Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Brian Coleman's backside: human rights and Tory wrongs

Mr Whippy has an argument with Councillor Coleman's backside over his right to park outside Friern Show

Over the last couple of days Mrs Angry has been thinking a lot about Brian Coleman's backside.

Yes: clearly, she is very short of entertainment.

But it is a very interesting backside, and is worth some contemplation.

Brian's arse is a very privileged one after all, and leads a very exciting life. It is carried tenderly by taxi wherever it wants to go, and has been sat on the well upholstered seats of every decent restaurant in the capital, over the years. And now it has even starred in its own Youtube clip. (At least one, anyway: if you know of any others, do let Mrs Angry know, as long as they are suitable viewing for someone of a sensitive disposition. By the way, don't try searching the subject of politicians' arses on google image, if you are ...)

In this extract from an interview with a foreign news channel, Brian's bottom has its own moment of fame, artfully fulfilling the role of political metaphor.


This was filmed outside Finchley Fire Station, just around the corner from Mrs Angry's home, as it happens - (Mrs Angry has to live near a fire station, according to the specifications of her home insurance, because she is too easily bored when cooking, and tends to wander off with a glass of something & return sometime later to find the dinner ablaze ...)

Anyway: in this extract Brian Coleman expresses his firmly held view that the internet needs greater control. He talks with stern disapproval of 'pornography' - good man yourself, Brian, taking a firm line on such filth - and 'libellous stuff' which must be 'regulated'. Tory councillors in Broken Barnet like regulation, of course, as long as it is other people who are being regulated, and not themselves. Regulation, in the form of censorship and repression of free debate, is a good thing. Regulation, transparency and external scrutiny of their own activities is a bad thing.

Hmm. Coleman states that the press is subject to the libel laws, and the internet should be as well. Er, except, Brian, that it already is.

But Mrs Angry is slightly puzzled by Brian's last comment on this clip. Asked by the interviewer about the 'human rights' aspect of regulating the internet in the way he suggests: 'Oh, human rights, my backside - I'm sorry ...' Rather amusingly, in fact, the translation on the subtitles reads ' human rights ... kiss my arse'.

So: Brian Coleman wishes to refer enquiries about the issue of human rights to his backside, which to be fair, is the usual channel of expression of his considered views.

The issue of human rights always gets the more confused sort of right wing Tory in a bit of a tizz. The very mention of the phrase represents something horrible to them: something deeply objectionable, and foreign, and to be resisted with every last breath. A concept in law, a bureaucratic diktat, a legal obligation. Everything that libertarian Tories resent: a imposition of decency and consideration for your fellow man, or, horror of horrors, for women too. And yet, even though they hate the thought of the liberty of other people being formalised and protected by law, they inievitably want their own liberties and rights to be respected, and are quick to invoke legal protection when they feel threatened.

Here in Broken Barnet, we have seen the Tory council try to impose their own form of censorship on the internet, and try to silence the bloggers who have extended such awkward scrutiny of their iniquitous deeds, by a complaint to the Information Commissioner, invoking the Data Protection Act. Luckily the ICO decided to remind the would be dictators of Broken Barnet of the overriding considerations of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the concept protected within this legislation of freedom of expression.

Shocking, you might think, that a local authority has had to be forced to obey the demands of a such a basic tenet of any democratic society, but then if you find this shocking, friend, you need to spend more time in Broken Barnet, where the idea of democracy is an unwelcome stranger, an intruder in the secret garden of Tory interests.

Mrs Angry must inform citizens, however, that our councillor and GLA member Brian Coleman is not completely averse to the defence of human rights in certain circumstances. Look below at this photo from a demonstration held in 2007: the Global Human Rights Torch Relay, part of a campaign to focus public attention on allegations of the abuse of human rights by the Chinese government in the run up to the last Olympic Games. (Brian Coleman, the only man to go on a demo in a pinstripe suit: get your mum to knit you a balaclava, Brian, if you want to have any street cred, is Mrs Angry's advice).

Brian Coleman, perhaps rather surprisingly, had aligned himself with the cause of practitioners of 'Falun Gong', a spiritual discipline involving Buddhist and Taoist ideas, and embraced by a number of adherents in China. Mrs Angry is unsure of the reason for Brian's enthusiasm for Falun Gong, except of course that it reportedly places a heavy emphasis on morality and the cultivation of virtue and moral rectitude, qualities for which Councillor Coleman is widely renowned.

