Wednesday, 11 November 2015

** Updated ** Seven years old today! The Barnet Eye still going strong!

As regular readers will know, I am dyslexic. One of the downsides of this is that very occasionally I put completely the wrong date in my diary. This is one such occasion, I put 11/10 instead of 10/11 in. Initially I was too embarrassed to post this, but then I thought, hey WTF. So here it is. A month and a day late, my 7th birthday blog. 

Seven Years? Seven Years? an eternity. My more recent readers may not be aware that I used to write a blog on the Barnet Times website. This was back in 2008, in the days before the Barnet Eye. What happened was, in hindisght, quite interesting and educational. The Barnet Times has never been noted for being a particularly controversial or investigative paper. Barnet isn't downtown Baghdad and if there is a major incident, it is more likely to be a shed burning down due to bad wiring than civil insurrection. The local paper generally reflects this rather genial tone, with exciting stories about quizzes at care homes for the elderly and the such like. When I started blogging, the first thing I did was to put on my size 11 Doc Martens and start putting the boot into all and sundry. I'd always felt that a more exciting tone was what was needed and that our local politicians needed a huge leather suppository planted firmly up their collective Jacksies. Much to my amazement, they didn't simply ignore me. The shock to the system sent them into collective meltdown and they spent the next five months leaning on the Times to sack me. I realised that I have a choice, toe the line and tone it down or up the ante and put the boot in as hard as I could before the Times bowed to the inevitable pressure.

Guest Blogger John Sullivan
It wasn't a hard choice to make. I've never ducked a fight in my life, I certainly wasn't going to duck this one. What was also rather interesting was that the readership of the paper realised something was going on. The blog developed a large readership and entries would generaly top the most viewed table when written. Clearly this made it even more important for our esteemed councillors to put the boot in. Although I couldn't blog about the "new guidelines" I'd be issued with, almost on a daily basis, the public is smarter than they are often given credit for and soon twigged. When the inevitable day came, strangely for me compaining about the Council putting a BNP supporter spouting anti semitism on the council website, there was outrage. I launched this blog, The Barnet Eye, in retaliation. Robert Rams, who was working as the then Tory GLA rep Brian Colemans press secretary took to boasting that he'd ended my blogging career (that went well, didn't it Bob?).

Ex Tory Councillor Dan Hope
In fact, it was the most stupid thing that Rams could have done. At the Times, I had to follow rules. I wasn't allowed to mention Mike Freer, then leader of the Council at all. I was only allowed to mention Brian Coleman if there was a "genuine story". I was "encouraged" to write nice, neutral articles, so that the paper could say "well he only writes the odd story about Barnet Council".  I'd largely forgotten about all of this, after all, it is now seven years since the Barnet Eye replaced the Rog T blog. Sadly they never put the final blog back, the one which caused Mr Ramsbottom to blow a fuse. Perhaps my favourite of these more chilled out articles was "As happy as Clarry".

Today, seven years ago, we published our first blog.  I was so scared no one would read it, that I never even looked at the stats for the first six months. I thought that would demoralise me. It didn't go unnoticed that the first two comments were from an ex senior Chipping Barnet Tories bigwig and a former Conservative Councillor (Dan Hope). They were disgusted an appalled by the Maoist tendencies of their friends in the Conservatives stifling free speech.

Thanks for all your support!
I won't pretend it's all been fun. It has been a right slog, but I do feel that the blog has made a difference. This was the first of the legendary "fantastic five" Barnet Blogs. We've had the most hits and published the most entries. We've had over 50 guest blogs from other Barnet Citizens, made two films which attracted national TV coverage. We launched the Friern Barnet Peoples Library, a pop up library on the village green outside the closed Library. This meant that when squatters from Occupy took over the building, there was a ready made stock of books. We helped expose Metpro, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. We've supported dozens of other campaigns, most of which have been successful.

So here's to the next seven years.

 Updated 13:35
By the way, if you want to see what I wrote that persuaded the Barnet Times to sack me, just click here. Also Robert Rams has tweeted that he never said anything of the sort as claimed above. 

Sad to see people in Barnet still making things up about me i never ever said anything of the sort

Brian Coleman has also used the opportunity to call me a few names.

he lives in a fantasy world of his own . A rather sad and obsessive man and purveyor of lies

I can assure you my source as to Rams comment was impeccable, however you can make your mind up whether to believe Coleman (who lied to the Cops for six months about assaulting Helen Michael) and Rams or myself.  

No comments: