Brian Coleman should resign


11:20 am - December 16th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Fire Brigades Union have issued this press release:

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) leaders in London have called on the chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) to consider his position, after he labelled as “dizzy” and an “airhead” a woman MP who dialled 999 when sparks began to fly from her boiler.

Conservative councillor Brian Coleman’s remarks were branded “sexist” by Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat member of parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, who said she intends to protest to the London Fire Brigade commissioner, Ron Dobson.

As the Daily Telegraph reported earlier:

Brian Coleman, the Conservative chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, laughed off accusations that his attack on Lynne Featherstone was sexist – by remarking that a man was unlikely to have acted in the same way.

A website asks: Is Brian Coleman a Tedious Cock?. There is also a campaign now on Facebook and myspace calling for his resignation. Aren’t the Conservatives disgusted for having such a sexist representative?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Local Government ,Sex equality ,Westminster

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Reader comments


It strikes me that there is some difference between “sparks flying” (FBU release ) and “a banging sound” (Telegraph story).

My boiler has been known to make quite lound banging sounds….should I have called 999 or tried pushing the off button first?

It was sparking internally, which Ms F didn’t realise at the time. It’s a dodgy piece of spin by the FBU, who clearly (and fairly, by all appearances) hate Brian anyway and are using this as a stick to bash him with.

Yup, a trade union and a Lib Dem MP call on a Tory to resign. Pretty damning.

John B: isn’t the relevant point about the sparks that it’s an example of how things can be more dangerous that you might think, and that therefore it’s best to take a cautious course (call 999 in this case)?

John, is it really dodgy to point out that the person responsible for overseeing the London brigade attacks people for acting correctly?

the FBU has slammed Cllr Coleman for engaging in cheap political point-scoring and dispensing erroneous advice. The union warned that his comments may discourage other members of the public from dialling 999 for fear of being accused of wasting brigade time. A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade also contradicted Cllr Coleman’s comments by making clear that Ms Featherstone acted correctly.

As one of the moderators on the FireService forums said:

What next??? Means testing 999 calls? We are an Emergency Service, there id the public need help, how desperate are we getting to save a few quid!!!! For years we’ve been tring to tell people if there is any doubt, call us. This has the potential for people to second guess whether we should be called or not.

All the advice and guidance is to call if you’re worried. Dispatchers are trained to assess non-urgent cases and decide whether to send an engine or help over the phone.

Lynne acted according to guidelines, and Coleman is undermining the service and potentially putting lives at risk by attacking people for following the guidelines.

Hindsight says there was no actual danger, but Lynne didn’t know that at 10pm on a dark night. The Fire Brigade have made it very clear she did exactly the right thing, not just the union, but the brigade itself.

By saying otherwise, Coleman is attacking the brigade and its guidelines, and doing it in a cheap, nasty partisan manner. If he wanted to raise the problem of excessive callouts, and get the guidelines changed, he’s the person with the power and responsibility to do so. Instead of changing the procedures he’s in place to oversee, he’s attacked someone for following them.

That makes him unfit. Regardless of whether Lynne should’ve called them or not, he’s not fit for office.

So are we now supposed to call 999 just in case there are some sparks even if we cannot see any??

I accept that Ms F did nothing wrong and that Brian is a tool – but the FBU PR should have said “a woman MP who dialled 999 when her boiler started making unusual noises”.

They are, of course, welcome to clarify that the LFB consider it perfectly reasonable to dial 999 in such a situation – indeed, if they want people to call them in such a situation, PRing that Ms F acted correctly would be a positive step.

But currently, they’re misleadingly implying that the situation appeared much more serious than it actually did.

(and I still find the LFB advice that we *should* call them in this kind of situation, where turning off the boiler and calling an engineer in the morning would have been perfectly safe, baffling. “Nothing wrong with calling them”, sure, but “should”, implying that not calling them would be wrong? Seriously?)

“Aren’t the Conservatives disgusted for having such a sexist representative?”

Of course not. He represents the rank of file of the Conservative party.

“So are we now supposed to call 999 just in case there are some sparks even if we cannot see any??”

Er … why not? If you’re not sure, isn’t taking the safe option the right one?

My only vaguely similar experience is with a suspected gas leak – where the advice I got when I rang was to leave building immediately and not to touch any switches. Neither I nor they knew for sure whether there was a gas leak or not, but if there was a leak, staying in the building or flicking a switch could have caused a very serious problem (explosion even). Hence their advice seems to me the right course.

Isn’t the whole point of situations where there might be a very serious problem that you should be cautious because false alarms are relatively harmless, whilst getting it wrong can be extremely serious?

Well, I would probably switch my central heating and hot water controls off first…

Of course if you ring up and say “I think there’s a gas leak” you’ll be told to get outside.

But if you ring up and say “there’s a banging noise”?

Sorry guys,
but this is the kind of stuff that puts people off politics.
Who on earth cares if the Lib Dem MP called 999 coz she thought her boiler was going to blow up. I mean, seriously, a political row over THIS?

