Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A night out

I won't be sleeping in my own bed tonight. I won't be speaking to my wife either. I don't know who I'll be sleeping with. Before you start gossiping, I'm sleeping in  a Church in Mill Hill with a bunch of homeless people as part of the Barnet night shelter scheme. Up to 15 homeless people every night are given a bed in one of our local religious institutions. The scheme is run by the Barnet Homeless Action group.

Tonight the shelter is at John Keeble Church in Mill Hill. I am one of two volunteers staying with the guests. Whilst sleeping in a cold drafty church with a bunch of strangers is not my idea of fun, I do believe we should help out the members of our community who need  a hand. One night on a hard floor is a small sacrifice, given the 364 other days in a comfy bed.

Anyway that is what I'm doing for those less well off in our community this week. I'm not writing this blog so you all think what a wonderful chap though, I'm doing it to try and raise awareness of the fact that there are homeless people in Barnet and they really do need somewhere to sleep of an evening, otherwise they'd be on the street. I personally don't believe that in this day and age anyone should be forced to sleep rough. As a society we should make sure everyone has basic accomodation as a right. Sadly this govenrment and this council disagrees. They are quite happy to pull away the safety net. I find that totally appalling, do you?

Monday, 21 April 2014

We are all broken now - Do we really live in a "caring society" anymore

I have been having a bit of a crisis of conscience over the weekend.

I was born in Edgware General Hospital(remember that) in 1962. At Easter 1967 I started school at St Vincents Catholic School on the Ridgway. Being (undiagnosed) dyslexic, my schooling was difficult. At age 11 I started at Finchley Catholic High School in September 1974.

It is fair to say that I didn't enjoy much of my time at school. I had several disadvantages. Firstly I'm born in late August so I was the youngest in the year. Secondly my mum had me six weeks premature, so biologically I was really an October baby. For many kids born in August, there is always the issue that you are a year younger than your oldest classmates. Chuck a bit of dyslexia in, especially during the 1960's when the official term for the syndrome was "thicko" and you have all the makings of a really unhappy time.

Now luckily for me, I managed to adapt and turn my education around. I am also 6'1' so by the time I hit puberty, I'd caught up and overtaken many of my previously bigger peers. Having said that the experience taught me a lot about human nature. When you are 11 and you have a reading age of five, you are not made to feel great about yourself. Many of the teachers at my primary school used to think that this stupidity was elective and so rather than support me, they simply berated me. It was the same with maths. I've never been able to do my "times tables". I just couldn't learn by rote. We used to get tested on these and every week I'd fail. Strangely enough I am not bad at the subject. I got an O Level and an A Level in Maths. I was just bad at memorising random bits of information. Things take a while to sink in. Same with names.

When I was nine years old, I became aware that not everyone had even my limited gifts and skills. Let me explain. When I was a kid, my annual holiday was a week away with my Dad to the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes in France. Every day involved attending masses and processions. Now you may not think this was much fun for a nine year old, but in actual fact it was great. My Dad was a big gruff Aussie, and once he'd done his praying for the day, we'd go to bars & cafe's. I'd get all the fizzy drinks I could drink, all the waffles, cakes and crisps I could eat and we'd always end up with some group or the other from some strange place on the planets, who my Dad would strike up a rapport with, As he was Ex RAF and widely travelled, he'd always entertaion various groups with tales of bombing Germans. When he met Germans, he'd always end up talking to ex aircrew and comparing stories.

Anyway I digress. One year our group was joined by a Downs syndrome chap called Stephen and his brother, who I can't remember. Stephen was 27 and in a wheelchair. My Dad informed me (in his usual gruff, non PC way) that Stephen was backwards and had the mind of a five year old. For me this was good, as it meant I had someone who was technically around my age to talk to. Even better news was the fact that Stephen was obsessed with football. He collected football cards. He was also a Newcastle United fan, so there was no obvious clash of teams. I soon became very jealous of Stephen, as his folks took him to watch every Newcastle home game and he got a seat at the front of the ground. He had numerous signed items of memorabilia. Our group would tour the bars of Lourdes and we had a grand old time. At the time I didn't really get the concept of a "mental age of five". As I had a reading age of five, I sort of figured we were peers.

