hard time over the Labour Party positionon Israel. Here is just one example tweet

The damage to the labour vote for in due to their unilateral support for Palestinian statehood evident tonight

Many people in the local Jewish community have justified fears about the what a Labour government may mean to UK policy towards Israel. It seems to many that Ed Miliband has courted the "militant student vote" in drawing up Labour policy. Given the record of Hamas in the Gaza Strip I can well understand the disquiet. It is clear to anyone who is any way familiar with the area exactly what would happen if Hamas ever had the opportunity to get the upper hand militarily with Israel.  This is the fear which the local Tory Party are using to ensure that the community are soundly Tory. 

What the community should consider is that the election will not be decided in Finchley and Golders Green. If you accept the proposition (which I personally don't as the Foreign Office largely set UK foreign policy), that the Tories would be universally good for Israel (again a proposition I don't really believe facts and history support), then surely the logical position is to ensure that as many strong advocates for Israel as possible are elected in the Labour Party to ensure that should a Labour government transpire, there will be effective voices for the Pro Israel lobby.

No one can criticise Sarah's credentials in this matter. Anyone who has seen her campaign for Frien Library, Mapledown disabled school, etc will realise she is an extraordinarily effective operator.  She is a barrister by trade and a very eloquent and brilliant speaker. Surely it is better to have Sarah in the Miliband government tent making the case than Mike Freer on the outside, screaming in vain?

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Mill Hill - Barnets greatest Council ward?

Someone retweeted an old tweet from 2012.

If Mill Hill is the Music Ward, & Totteridge is the Masonic Ward, what names can we give the other Barnet Wards?

It made me think. There is a good case for positively stating that Mill Hill is Barnets greatest ward. In fact I personally would like to declare independence from Barnet Council. I am seriously thinking of setting up the Mill Hill National Party (MHNP), like the SNP, to break away from the oppressive yoke of the Council. Well actually I am not because I think Nationalists are bonkers, but you know what I mean I am sure. 

Anyway, despite the best efforts of Barnet Council to ruin our fantastic ward, we still have many jewels in the crown, which bring us local, national and international fame. I don't think any other ward can boast such a string of jewels.

1. Mill Hill Music Complex. Yes I know I run it, but we have over 1,000 musicians a week through our doors and we've recorded world wide hits like this

2. University of London Observatory. This is a national centre of excellence. Located on the A41 just by Mill Hill Park

3. National Institute for Medical Research. Site of research and cures for many of theworlds most serious illnesses. It also featured as Arkham Asylum in a Batman film. Being closed down and turned into flats and moved to St Pancras.

4. Belmont Childrens Farm. A great day out if you have small kids. Owned by controversial UKIP chairman Andrew Reid.  Being closed down by Barnet Council due to a planning dispute.

5. Saracens RFC. Arguably Englands best Rugby team.

6. Arrendene Open space & the Totteridge valley. Some of the fines walks in London

I don't think any other ward comes close. Do you? What have you got in your ward?

Monday 27 April 2015

Evict A Tenant UK Ltd - How would Labours rent reforms affect you

I found this unsolicited email in my inbox today from EvictMyTenant.Com. I thought that it was worth sharing with the readership of the BarnetEye. I am sure one or two of you may find this interesting.

Having read this email, I am sure that this will be highly interesting to both landlords and tenants and may well influence how they vote in May. I'd be interested to know the opinions of the Barnet Eye readership on this communication and what the iimplications are.

Five years is an eternity in Barnet Politics

Five years ago, we were approaching a general election. We were also approaching a council election. I thought I'd read my blog from this day five years ago and see what I was concerned about , as we again appoach a general election. As we approach the election, my experience of the two elections could not be more different. At the last election I was a candidate for the Council. In this election, I am not even a member of a party. Last election I was working 18 hours a day on the campaign trail. This time I have not knocked on a single door. I am not convinced that any party has made a coherent case for getting themselves elected. The campaign has left me completely cold. Neither the Tories or Labour have given a single positive reason to vote for them. If I was Ed Miliband or David Cameron, my campaign would be based on the premise that if you elected me, I would make Great Britain the best country to live in for all its citizens. I was speaking to a friend in the street as we dished out leaflets for the Mill Hill Music Festival on Saturday. They said that if they could, they'd have elect Labour to run the NHS, the Tories to run the economy, the Greens to run the cycle lanes and railways and the Lib Dems to make us all a nice cup of tea and stop the others squabbling.

