The first of four public meetings hosted by Barnet Alliance for Public Services in the run up to the local elections on 22 of May this year will be held on Wednesday, 22 January, at The Larches, 1 Rectory Lane, Edgware. Councillor Alison Moore, Leader of the Barnet Labour Party, Councillor Jack Cohen, Leader of the Barnet LibDems, and Andrew Newby, Chair of the Barnet Green Party, will be on the panel to answer questions from local residents in the run-up to the council elections in May. BAPS is awaiting confirmation of their attendance from the Conservative Party. The meeting will enable voters to compare the policies and plans of the parties on specific issues, and to make their own views and demands clear to the politicians. Barnet blogger Mrs Angry will add her analytical view of issues and Barbara Jacobson will represent BAPS.
BAPS has sent a formal complaint to Nigel Farage, Leader of the UK Independence Party, after Adrian Murray-Leonard, vice chairman, of the Barnet and Hendon branch of UKIP, threatened last night to ‘hijack’ the public meeting unless he were invited onto the panel. UKIP, and some other parties who might run candidates in the local elections, were not invited to the panel of this public meeting, (though they were invited to attend it and offered to speak from the floor), as Barnet Alliance were not aware that they have any policy on the local issues that concern Barnet residents.
Here is the letter of complaint:
Dear Mr Farage,
This is an official complaint about Adrian Murray-Leonard, the vice-chair of the Barnet and Hendon Branch UKIP,.
Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is a campaign group of the borough’s residents and workers and their trade unions. We are campaigning to defend our public services, which are being privatised en masse. We have organized a public meeting in Edgware next week in the run-up to the local elections. The meeting is intended for the public to ask current councillors and candidates their position on a range of local issues about which we have been campaigning since 2010.
Last night, Tuesday, 14 January 2014, at around 9:40 pm, I, as the BAPS’ coordinator, returned a call to Mr Murray-Leonard and had a conversation with him in which he demanded an invitation to sit on the panel. I explained to him that the panel speakers had been chosen because they were serving councillors or because of their known and stated positions on local issues, first and foremost the One Barnet Programme of Privatisation. I invited Mr Murray-Leonard to attend this meeting, along with any other local members of UKIP, as a Barnet resident, and offered him the opportunity to speak from the floor. However, Mr Murray-Leonard declined this invitation and said that unless he is invited onto the panel, he will go to the press, and he and his branch members will ‘crash’ our meeting. When I asked him to explain what he meant by ‘crash’, he said they will ‘hijack it’.
This was, to say the least, a most unpleasant conversation. We find it completely unacceptable for a member of your party to threaten anyone – in this case, a member and the coordinator of our community organization, and, by extension, all the people who will attend the meeting.
Since UKIP is presenting itself as a democratic party, we are puzzled by this behaviour.
Please investigate this as a matter of urgency and let us know your position.
Coordinator, Barnet Alliance for Public Services