11:06 pm - December 14th 2008
Oh dear. Boris doesn’t half know how to pick ’em, right? This time, it’s his Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman AM, that’s shown himself up. His crime? Complete ignorance of fire authority guidelines, a sexist attack on a female MP and a complete unwillingness to actually find out what you’re supposed to do in an emergency.
Beggers belief, doesn’t it? I think the worst aspect of the whole story is that the Tory press is completely on side with his story, and even when quoting fire service sources debunking his claim, have still joined in with his incompetent posturing.
So, here’s the full story. Lynne Featherstone, blogging MP and occasional contributor to this site, wrote a post on her blog describing how grateful she was to the fire service for responding to her callout at 10pm after her house started shaking and her gas boiler started sparking in an alarming manner. Quoth she:
I called 999 and the Fire Brigade, moved the car out the drive, put one daughter and dog in the car and the other daughter ran back in to turn off heating and hot water – which did stop the noise. We waited. Within a couple of minutes the firefighters arrived – checked everything – said it was a hammer airlock (probably) and that we had done the right thing.
Just to re-iterate that bit, the firefighters that attended the call confirmed that she had done the right thing in calling them.
Two weeks later, at a meeting of the authority, Coleman and his Tory colleagues in the Assembly tried to have some fun with the story in the presence of Commissioner Ron Dobson of the Fire Authority. He rebutted their claims, making it clear that:
any such call would have gone through the necessary triaging and a fire team would only have visited if it was assessed as needing a crew.
The firefighters on scene said she did the right thing, and the Commissioner of the authority confirmed that an engine would only have been called if they thought it necessary. Despite this, Coleman issued a press release, which was picked up and run with by the Daily Mail, who quote him as saying:
You don’t call the fire brigade – you switch your boiler off and call a plumber. She has shown herself to be completely dizzy.
‘Airheads and airlocks are obviously not unrelated. She can’t tell the difference between an airlock and a major catastrophe.’
Despite being told that she’d acted correctly, followed the guidelines and been through the fire authority triage routine, Coleman still thinks its acceptable to call a female opponent a “dizzy airhead”. This from the man who had previously claimed “he has been passed over for a senior post due to homophobia by fellow Tories.” Glass houses Mr Coleman! You don’t get to accuse others of bigotry then use pejorative language yourself without looking like a complete arse. An ignorant one as well.
According to the BBC, a London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said:
If it’s obvious that there has been an ongoing problem with the boiler, then you can call a plumber. But if your boiler suddenly starts making strange noises in the middle of the night, call the fire brigade.
Once again, Lynne did exactly the right thing and Coleman doesn’t know the guidance issued by the service he’s supposed to be overseeing. In fact, a number of firefighters have contacted Lynne offering her support, and The Fire Brigade Union’s regional secretary for London, Joe MacVeigh, said:
Councillor Coleman needs to decide whether he wants to be a serious political figure or whether he wants to continue playing the role of complete buffoon. He holds a position of enormous responsibility, and he should be dignified and statesmanlike in everything he does. Instead, he blunders around, whipping up controversy, and trying to draw attention to himself at every opportunity. Such an attitude does not befit the office of head of the world’s third largest fire and rescue service. His remarks about [Lynne Featherstone] were disgraceful.
This is, incidentally, the same Brian Coleman who managed to claim nearly as much expenses on taxis last year as both the Mayor and the other 24 GLA members combined. He’s also one of the very few AMs I’d heard of before I moved to London, and it wasn’t for good reasons then, in fact his response to a small legitimate protest outside Parliament was to condemn the protesters for damaging the London tourism trade, prompting a one friend to describe him as a ‘tedious cock‘
He doesn’t half have an ability to attract insults his way. I was quite impressed that for quite some time, my old post was the first result in Google for the search “Brian Coleman AM”, despite that blog being abandoned and never that successful. Liberal Conspiracy is, of course, a much bigger and more prominent site. If you’re as fed up as I am of this tedious, incompetent buffoon claiming massive expenses and overseeing services he blatantly doesn’t understand, then writing to the Commissioner and the Mayor would be a good start. Lots of people linking to this post with the text ‘Brian Coleman’ as the anchor would push this post up quite quickly as well. Which wouldn’t achieve much.
But it would be quite funny.
Full disclosure: I’ve met Lynne Featherstone a number of times since I joined the Lib Dems in 2006; in fact reading her blog and talking to her online was one of the things that persuaded me to do so. I like her and respect her abilities. I have tried to ensure I’ve covered all the bases in this post and kept obvious personal bias to a minimum but, well, he really is a tedious cock, isn’t he?
Mat Bowles is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He's mostly a house-husband working part-time at a local school, and is based in Calderdale, Yorkshire. A member of the Liberal Democrats, he is 35 and lives with Jennie Rigg. His general interest blog is currently hosted on Dreamwidth and his old political blog is at Not Little England.
· Other posts by MatGB
Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Local Government ,London Mayor
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- Linkblogging for 14/12/2008 « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!
[…] Linkblogging for 14/12/2008 By Andrew Hickey Liberal Conspiracy has been a bit more of a Labour mouthpiece than I like recently, but today there have been two very good posts, one by Laurie Penny on work and benefits, and one by my friend MatGB on Brian Coleman. […]
- Mat Bowles
thinks Brian Coleman AM is a sexist buffoon http://tinyurl.com/6fnhrn
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