In truth, my friend is closer to the mark than many politicians realise. The coalition government has surprised everyone by being so stable. Who would have thought that Lib Dems and Tories could get anything done. Whatever you think of the coalition, Cameron and Clegg deserve a degree of praise for giving us a degree of stability at a time when much of the world is in crisis. For those new to the blog I was standing for the Lib Dems in 2010 in Mill Hill ward. My mission was simple, try and stop the Conservatives from winning in Mill Hill, so a Labour/Lib Dem coalition could take control of the council and reverse many of the destructive policies that they seemed bent on implementing. I was astounded when the Lib Dems and Tories formed a government and I resigned from the party when the Lib Dems dumped their pledges on student loans.  For me, trust is a huge issue and this action was a huge betrayal. As it has transpired at local level, the Conservatives won and have outsourced the council to Capita. We have seen all manner of cock ups since, so I feel vindicated in my efforts to prevent this calamity. Whatever, I am glad I had the experience of running as a candidate and meeting so many people in Mill Hill. When I reread the following passage, I really felt quite emotional. The meeting people and sometimes catching up with long lost friends (or their parents) was by far the best bit. Here's what I had to say

Another thing which I haven't anticipated is the number of people I've told on the doorstep to read my blog if they wanted to find out about my views. Quite a few came up to me on Saturday morning and congratulated me. That is nice. They asked why the local press didn't cover local issues in such depth. They were amazed at how many issues they'd never heard of. There was one piece of news which absolutely gutted me. I bumped into an old footballing friend, who played in several teams I've played in over the years. He told me he had Kidney cancer and it had spread. He was on an experimental drug and was hoping it would stop the cancer in it's tracks. My friend is not a shrinking violet, he's one of the most full of life people I've ever known. As we chatted, he announced to everyone who passed "Vote for this guy, he's the man". I pondered the fact that he'd make a great politician, a man of great charm, personality and charisma. Barnet Council needs dynamic people who are not stuffed shirts. I've long been of the opinion that it's too full of pomp and ceremony and that puts the man on the street off. If I get in on May 6th, I am going to dedicate the next 4 years to trying to get local people involved and local people making a difference. One of my Lib Dem colleagues joked that following my run in with the Mayor last year, if the Lib Dems win, I'd make a great Mayor. Should that happen the first thing I'd do is sell they Mayoral Limo and the second thing I'd do is sell the Mayoral chain. I'd give the money raised to local sports clubs, to help get young people into healthy lifestyles. I asked why the Mayor needs a limo "So when he attends a function, he can have a drink and get taken home". If I decide to get pissed at the public expense, then it isn't work, it's pleasure and I'll pay my own busfare home. We need to make the council work for the people of Barnet and get rid of all of the indulging of public servants.
You can read the whole blog here.  It made me feel a bit nostalgic for those heady days. I think the experience of the coalition has made me far too cynical to stand again. In truth, I also realised that if I'd got my way and won and the Tories had been pushed out by a slender margin, the situation would have been completely crazy. I wonder if it would actually have been possible for the Lib Dems to have an alliance with the Tories nationally and with Labour locally. As I'd never even considered the possibility of a Cameron/Clegg coalition, I most certainly hadn't considered a Tory/Lib Dem alliance in the council. I personally wouldn't have propped up a Tory administration, especially one that was hell bent on privatising the council. What the local electorate would have made of a party in bed with two different parties locally and nationally, we can only ponder.

I almost feel that I dodged a bullet in losing. Whilst it would have been great to have stopped One Barnet in its tracks and to have had a council focussed on serving local people rather than local ego's, I am really not sure that it wouldn't all have ended in tears. Whatever happened, I would have put the ordinary people of Mill Hill first and done all I could for them. I was struck by just how little we see of our councillors. Sure they do a monthly surgery where you can go and see them if you want, but I'd really like to see a bit more of them. Running a public facing business in Mill Hill, I speak to local people all the time. There are many things which councillors should have done a better job with over the last few years. Perhaps the biggest and most contentious in Mill Hill is the Saracens CPZ parking zone. To stop people parking during a two hour period, they have enacted a 5 hour ban.

The council should have had a period of 30 mins where people couldn't park in the middle of games. They should have insisted Saracens pay for the scheme as part of their planning conditions. Instead hundreds of local residents have got tickets. Most of these have no clue about Rugby and it is simply just a hassle. What upset me is that none of the councillors had the balls to stand up to officers and tell them to come back with a better scheme. Councillors forget that they are the bosses.

I would love to see Barnet get some independent, non aligned councillors, holding the balance of power. I think that after the election, this may be my next project.  I think three years should be long enough for a few of us to make the case.

Barnet FC Back in the League but not in the London Borough of Barnet

On Saturday, I left the borders of the London Borough of Barnet, visiting The London Borough of Harrow. I was visiting The Hive, the "temporary" home of Barnet FC. It was the last day of the Conference Season and Barnet had to at least equal the result of Bristol Rovers FC to gain promotion back to the Football League. I was slightly nervous about going. Although Barnet have had a brilliant season, the two games I've attended they've lost. The first was back in 2014 when they lost by the odd goal to Wrexham. I thought Barnet were pretty awful on that occasion. The next game was against Grimsby Town, when Barnet were even worse, losing 1-3. Barnet had been relatively comfortable  up until then, but that result allowed Bristol Rovers back into the race. In fact every game I've seen this season has resulted in the team I wanted to win playing badly and losing. I support three clubs. My "main" team is Manchester City, who I've supported since a boy. I've always supported Barnet as my local "non league" team and Watford as my local club. As I work on Saturdays, I don't get to many games. As both Watford and Barnet have been promoted this season, it has been a good season for my 2nd and 3rd teams. As regards City, keeping things in perspective, when they were playing Gillingham in the 3rd tier play off final back in 1999, I'd have settled for Champions League football, so I shouldn't be too greedy.

