My Village people shame, and a City Hall troll

And then it had to come. The first anonymous, mildly threatening comment about me standing for the council. I don’t usually publish comments without a username and e-mail address, so this has spent the weekend stuck in a moderation queue…

anon

Shock! I used to work for the BBC! But yes, it’s also true that I used to keep anonymous blogs – yes, I was one of those terrible people on the internet! – and used to make some ripe comments about places and institutions in this area. I used to caricature the Greenwich Millennium Village as the “yuppie village” back then; a tag I don’t really think is true now but it certainly had some resonance at the time. I’m not particularly proud of it, and I could have been a bit more tactful. While I cherish the hate mail I received telling me that I was jealous because I couldn’t afford to live there, I’m sorry if anyone was genuinely offended by it.

But the way GMV was going angered me back then, and I expressed an opinion, and found plenty of people agreed with me. There was also very little in the way of argument coming in the other direction – and it definitely had the air of a closed community at the time; even blocking accesses to the GMV website’s residents’ forum to non-residents.

Times change, facts change, and my opinion’s changed about the place too. I don’t think the creation of Greenwich Millennium Village was handled particularly well at the start, and sticking luxury apartments on what had been publicly-owned land wasn’t the most sensitive way of introducing local people to a new development, especially at a time when many local young people were being forced out of the area by an overheated property market. There was certainly an arrogance about the way it was marketed, although the developers came unstuck when they affixed the Olympic rings to one billboard. My grandfather used to work on that old gas works until the late 1970s, I spent a chunk of my childhood at the old British Gas sports ground where Sainsburys now sits. It was as if the “regeneration” of the peninsula had been for nothing but the enrichment of property speculators.

But since then, a wider, deeper community has built up in the Greenwich Millennium Village. Some shared ownership properties have popped up, and the population’s more balanced. I still think the way it was built and the way it was sold to people was badly flawed. There’s still a huge debate to be had about property development and speculation, but the Greenwich Millennium Village is a done deal now, and history can’t be rewritten.

The challenge now is to unite it with the rest of Greenwich, to make it easy to get up and down the peninsula, to create reasons for other locals to visit GMV, and not to abandon the people who took a chance on this windswept corner of SE10, and to make sure they enjoy the quality of life they believed they were going to get when they moved. I’m curious to discover more, because there seem to be all kinds of problems up there now.

As for me, well, I figured that venting anonymously on the internet had its limits. Although it can be a good thing – the message should always be more important than the person who writes it. I was only really anonymous because of my old job, something which actually became very frustrating. But while sometimes you learn things, sometimes you discover you’re wrong – you can only go so far under a pseudonym. And it can come back to bite you on the bum later on. Which is how I ended up here, today, with my real name, writing this blog. And trying the ultimate solution to put up or shut up accusations – standing for the council. Things still anger me, I still like to express my opinion and see if other people agree.

And as for my anonymous commenter? Just as I’ve discovered over the years, venting anonymously can come back to haunt you. This particular commenter came from IP address 213.86.122.5 – which is london.gov.uk; City Hall, in other words. Should people really be making veiled threats to people using London taxpayers’ computers? Probably not.

So who is my new friend? Well, I have one commenter who has a City Hall e-mail address, and has used phrases like “should be held accountable” here before, and has posted under a further psuedonym as well as his real name. I’m not going to name names because it’s tedious and this is just a diversion from the real issues. But trolling is not a nice thing to do. Especially if you’re involved with public life. So, for your own good, how about stopping it and concentrating on something important, eh?

Meanwhile, Adam Bienkov has got issues with another commenter with links to City Hall

23 comments

  1. I didn’t see anything even mildly threatening in the bit you quoted. I can see why you’re being so defensive though.

  2. No wonder our politics are so fucked up. Our political class can’t even use the internet anonymously.

  3. I need to clear this up because I don’t want you bringing the name of city hall into disrepute.

    I was the one who posted that, I did it anonymously because I didn’t want some huge backlash with your usual “Tories are evil” line, soon followed by an “[Insert party here] is evil” until you have covered every single party except for the Greens, and then calling this a non party political blog, anyway, I digress. The comment itself I believe was valid, you called it trolling. Trolling, or, a troll, is defined as something which is explicitly irrelevant or off topic, such as, for example, focusing on the fact that the conservative party candidates in the area had beards, just as an example.

