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, 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.


Rog T said...


Freer is either :-

a)To thick to figure out a sensible reply

or b) To cowardly to show dissent

or c) both

Unfortunately for him, everyone in Barnet saw for their own eyes what happened and a few have said to me that he's lost the plot.

Amanda said...

Sticks and stones Rog, Sticks and Stones

Amanda said...

Oh and Dave why is what you do any different to the Leader Listens blog?

Having just posted a comment I am greeted with:

"Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval"

Umm pot calling kettle me thinks!

Anonymous said...

Where I live (outside Barnet) it was choas on Monday morning and the roads only cleared when I got onto the main routes in Barnet. Praise is due to the men and women who pulled out all the stops in the really bad weather.

Well done the Council.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Have you taken extra stupid pills today? Content moderation is not the same as censorship. I have moderation on to prevent people from posting obscenities, but otherwise all messages are published, even if they criticise me. Freer only allows messages to be posted which say how wonderful he or the council is.

manswell said...

It seems pretty obvious to me what the difference is - Freer's blog is paid out of council tax.

Amanda and anon seem strangely supportive of Mr Freer.

Rog T said...

So we finally have an admission from "Amanda" that she's a certain Mike Freer posting in disguise?

The full quote she/he uses is

"sticks and stones will break MY bones but words will never hurt ME"

Message to Mike/Amanda - The people I've spoken to who saw your "business as usual in barnet" blog and have said that if you really believe that, then you are clearly living on another planet. Your own supporters are not impressed. They aren't much impressed by your cowardice either.