Roger and them

Gotcha! Yesterday we mentioned a city council officer – Roger Livingston – who works for ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ in an office at the Council House where tens of thousands of pounds worth of apparently anonymous donations to the Labour Party are being administrated.

Today we can reveal that the official job title of this local government officer – whose wages are paid by you dear reader – is the rather prosaic sounding ‘Political Assistant’. And there’s absolutely no surprise that he’s working for ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ as he’s proved himself to be a completely useless little retard who would fit in only too well.

Indeed such is the level of Roger’s incompetence that an email meant for his boss, Mark Bradshaw – fully and frankly discussing a member of the public who had the temerity to write a scrupulously polite letter to Bradshaw on the seemingly innocuous matter of his thoughts on plane flights – was sent instead to the member of the public in question! Oh dear.

And what a revelation it is! Despite clear rules forbidding Roger, as a council officer, from engaging in any party political activity whatsoever, it appears that part of his job is to make, er… Party political enquiries regarding members of the public that contact Bristol Labour councillors!

Specifically, if a member of the public contacts their Labour councillor, Roger will be tasked with snooping into their background to find out what their political affiliation might be. All at the council tax payers’ expense of course.

In the case of this particular correspondent we learn that Roger “Can’t quite link her direct(sic) to the Greens,” before telling Bradshaw – entirely non party politically you understand – “but [we] need to be on the safe side.”

The use of the “we” pronoun is an especially nice touch from this non-party political council officer don’t you think? Is he suggesting that the whole of Bristol City Council needs to be “on the safe side” where people with Green leaning beliefs are concerned? I think we should be told.

But not only is Roger selflessly watching out for those evil Greens on our behalf, he also has a frankly hilarious line in fruitbat scientific theories he shares with Bradshaw (and us). “I think it’s got more to do with the sun,” he sagely writes of global warming.

Of course Roger. Global warming’s caused by the sun, the moon’s made of cheese and you have nothing whatsoever to do with the tens of thousands of pounds worth of anonymous donations to the Labour Party registered from your office.

Surely enough is enough? Whoever’s in charge down at the Council House ought to be kicking this party politician-on-the-rates out of our local authority by his completely unprofessional partisan arse right now.

Here’s Roger’s unfortunate email exchange in full:

> >>> “Xxxx Xxxxxx” < Memberofthepublic@…>

> 22/09/07 13:14 >>>
> This message was also sent to: Cllr Mark Bradshaw
> Xxxx Xxxxxx
> xx Xxxx Xx

> Bedminster
> Bristol
> Email: Memberofthepublic@…
> Saturday 22 September 2007
> Dear Mark and Colin
> When I think of how cheap it is to fly these days, I feel concerned about the environmental impact of flying. Would you be willing to let me know what your thinking and strategies are around reducing the environmental impact of flying and to let me know what steps, if any, you are taking to encourage cleaner aircraft and to increase the tax or tax emissions on all flights.
> Thank you for your attention.
> Xxxx Xxxxxx >

> Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:20:58 +0100
> From: roger.livingston@…
> To: Member of the public@…
> Subject: Re: Letter from your constituent Xxxx Xxxxx

> If you bGoogle “Xxxx Xxxxxx” with the quotes she appears to have signed every green petition going. Can’t quite link her direct to the Greens. But need to be on the safe side.
> Happy to draft a reply. (My own view is that I don’t believe man has caused global warming – I think it’s got more to do with the sun. And I’m still not convinced ANYTHING we do will make a difference. Al;so am anxious that this huge diversion of cash towards anti-global warming measures might have been better spent on the poor – who are still right on our doorstep.) However….. will draft reply.
> Could do with with the PLP briefing on global warming – could you send it to me?
> Roger
> Roger Livingston
> Political Assistant,
> Bristol City Council
> 0117 922 2013
> 07957 474865

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36 Responses to Roger and them

  1. BristleKRS says:

    Bugger, pictures appear to be disabled…

    “Roger Livingston, I presume!”

