Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Brian Coleman is an expensive liability for Boris

Paul Waugh has the reaction from Team Boris to Brian Coleman's humiliating refusal to publish his expenses.

According to Paul:

"He will be forced to give the details on 15 July when publication becomes mandatory, but sources close to the Mayor made clear his irritation at the failure to come clean.

"Boris has made it clear from day one that transparency and openness are the heart of his administration. He's tried hard to persuade the Labour party to agree to this," one ally said.

"He is disappointed when any Assembly member doesn't appreciate that the public rightly expect to know what's being done by their elected representatives in their name and with their money."

Now I don't know who this 'ally' of Boris is, although they seem to be spinning the exact same line spun to Iain Dale last week.

Unfortunately there's no evidence for it.

I've seen no evidence whatsoever that Labour Assembly Members have resisted their expenses being published and there is little remarkable in any of those published yesterday.

Team Boris are trying to spray some flak onto former Chair of the Assembly Jennette Arnold.

But her claims for taxis pale into insignificance when compared to Brian Coleman, Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes, and Boris himself.

It is true that she used her GLA taxi card for personal journeys but that is explicitly within the rules as long as the cost of those journeys are paid back.

And her fares get nowhere near the three figure amounts spent by both Brian, Barnes and the Mayor himself.

She's also paid back the cost of taxis waiting for longer than 20 minutes (the maximum time allowed within the rules). Have Boris, Barnes, or Brian done the same?

And if "transparency and openness are the heart of [Boris's] administration" why is it that he has he now twice appointed the contemptuous Brian Coleman to chair the London Fire Authority?

The man remains a total liability. He has always been a liability, and yet Boris consistently refuses to replace him with someone else.

What does that say about Boris's commitment to "transparency and openness" and what does that say about his continuing ability to choose the wrong man for the job?

And what's Brian Coleman's reaction to all of this? Is he shamed, contrite, or repentant? Don't be silly.

"Mr Coleman, who was unavailable for comment, has told colleagues that he believes it would be more cost effective to have a permanent City Hall car and driver available for official functions."

Why travel by cab, when you could travel by chauffeur instead? What a total embarrassment this man is.

-Update- Barnet Times: "Will leopard change it's spots?"

-Update 2- Brian Coleman has finally responded. Here's what he told the Evening Standard's Paul Waugh:

"I won't do it voluntarily. It's none of the public's business. They have coped well without knowing this kind of detail for more that 75 years,” he said.

“They are not entitled to drool over our personal lives. I'm not going to help the mad, bad and the sad, the bloggers on the internet. I'm not pandering to mob rule. It undermines democracy to suggest that all MPs, all politicians are the spawn of Beelzebub.

“Politicians with lower expenses tend to be the politicians who do least work. Those with higher expenses are the ones who do most work.”

There's not much that can be said about that.

Brian Coleman clearly has nothing but contempt for those people who elected him or for the wishes of the Mayor.

He should be sacked from LFEPA immediately.


Mark Lee said...

Surprised he hasn't issued a statement saying that this is a whole load of fuss about nothing, whipped up by a few troublemaking bloggers.

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go said...

Oh, I expect he will Mark. To ease his digestion after a good (free) lunch I shouldn't wonder.
Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go!:


John Biggs AM (Labour press release) said...

Labour's deputy leader on the London Assembly, John Biggs, has called on senior Tory Brian Coleman to join his colleagues in publishing his expenses in full.

Brian Coleman, who was appointed to chair the London Fire Brigade by Boris Johnson, is the only Assembly member not to voluntarily publish an itemised breakdown of his expense claims. Councillor Coleman has been criticised for spending between £8,000 - £10,000 a year on taxis, despite having a free zone 1-6 travelcard. Last year it was revealed that he claimed £656 in just one day on taxis, leaving the cab waiting two-and-a-half hours.