I asked Stephen if he went to school. He told me rather indignantly that he was "grown up". He had a job and he earned proper money. His folks, hearing the conversation and clearly worried I may inadvertently say something which would upset Stephen, butted in and said "Oh, Stephens the richest of the lot of us. He's a celebrity in Newcastle, as he knows all the players in the team". So now I was completely confused. Realising that I couldn't carry the conversation on with Stephen, I waited until we got back to the Hotel. I had a conversation with my Dad which went like this.

Me : "Dad, something I don't understand, if Stephen has a mental age of five, how come he doesn't have to go to school?"
Dad : "He's 27, you stop going to school when you are 18".
Me : "But he'll never grow up properly if he doesn't get taught?"
Dad : "No, boys like Stephen grow up, but their brain is only able to do stuff a five year old can do"
Me : "But Stephen has a job and earns more money than his parents".
Dad : "That's a figure of speech. They have special jobs for people like Stephen, so he can do his bit and feel proud of himself, People like Stephen aren't lazy or worthless, they are just different"
Me : "So why do people say he's got a mental age of fivc if he's got a job and he can do stuff?"
Dad : "Well, we use these sorts of labels so we know how to help him. It doesn't mean he thinks like a five year old. It doesn't mean he's broken in any way, it just means we know he might need some help"

So anyway, I then decided that when we say someone has a mental age of X or a reading age of Y, all it really meant was we need some help. Maybe a bit more help, but that is all. We are not worth any more just because our "mental age number" is higher. So hold that thought. People with a lower "mental age" just need some help. They are not "Broken"

So anyway, fast forward a year. Same hotel, same group of people. I was really looking forward to seeing my friend Stephen again. We turned up, but Stephen was not their. I was really upset. Where was he. Later that evening, my Dad took me to one side and said "Roger, don't talk about Stephen. He died a couple of months ago and his family are very upset. They'd already booked the holiday and it would be better if you didn't keep reminding them of him. Don't mention him again". For some reason, I'd not actually realised that he'd died. No one had thought to say, so they'd just said "He's not here".

A couple of days later, his mum took me to one side. She told me Stephen had really been looking forward to seeing me and talking about football. Having been told by my Dad not to discuss him, I was now in a quandry. I said "I was really looking forward to seeing him. I brought some football cards for him". At this, his mother burst into tears. I expected to get an almighty clobbering from my Dad, for upsetting her, after he'd told me to say nothing. When we got back to the hotel, I said "Are you cross?" He said "Why should I be". I then said "I upset Stephens mum..." He replied "No, she wanted to talk about him. It helps women sometimes to have a good cry". I was now even more confused.

Our little group had our own chaplain. At one of the masses, he said a few words about Stephen. He said something along the lines that when you get to the Pearly Gates, there is a massive long queue. People like Stephen, who have had a very hard life, are ushered to the front as a reward for putting up with a difficult life. He then said that those of us who care for people like Stephen and were his friends will also get to jump the long queue and Stepehen is up there waiting to see us all and get us to the front. He said that was one reason we should all be happy we had Stephen in our life and were his friends.

Over the Easter holiday, I got to thinking about these events. Probably for the first time in 40 odd years. The events at Mapledown School, where the Council has cut the funding for after school clubs and family respite activities by £45,000, whilst still finding millions to do up Tory wards (see earlier blog) have disturbed me. As I consider the life of Stephen, the superstar, who knew the 1970 Newcastle team and was richer than the rest of his family, I considered how the Coalition had closed Remploy factories, presumably the type of place Stephen worked? Wheras back in the late 1960's we had the decency to see that Stephen needed to be valued, now we have the spectacle of Tory Councillor Tom Davey, spitting bile at the disabled and benefits claiments. Lets face it, if Stephen was in Barnet today, there is no Remploy to give him dignity. To Mr Davey, he'd be just another scrounger on benefits.