It’s the Americanisation of British politics, whereby Gordon Brown and his i-pod or Nick Clegg being a casanova grab all headlines and nought (or little) is said over substantial matters.

You don’t think it’s a serious issue stan, that a member of parliament is facing sexist jibes despite following the correct procedures?

I’m sorry to point out the obvious here but the issue isn’t how she responded, but the way in which he derided her after. That sort of behaviour is unacceptable from an elected representative.

I used to work as a RN on a regional burns/ plastics unit. We once took admission of a young woman who suffered 40% burns and severe multiple lacerations after being propelled through a window caused by a gas central heating system explosion.

So all things considered *I* this not *so dizzy* *air head* woman would I imagine have called the fire brigade.

Well, if nothing else, I have learned not to be so complacent in the face of a banging boiler.

Stan, I pretty much idea. This sort of pathetic playing-the-person attack politics is wrong and beneath British politics. Which is why the idiot doing it, having shown himself to being both a simplistic bigot and a partizan fool, should be chased out as unfit for office.

The substantial matter here is that the chair of the London Fire Brigade authority has no understanding whatsoever of London Fire Brigade policies, and is showing his ignorance by making cheap jibes.

Sunny,
Brian Coleman was daft (to say the least) to come up with that crap, but I apologise if I fail to get particularly outraged over this issue. It’s obviously a subjective point of view.

Dareisay, personally, the issue of the day is David Cameron marking out specific difference between the Tories and New Labour. To the point that the Conservatives are now to the left of Labour on the issue of welfare reforms. That should grab all headlines today.
The country needs to see what a joke of a Labur party NL has become and what it wants to do to ordinary people, especially those who are in need the most.

To the point that David Cameron has become our BEST hope to have James Purnell’s “benefit shake-up” rejected in the Commons. Who would have thought…

http://mymarilyn.blogspot.com/2008/12/el-che-cameron-sticks-up-for-single.html

Sunny – I thank you kindly for providing these links :-):
___________________________________________
Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has got to go:

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24061317432

MySpace:
http://www.myspace.com/mr_toad_has_got_to_go

Seriously, who gives a fuck? Featherstone deserved what she got and more for her involvement in the witch-hunt over Baby P.

#16 – Stan, I shouldn’t take David Cameron’s comments too seriously. Don’t forget only a couple of days ago he was claiming that 5 million people on out-of-work benefits (a figure which includes people doing low-paid work, btw) are on the verge of turning into Karen Matthews.

Also, if you look at the detail of what he said, he had no serious disagreements with the government’s proposals. It’s just triangulation at play.

(20) Tim f,
it may be all triangulation policy, but at this moment Mr Cameron (paradoxically) represents our best hope of seeing Purnell’s “PLAN” rejected in the Commons.
And seeing that the parliamentary Labour left on the issue has been fairly tame , today there are at least some headlines that hit Purnell in the face.

Featherstone deserved what she got and more for her involvement in the witch-hunt over Baby P.

Yes – heaven forfend anyone should be held accountable.

Quite so – sacking Shoesmith and replacing her with someone on double her salary because no one else wants such a poisoned chalice has certainly ensured that no more babies will be killed by their parents.

So no dangerous drivers should be banned because, having had a serious accident, they will make sure it doesn’t happen again. OK.

That has to be the stupidest comparison you could possibly have come up with. Congratulations.

Though I do like the idea that this mild insult equates to LF “getting what she deserved”!

What should have happened to Shoesmith then?
Perhaps a promotion, like Cressida Dick?

Procedure should have happened, not vindictive and somewhat vigilante hounding.

Well if procedure was not followed she will have a legitimate claim for wrongful dismissal.

Was procedure not followed?

I think the fact she was about to announce she was going to resign only to find out that Ed Balls had already briefed the media that he’d sacked her is approaching a breach of procedure, yes. The very last thing likely to improve as a result of the witch-hunt Featherstone was involved in is an improvement in the care of vulnerable children by the state, but at least the smirking bungler who allowed Baby P to be tortured to death has gone, eh?

“the FBU has slammed Cllr Coleman for engaging in cheap political point-scoring and dispensing erroneous advice.”

So it responds by participating in cheap political point-scoring. Nice. Get back to playing pool and cards.

“As one of the moderators on the FireService forums said:
What next??? Means testing 999 calls? We are an Emergency Service, there id the public need help, how desperate are we getting to save a few quid!!!! For years we’ve been tring to tell people if there is any doubt, call us. This has the potential for people to second guess whether we should be called or not.
All the advice and guidance is to call if you’re worried. Dispatchers are trained to assess non-urgent cases and decide whether to send an engine or help over the phone.
Lynne acted according to guidelines, and Coleman is undermining the service and potentially putting lives at risk by attacking people for following the guidelines.”