Labour's John Biggs said: "This is the man who once spent more on taxis than the entire assembly put together so I wouldn't be surprised if he has got something to hide. In the interests of transparency cllr coleman should publish his claims. His secrecy must be an embarrassment for Boris who has of course had his own problems with excessive taxi bills"

Twenty-four of the twenty-five Assembly members from all parties last night published itemised breakdowns of their expense claims. Among the claims is a taxi bill from Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes for £330. More details can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/members/expenses/index.jsp

Tom said...

You see, if Brian was less of a fat tit who likes throwing his weight around and acting like the Lord of Creation over us proles, it wouldn't be half so much fun pointing out that he's an ugly, tubby liability whom the public should hold in as much contempt as he clearly holds us.

Sack Brian Hire Boff!

AdamB said...

That's #sackbrianhireboff to all Twitter followers!

Anonymous said...

Re GLA taxi rules, do these also apply to those incurred and charged to other bodies such as the Fire Authority,LFEPA? They are the body that paid for Brian Coleman's trip and waiting time at a Lord Mayor's Banquet.

Can some economic transport whiz come up with the hourly cost of a GLA car and chauffeur waiting on the whim of senior members? What happens when a car is required for two important members who want to go in different directions? Clearly why they don't have official cars.

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go! said...

As (night)mayor of Barnet, Brian Contemptible does now have his own chauffer-driven car does he not? Surely, this move cannot have been engineered by his chums in the Branet Conservatives, purely to reduce their enmbarrassment over Mr Toad's expenses claims. Could it?

AdamB said...

Anonymous - I think LFEPA have a different set of rules. Will check.

As I revealed before - Coleman appears to have transferred a lot of his taxi bills over to LFEPA


saifu03 said...

Hmm, why is Brian Coleman talking about getting an offcial car? Is henot on message (it would appear not) I thought the tory policy (PR policy - not actual policy [ha ha]) for taxi expenses was to deflect and say at least it is cheaper than having a car. Repeatedly. That is what people from Ealing have been seemingly instructed to do.

Not long 'til they have to be announced anyway. Boris is unhappy as, from a PR angle, this is stupid. If they were all published together, BC would have drawn ire away from the other team members' expenses - this is a two for one story now.

Len Duvall AM (Labour group press release) said...

Mayor's allies dishonest on expenses

Len Duvall, Labour's leader on the London Assembly, has slammed the dishonesty of those close to the Mayor as they spread false claims about Labour members and expenses.

Allies of the Mayor claim that Boris has "tried hard to get the Labour party to agree to [transparency and openness]", ignoring the fact that:

a) it is a senior member of his administration who is the only Assembly member not to publish his expenses; and
b) it was Labour members of a Labour-chaired committee that proposed to publish itemised expense claims
c) it was Len Duvall who first requested an itemised breakdown of all Mayoral advisers' expenses following the resignation of Ian Clement

Labour's leader, Len Duvall, said: "For the Mayor or his aides to claim that he has somehow brought this about is completely false. It was Labour members who pushed for full transparency and it is the Mayor and those Tory members who have chosen to publish their claims who have the most to be embarrassed about. Boris should hold his hands up to this one and stop trying to spin his way out of it."

AdamB said...

I'd just add that I've seen those letters that Duvall refers to.

I'd also add that Boris 'ally' Iain Dale is *still* refusing to correct the transparently false claims he made about all of this:


Simon said...

It appears the Standard story has been updated with a response from Coleman. Apparently it's none of our business and people who aren't claiming expenses obviously aren't working hard enough.

Mark Lee said...

Awesome. He's blamed it on the bloggers!

"They are not entitled to drool over our personal lives. I'm not going to help the mad, bad and the sad, the bloggers on the internet."

The Standard have also removed the quote from a 'unnamed Boris aide' that suggested that Labour were somehow at fault over this.*

(*caveat: not a Labour supporter, but not happy to see them smeared like that)

Mark Lee said...

Someone should also point out to Mr. Coleman that anything he does on his expenses is not his personal life, but his public life.

Although it is quite evident that he's had difficulty telling them apart in the past...

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go! said...