As I consider the government we collectively elected and the changes they've made and the council we collectively elected, the type of people they have in power and the policies they are enacting on people like Stephen, I conclude that I have got it all wrong. The only people who are broken is us. We are the sick bastards who tolerate politicians who stick the boot into the likes of Stephen and all of the other disabled people and people who for whatever reason cannot get a job.

The Government claim that "keeping open Remploy factories is not economically viable". Well lets take this argument to its logical extreme, Have we reached the point where only those who are economically viable have a role to play in society? Are only the economically viable going to receive medical treatment? Is this a society in which you want to live?

My youth taught me that it is horrible to be mocked, excluded and treated differently. Life experience has taught me that people like Stephen can enrich your life. They can only do this if they have a chance.

Dean Cohen - The man who lined the pavements of Golders Green with gold !

Being a rather lazy sod, and given that it's a bank holiday and I was going to have it off today (i meant from blogging, you have such a filthy mind!). I will keep it brief.

My fellow blogger Mrs Angry has put some streling work into exposing the Pork Barrelling that has gone on in Golders Green, where her stirling research has shown the Tory Cabinet member for roads, who is the local Councillor for Golders Green has channelled over a Million quid towards to doing up the roads. Strangely, one of the most deprived parts - Colindale got diddly squat (That's sweet fa to those of you unfamiliar with Barnet Eye Lingo!).

Now the Eagle eyed amongst you willspot just how well some Tory marginal wards have done in regards to the allocations. It is shocking how much money the Tory administration have thrown at their core voters, whilst at the same time cutting budgets for Mapledown School, which has seen £45,000 slashed from its budget.

The figures speak for themselves. This administration has a double standard. Councillors like Dean Cohen line the streets of their own wards with gold whilst slashing the budget for those wards they really don't think matter. Leafy Totteridge, where the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius lives has seen its budget nearly quadrupled since last year. Clearly Dean Cohen likes to keep a smile on his bosses face.

As I said, I am keeping it brief. Please take a minute to read the full story on Mrs Angry's blog. She deserves a Community Award for her expose of this sleazy behaviour - http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/scandalous-barnet-councils-million.html

Is it just my imagination or is the london Borough of Barnet starting to resemble a dodgy Banana republic, where the rich live in Palaces and the poor live how they can? Tomorrow night, I will do an overnight shift at a homeless nightshelter in Mill Hill, something I never dreamed I'd see. On the first Sunday of every month, my Church, the Sacred Heart  in Mill Hill organises a collection for a food bank in Colindale (the ward which got nothing in an allocation based on 'need'). The foodbank is non denominational. We just collect the grub and drop it off for distribution amongst families who are struggling. The person running the scheme has been amazed by the number of locals in Mill Hill, of all faiths and none, who have heard about the collection and dropped in bags of food. I believe that the people of the London Borough of Barnet are generous and would not approve of such disgusting unfairness, if they actually realised what was going on. Homeless shelters and foodbanks are sadly a part of the Tory Project in Mill Hill. That would be bad enough but to find that the rich wards are being subsidised by the poor ones is simply disgusting.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Why Religion has to evolve

Happy Easter to all the readers of the Barnet Eye, whatever faith or none you may have. As is our tradition, on such Holy occasions I like to share a few of my personal thoughts on the subjects of faith and religion with my readers. Just so you know where I'm coming from, I am a rather bad Roman Catholic. I go to church and I subscribe to the philosophy of caring for my neighbours, forgiveness and trying not to be judgemental. There are issues which my views are not aligned to the church, such as contraception (the absence of families with ten children in the pews indicates I may not be alone in this). I have a strong dislike of people who try and "convert" people to any faith, especially my own, by means other than being good, caring citizens who a decent person may want to emulate. I don't use this blog to preach because I think faith is a personal journey and it seems to me that there are many paths. I get a lot out of my faith. An hour a week for quiet contemplation is something which has helped keep me sane in this troubled world. I probably shouldn't say this but many of my best blogs have been formulated during my weekly trip to mass.  Anyway that is the preamble, here is the blog.