  2. Peter Goodwin says:

    Wow! So when I asked Mark Bradshaw how many passenger/flights were used on the city’s Hannover jolly, back end of August, they’ll have checked up on me too! They probably worked out that I’m in the Green party. Unless they made a complete mess of that, too.

    The answer to my question, by the way, was seven. I wonder if they brought an extra body back, or left one behind.

    Seriously, this latest story is appalling. I can barely wait for the thunderous editorial in tomorrow’s Evening Post.

  3. thebristolblogger says:

    I understand the emails were sent to the Cancer but Mike Norton chose to spike the story.

    Although I suspect, not being the sharpest knives in the drawer, that they missed a trick and did not realise that Livingston is a Local Government Officer rather than a Labour Party employee. This information casts the emails in a very different light…

    If you have the time and inclination you could put in an FoI request to find out if this office is holding information on you (this would include email, correspondence, minutes etc.).

    Obviously it would be a scandalous, and possibly illegal, situation if it was discovered that an office at the Council house was secretly farming and storing information on the city’s electorate.

    Be quick with an FoI request mind. I suspect the delete button on the computer in that office is almost worn out by now!

  4. Rinka says:

    But I fear this is nothing new. Do I remember correctly that the now Cllr Tim Kent was once such a ‘non party political’ local government officer busy beavering away on overtly party political business down at Counts Louse?

  5. BristleKRS says:

    Be quick with an FoI request mind. I suspect the delete button on the computer in that office is almost worn out by now!

    Given how the cretins managed to send their in-house mutterings to the very person to the person they were discussing, I’m not sure they’d know their DEL from their ALT!

    Besides which, I’m sure the council’s commitment to recycling extends to their email trash too 😉

  6. Seeing as I have been mentioned I will clarify that I was appointed under the 1989 Housing & Local Govt Act as a Political Assistant (as I believe you may find Roger is).
    Seeing as none of his Labour Councillors can be bothered to defend him I will attempt to.
    This provision in the 89 Act is unique as it allows you to appoint 1 political officer per group (you must have at least 10% of the Cllrs). This officer works for the interests of the Councillors and the group to which they are appointed.
    Rinka knows this.

    So Roger is perfectly right in advising Labour Councillors in policy and can be as biased as he wants. I will not comment on the reference to the politics of the correspondent accept to say that I do not believe I would have made such a comment and as I never had any access to a database of peoples political beliefs I never could have.

    I hope the above helps in the understanding of the situation. Personally I believe political assistants to be the best investment any council can make. They not only act as trusted advisors, researchers and caseworks for councillors they also work as a translation device between Officer and Councillor and you will be amazed just how many times that is needed. If you want councillors to be able to make good decisions then we must also ensure they have good advice.

  7. Greengage says:

    Roger Livingstone is indeed “the best investment any council can make” if he has access to reliable evidence that global warming is caused by the sun.

    Who needs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when you’ve got minds like this as “trusted advisors” for our councillors?!

  8. Greengage – I must admit that I am glad Roger is not advising me if that email exchange is correct and that is his global warming belief!

  9. thebristolblogger says:

    Please don’t use this blog to randomly smear your political rivals and people you don’t like. You’ll get a get a reputation as a sleazy unreliable little grass like Paul Smith.

  10. BB – I think you are being pretty unfair there – you published an accusation which I answered – not to sure where the smearing is? Perhaps you would like to tell me?

  11. BB – I notice that you have edited my post – this is very interesting and I feel very enlightening. As you have chosen to remove the name I revealed there seems to be no point in revealing it again. But thanks for the info.

  12. Siesta says:

    This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

    [dissolves into another fit of giggles]

    Nope – it’s still funny even though it’s so serious!

    Greengage: re his interesting global warming theories – maybe he’s just being a bit literal: i.e. the Earth is warmed when the sun rises in the morning.