Fortunately Barnet did not fluff their lines this time. They put in a Champions performance. Man of the match was Mauro Vilhete who capped a brilliant performance with two goals. The atmosphere was fantastic and at the final whistle the ground exploded with a mass pitch invasion of fans celebrating. It took an eternity for the pitch to clear. To the annoyance of the fans in the main stand, the presention boards were put up so that the fans couldn't see the presentation, with huge cries of "Turn it round" and "you don't know what you're doing" ringing around the ground. Whilst it was clear that the club wanted the TV pictures to have a packed stand as a backdrop, I felt it was disrespectful to fans who'd paid to watch. It seems that in this day and age, fans have become satge props and TV is the boss.

So Barnet are back, but they are not are they. The relegation from the League coincided with the move from Underhill in Barnet to The Hive in Harrow. The Hive is a fantastic complex, but the bottom line is that the club are not in Barnet. When the Tories won the council election in 2002, they declared war on the club. For reasons I have never quite fathomed, the council decided that Barnet is not a football town. I suspect much of this was snobbery from the likes of ex Tory Councillor Brian Coleman, who made it quite clear that he thought football was not for middle class Tory voters. Attempts to improve Underhill were blocked and the club was eventually forced to look elsewhere.

The sad thing is that the Council let their prejudice and snobbery override common sense. Having a successful football team is a great advert for a Town or City. Look at Manchester. Whilst Birmingham is London's 2nd city, Manchester is globally known for its football clubs. This has helped the city to attract inward investments. Every time the football results are read out, towns with a football team get their profile raised.

On Saturday, thousands of people turned up for the match. The club employs dozens of stewards, bar staff, groundsmen, coaches, etc. All of this brings prosperity to the local area. Shops, pubs and restaurants get a boost as people need to eat / drink before and after games. Mill Hill has seen a similar boost from Saracens.

Another interesting difference is the fact that Harrow seem to have a far better relationship with Barnet fans in regard to parking. The "Saracens exclusion zone" CPZ is a nightare for residents and business. It is badly thought out and badly implemented. A five hour exclusion period when 1/2 hour would suffice is perhaps the most bonkers policy that Barnet Council has yet to come up with.

In the program for Barnet FC, there is an appeal for cash to help raise a planning permission for a return to Barnet. The club have said that if fans can raise £75,000 for a planning request, then they will submit an application to return to Barnet. I happen to think that Barnet Council owe the fans a debt of honour to facilitate this and move the club back. The purpose of Barnet Council is to serve the locality and make things better for the people who elected them. Whilst there are many priority calls that you could argue would be a better use of  £75,000, if each of the Tory councillors gave up 10% of their allowances for the next 2 years, this would easily raise the sum. As they forced the club out in the first place, it is the least they could do. I am sure pigs will fly before that happens though!

Sunday 26 April 2015

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 26/04/2015

Brian Coleman once famously said "Twitter is for Twits". This was before he discovered the charms of the medium. It does seem that it brings out the most boring aspects of politicians, which is why I am largely giving them a wide berth for this feature. If I see another picture of a bunch of bum  faced activists walking up a road with a tweet saying something like "great days canvassing in East Ainington Street" I think I'll scream. However as Brian has unblocked me on twitter and said something I heartily agree with, I've made him the Tweet of the week. I am sure he'll be delighted

1. The Tweet of the week from Brian Coleman. Early this week I was at the funeral of Mario Moro much loved Father in Law of my studio manager, and I was digusted by the state of Hendon Crematorium.

Glad to see the cobwebs removed at Hendon Crem for tonight's funerals , you could see the chipped paintwork , refurb needed

2. Hannah Worrall is impressed to see a Burnt Oak lad made good! Lawrence Lynch is and old mate of mine so great to see him getting a few accolaides

Edgware-born plumber taps into playwriting with début show Burnt Oak


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3. Great to see Barnet FC back in the Football League (if not actually back in Barnet!) We were there for the moment, it was a great party!

Barnet clinch Conference title: Barnet FC are back in the Football League after clinching the Conference champ...

Photo published for Barnet clinch Conference title 

4. Intrigued by this tweet. It seems that Barnet is getting its own TV Channel. Does anyone out there know about this? Seems like a fantastic idea. Maybe they could work with the Barnet Bugle, who films council meetings?

Filming at the with students from

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5. The Londonist think One Barnet, Housing and Schools will do for Matthew Offord in Hendon

Housing, One Barnet, schools: what will decide marginal Hendon? (pic: Steve Reed)

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6. Sherlock Homes is a patron of the Phoenix Cinema!