Marie Stopes or Alexander Fleming? Which one of those two has given religion its greatest challenge in the last 100 years. A few years ago I was having a chat with a friend who is a staunch feminist. She said that Stopes had "thrown the shackles off women by inventing the contraceptive pill, allowing them to indulge in risk free sex". As any friend of mine will attest, I can be a bit of a wind up merchant and I shot back at her "Nope, actually that accolade falls to Alexander Fleming, inventor of penicillin, he removed the fear of VD, which was actually the most sensible reason for not sleeping around". My friend, who is never short of a word or two was gobsmacked. She said "I've never really thought about it, but you may in some ways be at least half right". For her, this was actually a life changing moment (well this may be me exagerrating!). She went off and thought about it, studied the subject and came to the conclusion that equality starts with access to education and medical care. Contraception will only be adopted in less developed societies when women are healthy and educated. She came back to me recently and asked a question "Do you think that the mainstream religions are 'fit for purpose'?"

This is for me a very interesting question. The reason all major religions have become successful and widely adopted is because they bring stability to society. The rules which we associate with religions were in general very sensible measures for a society in a world without antibiotics, sanitation, disinfectant and good hygiene. Without antibiotics, extra marital sex could infect the participants with life threatening contagious diseases. Without contraception it could result in the most inconvenient of sprogs. Kosher and Halal food hygiene laws ensured that the populace were far less likely to get food poisoning. And observance of the Sabbath gave everyone a much needed day off. Following these rules, would mean your particular group would have a significant advantage over other cultures. So putting all of the moral stuff to one side, if we say that in a pre 20th century society all of these religious rules were pretty sensible, how should faiths react to the developments that make these laws nothing more than sometimes inconvenient traditions?

I was raised in the Catholic tradition, so we have a tradition of "Fish on Friday" and Lentern fasting. For many of us, this means knocking boozing on the head for 40 days. I would imagine that neither of these two traditions do us any harm and some may do us some good. If the Pope said "Being Catholic means eating seven portions of vegetables a day and only eating Red meat on Sundays, Saints Days  and Thursdays, it would doubtless improve public health (assuming people listened). As for sex, if the Pope was to say "All of the rules we came out with were designed for a pre antibiotic, pre contraceptive world and things have changed, we have a new set of rules now" what would they be? I thought long and hard about this and I realised that for the Pope it isn't that easy. What would the new rules be? Only sleep with people you are in a committed relationship with, don't cheat on your spouse, use precautions if you are sleeping with someone who you don't know their sexual history and ensure that you use contraception if you don't intend having a baby are the rules most members of the secular world would generally say are sensible. Or are they? Well I think that in the UK, that is pretty much the rules that most people try and follow and society hasn't fallen apart yet. But then the UK is a special place. You may say "in what way?" Well you see we have the NHS. If you want the Pill, you go to the NHS, if you get the clap and you need some penicillin, you go to the NHS.

The problem for Poor Old Pope Francis is that most of the people he represents don't live in the UK. They don't live in countries with any health service to speak of. Contraceptives, anti biotics etc are luxuries. Would it be right for the Pope to say "Well you lot in the decandent West, who have all the food and all the money, can shag away, but the other 90% of Catholics had better follow a far more draconian set of rules, because if they embrace decadence it will kill them. Is that really fair?

Which brings us back to the conundrum at the beginning. As my friend decided, for the world to be truly equal between the genders, we have to have universal equality. Horrors such as FGM happen because in backward societies, people do not receive an education that makes them realise the wrong of the practise.

