Netroots: Blogger’s victory safeguards public scrutiny

brian coleman -thwarted by a blogger.Pic courtesy: Evening Standard

Those who went to the TUC’s Netroots conference  last weekend should take heart from the success of one of their active bloggers only days after the event.

Adam Bienkov, aka Tory Troll, spotted that Brian Coleman, chair of the London fire authority, had tabled a paper changing arcane standing orders to abolish the right of any of the elected representatives to ask him a question on fire policy. This was to happen at the same meeting that is expected today to tear up a carefully negotiated settlement with London firefighters over their working hours.

 Brian Coleman, no stranger to this blog, was going against Conservative policy to promote transparency and accountability in public life. He would have probably got away with it without the tenacity of Adam. He published the facts,linked the report on his website and it got taken up – by print media in the London Evening Standard and the Guardian Diary. Soon it was on local radio airwaves and this morning was on regional BBC Breakfast TV.

The result: a complete climb down when Boris Johnson, to his credit, effectively repudiated Coleman, and publicly endorsed the party’s policy of openness in City Hall.

This is worth highlighting because  it  can be replicated with the new Netroots network. Other bloggers can keep an eye on their local council by looking up the agenda of council meetings on the council website  before they take place. And if they see anything nasty, highlight it and get in touch with the local media. Turning sunlight on dodgy council decisions can be really effective. Well done, Adam.

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