Friday 3 October 2008

Council Refuses To Remove Offensive Video

This article has been updated. See below

Barnet Council has recently found a new way to waste taxpayers money by posting pointless video clips on YouTube of local residents talking about the area where they live. One such clip was posted on 29th September - the eve of the Jewish New Year.

One minute into the video, the resident says: “I know it's mainly a Jewish area so a lot of the Jewish people have got things, but for the normal British people...there is nothing really for them.”

Being Jewish and being normal are not mutually exclusive.

I e-mailed Barnet’s Communications and Consultation Director Emer Coleman explaining that whilst I realised this person was not speaking for the council, I did not think they should be promoting her views. I asked for the clip to be removed.

Mr Dominic Campbell, the council’s Social Media Manager (no, I have no idea what one of those is either) replied: “While we understand your concerns, the views expressed are those of the resident and not those of Barnet Council and as such we do not intend to take any action at this point.”

This is absolute nonsense! Are we supposed to believe that if a resident made a video clip saying “I think the Chief Executive is an overpaid waste of space and should be sacked” they would allow it to remain on the website?

Let us give this resident the benefit of the doubt and say that she was not intentionally being anti-Semitic. Indeed she would probably tell you that some of her best friends are Jewish. Rather, let us assume that she has a somewhat weak grasp of the English language and did not appreciate the meaning of what she was saying.

But the same cannot be said of Barnet Council’s highly educated officers. Is it that difficult for them to see why these remarks are offensive?

Our well beloved leader Mike Freer claims to be a good friend of the Jewish community. Let him prove it by ordering the video clip to be removed immediately and apologising for Mr Campbell’s crass insensitivity.

Update 03.10.08 (11.15 am) The council has given in to pressure and now removed the video. However, they have not offered an apology or an explanation as to how it was ever allowed to be posted.


Anonymous said...

Social Marketing Manager would be someone who is charged with seeking the views of stakeholders (for instance Council Tax Charge Payers)on a two way process. The NHS has hundreds of people who are involved in this field. Which might explain why for all the money put into the NHS you still wait hours at A&E !!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are keeping an eye on them. Very well done for getting it removed.

Goes to show that there is a conscious or sub-consious basic belief of non Jews that Jews cannot be completely British or accepted as members of the 'indiginous' community, whatever that may mean. It is an attitude that is so ingrained that it will never be changed, no matter how much legislation is introduced; nor how many centuries Jewish families have lived in Britain.

Duncan Macdonald said...

Have you seen this?

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Dear Anonymous

Thank you for your comment. Thank you also to the many people who put enough pressure on the council to force them into reversing their previous decision.

I am saddened that there were inadequate systems in place to prevent videos like this being posted but sadder still that, having reported the matter to Emer Coleman, she abdicated her responsibilities for which she is very well rewarded.

I hope that she will have the decency to post a message here apologising for what happened, explain how and why it happened and give an undertaking that steps will be taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Yes, I have seen it! The leader already has a blog on the Barnet Times web site but he doesn’t post messages very often. Perhaps he doesn’t like their rule which says he mustn’t criticise Rog T!! Hopefully Cllr Freer will use his new blog to genuinely engage with the public. It is all very well the leader listening. Taking any notice is a different matter!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

As a Roman Catholic who takes an interest in what happens in Barnet I can assure you of this. The vast majority of people of all denominations think that Jews are no more or less likely to be normal (whatever that means) than the rest of us. Having been to a Bah mitzvah at the Hendon reformed synogogue a couple of weeks ago, where at least half the congregation were not of the faith, I think it's fair to say that in general we all get along pretty well. Please lets not start looking for reasons to draw divisions where they don't exist.

Why the council let itself be drawn into a row such as this is truly beyond me. I don't actually believe that it was malicious on the part of the council, but it was grossly stupid. Surely an apology is the appropriate way forward.

Anonymous said...

It's good that the Council have removed this, but the real question is why was it there in the first place?

Haven't the Council got better things to do?

Anonymous said...

It rather sadly looks as if the council are far quicker off the mark to remove criticism of their video than they were to actually take down this rather sad little anti Jewish tirade.

I guess we have now all seen where there priorities lie and what they think is important.