I have come to the conclusion, and you may not agree, that religion has a role to play to sort this problem out. Someone like Pope Francis has a network which is unrivalled in any other organisation. That organisation has wealth and influence. It can't address all of the worlds ills, but it can get a message to the dispossessed around the globe in a way that no other organisation can. We have a new Pope who seems to be  setting an agenda on global fairness. He seems to be keen to dump much of the baggage that has discredited the Church in the eyes of many of us. The Church, which originally rejected the theories of Charles Darwin and evolution, now has to evolve to survive. I for one hope it evolves to be a force for good in the world and find a place of relevance. Of course there are a whole multitude of faiths. These two need to evolve and adapt. Finally there is Atheism and Humanism. Both of these reject the role of faith in the world. Given the problems many Atheists and Humanists associate with faiths, this is not an unreasonable stance, but I personally think that this too has to evolve. I think that Atheism and Humanism should have a standpoint which says "We don't believe, we recognise the rights of others to believe and we will work with people who believe for the common good, where it is appropriate". For me the great challenge is global poverty. I believe all decent people of faith or no faith should find this repugnant and we should get much better at talking across boundaries and demarkations to address it. As far as I am concerned, you judge someone by their actions, not by their label. I think a Christian who tolerates unfairness is a disgrace as a human being, but no more or less so than a Jew, an Atheist or a follower of the Bug Eyed Spaghetti Monster who also tolerates unfairness. Likewise if someone is working to combat unfairness and inequality, they are a good person regardless of label.

So the first part of this evolution should be to stop judging each other by the label we wear, forget our tribal demarkations and get on with the job in hand which is making a better world. If we all signed up to that, maybe it could start to happen.

End of todays Easter Sunday Surmon !

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thought provoking video (Contains Strong Language)

So you care? Do you care enough?

The Barneteye tweets of the week 19/4/2014

As is our tradition, here is this weeks Tweets of the week from the wierd and wonderful place that is Barnet. We feature the good, the bad and the ugly! If you see a tweet that you think qualifies, then simply reply to it, copy @Barneteye in and say #TOW

And as usual we've had some crackers.

1. From our old chum Brain Coleman, who rather oddly found it strange that none of his mates refused to sign his nomination papers for Barnet Council !

Apr 16
Nomination papers in . Many thanks to those who signed them , no one whom I approached declined

2. Deputy Leader of the Tories, Councillor Dan Thomas leaves a rather ambiguous tweet. We rather hope for all concerned that he was simply referring to a pint and nothing more exciting !

A swift one in the Griffin to live music a nice way to finish fiancée's birthday evening.

3. Mrs Angry worries that Mr Mustard was "properly tucked in" for his appearance on the BBC. What can she be referring to?

Dear me. I hope you didn't go commando on the BBC. We bloggers have standards to maintain.

4. Councillor Robert Rams has devised a new election winning strategy. Wind up his constituents who support Spurs !

can calling a fellow Jew militant be anti PC!? Anyway 3 victories this season against u means !!

5. Mill Hill Music Complex with a great (somewhat recycled) Joke

The Friday Joke Have a great Good Friday, We are open as usual !

6. Barnets fiestiest Cafe Owner stands up for independent Traders

owned by Tesco. Support local independent traders. Joie De vie in North Finchley lovely pastries

7. Richard Logue wisely advises us to watch former Barnet resident and Mill Hill Jazz Club regular, now and international superstar Imelda May last Night. Catch it on iPlayer !

Imelda May is something of a national treasure in Ireland and if you want to see why watch her on Graham Norton now on BBC 1

8. Now nationally famous, Mr Mustard revels in his national stardom?

my day is complete. Blodwen has commented on the blog. Such a lovely name and so lovely to say. Welsh & English bloggers are united

9. Barnet blogger Mr Reasonable expresses his disgust at Councillor Tom Davey's rather puerile and offensive tweets.

Whatever your politics you need to read Cllr Tom Davey's posts on Facebook. You will be horrified and revolted.

10. Barnet Unison release their Easter single - A surefire, toe tapping hit.

Sing along to “A Tale of Bob in Barnet” “When he called there was no one there.”

That's all folks !!! Hope you enjoyed them all as much as I did !

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Friday Joke -18/4/2014 - Stupidity !

A man was driving when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding... Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed. Now he began to think that this was quite funny, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed. He tried a fourth time with the same result.. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace... Two weeks later, he got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt..

