Brian Coleman And The Firefighters.
This video clip ably shows how political considerations are risking lives:
(Hat tip: John Gray)
Update 1: Whilst it is not about personalities, there is an overriding issue of safety and the possibility of privatisation, Brian Coleman is the Tory politician and axeman charged with beating the Firefighters into place and as such is deserving of scrutiny, the Daily Mirror has more on him:
“Snoozing at his desk, this is the fat-cat Tory chief responsible for negotiating an end to the bitter firefighters’ strike.
Brian Coleman, 49, who rakes in £114,322 a year – three and-a-half times the £33,000 average wage of a London firefighter – was pictured dozing in his office four years ago when he was vice chairman of the London Fire Authority.
He was appointed chief of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority by Mayor Boris Johnson in May 2008.
Both men were blasted yesterday for failing to end the increasingly bitter dispute over controversial new employment contracts. As firefighters staged another eight-hour walkout yesterday, 27 relief engines responded to 20 incidents, including eight fires.
Mr Coleman has responded to the strikes by threatening to sack those who do not sign the controversial new contracts.”
“During his time in office Brian has
- Spent tens of thousands of pounds on taxis whilst claiming for a free travel card.
- Laid on £88 a head meals for himself and pals at City Hall
- Led repeated failed attempts to increase his £100,000+ allowances
- Told British Olympic champions that they have the blood of Tibetans on their hands
- Called his constituents “idiots”
- Told a victim of police violence that she had it coming.
- Used GLA resources to warn off his critics
- Claimed £10k in legal fees and then lied about it to the press
- Reduced a member of staff to tears (twice)
- Got fired from a fire board for fiery behaviour
- Thrown camera crews out of a public meeting in order to hide a disgraced councillor
- Threatened a charity worker
Update 3: Not forgetting a blog dedicated Brian Coleman.
Update 4: There seems to have been some contention over Coleman’s activities so here is a bit of his Wiki entry:
“Breach of council code of conduct
In September 2009 Coleman was found to have broken Barnet Council’s code of conduct. The standards sub-committee upheld an independent report that he had failed to treat others with respect. The complaint was made by a local blogger who had received an email from Coleman calling him an “obsessive, poisonous individual”.
Council leader Mike Freer granted Coleman £10,000 of taxpayer’s money to pay for legal representation during the standards committee investigation as he had rejected the solicitors provided by the councils insurance scheme. When the local paper approached Coleman before they published this information he told them that “This has absolutely nothing to do with me, nothing whatsoever, and if you say otherwise you will be hearing from my solicitor.” 
In July 2007 he was criticised by Livingstone for spending £10,000 on taxi fares from 1 April 2006 to 30 March 2007, compared to the average figure for a London Assembly member of around £845. This period coincided with the six months that Coleman was banned from driving.
A GLA audit panel report in October 2007 showed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £1740 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 August 2007. This accounted for one third of all cab expenses for the Mayor and 25 GLA members. He was criticised by Livingstone for “creating a chauffeur service for himself” and by the leader of the Barnet Council Labour group for his “breathtaking arrogance”.
A further GLA audit panel report in March 2008 revealed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £4157 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 December 2007. This accounted for half of all cab expenses for the Mayor and 25 GLA members. Livingstone said “Brian Coleman must explain to Londoners how he can possibly justify spending more on taxis in four weeks than the average Assembly member does in nine months.”
When questioned about his cab fares by the Metro Newspaper, Coleman claimed not to use taxis but thought he was being ferried about in ‘an official GLA car’. They reported that in December 2007 he ran up a £412.50 cab fare on a round-trip from his home in Finchley to a nearby meeting where the driver kept the meter running before taking him to City Hall.
Another GLA audit panel report in July 2008 revealed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £8231 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. This accounted for nearly half of all the cab expenses of the Mayor and 25 assembly members. On one day alone Coleman ran up a cab bill of £656. Speaking to the Metro Newspaper, assembly member Jenny Jones said that he justifies the expense because he has taken to wearing gold chains from another era – “He doesn’t need to wear these chains but his ego’s out of its cage”.
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority
Coleman was vice chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority from 2004 to 2008. Following the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor in May 2008, Coleman was appointed Chairman. An Audit Commission report published in February 2009 noted that “The Chairman is robust and challenging but staff and some external stakeholders find his style too confrontational.”
Outlining areas of potential cutbacks to a London Assembly committee in September 2008, Coleman suggested that the London Fire Brigade Museum should be closed. He said that “having recently visited the fire brigade museum – we shook the cobwebs off the door as we opened it – I have to say that it is not a museum that is fit for purpose or that in my view contributes anything”, adding “when you’ve seen one brass helmet you have seen them all”. Coleman’s outburst prompted a campaign to save the museum. Val Shawcross, former chair of the LFEPA, stated that “Brian Coleman has an almost hysterical approach to the issues”.
In April 2009 Coleman blamed a protester, Nicky Fisher, atteding a vigil following the Death of Ian Tomlinson, who was killed during the G20 protests, as being to blame after being backhanded twice by a police officer and then struck on the legs with a baton. “Nicky Fisher turned up to this protest, which everyone said could be violent. She put herself in this situation – and lo, she was hit. It’s like going gambling and then complaining that you’ve lost money”. The officer involved had been suspended pending an investigation into their actions.
He subsequently setup a group on Facebook called “Commend a Copper”, however this group has become more anti-police than anything else.
In July 2009 Coleman was the only London Assembly member to refuse to voluntarily publish details of their expense claims in a move towards greater transparency following the Parliamentary expenses scandal. He stated “I won’t do it voluntarily. It’s none of the public’s business”, and that “Politicians with lower expenses tend to be the politicians who do least work. Those with higher expenses are the ones who do most work.” Coleman complied following pressure from Mayor Boris Johnson. “
Not a very edifying record.