Sherlock star & Oscar-nominated unveiled as new patron

7.  This is a tweet that deserves a wider audience

'Finchley Goes To War' guided walk this Sunday at 10.30. . See

8. Fancy seeing some Jazz in Mill Hill?

9. Brian R has a great picture of a big fire in Edgware

Firefighters tackle blaze in Edgware - This is Local London

Photo published for Firefighters tackle blaze in Edgware

10. And a  great pub in Colindale celebrated its first birthday under the fantastic new management with the magnificent JJ & the Ukettes

At for their 1st birthday party with great night

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Thats all for this week folks!

Saturday 25 April 2015

Is this what Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Trains call customer service?

Richard Branson has made a career out of being a bit different. When the major record labels shunned the Sex Pistols, he signed them up. He launched Virgin Atlantic Airways to offer a high quality, low cost option for transatlantic travel, succeeding where Freddie Laker had been torn to shreds. Virgin brand themselves as different, more customer focused and better.

So today my Daughter had an open day at Manchester University to attend. She left the house at 7am to get the 8am Virgin Trains service to Manchester. She had booked a cheap return ticket with a railcard. When she arrived at the station to board the train she found she'd forgotten the card, when asked. The ticket inspectors point blank refused to let her board the train and informed her she'd have to buy a brand new ticket. Being an art student on a limited budget, she only had enough cash on her for fares and lunch and a little spending money. As the ticket would be full price, this was simply not an option. She had to be at the Uni at 10.30.

Now of course by the letter of the law, Virgin Trains were within their rights to refuse to let her travel. But surely when someone makes a genuine mistake, one which is easy enough to verify, in this day and age a company such as Virgin should be able to accomodate it. Under the much maligned First Capital Connect, I once travelled to Blackfriars having fogotten my season ticket. At the Barriers, a helpful chap explained that I had to pay a £20 penalty fare. He asked if I wanted to pay now or later. He then said that season ticket holders will be let off if they could prove they actually had a season ticket. This simply involved scanning the ticket and photocard and sending it with an appeal form to the company. I duly did this and the fine was waived.

In my Daughters case, surely it would have been equally simple to take her details and get her to supply a photo of the card. In fact, we could have scanned it and sent it to her smartphone there and then (or to any other computer they wanted). But no. The Virgin Trains staff sent my daughter home in tears. She has missed the open day for the University and she is distraught.

So thank you Sir Richard and your company. I never thought I'd say this but I am starting to form the conclusion that for all their sins, First Capital Connect were not that bad. As far as I am concerned, if Labour really were serious about winning the election, they would make a pledge to nationalise all of these rail companies ASAP and stop these greedy fat cat companies ripping us off for every last penny. To deny a student the opportunity to attend a University Open day, when she has paid for a valid ticket, has a valid railcard and has simply made a silly mistake rushing for a train is scandalous and sickening. 

Friday 24 April 2015

The Friday Joke - 24/4/2015

Here it is again, the Friday Joke.

A Roman walks into a bar and asks for a martinus. “You mean a martini?” asks the bartender. The Roman replies, “If I wanted a double, I would have asked for it.”

Have a great day

Thursday 23 April 2015

Ten Reasons to vote for Mike Freer

Earlier this week I posted  ablog highlighting the appalling level of support which local Tory Councillors were giving the general election campaigns of Mike Freer and Matthew Offord.  One of the best of the new intake of Tories took what I said to heart and admitted I had made a valid point. Gabriel Rozenberg who is a Hampstead Garden suburb Tory has impressed me with his willingness to engage in open and sensible debate and to not always simply appear to be a "yes man". I predict he will go on to better things in politics. He certainly seems the most intellgent of the current crop of Barnet Tory Councillors. He also is reasonably robust and doesn't throw his toys out of the pram, even when being cruelly wound up. This is almost a unique charictaristic in the Barnet Tories and one which sets apart the real prospects from the overblown egomaniacs.

Anyway, Gabriel (much to my surprise, if I am honest), posted a tweet saying he agreed with me. He then tweeted ten reasons why he believes Finchley and Golders Green residents should support Mike Freer, the Tory Candidate.

Here are his tweets agreeing with me.

I admit it: makes a reasonable point. I haven't been exactly noisy on Twitter recently on behalf of my beloved .

So, I thought I would share with the Twitterverse my own Top Ten Reasons why I will be voting for on May 7th.
Gabriel then tweeted his top ten reasons. As Gabriel had done me the rare honour of a Tory admitting I was right, I thought I'd repay the honour by giving my take on his reasons. For each of them I will give Mike a mark out of ten. So if Gabriel has ten unarguable reasons, Mike will get 100%. If he gives ten completely silly reasons, he will get zero. Of course none of this really matters as it is merely my opinion of Gab's opinion of Mike

1) Gay marriage. Coalition's great social justice win. Mike fought for it, convinced waverers, earned respect on all sides.