    1) I am not paid for my time at city hall, I am a policy intern and that was during my 15 minute break, which I feel I have earnt, after I work so hard there, as previously stated, for NO pay, hence no taxpayers money being wasted, and even if I was paid, during a break.

    2) It’s interesting how you call that a “threat.” All I don’t understand that at all, and by the looks of ir nor can Steve. That was in no way a threat, although you seem to be a threat to your own campaign, I would never have anything bad to say about any of the people in Charlton, be it behind closed doors or on a blog.

    3) I find it interesting how you do things such as holding many organisations and people to account, and I must say I do applaud you on that I really do as I find a lot of your articles interesting, you just have to accept that occasionally, just occasionally, someone might hold something you have said to account and analyse the things that you have done.
    Surely you should be happy that someone is not getting paid to hold a future potential politician to account, which is what you have done for so long, and like I have said, I can see without any sarcasm in my voice, that I admire you for that.
    Just learn to take some back every now and then.
    Best of luck in your council campaign, but not too much luck 🙂 (Unless it means you unseat Chris Roberts)
    Louis McLean Wait

  4. (For those of you who don’t know, Louis is one of three Conservative candidates for Charlton ward on Greenwich Council.)

    Thank you Louis. I don’t think it’s me that’s bringing the name of City Hall into disrepute, but thank you for being big enough to own up. I trust this won’t be used against you in a few years’ time.

    Now, onto more important things.

  5. “1) I am not paid for my time at city hall, I am a policy intern and that was during my 15 minute break, which I feel I have earnt, after I work so hard there, as previously stated, for NO pay, hence no taxpayers money being wasted, and even if I was paid, during a break.”

    Judging by your intervention here, I’d be much happier if someone competent and experienced was doing ‘policy’ at City Hall, and being paid a suitable salary commensurate with their value. That you’re trying to make a virtue out of your absurd situation says an awful lot about your party.

  6. Tom,I can only apologise that you seem to think that I am as responsible for crime policy in London as you seem to think i am. It is a very rewarding job and one which is challenging and helps me to get the experience I seek. I somewhat feel There are some people who simply refuse to accept that someone might be doing something worthwhile. I am working for free and serving the London people whilst gaining significant experience in how politics works at a London level. I don’t understand this “absurd situation” I am in, and don’t worry there are plenty of competent people here who do get paid. I work alongside greens, lib dems, labour supporters and potential councillors. All of whom work their hardest to make London a better place.

    (Edit: Louis, I’ve tweaked your name because you were getting stuck in the moderation queue by changing your name again – Darryl)

  7. Thanks darryl I didn’t realise moderation was done by names I assumed it would be email addresses. I’m on a train so have to keep these messages short as I’m on my phone these are no doubt riddled with spelling mistakes.

  8. Er…Tom didn’t mention crime policy, Louis, or suggest that you were responsible for it. If I were you I’d stay off blogs until you’ve improved your communication skills – your contributions here have been somewhat garbled and hysterical. Good luck in politics though – you certainly seem to be developing all the traits necessary to be a Conservative representative.

  9. Sorry Al, Im just “an angry young blogger.” Also apparently “incompetent” and (admittedly) inexperienced. Thank you though, both Tom and Al for proving my point about the standard “Conservatives are evil” or some variation of that which is the natural response that comes out of this blog whenever someone seems to make a valid criticism.
    I also don’t understand the needless backhand comment “Good luck in politics though – you certainly seem to be developing all the traits necessary to be a Conservative representative.”
    When I said good luck to 853 I meant that genuinely, without any backhand comment.
    At least when 853 and I criticise each other we seem to do it with some sort of valid reason and judgement. Not just a sweeping statement which is completely ridiculous and offensive, such as indirectly calling me incompetent, or claiming that what I say is garbled and hysterical.
    Maybe you should get to know me before you say things like that, who knows, you might realise that we Conservatives arent as bad as you seem to be determined to make us out to be, without, as far as I can tell, any valid reason.

    Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be posting on this topic anymore, I would be more than happy to if Darryl was to comment though, as, like I said, he at least raises valid points rather than insulting ones.