Also present at this demonstration (far right) was Lord Avebury, a LibDem peer who has made a very honourable contribution to the defence of the human rights of minority groups in the United Kingdom, in particular gypsies and travellers.

Ah. The rights of gypsies and travellers living in the United Kingdom is not a cause with which Councillor Coleman has chosen to align himself, unfortunately. In 2009, you may recall, he appeared on the Politics Show on the BBC and told travellers that they should 'stay put in Ireland', and that he would not welcome one single site for travellers in Barnet. Andrew Slaughter, MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush expressed the view that his remarks on this programme were 'loud mouthed' and 'inflammatory' and 'quite disgraceful'.

So: the human rights of followers of a little known spiritual movement in far away China are supported by Councillor Coleman, but not those of a group of residents of the United Kingdom, who have been subjected to centuries of the most extensive and widespread bigotry and persecution, and whose rights to family life, as enshrined in the law, are blatantly ignored by a tradition of institutionalised racism perpetuated by Barnet Council and many other local authorities throughout the country.

Human rights, it seems, in the view of Brian Coleman, are available for certain people of whom he approves, but not others.

Brian is always very keen to see himself as popular within the Jewish community, and this is a burden which the community carries with admirable fortitude, although increasing impatience, especially, for example, in areas of Golders Green badly affected by his new parking policy - (see yesterday's Barnet Eye blog for more on this).

Coleman has made accusations against campaigners oppposed to Veolia, a company which has links with activities in the occupied territories in Israel, and now wants to bid for waste contracts here. This is a tactic of the type which makes any sensible debate on the issue of occupation and the effects on the population completely impossible. It is a hugely sensitive issue, but political criticism of Israel should not always be equated with anti zionism, nor anti zionism with anti semitism, and clearly human rights for all in any conflict should be respected, not for one side only.

Coleman is not the only local Tory to extend the protection of human rights consideration to some groups, but not others, however.

Last year saw Andrew Harper, a local Conservative councillor in Hampstead Garden Suburb, and our local Tory MP and former council leader Mike Freer get their knickers in a twist over the occupation of a house in their ward owned by the Gaddafi family. Much outrage was expressed over the violation of the rights of the absentee householder, and strenuous efforts were made to support the criminalisation of the act of squatting. This infuriated Mrs Angry, for all sorts of reasons, not least because not so long ago she had the misfortune to have to ask both Harper and Freer to pull their fecking fingers out and do something about the occupation of her neighbouring property by council placed neighbours from hell tenants, courtesy of their grossly mismanaged housing scheme, but they did absolutely nothing at all, as her human rights were of course not as interesting or important as those of a dictator living on the proceeds of tyranny in one of the most expensive and exclusive roads in the country ...

Many Tory councillors in Broken Barnet are from the Greek Cypriot community, especially those from the Chipping Barnet association, and together they represent a powerful lobbying group. Barnet is twinned with Morphou in Cyprus, and every year, councillors from our borough go to Morphou for a nice autumn break to 'protest' about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and there is much criticism made about the violation of freedom and human rights in Cyprus.

Barnet is a culturally and ethnically diverse borough, with residents from every part of the world, including many developing countries and states where the most extreme human rights abuses take place on a daily basis: political imprisonment, death, rape, torture. Councillors from Barnet have little or no active interest in these countries, sadly, or even in our other twinned cities such as Jinja, in Uganda, where perhaps they could go and visit and support the Human Rights commission which was established there in 2007 and is now working to try to help those whose own rights have been trampled upon in recent years.

In a truly absurd example of Tory doublethink on this issue last year, Hendon MP Matthew Offord ridiculously made an enormous fuss about his political adviser, Max, a Jack Russell terrier, not being allowed to go to work with him in Westminster. He announced that he would be invoking, yes, the Human Rights convention. It was then explained to him that this would not be possible as Max was not, well, ssh, not human. This came as a blow to Matthew, who relies heavily on Max's close attendance, political guidance, and availability for cute photo opportunities.

Max told Matthew that frankly, he had made a complete arse of himself and that he should now deny he had ever seriously meant to use the law to assert his right to take him to work. Max said: look, Matthew - tell everyone that it was a joke. Matthew told everyone it was a joke. People were already laughing, unfortunately, but for all the wrong reasons, even when Matthew went on the BBC Daily Politics show and told a derisory Andrew Neil that his reference to his human rights was 'in jest', and that it had been his cunning plan to discredit the use of the act, as it gave 'thousands' of people the right to stay in this country, when they should be removed from this country. Hmm. (Max refused to attend this ill advised interview, and so Matthew had to use a substitute, as you can see ...)