    Next up:

    Labour Political Assistant: Rising Sea Levels – Moon To Blame

  13. BristleKRS says:

    Tim – perhaps you are unaware of the etiquette of such things, but ‘revealing’ the full name or other details of a poster who has chosen to post under a nom de plume is simply not considered cricket, unless there is a specific and salient reason for doing so (such as to point towards a sock puppet, to unmask a troll, etc).

    The manner in which you mentioned the name was not, I suggest, without a certain degree of sneering gnosticism – “Oh, we *all* know about Xxxx, so let’s discount what Xxxx has to say…”; a tone similar to your above comment “this is very intersting and…enlightening”.

    Is it very interesting? Or enlightening? Generally I feel it would be considered good form to expand upon those remarks, giving the reason or reasons why you think it is ‘interesting’ or ‘enlightening’. To me it merely suggests good blogging practice – to enable commenters to feel that they may freely comment, within the bounds of acceptable behaviour.

    Slanging matches, partisan attacks and personal smears not backed up with any evidence do not, I feel, fall within those bounds.

    Of course, there are, as always with informal sets of rules, caveats: the odd bit of abuse accompanied with a tranche of wit, for instance, often scoots under the radar. Which, perhaps, is why your dry, knowitall attempt at a precision bombing raid was shot down over the coast.

    Just a thought 🙂

  14. BristleKRS says:

    PS: Was it not the Local Government and Housing Act rather than the Housing & Local Government Act?

  15. Charlie Bolton says:

    Tim said

    ‘ They not only act as trusted advisors, researchers and caseworks for councillors they also work as a translation device between Officer and Councillor and you will be amazed just how many times that is needed. If you want councillors to be able to make good decisions then we must also ensure they have good advice.’

    but good advice is therefore only available to political parties with 10% or more of the council. The rest of us (ie me) have to make do with no advice.

    Democracy in action. A lovely system.

  16. Gary Hopkins says:

    Its an unfair system but if your party had concentrated just a little harder on electing a partner for you in Southville against that despicable , dishonest Labour campaign instead of trying to spread yourselves too thin the green would be the greens with slightly more privalidges. Still console yourself with the thought that some of the “advice” on offer on global warming ,for example, you can do without.

  17. Siesta says:

    What are you doing with your other hand when you type Mr Hopkins? So many mistakes isn’t natural.

    At the elections you mention, your party managed to lose 3 seats, control of the Council and your leader.

    Mr Bolton would have to be mentally ill to look to you for advice on election strategy.

  18. Arithmetical Annie says:

    Get it right before posting please, Siesta.
    The Lib Dems lost TWO seats not three in 2007 (Easton and Filwood).

  19. Gary Hopkins says:

    Siesta gives herself away.
    We did not lose a leader but chose a new one.
    The Tories chose the Labour administration not the electorate.They had the casting votes just as before but chose to nail their colours to Labour’s mast rather than abstain.
    Most party groups in charge of local administrations suffered a lot worse than us for carrying the can for this national governments string pulling.
    Labour made a lot of dodgy promises that are already coming back to haunt them and almost half their seats are up in the firing line next time.
    The Tories made the worst decisions when despite a national swing towards them at the time they were the only Tory group within 100 miles not to make gains. Now they are supporting Bristol Labour ,which even some national Labour voters don’t do so who is going to vote for them especially as a lot of the votes they got in the past were anti Labour.Well done Mr Eddy.

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  21. Gary Hopkins

    ‘We did not lose a leader but chose a new one’ – not a great effort at positive spin I’m afraid.

    Also, didn’t Labour get the highest % of the vote this time?? Therefore, whatever opponents like me think about them, some sort of democratic legitimacy is there?

  22. Dennis Durn says:

    You missed the point twice Glenn.

    Firstly, the Lib Dems elect their Group Leader every year, as do all the groups. This year there was a contest and Steve Comer beat Barbara Janke. So what are you insinuating? In 2005 Helen Holland beat Peter Hammond in an internal election for Labour Leader – so what? Its called democracy!

