Thursday 5 February 2009
Mike Freer - The Desperate Despot?
Regular readers will recall that I started this blog in support of Mill Hill resident Rog T, whose blog on the Barnet Times was cancelled after he wrote an article calling the leader of the council Stalinist Mr Bean.
Rog and I are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I’m a right wing Conservative. He’s a swivel eyed Trot! But for all our differences, there is one matter we agree about - the need for open, honest, democratic and accountable government.
On Monday, as the heaviest snow for 18 years fell across London, Mike Freer wrote an article on his Leader Listens blog saying it was business as usual in Barnet. In Rog’s opinion it wasn’t, and he posted a comment to that effect. Freer refused to publish Rog’s contribution, but he did publish a comment from another reader thanking the council for being so wonderful! You can read the full story on Rog’s blog.
Is Mike Freer so insecure that he cannot even engage with the public in a simple discussion about the effect of the weather? His blog is called “Leader Listens” not “Leader only listens to people who agree with him.”
If Freer was running a free ‘personal’ blog on a site like blogger.com, he could moderate messages to his heart’s content. If he only wanted to allow messages from people saying how wonderful he was, then that would be his right. But “Leader Listens” is a publicly funded blog and whilst the amount it costs to run is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of money “missing” in Iceland, it is still public money.
He should either have published Rog’s comments and just ignored them or published them and added a simple reply “I disagree”. But to refuse to publish politely written comments which merely offer an alternative point of view is censorship of the very worst kind.