it is probably a mistake to manufacture a space filling blog when there is
not a lot going on. I did so last Thursday and have been mildly - very mildly if
truth be told - rebuked for failing to reach any conclusion. Guilty as charged!
I left readers to guess whether or not Labour Leader Daniel Francis spoke in favour of Bexley adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of anti-Semitism. I was pretty sure he had because the subject had cropped up at one of my occasional meetings with Independent Councillor Danny Hackett but I missed the end of the relevant Cabinet Meeting and the webcast had no recognisable audio track. Hence the lack of a firm conclusion on 13th June.
A conclusion that may more easily be drawn is that Councillor Philip Read is spiteful and throws insults with gay abandon.
Has he forgotten the new Code of Conduct already?
Whatever was he thinking of when taking the enormous leap of logic from his discovery that Councillor Hackett had not been allowed to add his own support for the IHRA definition to calling for Councillors Daniel Francis, Stefano Borella, Mabel Ogundayo, Nicola Taylor plus Teresa Pearce MP to apologise for their imagined support for anti-Semitism?
Why does a Councillor who appears to be reasonably good at his job stoop to such vile suggestions? There is absolutely zero justification for what must be quite close to being libel.
But it still left me less than absolutely sure that Daniel Francis had offered support for the IHRA. I had a bright idea. The subject came at the end of the Cabinet meeting so I watched the back end of the webcast to see Councillor Francis stand and endorse the Council’s policy albeit unheard.
Unfortunately I saw no such thing and it became apparent that not only was the audio missing from the recording so are great chunks of video too. There was no alternative but to get in touch with Daniel and ask him to confirm what I was sure he must have done.
Unlike the Tory top brass Daniel treats Bonkers as part of the news media if perhaps the down market end of it. He is always happy to answer questions and readily confirmed that he did indeed speak up in favour of the IHRA definition.
Why was no one else from Labour allowed to speak? I learned that party rules apply and ward Members may only speak at Cabinet meetings if their own ward becomes the subject or it is part of their specific portfolio.
What Councillor Francis said lined up exactly with what Councillor Hackett told me while we shared a beer or two. So all is well then?
Not really. Danny is particularly strong on anti-Semitism and felt he should have been allowed a bit of leeway. If proof is needed, did he not resign from the Labour party with its alleged anti-Semitism very much in mind?
At one of our more beery meetings Danny let me skim through some of his mobile phone messages. I am pretty useless with mobile phones and even worse after a few pints but I do remember being rather shocked by some of the things I read and saw.
Why would Danny’s fellow Councillors be calling him “a little twerp” on Social Media three months before his resignation and if that is not bad enough why would one of them be liking Facebook posts from disgruntled residents keen to slag Danny off? All politicians get such criticism but surely it should not be encouraged by their own party colleagues?
I do not remember every detail of what I read on that boozy night but I do recall commenting along the lines of ‘how the hell did no one see your resignation coming? There was ample time to pour oil on the very obviously troubled water but I see no sign that anyone did anything to help you, the reverse more like’.
It may go some way to explain how the IHRA business blew up into something bigger and Danny resigned from the Labour Party three weeks later. What I read on Danny’s phone has inevitably made me look at some of his former colleagues in a rather different way to what I have done hitherto. I regret that very much.