Well I was pretty impressed with Mike's speech in Parliament. I was tempted to give Mike 10/10 for this one. However on analysis I will knock him down to 8/10 (still a decent mark). The reason being that there is one big blot on the story. Gabs completely forgot to mention that Mike had completely failed to convince his friend and former deputy at Barnet, Matthew Offord, who is an implacable of opponenent same sex marriage. Not Mike's fault but I felt Gabs post was deficient in implying universal agreement.  - 8/10

2) No MP works as hard as Mike for his constituents. He is on it 24/7. Super fast and helpful replies to residents' emails. 

Sadly this is a big whopper. It is true that Mike worked hard for the Gaddafi family when pro democracy activists squatted in their vacant properties. As someone who has been involved in several popular local campaignsin FGG constituency, the truth is Mike gave his constituents no help and support at all. The CPZ campaign which got CPZ charges overturned in the High Court had no support from Mike. The Save Friern Library had no support from Mike.  The campaign to stop the abolition of pay and display cash parking got no support from Mike (even though he's now admitted the council and Brian Coleman were wrong). I am very sorry to say I have to give Mike 0/10 on this as simply supporting rich and powerful friends is no use at all. Now I am sure Mike has helped some people, but I've seen no evidence of it. 0 /10

3) Henlys Corner. Once a death trap, now transformed. Prosaic but crucial. Mike's legacy to Barnet as Council Leader.

Given that this achievement was not actually anything to do with Mike's role as being an MP, I was tempted to give another zero. It struck me as Gabriel really scraping the barrel. However it was improved, so I will give him 4/10.

4) Mike knows F&GG inside out. He was first elected to the council for Finchley in *1990*. And yes, he actually lives here.

Again not exactly a great reason to vote for someone. Is that really the best reason. I would vote for the person who did the best job whether they lived next door or in a Soho brothel. As to Mike knowing the area inside out, if this was true he'd have supported the CPZ campaign, which was largely run by natural Tories appalled at a huge injustice.  Sorry Gabs, got to be a big fat zero as an excuse to vote for Mike 0/10

5) He resigned his front-bench role on a point of principle.

This is a hard one for me to mark. It is clear that Mike resigned because he knew that to carry on could damage his electoral campaign, in a tight race. Having said that, he was elected to represent his constituents, and in this instance he clearly was. So I think 7/10 is fair. 7/10

6) This very personal and incredibly brave speech.

Oh dear, Gabs has started to run out of steam and as started recycling reasons to vote for Mike. Back to his support for Same Sex Marriage. Having given Mike 8/10 for the first occurrance in the list, to give him any more for the same reason would be highly silly. So sorry Gabs, this is 0/10 for being cheeky and not even managing 10 different reasons. 0/10

7) Local priorities: campaigning for a breast screening unit at Finchley M; free schools; and against Labour's Mansion Tax

Ok, so totally agree with the Breast screening unit as an example of a good reason. If Mike had opposed the bedroom tax, which attacks poor people on benefits I may have scored him higher, but he only really seems to care for the well off, so 5/10

8) Mike fights against racism and intolerance. He stands up for the many minority communities who make their home in F&GG

Now it is clear Mike stands up against intolerance, as a long time supporter of LGBT rights (although this is the third time this particular chestnut has been recylced). Not quite so sure I've seen any evidence of leading campaigns against racism locally. He has a decent record on anti semitism, so I will be generous and give him (it would have been higher if Gabs hadnt yet again snuck in the same sex marriage argument by stealth) 5/10

9) Mike lives in the real world. He's worked his way up: Pizza Hut, Barclays Bank, House of Commons. 

If Gabs truly thinks that having had a job in Pizza hut and a bank is a reason to vote for someone, he's off his rocker. He's clearly run out of puff and is floundering 0/10

10) A vote for @Freer4FGG is a vote for the Conservatives: growth, progress & job creation. Don't let Labour-SNP wreck it. 

Gabs has given up. Reason no 10 is not a reason to vote for Mike at all. It is an imploration to vote for the Tories and if Fred Flintstone  was the candidate this would be the same. Gabriel knows Mike well, but clearly cannot find ten good reasons to why anyone should vote for Mike the person, rather than Mike the Candidate. A rather poor reflection oin him 0/10

All in all 29/100. My guess is that there are plenty who would give Mike 100/100 in Finchley and Golders Green and vote for him without hesitation. Sadly it is clear that this only because he has a blue rosette and even his close friends and allies struggle to find five good reasons, let alone ten. 

Thameslink - The train company from hell strike again

Yesterday I was up in Edinburgh. As usual I flew Easyjet from Luton Airport, as this is easy, cheap and convenient. I took the 17.55 flight back and by 19.15 I was back at Luton Airport Parkway station. Sadly whilst the flight was seamless, I arrived to find a scene of chaos at the station. The notice boards were simply saying that there were problems. There were no announcements and people were completely in the dark as to when or even if a train was coming. I waited for nearly half an hour and eventually I went back to the office. I spoke to a Thameslink employee who informed me that there would be a train to London in three minutes (19:46), so I made my way back to the platform. Sure enough at 19:46 there was a train to London. It sped straight through at 100mph despite the indicators saying it would stop. At this I gave up and got a cab back, costing me £35 despite having a ticket.

