Wednesday 31 May 2017

The cycling revolution in London

I thought I'd nip down to central London and take a quick look at how the segregated cycle lanes are working out. As anyone who has travelled around London in rush hour knows, traffic is a nightmare. One of the major problems with cycling is the danger from inconsiderate motorists. Segregation is a good way to address this and make cycling a safe, healthy, secure and cheap option for commuters. Every cyclist is either one less car contributing to global warming, or one more seat on a bus, train or tube.

It seems to me perverse that it is safer to cycle in central London than in a leafy suburb like Barnet. In the above clip, which is 16 seconds long, I am passed by more than 20 bikes, more than 1 a second. We desperately need similar segregation on roads in Barnet and a proper Borough wide cycling strategy. In 1986 I used to work in Blackfriars and never saw bikes on this road. The evidence is there before your eyes. The video was filmed at 8.15am, a worker in a local coffee bar says it is far busier at 9am, but I had a place to be. Segregated cycle lanes work. Ask any canvassers knocking on your door whether they support a policy such as this in The Borough of Barnet.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Paxman leadership debate - The Theresa May car crash recovery operation

Did you watch the "Leadership debate" last night? It was actually quite hilarious. I don't know too many things about Jeremy Paxman, but I know for a fact he went home and carved another notch on his bedstead for a comprehensive destruction of Theresa May, to add to the list of hapless Tories who have not been prepared for a mauling. You can always tell when a politician in a campaign has had a crash, because twitter is abuzz with "Black is White" tweets from their supporters. With Theresa May, the abiding impression I got, was that I'd hate to be behind her in a queue at McDonalds if she was asked "would you like fries with that?". You'd be very hungry by the time she answered. What is hilarious is how the way leadng Tories have blamed Paxman, claiming rather ridiculously that he is a neo Corbynite. Doesn't it occur to the Tory Tweeters that they just look stupid? They'd be far better off not mentioning the performance at all. Anyway, here for your enjoyment are a few of the best Tory Tweets. Quite hilarious and they make 100% clear their boss comprehensively lost. For that we are all eternally grateful?

However the funniest of the lot was clearly from Boris, who clearly didn't watch the Paxman bit! Well done Boris, Have I Got News For You beckons. 

Someone should really have a word with them and tell them that it really doesn't help the cause!

Monday 29 May 2017

Brian Coleman insults grieving Jewish widow with "Fake News" jibe

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, once branded the Tory party as "The Nasty Party". The local Party in the Borough of Barnet is perhaps the cutting edge of this aspect of the Tories. Of all of the figures associated with the gutter politics side of the local party, none is more well known than former Conservative GLA representative Brian Coleman. As a Tory councillor, he lost several High profile standrds judgements, usually for abusing local residents. As the standards committee failed to do more than slap his wrists, his behaviour deteriorated. This reached its nadir when he assaulted cafe owner Helen Michael in broad daylight on Finchley High Road. Coleman was arrested and after spending six months lying to police, eventually pleaded guilty to "Assault by beating", receiving a large fine. On seeing the CCTV footage of the assualt Coleman claimed "Thats not how I recall it". The Daily Telegraph posted the video and the story on its website.

For a while, Coleman was frozen out by the local Tories, he responded by insulting most of them in what was seen as his personal political obituary on his blog, not least implying that the leaders wife was a bit antisemitic "Not known for her empathy with the Jewish Community she sensibly kept quiet during the debate on the Totteridge Eruv and usually is away or busy when invitations arrive from Synagogues. ", but it seems that he's well and truly back in the club, judging by recent tweets

You may wonder why they'd want to be publicly associated with such a character? The answer is quite simple. Brian is quite happy to stick the knife in and do their dirty work for him. With an election coming up, he's a very useful resource to have on the team. Those of you familiar with his work, will not be surprised to see that he's waded into a huge local row. Regular readers of this blog will know that Brian is no stranger to putting the boot into the bereaved. At the recent Mill Hill Election Hustings at The Mill Hill Synagoue, we documented how a bereaved widow had rightly chastised local Conservative Candidate Matthew Offord for failing to respond to emails from her dying husband about bereavement benefits. This was first revelead on this blog. The Daily Mirror has picked up the story from the Barnet Eye.  Despite a packed synagogue witnessing the exchange, Brian Coleman has dismissed the plight of the poor lady as #Fakenews on a twitter designed to help his friend Matthew Offord in his campaign.

I wonder how the friends and family of this poor widow will react to Colemans latest attempt to sully the waters of Barnet politics with sewage and bile.

One can only speculate as to whether having the support of Brian Coleman will help Offord achieve Coleman's predicted landslide in Hendon?

The sad thing about Brian is that despite all of his trials and tribulations, he has still not really learned when a bit of discreet silence is the best thing. Does he think that insulting widows really is the way to help his friends.

Sunday 28 May 2017

The Tweets of The Week in the London Borough of Barnet 28/5.2017

Now don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy (or anything else!).

Without further ado.......

1. Now this is the type of Tweet we like to promote!

2. A great historical tweet, which we rather like, from Joe O'Connor

3. And we also like our local football memorabilia

4. Lets' hope this shaggy Dog story has ahappy ending!

5. Science made fun! Looks a rather cool lesson!

6. One young girl from Hendon had an unforgettable day at Wembley yesterday!

7.You learn something every day! I now know what a cucamelon is!