Mark - you are unnervingly accurate:

“I won't do it voluntarily. It's none of the public's business. They have coped well without knowing this kind of detail for more that 75 years,” he said. “They are not entitled to drool over our personal lives. I'm not going to help the mad, bad and the sad, the bloggers on the internet. I'm not pandering to mob rule. It undermines democracy to suggest that all MPs, all politicians are the spawn of Beelzebub.

Politicians with lower expenses tend to be the politicians who do least work. Those with higher expenses are the ones who do most work.”

Its a delicious quote - especially in the light of all David Cameron's hand-wringing about expenses and transparency.

Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) has GOT to go! said...

I note also that - as predicted - he appears to have commented just after (a no doubt free) lunch. A man working as hard as Mr Toad needs to get his priorities right after all.

JW said...

Interesting that the updated Waugh report has dropped the stuff about Boris "working hard to persuade" Labour members to post their expenses.

AdamB said...

Apparently Coleman is saying that he won't even publish them next week.


Truly extraordinary.

Jonny said...

Poor Brian, he has to work soooo hard. I presume there is photographic evidence of this? Thought I saw a photo of him hard at work once... oh yes, here it is: http://torytroll.blogspot.com/2009/05/brian-coleman-becomes-mayor-and-blames.html

AdamB said...

Ha ha. Yes, his dedication to his work is legendary!

Don't Call Me Dave said...

When Tory MP Anthony Steen made his intemperate outburst saying that the public were simply jealous and had no right to know about his expenses, he was forced to resign. Has Boris got the balls to call time on Coleman who seems to revel in being a complete and utter embarrassment. Will Barnet’s Conservatives share Coleman’s contempt for the public by allowing him to stand again next year?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see some comment coming out from the Conservatives:

Coleman is Wrong on Expenses:

Tory Bear blog: Brian Coleman is being a twat:

AdamB said...

Even Iain Dale has put the boot in now.

It's taken them a long time, but they might, just might, be waking up to the fact that they're better off without him.

AdamB said...

And ConHome

"Meet the Conservative politician who is putting up the most brazen opposition yet to transparency on expenses"

Is it me or can you smell blood?

Tom said...

Fat^H^H^HDead Man Walking...

AdamB said...

And Lib Dem Voice

And the Daily Mail.

prj45 said...

Tom: "Fat^H^H^HDead Man Walking..."

Did you read what you wrote?

Brian Coleman, walking?! Ha ha haa haaa haaaaaaa!

Mark Lee said...

Allow me to play devil's advocate for the moment... what's worse, Brian Coleman splurging on taxis, or him resigning prior to the end of his elected term, triggering a costly by-election in a constituency with a population of 550,000?

What other (less costly) sanctions does Boris have? Strip him of his LEFPA title?

Tom said...

"What other (less costly) sanctions does Boris have? Strip him of his LEFPA title?"

Same as Mr. Duck House - make it very clear that he serves out his elected term and then goes. Obviously he can't remain in position at the LFEPA.

There's also the Barnet thing.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Coleman will never resign - even if ordered to by Cameron. So the best we can do is just strip him of all his titles and special allowances. Let him spend the next 10 months getting the basic councillors allowance in Barnet and another 2 years and 10 months on the GLA also on the minimum. It will still be galling to pay him the money, but at least the message will get through that we have had enough of his arrogant pomposity and odious troughing. He should be treated as a political pariah and simply ignored by all his fellow politicos.

Boris needs to understand that his own credibility is being damaged the longer he allows Coleman to remain on LFEPA.

Harold said...

The only thing that baffles me is that everyone knows about Brian Coleman and his gourmet meals and chauffeured travel, yet he is still there after others have departed and duck house owners are seeking more time with their families.

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

The Wordle that Brian Coleman didn't want you to see

Rog T said...

James Cleverly was also none too impressed. He openly called it a gaffe


I suspect that good old Brian Coleman has a rather busy week.


It seems that the Barnet Council standards sub committee are having a meeting to discuss an investigation into one of their councillors. Of course we know that it isn't Brian Coleman because he told the Barnet Times that he wasn't being investigated - you remember the £10,000 indemnity for the legal fees for the non investigation?