Do you take the same attitude towards the Govt and the emergency services when they regularly release examples of non-urgent cases to the press to highlight how their time is valuable and being called out for timewasters can cost lives?

I suspect the same people that are calling Coleman sexist are the same people who would normally accuse the FBU of being homophobic for criticising a gay politician and are calling Frank Field a racist for daring to question mass immigration policies.

“By saying otherwise, Coleman is attacking the brigade and its guidelines, and doing it in a cheap, nasty partisan manner. If he wanted to raise the problem of excessive callouts, and get the guidelines changed, he’s the person with the power and responsibility to do so. Instead of changing the procedures he’s in place to oversee, he’s attacked someone for following them.
That makes him unfit. Regardless of whether Lynne should’ve called them or not, he’s not fit for office.”

What a complete misrepresentation of the situation, in an attempt to justify a party political attack. He did not attack the Fire Brigade or its employees, he criticised her to score political points. You are twisting the story to score your own party’s political point. You are a hypocrite.

When Featherstone ran out of the building fearing for her life did she first check her neighbours in the other flats and let them escape in time or did she just think of no. 1?

Do you not realise that Coleman makes outrageous comments because he revels in the attention and he believes in the media mantra of ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’? He is actually very popular in North London. People like forthright, blunt politicians, especially if they see the lefties squealing. It’s a lesson Cameron should learn.

and are calling Frank Field a racist for daring to question mass immigration policies.

Is anyone calling Field a racist? ‘Loathsome unprincipled populist, who’s also a bit mad’ would be closer to the mark.

Yes – on the Laurie Panny thread

“Is anyone calling Field a racist? ‘Loathsome unprincipled populist, who’s also a bit mad’ would be closer to the mark.”

Ah yes, if you can’t challenge the opinion and you can’t debate the subject, smear the messenger. He always appears reasoned and articulate when interviewed. I guess by populist you mean he’s representing the vast majority of the public who have concerns on mass immigration policies. How dare he seek to represent the majority, including many on low incomes who suffer the negative consequences of said policies. How dare he challenge the rhetoric of policies that benefit the opportunist middle-class. Dare I say, such as yourself?

“How dare he challenge the rhetoric of policies that benefit the opportunist middle-class. Dare I say, such as yourself?”

So, how do you think that immigration benefits the opportunist middle class (whatever the hell that is)?

Ben

Cheap cleaners, someone to wash your car for a fiver, someone to drive you home after you’ve been to the latest ethnic restaurant in town, someone to serve you your cappuccino, the cheap plumber and builder to provide that architect designed extension and the 15yr old who’ll give you a nice massage on a Friday night. Plus, your uncle, the provincial farmer, who can use cheap migrants to work 60hrs/wk at £5/hr instead of paying decent wages to the locals who are left to rot on benefits or invest in new machinery.

chavscum is right – the liberal elite do not generally have to compete with immigrants either for work or for access to housing/education/healthcare

only the chav scum (how very dare they question their betters) experience the downside – and who cares about them?

certainly not NuLab, except a handful of MP’s in marginal seats of course

Just one click of the mouse; that’s all that stood between silence and you sounding like a total eejit.

“who can use cheap migrants to work 60hrs/wk at £5/hr instead of paying decent wages to the locals who are left to rot on benefits or invest in new machinery.”

Locals who are largely found to not want to do manual labour.

“the liberal elite do not generally have to compete with immigrants either for work or for access to housing/education/healthcare”

Problem with infrastructure, not with population or where they come from. Or perhaps we should also have a Chinese “one child” rule to ensure that in the future there is no problem with access to those things either.

“the 15yr old who’ll give you a nice massage on a Friday night”

By the way, when did the “lib’ruls are paedos” meme start?

Ben

By the way, when did the “lib’ruls are paedos” meme start?

The fact that we don’t want to hang them, get grumpy when the tabloids condone lynch mobs for them, and don’t like the fact that people could be sent to jail for owning dodgy 1970s rock albums, possibly?

“Locals who are largely found to not want to do manual labour.”

They are not afraid of manual labour, but they are not motivated by low wages for hard and monotonous work. It’s a complicated issue that is directly related to poor education, low aspirations (due to education, class prejudice, peer pressure), and the welfare fishing net that removes ambition and responsibility.

I lost a staff member because working for £20k was only marginally better off than not working, as a single mother, due to the array of benefits that she was entitled to. She then had the free time to devote to her child and to earn cash-in-hand work. What’s more, by working, she lost points on the housing waiting list.

Economic migrants are highly motivated because they are often the better educated members of their own countries, they are upwardly mobile with little family ties to bind them to the area they live in. They come from countries with lower standards of living and are, therefore, more inclined to suffer poor housing and working conditions. Most importantly, they come from places where the vast welfare state that we have does not exist.

The problem with the modern Left’s take on mass immigration to the UK is that they are supporting the capitalist profiteering and they are abandoning any support for the low income and working-classes that socialism originally sought to help.


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