Council’s YouTube blunder

By Marcus Dysch, October 10, 2008

A council which serves more Jews than any other in the country posted a YouTube video in which a resident compared Jews with "normal British people".

Barnet Council, in North London, filmed residents saying what it was like to live in the borough. Officials then posted the resulting video on YouTube.

One unidentified woman questioned in Edgware, Middlesex, was heard to say: "I know it's mainly a Jewish area so a lot of the Jewish people have got things, but for the normal British people... there is nothing really for them."

The video was posted on September 28 but removed last Friday morning - six days later - following a complaint.

Council leader Mike Freer said the remarks did not represent the authority's views and apologised to anyone who may have been offended.

"We acted quickly and responsibly once it was brought to our attention," he said. Around 15 per cent of Barnet's 330,000 residents are Jewish.

Property-company boss David Miller asked the council to remove the video and was told it would not. But a senior official later ruled that it should be removed.

Mr Miller said he accepted that the woman was not "a rabid antisemite" but made an error of judgment. But he added: "The council should have seen how this would offend people. If she had said the same about Muslims, she would have a fatwa on her by now."

Hendon Labour MP Andrew Dismore said residents would "form their own views" on the length of time it had taken for the clip to be removed.

Mike Freer, who is also the Tory parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, later wrote to Tory councillors explaining how the incident could be used to tackle the BNP.

"While the comments will be edited out, it is interesting to note that it underlines the fact that in the borough the BNP can plug into sentiment that is not far below the surface," he wrote in an email.

"By picking up these comments (but obviously not publishing them) we can start to work on addressing the concerns that the BNP feed off."


Last updated: 10:56am, October 8 2008