8. Steven McGovern is enjoying Mill Hill, and who can blame him!

9. How times change (or don't)!

10. From the famous Mill Hill Music Complex wall of fame!

That's all folks

Saturday 27 May 2017

The Saturday List #131 - My ten favourite place names

What UK place names make you smile? Here's my list

1. Penge
2. Cockermouth
3. Stoke Poges
4. Thurrock
5. Lairg
6. Pratts Bottom
7. Horstead Keynes
8. The Isle of Dogs
9. Brown Willy
10. Box Hill

Friday 26 May 2017

The Friday Joke - 26/05/2017 - The Wisdom of Will Rogers

Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash in Alaska with bush pilot, Wiley Post, was one of the greatest political/country/cowboy sages ever known.

Here is one of his most famous sayings. As we approach the general election, I think there is some wisdom we can all take from this particular saying

"There are three kinds of men:  
The ones that learn by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves."

Have a great weekend

Guest Blog - Mill Hill Synagogue Election Hustings by Richard Logue

The highlight of any election campaign in Hendon has to be the Mill Hill Synagogue hustings; a packed house, a skillful chairman and a lot of challenging questions from the audience.

It's fair to say that going on the results of the last election Matthew Offord, above all candidates, could have expected a friendly reception tonight. Over the last few weeks much attention has been paid to the Labour Party and their problems over anti-semitism. Indeed many believe, myself included, that Theresa May called the election because she and her party colleagues believed that Labour were doomed to defeat. Perhaps Matthew Offord hoped that with his arch-rival Andrew Dismore not running that he would romp home to victory with little or no serious opposition. In any case Matthew appeared relaxed and friendly tonight at the beginning of the meeting.

Each candidate opened with their intial speech - Carmen Legarda from the Greens emphasised her belief in an equal society. Labour's Mike Katz referred to his deep involvement with the Jewish Labour Movement and his clear unequivocal commitment to Israel and his own Hendon connections. Matthew Offord's opening speech was certainly strong and confident and referred to the awful tragedy in Manchester at the start of this week. Liberal Democrat Alasdair Hill's speech also referenced Manchester at the start and his own military family background.
Alasdair attacked the use of EU nationals as bargaining chips in the Brexit divorce talks and attacked Conservative school cutbacks.
Sabriye Warsame from the UKIPs spoke last and urged voters to support UKIP.

The Candidates
Each candidate was given, in addition to the general questioning from the floor, their own dedicated question. Rabbi Schochet opened with a tough question to Labour's Mike Katz; Do you support Jeremy Corbyn and what is your view on anti-semites in the Labour Party? Mike was unequivocally against both Corbyn and the anti-semites. The Greens were asked specifically about their own support for BDS and was Israel an aparteid state? Carmen Legarda stated that she wasn't in agreement with either statementbut that sanctions were more preferable to war.
Alasdair Hill was asked did he think the Liberal Democrats were relevant? Alasdair said that the Liberal Democrats were more relevant now than ever, given their clear opposition to hard Brexit and the need for a moderate opposition voice. Sabriye Warsame was asked about former UKIP funder Aaron Bank's departure from the UKIP amd if UKIP could survive. Sabriye believed they could.

Answering questions
Matthew Offord was read out an email sent by a synagogue member, known only as "Alan" who was terminally ill when he wrote to Matthew Offord on the 24th February this year to raise the issue of changes to the Widowed Parent's Allowance which were to be drastically cut back as and from April 6th. "Alan" wrote again on March 10th as he had no reply from Matthew Offord. According to "Alan"'s widow who was present, they never had a reply from Matthew Offord. Offord appeared rattled by this; he stated he always replied to emails. Offord called out from the stage to Hilary Smith, his agent; "we've replied to this haven't we?". In business circles blaming someone else for your own faults is known as "throwing someone under the bus". Matthew Offord strongly reiterated that HE "always responds to emails"

"Alan" passed away at the beginning of May, nearly a month after the changes to the Widowed Parents Allowance came into effect.

After this initial round of directed questions, Rabbi Schochet directed the candidates to presubmitted questions which he either read out or took from the floor. These queries ranged from probing the candidates’ views on using Trident funds to increase the country’s anti-terrorist measures (all supported, with Hill, Katz and Offord saying it is a case of both) to whether the candidates would vote against their party and for Hendon in a Brexit decision (Katz would vote with Hendon, Hill believes that the LibDems and Hendon are aligned so the question is moot, Offord that he would vote with his party and that MPs need to contradict their constituents sometimes). 

Other issues raised:
  • Whether candidates would support the closure of existing free schools (no one would with Katz and Hill wanting more control by local authorities)
  • The level of smoking in the underpass at Mill Hill Broadway (all candidates apart from Warsame highlighted the extreme level of pollution in the area being a key issue)
  • What would the candidates bring to the area as a local MP (Offord highlighted his relationships with the police, Katz his links to the area, Hill his work with the Save Barnet Libraries campaign)

At the end of the debate Rabbi Schochet asked the audience if any of them had changed their minds as to who to vote for in the election as a result of the hustings. In 2015 very few people put their hands up.
This year there were several hands up!

At the end the general view around the room was that it was a toss-up between Alasdair Hill and Mike Katz as to who was the strongest performer on the night.

Many thanks to Mill Hill Shul for putting on yet another busy and well-run hustings. Special thanks to Rabbi Schochet who chaired the meeting well, and to Lucy Jackson who organised the evening. It was good to chat with Jon Klaff, Adam Dawson and James Ansher who were also involved with the evening along with many others including the CST who kept everyone safe.
Richard Logue is a Mill Hill Resident. He was formerly chair of The Mill Hill Residents Association and is currently the election agent for Alasdair Hill. Guest blogs are always welcome at The Barnet Eye. Have you attended a local election event? Give us your review/.