  10. Hello Louis –

    Your last comment was held in a moderation queue again because you posted using a second e-mail address – after posting from xxxxxxxxx@colfes.com you then switched to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@hotmail.com. That’s in addition to the xxxxxxx@london.gov.uk you’ve used in the past. You might like to consider sticking to one e-mail address in future.

    Pleased that you’ve switched your view of me from that I peddle a ‘usual “Tories are evil” line’ to that I criticise you with “some sort of valid reason and judgement”.

    And that’s the only comment I’ve got, really.

  11. Sorry, I, funnily enough have commented on here using 3 different computers and each time forgot what email I had used! I’ll remember that from now on, cheers 🙂

    Well, your blog articles seems to peddle that line about both Labour and Conservatives to some extent, and at best suffer a remarkable amount of one sidedness at times. That is however not to say that you don’t make valid points. The Greenwich Time article being a propaganda rag for example I could not agree more with. I recently heard about Greenwich not attending JEM meetings, to which the Peninsula went with it on the front page, when the GT came along, I couldnt see anything but positive lines, ridiculous. I must admit also, that I regularly read your blog for the other articles, more so for the non political ones than the political ones.
    You also, in a personal argument seem to at least come up with points that are not just ones aimed at provoking offense, and can lead to a logical debate on substance. In fact, I could claim that a lot of the people that responded on here are “trolling,” certainly more so than I was.

  12. I’m 18. Let me guess that makes me too young to have an opinion on the conservatives and I’m about to get a lecture on the 1980s. Please, spare me I know plenty about it. My parents are life long labour supporters and actually met at the young socialists. So believe me I know plenty.

  13. No it fully allows you to have an opinion of which ever political party you choose to.

    It doesn’t however allow you to have an informed enough opinion to dismiss the arguments of those who are old enough to remember the last conservative government as the “usual torries are evil line”. Nor will it until such time as those of us who do remember, see firm evidence that the party has changed.

  14. Louis, I’m sorry to have to correct you again but I didn’t say or imply that Conservatives are evil. I suspect they must be somewhat desperate for candidates if they’re putting up someone as inexperienced as yourself – but not evil. And what’s a “backhand comment”? Did you mean back-handed compliment? Politics is all about communication…

    Incidentally, you’re presumably not going to university, should you be elected, which seems a shame after passing four A levels. I’m sure you’d agree that being a councillor is a full-time job?

  15. To be honest I simply find your entire approach to me highly offensive. Council politics is about local people representing their local area. I feel that I have what is requires to fulfil this role otherwise I simply would not have applied for it. I also find it ridiculous that you claim that the conservatives must be desperate to put someone like me up. It’s foolish comments from I’ll informed people like you that hinder the promotion of political involvement in this country. One of the key things I want to do is get more young people involved in every aspect of politics.
    As for university. I am applying to study at the LSE to study government and I am applying to UCL and CASS all universities for which i would stay at home. Many of the councillors on all sides of the council have full time jobs as well as being councillors.

  16. IMHO being a councilor is NOT a full time job and is perfectly compatible with being a student provided you’re living full time in the area you represent.

    The basic allowance in Greenwich is about ÂŁ10,000 a year so many people would be unable to do it if they were not allowed another remunerative activity.

    Being a councillor in Greenwich is of course not cmpatible with spending alomost a year in Australia despite what Chris Roberts might tell you.

  17. I still don’t thing you’ve got it quite right Daryl. You talk about GMV being marketed as ‘luxury apartments’ back then and how bad this was for local people who couldn’t afford to get on the property ladder.

    I moved into GMV specifically for that reason – I was a local person who couldn’t afford to purchase a whole property so I went for a part buy/part rent option at GMV (affordable housing). In fact, I was one of the first people on the estate and the majority of my neighbours (particularly in the early days) were in exactly the same positon, ie. not at all the yuppies in luxury flats you seem to think made up the majority.

    You say thay you think GMV has changed but it hasn’t changed. Most of my neighbours are still the same as when I first moved in. Some own privately, some are renting and a lot are in the same affordable housing scheme as me.

    I suspect your attitude to GMV is what has changed, rather than the place itself, possibly prompted by your political ambitions and the location of GMV.

  18. […] (The hot air over 2012 in Greenwich from both sides could power an Olympic ballooning event.) 10. My Village people shame, and a City Hall troll (9 November) (“Sometimes you learn things, sometimes you discover you’re […]

Comments are closed.