    Secondly, the share of the vote in City elections is meaningless as it depends which wards are up that year. This year Labour’s South Bristol stronghold was up for election, so its hardly surpirsing they had more votes was it?

    Are you just trying to cover up the embarrassing fact that the Green Party managed to lose in Southville?
    That second seat should have been yours for the taking, but you wasted money and effort putting out leaflets in places where you had no hope of winning.
    Did you really think Southville would be a breeze when ‘baby Beynon’ was obvioulsy going to have loadsamoney to spend courtesy of the members of his Dad’s Trade Union?

  23. Siesta says:

    Dear Mr Durn,

    If you’re not a Liberal Democrat I’ll eat my rather attractive hat. You wouldn’t have got rid of Barbara Janke if you’d won seats rather than lost them.

    And whether the Greens had won in Southville would have made no difference to you losing power.

    So your lot’s going on and on about this has to be about something else.

    Looking at the vote share for the last three local elections, your vote seems to go down each time by approximately the amount that the Green vote goes up.

    So it’s pretty obvious why you want to keep the Greens penned up in Southville.

    Don’t think you’ll manage it though – not all parties are as stupid as Richard Eddy and co!

  24. Stella, campaigner for open local government says:

    I’m sure you wont publish my post, so perhaps you can put this info on your site yourself:
    Anyone, member of the public, council employee, or councillor, who thinks that a party researcher (who is a highly paid councilemployee, not necessarily a member of the party they are seconded to) has broken their code of conduct, which is freely available, should make a formal complaint. The specific point this chap seems to have broken is being politically impartial. And he’s done it in writing, always a bad move.
    Anyone, either elected to or employed by the council, who you believe has broken their codes of conduct, which were designed to protect standards in public life, can and should be reported for it.
    As the latest code of conduct for cllrs absolves them from all responsibility for reporting each other its only going to be done by the vigilance of members of the public who happen to give a shit one way or the other what goes on in the Politburo under our name and with our taxpayers money.Why dont you scan and post the codes of conduct so people can read/print them off?

  25. Dennis Durn – you said ‘Secondly, the share of the vote in City elections is meaningless as it depends which wards are up that year. This year Labour’s South Bristol stronghold was up for election, so its hardly surpirsing they had more votes was it?’

    You are totally dismissive of the votes of many thousands of people in the city. You dont seem to have much respect for what I’d call….erm…democracy !!!

    This is the very thing you seem to be lecturing me about with respect to you lot booting out your previous leader because you lost the local election!!

  26. Google says:

    “Why dont you scan and post the codes of conduct so people can read/print them off?”

    scanning , printing! Stella you need to speed up

  27. Gary Hopkins says:

    Mr Vowles
    Very silly comments.If you want to look at the political trend you compare like with like. The same council seats are not up every year and so years that for example have Stoke Bishop,Westbury on trym and Henleaze up are likely to have a higher Tory vote and a lower Labour one than say Filwwod Bedminster and Southville. The aggregated % is not a very reliable measure either because in local wards people fail to vote or vote for what they consider the least worst option eg Labour voters in Stoke Bishop, because they have worked out that their first choice party cannot win. This as we all know is an unfair system that disenfranchises lots of people but it is the system that Labour/Tory party wants.What though will those anti -labour voters who have voted Tory in some areas to keep Bristol Labour out do now?

  28. Get real Gary Hopkins, you lost the election ! What is very interesting is how you want to dismiss what is after all a very large sample of Bristol voters. I suppose if you’d won the election you’d speak differently. Anyone would think you’d done well in the election according to your spin on it. Why dont you just be straight about things?

    Rather than adopt a condescending tone and use frankly speculative words on why people vote as they do, why dont you deal with what I’ve actually said. I’ve never claimed to be illustrating any trend in the % vote but simply to indicate that Labour do have some sort of democratic legitimacy due to the high % of the vote (and they also gained seats of course). I dont think you want to admit to this reality.

