Sunday, 9 June 2013

Brian Coleman, doing the right thing, and living in the real world

Here we go again.  Yes, the dark animus of the collective unconscious of Barnet Tories, their fallen hero Brian Coleman, has been working his fatal magic, and causing more trouble. 

Always, when you think at last we can all draw a line under this subject, and move on, this man, the fool in the Tarot card deck of Broken Barnet, pops up again, and throws us off course once more.

On Wednesday night, the Chipping Barnet Conservative Association met to consider the future of their former colleague : would he be allowed to resume membership of the local party, after his conviction for assault by beating of Finchley cafe owner Helen Michael? Astonishing, you might think, that such a question should be the subject of a vote, rather than instant explulsion.

Brian did not turn up, however, to argue his case, nor, according to Mrs Angry's spies, did any of his erstwhile colleagues and  fellow councillors such as Wendy Prentice, Bridget Perry, Andreas and Joanna Tambourides, Andrew Strongolou, Barry Evangeli attend to show their support ... 

Rumour has it that Conservative Central office had threatened that, if the Chipping Barnet association been so stupid as to retain Coleman as a member, the result would be to be put in 'special measures' or to be amalgamated with other Tory associations. 

Whatever the truth, Coleman's membership was revoked, and he is no longer a member of the Conservative party.

There is a school of thought which dictates that now poor Brian is on his uppers, we should not continue to put the boot in, and that we should feel sorry for him.

The thing is, this fool does not consider himself in any way to be on his uppers. He has made no apology, and shown no understanding of why he is in the position in which he now finds himself. He takes no responsibility for his own life, but blames others for what has happened.

Anyone who has any understanding of Coleman's make up will recognise a familiar pattern: a total failure to feel any remorse for his actions, and a continuing need for attention, at any cost.

Accordingly, on Thursday afternoon, the day after his expulsion,  he turned up on LBC radio, in order to take part in a nine minute interview with Iain Dale. 

Dale conducted the interview largely in a manner reminiscent of someone slipping on a pair of rubber gloves in order to dispose of something rather unpleasant in the rubbish bin, perhaps, but he failed at any point to challenge with any force the wildly delusional claims of his guest. 

Worse still, he allowed Coleman to make what may well be judged to be defamatory accusations about the victim of the assault by beating for which he now has a criminal conviction. At the very least, his remarks are absolutely nuts. 

Here are a few choice extracts:

In between quoting Enoch Powell and Rudyard Kipling, the great statesman's response to a question about his political achievements was - road humps. Yes: road humps. The removal of, of course, not the introduction of.  Measures designed to save us from the danger of speeding drivers, like - well, like Coleman, who lost his licence for this very reason.

What about his fellow Tories: any thoughts?

Ah. He was moved to condemn  'locally ill thought out and ill conceived policies'. Oh. 

Did he mean his own disastrous parking policy, the cause of his defeat in last year's GLA elections, or was he thinking perhaps of the 'officer led juggernaut', as he later described the massive One Barnet programme of privatisation, one which he had supported with great enthusiasm, as seen here, in his infamous 'old hags' speech, just before, erm condemning the very same scheme as nuts? Things changed in Barnet, he declared, as another example of his success.

Do you like confrontation and controvery, asked Dale? 

Coleman's reply was that you can't make an omelette, without cracking eggs. He was only worried, he told him, about doing the right thing. With him, what you see is what you get.

Yes: a litany of clichés, empty of all meaning, or real emotion: self justification taking the place of self knowledge, or apology.

Iain Dale read out a texted comment from a listener, suggesting that Coleman sounded like 'a man in denial, with delusional expectations about his future'  ... Oh no, no delusions or expectations ... he had never been in denial. I live, he said, resorting to the last cliché of all, in the real world. And there is no time for self pity, or 'self flagellation'.

Brian once entertained fond ambitions of becoming Mayor of London. He reserved a good deal of criticism for the man who took the prize that rightfully should have been his: yes, Boris Johnson. 

Boris' attention span, he thought was not up to much. Sometimes when he had been engaged conversation in Brian's presence, after a short time, we were told, Boris' eyes glazed over: can you imagine? 

Pressed as to whether or not he thinks Boris is lazy, Brian decided to confide in Iain - I worry sometimes, he said, about the Mayor's work ethic ...

Brian Coleman hard at work at City Hall

Mrs Angry will not repeat all of Coleman's preposterous remarks here, as this is exactly what he wants, a continuation of his usual way of attempting to discredit others, a device which has served him well in the past - smear tactics. 

He has been found guilty, for example, by a standards' committee of smearing an Israeli resident, calling him an antisemite, and disloyal to his country, and informing a female constituent that seventy years ago, she would have been in the blackshirts. He regularly uses the false and vile charge of antisemitism as a smear tactic with no compunction, - and he has also resorted to making frankly bonkers allegations relating to claims of attacks directed at his mother, which really are beyond contempt.

Mrs Angry could provide an audioboo link to the interview, but she has decided not to, as a couple of minutes into this interchange he takes the opportunity to repeat and exceed the arguably defamatory allegations he has already made in regard to the victim of his assault, and Helen Michael has today confirmed to Mrs Angry that legal action is now underway.

In an interview given to a local newspaper recently, Coleman was given the opportunity, clearly relished, to justify his behaviour in relation to the assault, assert that he only pleaded guilty in order to avoid the loss of his licence due to another charge, and, quite reprehensibly, made further allegations about his victim. Helen Michael was not given the opportunity to defend her reputation or comment before publication. 

After the interview on LBC, another local paper repeated some of his remarks and again failed to give Ms Michael the chance to refute his allegations, or to comment in any way. Mrs Angry understands that these stories will also be referred to Helen Michael's legal advisors.

Local reporters have attempted to justify the interviews with Coleman as giving him the opportunity to hang himself with his own words. This might be an argument with merit if he was not already convicted of an assault on the woman in question - one to which he has pleaded guilty - and if, in the interests of balance, she had been allowed an equal opportunity to speak out. But to publish such unsubstantiated allegations, or indeed to broadcast them without challenge, comment, or apology, is unprofessional, unjust and legally questionable. 

No one who cares about the freedom of expression or the freedom of the press wants to see any form of imposed regulation, but every time an editor decides to publish a rentagob piece like these newpaper interviews, or broadcasts one of the type heard last week, all of which which have caused untold distress to Helen Michael, and damaged her reputation, then they undermine the argument for self regulation.

Brian Coleman has no sense of self restraint: his craving for attention overpowers any consideration of what is even in his own best self interest. There will come a point, however, where he will push his luck just that little bit too far. 

Perhaps that point has already been reached. 

Coleman quoted Enoch Powell in his interview with Iain Dale, reminding us that all political careers end in failure. 

Mrs Angry would not exactly describe Coleman's years in a series of well rewarded publicly funded posts as a career, as such, but ending in failure is certainly what has happened. 

It's just that he can't see it.

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