Watching bumptious Brian Coleman AM lurch to his feet this morning to deliver one of his oh-so-witty diatribes against what he now calls the ‘regressive coalition’ (aka the Labour/LibDem/Green members of the London Assembly) the sense of overwhelming smugness that the man normally gives off was about three times stronger than customary and in danger of setting off the smoke alarms.  ‘I invite the Lib Dem members to share my large bed’ was his line.  How we laughed.

Brian may be rather concerned that his big bed already includes a Lib Dem Assembly Member, or rather a former one, in the rather petite form of Lynne Featherstone MP.  She has just been appointed as a junior minister at the Home Office, which is excellent news – I went to lobby Parliament a couple of years back on behalf of Iraqi employees of the British who were being appallingly treated by the Government, where she was the key organiser on behalf of her constituent Dan Hardie.

Unfortunately for coalition harmony, Brian and Lynne have a bit of previous over this incident in 2008:

Brian Coleman, the Conservative chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, laughed off accusations that his attack on Lynne Featherstone was sexist – by remarking that a man was unlikely to have acted in the same way.

Mr Coleman, a Tory member of the London Assembly, accused the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green in north London of wasting valuable resources and demanded that she pay for the call out.

“She has shown herself to be completely dizzy… she advertised the fact she is dizzy on her blog, which is even more stupid.

“Airheads and airlocks are obviously not unrelated. She can’t tell the difference between an airlock and a major catastrophe.”

Naturally Lynne didn’t take this lying down, big bed or no:

I will be writing to the Commissioner of the London Fire Service – on two counts. Firstly, on the issue of how he will deal with a Chair of the Authority who is happy to send out a message which is completely contradictory to the ethic and central message of the Fire Service. Secondly, in a service in which there is a strong shift to move away from any discrimination or sexism – to ask what action he will take over having a Chair who thinks it is OK to denigrate women in the way Brian Coleman did. Those who know Mr Coleman say this is typical. But I don’t think you can hold such a responsible position and then say – well it’s politics, so it doesn’t count.

Lynne is now sort of Brian’s boss, insofar as Brian’s job involves spending Home Office money.  Even worse, Lynne’s role apparently includes the equalities portfolio, which means she could take a lot of interest in puffed up local government twits who think it’s funny to denigrate women.  Don’t crap on people on the way up, Brian.

Still, Mr. Toad has other pressing matters on his plate – the overwhelming Labour landslide in London’s local elections means his LFEPA Board might be subject to some radical reshaping.  Indeed, it’s unclear if Brian can hang on in there – he needs to take a leaf out of his party leader’s book and get on the phone to the Lib Dems and offer them a deal to keep him in power.  I can’t imagine why they’d say no.

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