I commented on the conviction, a fortnight ago, of the former GLA member Brian Coleman, for assault by beating. After that, it was an intention to let sleeping dogs lie (in every sense) as the downfall of an arrogant bully is of only tangential relevance when taking on the greater iniquities of the right. However, Coleman has given the most extraordinary interview to one of the local newspapers in Barnet which is so objectionable that it is worthy of further attention.
The interview can be seen here: Coleman interview - May 2013.
This is an astounding piece of revisionist history that would make David Irving blush. Despite the evidence of CCTV that Coleman's act were aggressive, violent and totally merited a conviction, he suggests that he only agreed to a plea bargain to keep his driving license, and implies that he was justified because his victim had been part of a political campaign against his policies. There are words which can describe this, but they are not printable - readers can fill in the gaps.
Coleman's behaviour is clearly now beyond what should be acceptable in public office. The national Conservative party has taken action against him, and "processes" are taking place within Barnet Tories that might result in his expulsion from the party. Yet there has been complete silence from the local MPs (Theresa Villiers, Mike Freer and Matthew Offord - normally all given to rent-a-quote knee-jerk populism) and councillors, as well as senior local Tories, despite a conviction for violence and no evidence of any remorse or even comprehension of his actions.
If, and, the pinch of salt required would probably require Lot to be a multiple polygamist, Coleman's assertion that the plea bargain was a tactic to maintain his ability to drive, then one simple question remains: why did he not then go on to defend himself in court? Was he advised that overwhelming evidence, stacked up against him, would inevitably result in a stiffer sentence? Was he advised that witnesses could potentially exacerbate the level of the offence and reduce mitigation potential? Nobody, save Coleman and his brief - to use the vernacular of the criminal classes - will ever know the truth, and Coleman appears to have no grasp of reality.
For Coleman then to claim provocation is both risible and insulting to his victim. He has pretended to be a senior politician - trousering thousands of pounds in allowances and putting his repugnant views forward - while at the same time fundamentally misunderstanding his role and responsibilities. A typical Thatcherite Tory, in other words, who believes that standards of conduct and decency apply to the lower orders who should kow-tow to the great leader.
For local residents and business owners to campaign against an unpopular policy, for them to combine and to identify the relevant officials and councillors is not an unacceptable campaign and persecution, it is democracy in action and should be applauded. The only provocation that Coleman suffered was from campaigning against a policy perceived as damaging, and then the risk of humiliation when he was caught flouting it pushed him into a state where violence was his response. Hardly a suitable candidate for public office.
Yet what is so extraordinary is that Coleman makes no reference to his own conviction and culpability. It's always somebody else's fault; had the little people shut up and allowed his policies through without question he would never have found it irresistible to attack someone. This sociopathic amorality is sick in the most fundamental sense - it is a reasonable deduction that he needs psychiatric help not just for anger management but in order to permit him even a reasonable chance of functioning in a society where social relationships have progressed beyond the toddler stage.
If this was a one off, badger-watching "moment of madness" then perhaps some mitigation would be permissible. Coleman, however, has a string of Standards complaints upheld against him, including such gems as calling a correspondent anti-Semitic for questioning the actions of Veolia when the correspondent was Jewish himself, and threats and abuse against bloggers. This suggests someone who is seriously out of control and who is a danger to himself and to others.
What may be the case is that Coleman - humiliated by the electorate last year and by his cohorts through being stripped of his Barnet cabinet portfolio - is suffering from limelight withdrawal. From being the odious toad relishing his role he now an embarrassing never-was, which makes his wish to follow in the footsteps of Lembit Opik, George Galloway and Nadine Dorries onto reality TV a little more explicable. I am sure that there will be a long queue to purchase a single ticket.
There is the interesting parallel with the downfall of Chris Huhne, whose release under tag has caused a tabloid storm. Huhne, as with Coleman, denied culpability until the last possible moment, and then faced the consequences. He, too, was treated according to due process and has now been treated equally to other non-violent, unlikely repeat offenders - and this has created a prurient outburst of sham indignation. Coleman's downfall, despite being a self-styled senior Tory, has hardly caused ripples beyond the circulation area of the Evening Standard, despite a crime of violence. Double media standards ahoy!
Had Coleman done the sensible thing, and shut up, then he would not be subject to further scrutiny and criticism now. Instead he has opened up the whole can of worms about the Tory party's inability to control its own members, and sending out messages about what is and is not acceptable. For the Tories to spend so long dithering about his future when he has been convicted of a crime of violence is odious and immoral, and for him to continue his self-pitying in public is sick. It sends out a message that the Tory party is scared of him, even when he has been convicted - and it sends out the clear signal that there is at least a strong current of support for thuggish behaviour as a substitute for rational debate.
It is reported that the victim has received an insulting and threatening letter, attributed to someone who is "not a friend of Brian Coleman" - which should be subject to scrutiny and investigation. Whatever action is taken should be proportionate to the message that this sends out - that to involve the police in a criminal offence is a damaging thing to do. Unless Coleman and the Tories condemn this then the action of inductive reasoning can only lead to a limited number of conclusions.
Yet Coleman's interview itself condemns him. There are a number of legal terms that spring to mind while reading it: perjury, defamation and contempt. It is to be hoped that any evidence of further wrong-doing is tested, if only to provide the springboard to take action to protect the wider community and Coleman himself.
A mischievous thought is that Coleman has taken to mini-cab driving to supplement his diminished income - hence his desire not to lose his licence for the dropped charge of dangerous driving. As with Huhne he has a reputation for speeding, so one can only assume that there is a reasonable chance that the toad will be off the road at some stage in the future. This is scant justice for a braggart, fantasist and bully who cannot accept that he now a violent, convicted felon.