(one that even the now nationally famous Mr Mustard would have trouble getting off)              

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mapledown School - an open letter from Reuben Thompstone (as fisked by the Barnet Eye)

The Cabinet Member of Barnet Council, responsible for the budget cut to Mapledown School for the Disabled, has sent an open letter to the Times Newspaper, following their critical coverage of the Council cut. One migh think Mr Thompstone, who didn't even bother to visit the school to discuss the cut, may have had more sense than to keep this vote losing policy in the press but hey ho, if he's that stupid, we would be negligent in our role as Barnets leading blog if we didn't help him in his mission to destroy the credibility of his party. Our bit is in red italics

Dear Sir,
I was surprised to read your article outlining the opposition apparent from the Labour party’s local council leader and parliamentary candidates with respect to the reduction in funding for short breaks at Mapledown School - You were surprised? Really, what do you think the role of a Labour Opposition is, if not to oppose heartless cuts. My surprise stems from the fact that the Labour Group on Council put forward an alternative budget this year which mirrored precisely these reductions in funding despite being given the opportunity to participate in the consultation in this matter last year where not a word was heard from Cllr Moore or any of her colleagues - As you well know the Labour budget (wrongly in our view) had the same headline figure, but individual items within it were radically different. The funding for the school was maintained by a reduction in the number of committees, reducing allowances for well paid fat cat councillors such as yourself. Did you not know this or are you playing fast and loose with the voters and the truth?.
This funding formula was temporary and as central government has now closed this funding stream, we are pleased that we were able to retain a significant service locally with the close support of Headteacher Steve Carroll and in consultation with local parents - This is a bit dishonest, Rubes (you don't mind me calling you Rubes do you),  as you admitted you'd not visited the school to discuss the £45,000 cut. Some reporting appears to mislead, to clarify, the school’s budget (through the dedicated schools grant) is and remains protected - The reporting was accurate, it referred to the £45,000 cut to after school services and respite services for parents of disabled children. Furthermore, with over £100,000 in Mapledown School’s reserve account, it is for the school to determine how best to use their resources for those they serve - This is Rubes at his worst, spinning and being very crafty with the facts. A disabled school needs a large cash reserve, because all manner of situations can arise which require sudden, unexpected calls for cash. Unlike a regular school, failure to meet these cash calls could significantly affect the ability to provision service for very needy people. To suggest that the school fritter away this reserve just to keep going is like saying that the Queen should sell the Crown Jewels to pay for the redecoration of Windsor Castle. Furthermore it shoews Rubes doesn't understand his portfolio.
Perhaps the Labour group might work out how they could show they are ready to lead, instead of standing on the sidelines throwing stones - Rubes, I think that by highlighting this, they already have. You however have shown you don't have the intellect to hold down this important portfolio. Instead, they appear determined to show that opposition is where they belong nationally and locally, as they continue to be part of the problem and not the solution - Rubes, it appears to me and to 97% of Times Readers, there is only one problem - You!
Reuben Thompstone
Cabinet Member for Education, Children & Families,
Councillor for Golders Green

Rubes Letter was originally published on his fellow traveller, Little Bobby Sheepsjacksie's Insomnia cure blog http://robertrams.wordpress.com/

Thanks Bobster for exposing this plonker for what he clearly is !

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A little story of caution for our friends at Barnet Town Hall

72 years ago, back in 1942, my Dad was based with 40 squadron of the RAF in North Africa, flying Wellington Bombers as part of the battle to free North Africa. He once told me a little story about the siege of Tobruk. He'd been out boozing in Alexandria with some Aussie Soldiers and they'd told him an interesting story (I have no idea if it is true or has ever been documented). The Germans held Tobruk in a vice like seige during an offensive, which featured some of the fiercest fighting in the early stage of the North African Campaign (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobruk). Apparently, during the long siege, the attacking and defending soldiers had an unwritten and unofficial truce every afternoon between 3pm and 4pm. During this time, they'd go down to the sea and have a swim and cool off. During this period, neither side would shoot at each other. This allowed the troops on both sides to cool off and have some sort of peace.

