So the circumferentially challenged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has paused between visits to the curry house to send the men from KPMG to try and find wrongdoing at Tower Hamlets Town Hall, especially because elected Mayor Lutfur Rahman has been featured on a Panorama programme where Pickles was doing his tough guy act. So he’s had to follow through.
What will be found, however, is not clear: lack of transparency and favouring one group over another for grant awards which represent a tiny fraction of the council’s total spend is not a hanging offence, and much worse charges could be levelled at London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. That last may explain the eagerness of Bozza’s pal Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan.
“Over the next few weeks, this blog will be setting out in detail the truth about Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, and the full evidence against him. I should stress that, over the last four years, all our material about Lutfur and his extremist allies has survived literally hundreds of complaints to Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission” he declares airily.
That would be “for some value of truth”: for instance, the only link between Rahman and extremism is that made by Gilligan. Moreover, being excused by the PCC is no big deal, as Primly Stable found when they let off Richard Littlejohn for lying (“it’s a comment piece so it’s OK”). Worse for those seeking original content, all that Gilligan is offering is a recycling of his back catalogue.
This is allied to an attempt to trash anyone offering a more nuanced perspective, or waiting to see some real evidence before rushing to judgment. So the Guardian’s Dave Hill is subjected to routine abuse, including assertions that he is a “Rahman supporter” and that he “has embarrassing form as Ken Livingstone’s chief media poodle”. Thus Gilligan sells the pass.
If he had a half-decent case to put against the Tower Hamlets Mayor, Gilligan would not need to engage in afters against other journalists: this merely shows his weakness and vanity. As one London observer told me recently, Gilligan wants above all for other commentators to be his friend, to see his point of view and share his cause. He can be remarkably petulant to those not thus persuaded.
Nevertheless, Bozza’s main Telegraph cheerleader has seen fit to follow his first slice of recycling on “Muslim favouritism” with a second on “council assets and close personal allies”, probably in the belief that Pickles will see fit to favour him – who knows, perhaps there may be more work in prospect for sick-makingly loyal attack dogs, however risible their credibility.
But whatever happens to Rahman, don’t expect Gilligan to have influenced it.