  29. Gary Hopkins says:

    Remind me and any others reading, Mr Vowles where is it you put yourself forward as a saviour of the people. I seem to remember that it was Knowle ward where you have managed to come a consistent 4th against My Colleage Chris Davies and myself. Prior to standing for the greens you were a ” helper” for the Brislington West” liberal democrats but they had to dump you because when any real work like delivering a few leaflets,as opposed to pontificating, was concerned you disapeared.
    Try not to get too hysterical about things, I am quite happy to trust the voters opinion are you?

  30. No, Gary Hopkins. There are very few facts in what you say and you resort lying about my former link to the Lib Dems.

    For the record, since you dont deal in facts much: the Green vote in Knowle has risen rapidly in recent yrs: in 2003 we got just 5.46%, but in 2007 polled 15.62% (up 10 points). Your Lib Dems got 59.58% in 2003, and 45.41% in 2007 (down 14 points) – where is ‘your’ vote going (here and in fact in other parts of Bristol)?? Greens will continue to increase their vote in Knowle.

    Also for the record: I’ve never been a ‘helper’ for the Lib Dems and in fact ended a very brief membership in the early 1990’s (over ten yrs ago!), attending just a few meetings, because I found them to be very disappointing and in fact unethical in their approach to politics . The Lib Dems did not ‘dump’ me, since this would indicate that they ended my membership by throwing me out. In fact I simply ceased being a member, disillusioned greatly by the ability of Liberal democracy to be truly green, having tried it out first hand. It is a lie to say ‘they had to dump you’ and Mr Hopkins you should withdraw this comment or you will be providing direct evidence of your personal lack of ethics in your political campaigning.

    By the way whatever happened to the bloke who was my local Lib Dem councillor in the early 1990’s when I flirted with you, Barry Clarke??

    I’ve has a few breaks from from Green Party membership since joining them 25 yrs ago and had very brief ‘flirtations’ with both Lib Dems and Labour. I found out through these two great mistakes just how bad they are and just how much both my head and heart are Green, as it always was and always will be.

  31. Sorry to post again on this now old story but I think it should be noted that Lib Dem Cllr for Knowle Gary Hopkins has failed as yet to reply to withdraw his lie. Gary…..are you there??

    Just one little indication of the unethical nature of this particular beast I suppose.

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  34. what are we going to do about you? says:

    Are you a liar or merely incompetent when you refer to Roger Livingstone as a council officer unable to engage in political activity? Engaging in political activity is Roger’s job description. He is a Political Advisor is not politically restricted at all. All the major parties have a political advisor. Tim Kent used to be one. If the Greens (bless em) got enough seats, they would have one too. Keep on flogging that blog! Your palm must be getting quite sore by now.

  35. thebristolblogger says:

    I fear our dear friend posting direct from Bristol City Council (IP address: – check it out yourself) is a little confused about their own role.

    Of course Roger’s job isn’t “politically restricted”; where does it say it is? That’s because politically restricted posts at the council refer to senior officer roles (1st, 2nd and 3rd tier officers I believe?) who are contractually prevented from running for election.

    This has nothing to do with the original post, which refers to:

    “clear rules forbid[ding] Roger, as a council officer, from engaging in any party political activity whatsoever”

    Allow me to quote:

    “The legislation which deals with Political Assistants is the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. This empowers local authorities to employ officers whose function is to assist members of a particular political group in discharging their duties qua members of the authority. Each group within the council is supported by a group office which provides clerical support etc. The group offices do not work as political sites but as support sites – there should be no “political propaganda on the rates”. Bristol has developed clear guidance in this area. I refer you to the report to the Standards Committee in February 2007

    If you disagree with this that’s fine. But I suggest you take it up with Stephen McNamara, your boss (so he’s very close by!) and the city council’s chief legal advisor who wrote it.

    Toodle pip!

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