The cause of the problem was a fatality at Hendon. Now I understand that such things happen and the line may need to be closed. What I don't accept is that companies such as Thameslink, which make millions of pounds of profit, should be allowed to leave people high and dry. There is no excuse for the lack of announcements. As the blockage was at Hendon, why couldn't they run a  shuttle to Mill Hill and then let people transfer to buses to get to the Northern Line? This would not be great, but it is better than nothing at all, which is what we got. That would also allow people travelling from London to St Albans and Luton to get home.

There seems to be contingency plans of any sort for any problems. the network simply grinds to a halt and people end up being stuck.

I had hoped to attend the hustings in Mill Hill. I made it for the last few questions. The last one was about Thameslink. Andrew Dismore proposed that the line become part of the London Underground. This is a sensible suggestion. Matthew Offord who previously has been a fan of privatisation and Govia accepted that the service is awful, although did not seem to have a plan.

The chaos is a direct result of the John Major Conservative government and its crazy rail privatisation program. Sadly neither the Labour Blair/Brown govt or the Coalition have done anything to fix the problems. All that happen is that foreign companies rake in huge profits and passengers suffer. When considering your vote, consider Thameslink. If we can get it sorted out, thousands of commuters will benefit. Dismores plan to bring Thameslink under the London Mayor and London Underground will at least give some democratic accountability to the network. Since taking over the North London Line, services have improved considerably. Matthew Offord needs to get a plan together urgently if he wants to be considered a credible candidate.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Is UKIP racist? What UKIP recommend you read to aswer the question
I thought I'd do some research on UKIP and give a summary of what their manifesto means to voters. We all know their policies on Europe and the EU, but what about energy, railways, housing benefit, Tax policy etc. Unfortunately, the UKIP website was not responding. I was rather suspicious. Is it possible that hackers have taargetted the UKIP website? Now whilst I disagree with the main UKIP policies, I do not think that in a democracy we should prevent people accessing legally constitiuted political party websites. Of course it is always possible that UKIP are just inept and can't manage a website properly. Anyway, I thought that I'd have a look at the local party website.

What caught my eye was a link to a page called Christians and UKIP  - - This had a link saying "Meet the Christians who are Voting UKIP" soI thought I'd have a look.

The link took me to a page on Christianity Today entitled

A new religious right in Britain? Meet the Christians who are voting UKIP

Now I have to confess that I am not familiar with this publication, so I have no idea what it's stance is. The article starts with an interesting comment
The Roman Catholic Bishop William Kenney told The Tablet before May's European elections: "I am not at all convinced that the policies that UKIP are proposing are the best things for the poor and underprivileged"
Later on the article says
 There are plenty of Christians who feel that UKIP speaks for them. Given the rapidity of the party's recent rise, all evidence is pretty much anecdotal, but anecdotally, lots of Christians – especially of an older generation whose faith is cultural as well as personal – are turning to the party because they think it embodies something the others have lost. And here's the thing: not all of them are racist, not all of them are Little Englanders and not all of them are swivel-eyed anythings.
And further down the article says
 Is UKIP racist? The Methodist briefing note is helpful (it was produced after an almighty row broke out over the party's use of Methodist Central Hall Westminster for its annual conference). It says that some members are clearly racist, but that the party itself is not – though "its positioning does make it an attractive mainstream home to people who hold extreme views as evidenced by the extremists who have joined". It adds that "Its policies also support an unpleasant xenophobic narrative about immigration and the 'other' that feed feelings of fear and threat."
Now I'd thoroughly recommend that anyone with an interest in such things reads the whole article as there are many interesting points raised. It does however seem to me to be as clear as day that if the UKIP Barnet website is specifically linking to this article, they must agree with the drift of the article. The drift of the article is along the lines that "you don't have to be a racist to feel at home in UKIP but it helps". What really disturbs me is that UKIP clearly think that this article is beneficial in attracting new members  (that is why parties have websites). Now if you are someone who instinctively would not wish to be associated with anything that has the slightest whiff of racism, then the article would raise a massive red flag. If however you are someone who feels uncomfortable with a multicultural society, the article makes a pretty compelling case for UKIP membership.   The line quoted above "its positioning does make it an attractive mainstream home to people who hold extreme views as evidenced by the extremists who have joined" means to me that if you are worried about racism and you are uncomfortable around people who express racisit views, you'd probably give UKIP a very wide berth. It also means that whoever puts together the UKIP Barnet websoite, they clearly think that such a statement will actually attract the type of people they want to be members.

In the title of the blog, I asked the question whether UKIP is racist. Now if you look at the UKIP Barnet website banner (top of the page), you'd probably say no. If however you look at what UKIP recommend you read, then the picture is far more ambiguous. By there own recommended links, UKIP itself is not necessarily racist, but racists would feel comfortable in the organisation. Which beggars the question, "Would non racists feel comfortable in the organisation?".  UKIP really has to decide what it is. The demise of the BNP has shown that racist parties do not prosper in the UK. That is why UKIP clearly realise that this is not a good path to follow. What they haven't quite decided is whether they really want to be a home for those who feel that discrimination is just fine and dandy. As far as I'm concerned, the aricle in Christianity Today has raised far more questions than it has answered, but I'll leave you to make up your own mind.