On one afternoon, as the troops from both sides were making their way to the sea, a German sniper took a pot shot at an allied soldier. All hell broke loose. After that, both sides just sat sweltering in their potholes & trenches all day. After about a week, a German white flag of Truce suddenly appearled. He made his way through the fortifications to the Allied line and, with a hundred rifles pointing at him, read out an apology, stating he was the miscreant sniper and he was very sorry. He said that the German side would observe the truce and not take potshots anymore if the British did the same. He then handed himself over and was taken POW. On interrogation, it appeared his German colleagues were so pissed off with him, after a week of sweltering that they'd forced him to apologise.

When he was asked if he was worried about getting shot, he said "No, the British don't do that sort of thing". He was greeted with a reply of "You were lucky mate, we're Aussies and we're mighily pissed off with you".

You may wonder what all this has to do with the Town Hall in Barnet? Well it seems that the local Tory Ledership have chosen to put the boot as hard as they can into Kath McGuirk, a Labour Councillor, over a dispute over council tax. They have called the police in, rather spitefully, over a possible technical transgression of the rules, even though Ms McGuirk has a rather strong case that the whole thing is a Council cock up. Labour sources tell me that they believe that the attack was purely down to the fact the Tories believe McGuirk was being lined up to be the next leader of the Labour group and the Tories were scared of her. In short, it was a very botched attempt at a political assassination of the heir apparent.

What the Tories seem to have failed to take heed of is the fact that Labour have a whole file of dirt to throw back at them. As the gloves are off, and the police were unleashed on McGuirk, Labour feel duty bound to hit back hard. The Barnet Eye is not allied to Labour, but we've had more juicy titbits etc in the last few days from Labour than we've had in the last four years. I assume the same is true for other bloggers and local papers.

It may surprise you to know that we are not really that interested. Despite claims from hysterical Tories on Twitter, the only reason we covered the Tom Davey story was because guest blogger John Sullivan asked us to. John has a serious illness and he is trying to avoid stress.

The sad truth is that like the poor, stupid German sniper, only a big sacrifice will let the Tories put this particular genie back in the bottle. If the Tories and Labour rip each other to bits, I suspect that the only winners will be UKIP.

I make one prediction. This election will be the dirtiest, most nasty and most spiteful in the history of Barnet local politics. There is a simple reason for this. I doubt that anyone in Barnet politics has the brass balls of the errant German sniper to take the rap for his stupidity. None of them, Tories or Labour will be sunbathing in the Barnet political sea any time soon.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Time for Councillor Tom Davey to resign?

This evening I was forwarded an email exchange between disabled rights campaigner John Sullivan and Councillor Tom Davey, Barnet Council cabinet member responsible for housing. Mr Sullivan told me that he was too upset for words to write a coherent blog, in light of information revealed by the Hendon Times website today regarding Mr Davey. He has asked me to try and present the facts in a fair and balanced way. So lets start with The exchange

Mr Sullivan wrote the following email to Cllr Davey
From: John Sullivan 
Sent: 12 April 2014 10:43
To: Davey, Cllr Tom
Subject: Ethnic Cleansing of Barnet Benefit Claimants

Dear Cllr Davey,
In light of your recent comments and apparent determination to ethnically cleanse Barnet of benefit claimants, which incidentally includes all disabled people and future disabled people in Barnet such as my fifty year old daughter and her peers.
Do you think we would be wise to move out of Barnet in order to secure the future quality of life for our daughter before we die, and before your dream of a pure society of the rich and well heeled, completely ethnically cleansed of the benefit claimants and the disabled becomes a reality in Barnet.
Or am I reading your rhetoric wrong, am I incorrectly assuming you have openly pronounced your detestation of the poor, the sick and the disabled , and believe they are  not fit to reside in Barnet.
Kind Regards
Mr J J Sullivan

Councillor Davey replied
From: "Davey, Cllr Tom"  Cllr.Davey@Barnet.gov.uk
Date: 13 April 2014 12:29:57 BST
To: "John Sullivan"
Subject: RE: Ethnic Cleansing of Barnet Benefit Claimants

