|Rog T teaching Aaron Silver to play the guitar|
So starts the Beatles song, I get by with a little help from my friends. One of my friends posted this picture of me on facebook, teaching a dear friend of mine, who passed away recently the guitar. We were rehearsing a number for a show. With my awful singing voice, I can pretty much guarantee that I sung out of tune, but all my friends stayed.
It reminded me of the comment Councillor Brian Coleman made last year, in an open council meeting, when he queried why the council should have to pick up the tab for "these people" in response to the cost of providing transport for the disabled. Bad enough. to say, but when you consider that Brian Coleman had over £3,000 worth of travel expenses paid by the public purse in the last year, it is simply appalling (check this - http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Brian_Coleman_2011_2012.asp).
A couple of times in my life I've had pretty serious medical conditions. I nearly died in 1984 when I had a stomach bleed. I was in hospital for six weeks and I was pretty much as low as it was possible to get. Fortunately for me my parents visited every day, my friends visited every day and I came to realise that people were on my side. The constant stream of books, magazines, fruit & vegetables they brought (it is a tradition amongst my circle of friends that we always bring an aubergene for mates who are sick), raised my spirits. As Lennon & McCartney wrote "I'll get by with a little help from my friends".
Which brings us back to Colemans attack. I ask myself "What should we do in the face of such an attack on the rights of our friends and family?". Well this May affords us that opportunity. Brian Coleman is up for re-election to the GLA. Along with his £53,000 salary, he gets his travel expense account to dinners all around Country. He also gets £26,000 a year for the bolt on job of chair of the London Fire and Emergency services authority.
If you think that he is doing a marvellous job and think he's well worth the £79,000 + expenses he gets for these two part time jobbies, then he's your man. If like me, you think that someone who has no regard and consideration for the disabled and the infirm and is prepared to insult them in a Council meeting, is totally inappropriate, then make sure you get out and vote for someone else. The person most likely to beat Coleman in the GLA seat of Barnet and Camden is Labour candidate Andrew Dismore. There is also a fine Lib Dem Candidate who is a very decent guy called Chris Richards. This may be an alternative for people who support the coalition and don't want to vote for Coleman. The Green candidate is A.M. Poppy who is an active local campaigner and again a very decent candidate. For those Tory voters who want a distinctively right of centre alternative we have Michael Corby for UKIP. I must confess I know nothing of Corby, but I can state categorically that Andrew Dismore, Chris Richards and A.M. Poppy are candidates who would never dream of attacking the mobility rights of the disabled.
Not all of my friends who are disabled or infirm can stand up bullies like Brian Coleman. Not all are eloquent or confident enough to put him in his place (although some most certainly are). For those that can't, it falls on us, their friends to defend their rights and stand up for them. In a democracy, the best way to stand up to a bullying politician is via the ballot box. Just to dispel one myth, which Coleman and crew are peddling to loyal Conservative voters. At the election you get three ballot papers. One for the Mayor, One for Coleman and one for the Party list candidates. If you want a Tory mayor and Tory representation, vote Conservative for Mayor and for the list. If you don't vote for Brian Coleman as GLA rep it will have no effect on Boris or the lists candidate. I believe it is vital for the local Conservative Party to turn over a fresh page and let the decent Conservatives get their say.
When I started writing this blog, I tended to view all of our local Conservative Councillors in the same light. This is a highly simplistic view and it is wrong. Of all of the councillors in Barnet, the very best, kindest and most decent is a Conservative called Kate Salinger. She will be the next Deputy Mayor. If she stood in Mill Hill, I would break the rule of a lifetime and vote for her, because I believe that decency in politics is something which is the first consideration. She has courage and principles and is prepared to make sacrifices for them. Kate was the only Conservative to not vote for huge increases in Councillor allowances. She got publicly humiliated for her trouble by the rest of the group. She was the person who got the ban on residents using the toilet at Friern Library lifted during the occupation.
At the next Council election, if she stands, this blog will urge all voters to give her their vote, regardless of party loyalty, to send a message to the rest of her colleagues that good behaviour is recognised. I am asking all decent conservative voters in Barnet and Camden to do the same. Withhold your vote for Brian Coleman on the 3rd May. If you do, you will end up with a far better Conservative party, because the rejection of his values will send a message they cannot ignore.