In Orwell's Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. In Broken Barnet, and the world beyond, the message from Brian Coleman's backside is that you only have equality under human rights legislation if enough Tory councillors and Mps find it convenient to support you.

Of course what Brian is really saying, by comparing the right to freedom of expression to his naughty little Tory arse, is that no one on the internet must ever say anything about him that he does not like.

Sorry, Brian. I think it is possible that in the history of this blog, Mrs Angry may possibly have said one or two things about you that you do not like. She sincerely hopes so, anyway: and she would take it as a terrible indictment of her efforts, if she had not.

If it offends you darling, well, Mrs Angry's advice would be a. Póg mo thóin and b. to contemplate the following: as it says in the good book, King James version, ed Michael Gove: 'whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also'.


Mrs Angry x


Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

Hello, Mrs A,

great post. I contacted the person who uploaded the Brian "Backside" Coleman clip and, for a bit more context, this is what he told me about it:

"The clip is from the swedish newsprogram called "Aktuellt". This is its webpage: http://svt.se/2.107445/aktuellt

"Sadly the full length clip is not available anymore online, but perhaps it's possible to order it from them somehow. ...the clip should be from the 28th of August 2011. The context of the clip I believe was the riots in england and how some politicians wanted to control the internet as a way of preventing riots and I suppose arrest people."


Mrs Angry said...

... thanks, Vicki, aha - now we know where it came from ... it's good to know that our local British politicians and their backsides are appearing on Swedish tv, and in a mainstream news programme too.

baarnett said...

"Coleman" is a Swedish television series adapted from the LB of Barnet Conservative Party manifesto, and starring Brian Coleman in the title role.

The BBC aired all 26 episodes of the series on BBC Four.

In the first episode, a missing parking meter leads Brian on the trail of an anti-CPZ cult. Tracking a sadistic solicitor, he follows a string of incidents, including ritual murders and attacks on domestic animals called Max, with the help of his sidekicks Richard and Andrew, fading members of the Barnet executive, in the town of Totteridge-on-Dollis.

Mrs Angry said...

Speaking of parking, baarnett - look at this new press release from Labour:

"Parking charges may still go up by 5% despite u-turn

Parking charges may still go up by 5% despite an announcement that they wouldn't made by the Leader of the Council before Christmas. The Labour Group called-in the decision to increase parking charges to last night's Business Management scrutiny committee (BMOSC), where Cabinet Member, Cllr Brian Coleman refused to remove the 5% increase in parking charges from the fees and charges report. When Labour raised the announcement by the Leader of the Council in a local press article, Cllr Coleman said -

"The Leader can say what he likes."

The proposal to increase parking charges will stay as part of the formal budget consultation, and a decision will be taken once the results of the consultation are known.

Labour's bid to refer back to Cabinet the decision to outsource the parking service to a private sector company was refused by the Conservative majority on the scrutiny committee, but it was still unclear where the overall responsibility will lie.

Labour’s Environment spokesperson, Cllr Kath McGuirk said: "Coleman was very gung ho, but it may all come back to bite him and he is clearly alienating many of his colleagues.

"The Leader of the Council seems to have been overuled by his own Cabinet Member - it does beg the question who is running Barnet council?

"In the meantime, local residents still have the prospect of another 5% increase in parking charges, while some Conservative councillors shamelessly continue to take up their free parking permit for being a councillor - it's disgraceful."

As Kath said: who is running the council? Who is running the Tory group?

Why is Richard Cornelius such a shambling leader? It's time he showed some balls and kicked Coleman where it hurts, not his delicate rear but in his Cabinet position, and sacked him. What a state the Tories are in.

baarnett said...

So Bwian is saying: " 'The Leader can say what he likes' but I'm pulling the bloody levers in this borough!"

Mrs Angry said...

Yes: bad enough that our authority has been hijacked by a cabal of cabinet Tory councillors - the Cabinet and so called leadership is being sidelined by the openly defiant Coleman, who is very keen on party discipline for others, but sees no need for his own behaviour to be restricted by such limitations. Again, let's ask the question - why is Cornelius so scared of kicking him into line? And why are the rest of the Tory group so utterly useless?