Dear Mr Sullivan
All housing allocation policy is clearly set out and avaialble for the public to view. There is not, has not been, and never will be an attempt to "ethnically cleanse" Barnet and i think many residents would find this suggestion deeply insensitive and offensive. I can only apologise if you have misunderstood any comments and offer you fully assurance that the Council and its policies comply with all relevant legislation.
For clarification, to the best of my knowledge i have never pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled". 
If you have particular concerns on policy, please email those concerns to Barnet Homes and an officer can provide a detailed response. I hope this helps and trust i have answered your question.
In this, as you can quite clearly see, Councillor Davey states that he has never, to the best of his knowledge, pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled" which is quite clearly something he sees as " deeply insensitive and offensive" to quote his own words. What sort of a man would pronounce  a dislike of the poor? What sort of a man would not care for the disabled? What sort of a man indeed?

So when Mr Sullivan saw this article in the Edgware Times  http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11150246.Claims_Tory_Councillor_is__not_fit_for_office__after__disgusting__Facebook_posts/?ref=var_0 , highlighting these Facebook messages from Mr Davey, he felt that it was time for Mr Davey to be held to account


The posts, made by Cllr Tom Davey of Tory-run Barnet Council, were revealed just days after he was caught advocating ‘social cleansing’ in a shocking video.


Davey said the sick joke was “probably misjudgement in hindsight” – but that despite being open to tens of thousands of people in the LSE Facebook network, it was a private joke between friends.
He admitted:
“I have a very dry sense of humour”
Defending perhaps the most disgusting post, in which he says he is “smacking his bitch up…that’ll teach her for ironing loudly whilst the football is on” – Davey said he was being “ironic.”

Just remember, Councillor Davey said in his own email "For clarification, to the best of my knowledge i have never pronounced "destesation of the poor, the sick and the disabled" As Mr Sullivan reminds us, his 50 year old, Downs Syndrome daughter is the "Benefit claiming scum" that Mr Davey berates in his Facebook message.

It is interesting to note that Councillor Davey thinks a disabled black lesbian may have more luck than him in getting a job. Now if Mr Davey was an all in wrestler, the type his political mentor, Councillor Robert Rams is so keen on (http://robertrams.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/who-is-the-labour-councillor-who-has-allegedly-been-summoned-to-court-for-non-payment-of-1400-of-council-tax/), maybe he would have some sort of a point, however Mr Davey was seeking white collar jobs where sound judgement are valued. Is there a clue in his Facebook messages as to why he had such problems?

It is also interesting to note that given the poor Tory record on the subject of violence against women, with Councillor Brian Coleman being arrested for assaulting a woman, that Councillor Davey seems to think beating women up is a laughing matter.

Councillor Davey, in the above link to Robert Rams blog, calls for Labour Leader Alison Moore to resign, based on poor judgement. Our advice for Councillor Davey is to go away, spend some time on the bench and get some life experience. We sincerely hope that he will in time mature, but it is clear that at the moment he does not have the life skills to be a senior official with an important portfolio in local government. If these remarks were dug up from 20 years ago, then that would be one thing, but they were made when Davey was active in local politics in recent years. There was no hint of any sort of apology to those who might be offended. Mr Davey claims that the jokes were "saloon bar humour". Whilst we have no doubt that these are the sort of jokes Councillor Davey shares regularly with his mates in the pub, if you are a politician and on facebook, you should have a little bit more sense.  None of us are perfect, I am sure Facebook and Twitter and even blogger sometimes tempts us to make mistakes and say silly things. Being a dyslexic, I sometimes say things which are misconstrued, sometimes my humour is misunderstood. If someone genuinely claims I've upset them I apologise. In Mr Sullivans case, I am sure he will be awaiting Councillor Davey's apology with baited breath. Because it is clear that not only was Mr Davey being extremely offensive about Susan Sullivan and all her disabled peers. No one can doubt that, in light of these revelations. He mislead Mr Sullivan about his views on the disabled and the poor, who he clearly thinks it is absolutely fine to mock and humiliate.

For the absence of doubt, this story from the Times details how Davey was elected in 2008