Monday 20 April 2015

Tory Councillors abandon Matthew Offord and Mike Freer to their fate

I am truly bemused as to the behaviour of some of our local Tory Councillors in respect to the two local Tory MP's currently involved in a massive battle to retain their parliamentary seats. In years gone by, the Tories would have thrown the kitchen sink at the job, but they just don't seem to be bothered.  At time (noon Sunday) of writing a quick trawl of twitter reveals the following

Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius

No Tweets at all about the general election campaign

Deputy Leader of the Council Daniel Thomas

No tweets for Mike Freer or Matthew Offord this month

Senior Councillor David Longstaffe

2 retweets this month mentioning Mike Freer

New Hampstead Garden Suburb Councillor Gabriel Rozenberg

One retweet of a Boris video supporting Matthew Offord and one tweet promoting Andrew Dismore?? as best as I can tell

Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner

No tweets on election. May be due to ceremonial role of Mayor?

It seems that the Barnet Tories have no interest at all in social media. Is it because they don't understand it or are just scared to death of saying stupid things? I find it massively disheartening that the local Conservatives are completely shunning the opportunity to engage with the electorate in this manner. If I were running their campaign I'd insist that all councillors had twitter accounts and as a very minimum retweeted key points of interest to their friends and followers.

In my street (Millway, NW7), in the 1970's and 1980's elections we'd see dozens of boards at the top end of the road (where the richer people live) with the "It's Gorst of Course" message on promoting the local, well liked ex MP John Gorst. We'd get knocked up at least 3 or 4 times and there would be a Tory stall every week on Mill Hill Broadway.

What we now see is a largely geriatric party, which has no desire to get out and engage with younger voters or develop new channels to get their message across. The only semi active Tory COuncillor who blogs is Cllr Dan Thomas - -  who hasn't bothered to post a blog since January. Does he feel that the Tory MP's are so toxic that he doesn't want to associate with them.

In the whole of Barnet, the only active Tory blogger is maverick ex Councillor Daniel Hope, who writes the Barnet Bugle blog.  Hope fell out with the local party when he was deselected in Brunswick Park in 2006. Given hs history with Freer and Offord it is unsurprising that he is less than enthusiastic about their campaigns. Hope turned up at the FSB business breakfast at Cafe Buzz with his video camera, but no footage of Mike Freer has made it onto his blog. One has to wonder whether this was because he thought it would be unhelpful to Freer to list him talking about cheese liberalisation and that he thought the UK would vote to stay in the EU? Only Dan can tell us and he's keeping his counsel (unusually).

On a more general note, it is interesting to see that the majority of tweets expressing a genuine interest in Freer are from the LBGT community - - which Mike has done an excellent job in representing. It is telling that nearly all pictures etc of Freer are shown with the same rather small band of supporters.

Embedded image permalinkMatthew Offords general twitter coverage has been slightly more interesting - - with a few decent pictures in pubs pulling pints etc and his dog seems to be a real winner in the engagement stakes.

One has to wonder just what is going on at a national level with the Conservative Campaign. This is being overseen by alleged election guru Lynton Crosby. Given that both Hendon and Finchley changed hands at the last election, one would assume that they should be considered marginals. The Conservative party is a well funded organisation and I know that whenever I've run a campaign there are certain basics that you observe. One of these is to ensure that you use whatever tools you have at your disposal. Getting your local councillors (who get a minimum bung of £10K from the taxpayer, purley because they wear your rosette) to support the campaign is surely a complete no brainer.

The fact of the matter is that the Tories should be continually tweeting that they are canvassing in certain roads, getting pictures of smiling members of the public, quotes saying how marvellous they've been, smiling councillors with the MPs etc. Social media is free, so it is exempt from campaign rules. Clever messages can go viral and can reach place in ten minutes that a week of door knocking won't achieve.

If the local Tories wake up in May to an electoral route, they have only themselves to blame. Both Matthew Offord and Mike Freer have been busier blocking people such as me on Twitter than they have in promoting their message. Their stance is idiotic, as probably at least 40% of people who follow my twitter account and blog locally are Conservatives. They often don't agree with what I have to say, but they value the fact that I raise local issues. By refusing to engage with me (and even the Tory leaning Barnet Bugle) they are missing a huge opportunity to get people involved in their campaign.

When I look at the current Conservative election campaign, it reminds me of a conversation I had with an IBM mainframe computer salesman in 1984. He told me that IBM would always be the worlds largest computer company because corporations always consider the FUD factor when buying. I was bemused. "What was FUD?" I asked. He replied "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt". He explained that in corporate computing anything except IBM was a risk.

