The Tower Hamlets mayoral election happened last Thursday and to look at Kennite’s blog today, one could be forgiven for thinking that it still had weeks to go. Today’s sensational headline is “Luftur Rahman: finally, this story is picking up steam”. Shouldn’t that be “building up [a head of] steam”? or “Picking up traction”? They don’t make journalists like they used to…anyway, Gilligoon’s blog is more of a hatchet job on the Labour Party and an attack on Dave Hill than it is an attack on Rahman.
This morning, the Guardian’s Julian Glover joins in, calling the election of the “discredited” Rahman “a modern local government catastrophe.” The paper’s interest is particularly welcome, since the Guardian’s London blogger, Dave Hill, has sometimes seemed a little out of his depth on this story.
No, Kennite, Hill isn’t out of his depth, you just don’t have much of a story and are trying to wring the last drops from it. Which reminds me, Dave Hill and Julian Glover have a different take on this…in fact, in spite of what Kennite says, the crux to Glover’s article is this,
This could be written up as a disaster for Labour, and it is. The party has ham-fistedly tried to overrule its local party and ended up giving ammunition to critics of east London Bangladeshi politics while losing the election.
But this is the tricky side of localism. If a community behaves and votes in ways that a national party believes is wrong, what right does it have to intervene? And even if it has the right, how can it be done? Ken Livingstone’s election as an independent mayor – and his backing of Rahman – shows you can’t easily impose local choice from above.
Gilligan decided that bit wasn’t worth mentioning and went straight for the part of the article where Glover says “I wish Rahman hadn’t been elected”. Kennite also missed this paragraph,
The second catastrophe took place decades ago, when the Borough of Poplar, the bravest and proudest council Britain has seen, was subsumed into the mess of east London politics.
But the paragraph that proceeds the one I just quoted from Kennite is quite interesting,
The Standard’s deputy political editor, Paul Waugh, wrote that “Neil Kinnock spent years in the Eighties trying to break the London Labour Party from the grip of the ‘loony Left.’ Today’s leader’s problem is how to root out corruption and extremism among some Bangladeshi supporters.” And the paper’s leader article called Lutfur’s election “a new low for London’s most rotten borough.. plagued by Islamist extremists.”
Ah, this would be the “loony left” that stood in opposition to Thatcher’s cuts and the same “loony left” that was a concoction of the right wing press? I’m willing to bet that Gilligan believes the “Baa Baa Black Sheep” story to be true. This isn’t the 1980’s yet Kennite continues to live in the Thatcherite past. Desperately short of ‘loony left’ councils to savage, he goes for the one thing that makes for sensationalist headlines in today’s paranoid world: allegations of Islamic extremism. I also noticed that Kennite has altered his language regarding Rahman. Instead of referring to him as an “Islamic extremist”, he now calls him a “fundamentalist ally”.
I wonder if Gilligan remembers Tower Hamlets when it was run by the Liberal Democrats? I’ll bet he doesn’t. He was making a nuisance of himself at Cambridge.
Finally, here’s a comment from Julian Glover on his article,
Thanks as ever for reading the piece.
davidabsalom, Manningtreeimp, BristolBoy & others… it’s always nice to surprise!
It’s been a strange election in Tower Hamlets – but not the first. More than most places, parties are superficial: the battles are within them (and especially Labour these days) are as big as between them. Perhaps that simply exposes the lack of real difference within the mainstream.
My colleague Dave Hill has followed politics in the borough far more closely than I ever could – really recommend reading his blog here:
Hmmm, that doesn’t sound as though Glover thinks Hill is “out of his depth”. It sounds as though Kennite is being bitchy – again.