A former top Unison official slammed by a judge selected to be a new Labour councillor for one of London’s deprived wards

Linda Perks at a Unison protest. pic credit Flickr

Linda Perks at a Unison protest. Pic credit: Flickr


Most of the rows about Labour candidates being selected in London  for May’s local government elections have centred around the rise of Momentum and challenges to established Labour leaders in Haringey and Newham.

But while all this is going on quietly a new kid on the block has emerged unnoticed in the London borough of Greenwich. She was the sole person criticised by a part time judge in a hearing over the election of Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, Britain’s largest public service union last year.

Linda Perks, the former London regional secretary, was castigated by part time judge Mary Stacey during as certification officer hearing which followed complaints about rule breaking from other candidates who challenged Dave Prentis for the job.

The judge upheld a complaint against Linda Perks,  for flagrant breaches of union rules – after reading a transcript and listening to a secret tape of a meeting held at the TUC’s Congress House, where, it is said, 50 officials were urged to break campaigning rules to ensure the re-election of Dave Prentis. The code name for the campaign was ” Special Chocolate Biscuits”.

After listening to the tape the judge ruled :“ Ms Perks tone is not just confident and swaggering in so openly breaking the rules but chilling in its brazenness and demonstration of unchecked power”.

She blatantly had known she was breaking union rules by getting officials to organise support for Dave Prentis during work time which was against union rules. The judge notes that it almost looked that for 3 or 4 days officials would do little else but campaign for Mr Prentis.

Linda Perks was suspended by the president of the union. But the judge said:

“The subsequent leisurely disciplinary proceedings of Ms Perks and outcome do not inspire confidence or serve as a deterrent for future overzealous officers. Some might think the move to National Secretary in Head Office on unspecified strategic projects retaining all pay and benefits represents reward rather than punishment, though she has endured the imposition of a final written warning.”

Since then Linda Perks has retired from the union and was given a huge farewell party attended by Dave Prentis who tweeted ” Absolutely packed house to thank Linda Perks, one of our longest serving regional secretaries. We will all miss her”.

Now the Labour selection body has selected her as one of three candidates to represent Charlton- one of the poorer wards in the borough. There is a full report by a local journalist and blogger, Darryl Chamberlain on his 853.com blog. He quotes an email  from her saying:“My union work has also enabled me to develop a good understanding of how councils work and how decisions are taken.”

The ward she is representing is one of the poorest in the borough. Its faded grandeur has led it to put on the ” at risk register” by Historic England as reported here. It has a low level of  home ownership and high levels of council housing and housing association and higher levels of unemployment.

Linda Perks declined to reply to a request for a comment about her selection. Her contribution to local affairs – should she be elected for this safe ward where Labour romped home in 2014.  – remains to be seen.




50s pensioners: Time for you to put the boot into your local councillor at May’s elections


Waspi Pensioners :Time to use your vote wisely Pic credit: BBC


The 3.9 million 50s pensioners have a great opportunity to get their views across at the local elections to be held on Thursday May 3.  Elections will be held in all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district/borough councils and 17 unitary authorities.  There are also elections for mayors in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and just outside London in Watford.

Local elections are of course about local matters. However the performance of political parties at local elections is always judged by the media as a snapshot of national voting intentions. Also the attitude of local councillors towards the plight of women denied their pensions for up to six years could well be symptomatic of their attitude towards other injustice issues.

You can do this by first getting on top the House of Commons library constituency estimates of the 3.9 million people affected here

Go to the end of the summary and download the constituency estimates ( You will need Excel on your computer).Then look up your constituency and the total number of people affected. You will find it is thousands in your constituency.

Next go onto  the  Wikipedia link at the end of the report and see if your council has elections. Then go on to the council’s site and chase up your ward councillors.

Challenge them to  put pressure on their MP to get government policy changed so you will get your money. If they refuse vote for the nearest challenger who will.

So where are the key places where 3.9 million women can make their votes count. Here are some good examples with all the links  set out for you.

In London where all the seats are up for grabs, the most obvious place to register a protest vote is Barnet. There are 18,200 women affected in the borough and the council is narrowly Conservative who oppose any change or concessions to the women.

The ruling Conservative group has a majority of one (32 Conservative, 30 Labour and one Liberal Democrat) in 2014. You can check the result for the ward you live here. 

Another is the London borough of Hillingdon where there are 16,100 women affected and it is represented by two high profile MPs, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, and John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor. The current council has 42 Conservatives and 23 Labour. You can get a ward breakdown here.

And for a different slant the Royal London borough of Kingston has 12,000 women affected (though some are in Richmond) and a council with 28 Conservatives, 18 Liberal Democrats and 2 Labour councillors – a Conservative majority of eight. You can check your ward here.

Some of you may find yourself in Richmond as  Tory Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park constituency straddles both boroughs.

Conservatives have a bigger majority in Wandsworth with 41 seats topping Labour’s 19 and there are 11,900 women affected living there. You can find your ward here.

A longer shot is the London Borough of Bexley which has 45 Conservative,15 Labour and three UKIP councillors. But it has 15,200 women affected. A run down on your local ward councillors is here.

.Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire is currently not under any party control. It has 25 Labour councillors, 18 Conservatives, 13 Liberal Democrats and one UKIP councillor. One third of the council is up for election. There are 14,400 women affected in the borough. So it will provide an ideal opportunity to put all the parties on the spot. You can check your ward here.

Calderdale also has a third of the council up for election. The council which covers Halifax and the surrounding area has 12,900 women affected. The council is also not under any party control. The council has 23 Labour members, 21 Conservatives , 5 Liberal Democrats and two Independents. You can find your ward here.

The full list of councils where elections are being held is here.

They include big cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne as well as smaller places like Hastings, Gosport, Portsmouth, South Lakeland, Maidstone, Huntingdon and West Lancashire.


Bye,Bye Brian..beaten by braveheart Barnet bloggers

Brian Coleman: Thrown out by voters in Barnet

The emphatic defeat of Brian Coleman in the London Assembly elections – a larger than life bully in true blue Barnet – was one of the defining features of the London Assembly elections.

 He was knocked out of the seat by Labour comeback kid, Andrew Dismore,  an “awkward squad” former MP for Hendon, whose campaigning skills and determination when he was a MP was  well-known in Parliament. So he shouldn’t have been surprised that Dismore would pursue every voter.

Victor Andrew Dismore: Former awkward squad MP

But there is no question in my mind  why 2012 was so different to 2008 for Brian Coleman –  apart from the political climate that favoured Labour last night but also saw Dismore perform far better than Livingstone.

Coleman had a unique skill to anger  nearly every group in the borough  – whether the small shopkeeper, the motorist,home owners (over parking),the local firefighter, the trade unions, struggling single parents, religious groups, journalists, – and when there was a chance to throw him out they could hardly wait to do so.

But he had relied on a cash strapped local press to bully his way often unreported and rarely held to account by his local Tory group, who seemed to live in ” shock and awe” of whatever he said next.

But the difference between 2012 and 2008 is that he couldn’t get away with it so easily – because of the rise of the blogosphere. Five local bloggers including a larger-than-life figure blogging as Mrs Angry;a guy with a head for figures – Mr Mustard; John Baldy and the Barnet Eye  and Barnet Bugle took him on – and wouldn’t let him get away with it. I should also add – Mr Mustard has reminded me -Mr Reasonable and Vicki Morris.

 He also faced a pretty lively campaign from the Fire Brigades Union – both in Barnet and across London – because of his passion for privatisation which got him far too closely connected to AssetCo, the near bust and badly run owner of London’s fire engines.

 In my view – though this  can’t be scientifically proven – the coverage of the blogosphere changed hearts , minds and eventually votes  in Barnet. They were read by large numbers of people (the one I did as an armchair audit on his expenses,home, and allowances, attracted well over 3000 hits)

Coleman himself was a large dinosaur when it came to the net – he needed young Tories and officials to tell him how to operate a computer – so he didn’t realise what was coming.

Coleman is one of the first councillors  to be thrown out following bad coverage on the net. The very ” armchair auditors” that David Cameron and Eric Pickles are keen to promote – came out and devoured their protegé on the London Assembly. Grant Shapps, the computer savvy local government minister, should be proud to see people held to account in this new way.

If the Tories believe in real democracy the one decision Boris Johnson should take is not to use his power to re-instate Coleman as an appointed councillor in any way to the London Assembly. The people of Barnet and Camden have spoken.

Coleman’s last stand in a sweet shop


Yet more extraordinary scenes involving Brian Coleman are reported by the Barnet Press (http://ow.ly/aCVrT) – caught on CCTV haranging a sweet shop owner over the local council’s controversial parking scheme. Mr Coleman went down a parade of shops demanding posters were removed.

Reporter Daniel O’Brien’s story out yesterday says”:Anna Constantiou, who owns Rapunzel hair salon, in High Street, Barnet, said she was shocked when Mr Coleman came into her store demanding she remove a poster with the message “Sack Brian.”

“He said, ‘I want you to take it down right now. I find it offensive,’” said Mrs Constantiou. “I said it’s my opinion and I don’t agree with your parking restrictions. I can’t afford to park near here.”

However, she said she felt she had no choice but to take it down the poster.

“He was going mad and shouting,” she said. “He was right in my face and wouldn’t leave when I asked him. He was intimidating.”

Michael Kentish, owner of sweet shop Hopscotch also received a visit from Mr Coleman.

Mr Kentish said he had put up the political posters, as he believes the “rushed” removal of parking meters from car parks had had a dramatic effect on high street footfall. ”

His CCTV caught the scenes.

Frankly after all the rows over his huge expenses and free gifts, the botched privatisation of London fire brigade, attacking single parents, you would think a Tory seeking  re-election would not start a row with local shopkeepers- core Tory voters. You’d also think that making parking really difficult would not endear him to Barnet Tories either.

 Does he really want to be sacked by the electors of Camden and Barnet tomorrow? Perhaps I have missed his secret agenda- he wants a life outside politics. Mr Coleman has refused to comment to the press.