What he didn't realise was that the world of computing was evolving. Now when we talk about IT we talk about Google and Microsoft as the big players. IBM still make mainframes for corporations, but the world of IT has long since passed them by and they are bit part niche players. I suspect that with the Tories head in the sand attitude, they will have to evolve or face the same fate.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Hendon Tory Candidate Offord claims he can represent "Humans in Hendon better because he isn't one!"

The Barnet Eye has learned from usually reliable sources (down at the Bridge Pub in Mill Hill) that as part of his campiagn to secure human rights for dogs, Former Hendon Conservative MP Matthew Offord has got his Jack Russell terrier Max to take his place as Conservative Candidate for Hendon. It appears that Boris Johnson (Pictured with Max) was so impressed with Max's ability to woo the crowds that he has persuaded Matthew to step aside and let Max run as candidate.

Usually reliable sources have informed the Barnet Eye that Max was unsure at first, until he heard Mike Freer's explanation of how Non Jews can represent Jews in Parliament far better than Jewish people. After a long chat with Boris, Mike and Matthew, Max was won over.

His spokesperson said "After listening to Mike Freer's impeccable logic, Max realised that it was best for the people of Hendon if they were represented by a non human. As everyone knows, people trust dogs far more than politicians and they are recognised for the qualities of loyalty, faithfulness and doggedness". Max was also able to explain that he has massively improved Matthew's fitness, ensuring that rather than sit around drinking and eating cakes, he gets Matthew off his ever growing posterior and out for some walkies.

Max also explained that dogs exemplify "true Tory values". Unlike Socialists who are driven by the rather bizarre concept of "communal good", dogs will do anything for a nice treat. Max is on the liberal wing of the Conservative party, believing that if he wants to lick his testicles in public, why should anyone have the right to stop him.

Max explained that wheras Socialists believe in equality and fairness, dogs follow the Conservative mantra of following the pack leader and the biggest doggie gets the biggest dinner! Like his owner Matthew, Max is not a supporter of Same Sex Marriage, explaining "why should I want to get married when there are so many nice chair legs out there?"

The Barnet Eye approached Mike Freer for a quote about whether his logic applied to dogs representing humans in Parliament, but he seemed a tad unwilling to respond. A spokesperson who may be close to Mike replied "whilst at first Mike was sceptical about Max's abilities to represent the people of Hendon, on balance he felt that he'd be a more sensible candidate than Matthew".

The Barnet Eye was able to speak to Max in Mill Hill Broadway today and asked how the campaign has been going. Max replied "Rough".

The Barnet Eye has spoken to contacts within the Labour Campaign about the sudden change of Tory Candidate. An unofficial spokesperson for Andrew Dismore stated that it was worrying because unlike his owner, Max had charm and charisma and people like dogs.

Donald Pleasence as Blofeld, with his white catUKIP were unable to confirm whether their latest candidate in Hendon has been replaced by this rather nice moggie, pictured with the UKIP national director of operations (left).

Saturday 18 April 2015

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 18.4.2015

Here it is again, our favourite regular feature - the best tweets in our neck of the woods this week. As ever Barnet is Bonkers!

1. There can only be one! The tweet of the week. As politicians all over Britain work out new ways to be rude to each other, the Finchley Conservatives have more important matters on their mind!

 2. However it seems that not everyone in the local Tory Party is thrilled with the implications

stinks around here a bit...all that cheese you should be careful

3. Back in the real word, Police Seargent Chris Whelan is locking up the villains in Burnt Oak. Good to hear that people still occasionally go to prison for nicking stuff!

Good result at court for female who stole a mobile phone on Burnt Oak Broadway - 2 weeks in jail and compensation for victim

 4. If you are hungry, you like sushi and you live in Edgware, this will probably be your treat of the week. You have to admit it looks rather tasty!

Busy, busy, busy!

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 5. Love this tweet from RIBA - Spike Milligan at home in finchley

the birthday of Spike Milligan, pictured in his remodelled Finchley home

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6. Clare Newsome has posted a rather sad & poignant picture of the demolition of the British Newspaper library at Colindale

Demolition of old British Library newspaper archive in Colindale almost complete; the entrance about to exit...

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7. PM Advanced Driving have a rather excellent little video from the MPS training school at Hendon. I think all of us budding Jeremy Clarksons have fancied doing this at some point! (sorry the Police disabled embedding)

Video showcasing the Met Police Driving School at Hendon. Happy Memories!

8. Helen Michael gives Finchley and Golders Green Conservative candidate a rather sideways look at the FSB North London business meeting. Seems she wasn't overly impressed with his policy of cheese liberalisation from the EU!

Local parliamentary candidate Mike Freer talking at this morning's network.

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9. Barnet Cut Films were impressed with the video from the kids at Totteridge Academy

Last year's winning film Totteridge Academy. Getting them to take up our to make a

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10. Fancy some great Klezmer music at the Mill Hill Music Festival? Shir's yer men

MillHillMusicComplex retweeted 
Shir - Londons finest Klezmer band are playing the Mill Hill Music Fest Event details here!

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 As they say in the business !