Friday, 20 December 2013

Spiral Notebook: To speak or not to speak

SN_anjem.jpgLittle wonder Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman is so exercised by statements put out in his name which seemingly gave cover to radical preacher Anjem Choudary's visit to Brick Lane a week ago.

Choudary - the Katie Hopkins of hate preachers - threatened hellfire and whippings to Muslims selling alcohol along the traditional stretch of curry houses and bars.

Initially, the Mayor opened himself to accusations of hypocrisy when his supposed nuanced reaction to Choudary - which shamefully gave the visitor a "freedom of speech" fig leaf - contrasted with his all-out man-the-barricades tirade against those other unwelcome guests, the English Defence League.

As Ted Jeory reports on his blog that "unauthorised" statement written by his press team was hastily withdrawn and, in its place, came something all the more condemnatory.

This switcheroo - the Mayor must hope - came just ahead of the blanket coverage of Choudary's views on the Woolwich murderers - including his "pride" in Michael Adebolajo and his repeated failure to condemn the brutal slaying.

As I've noted before, the Mayor's office seems a little, er, overzealous in its interpretation of events when such eagerness might play well to the gallery.

Without sounding like a bore, if the Mayor actually interacted with people with greater facility, they would get a sense of who he is and whether he was capable of saying such things.

It is a question of character. We all know that London Mayor Boris Johnson has an ill-disciplined if wickedly mischievous tongue. If something bonkers-but-witty were to be attributed to him, we would have a sense of whether it was "something he might say".

We're not really sure what Mayor Rahman might say, because, as he says - or others say on his behalf - he prefers to "delegate".

Pictured: Anjem Choudary