Back in the 1980s council leaders on the "loony left" such as Derek Hatton and Ken Livingstone had high profiles. (By the way whatever happened to Livingstone?)
Matthew Parris wonders (£) why the directly elected Lutfur Rahman Mayor of Tower Hamlets doesn't command more media attention.
In The Times this morning Parris writes about the White Swan pub in Limehouse which has an "amateur strip night" on Wednesday evening and says:
Now Ken Livingstone’s ally Lutfur Rahman, the “elected” (he got 13 per cent of the vote) mayor of Tower Hamlets, and his Sharia-tinged administration propose closing down this jolly, historic East End boozer by designating it a sex establishment. The consultation exercise was launched from the East London Mosque. The entire Conservative group on the council (I’m proud to say) has supported a petition against closure. Read Andrew Gilligan’s long-running blog on Rahman. It’s incredible that he has not become a national story.
I’ve known the White Swan since the 1990s. It’s a pub, not a sex establishment. Nobody is exploited. The atmosphere at Mr Amateur Strip night is burlesque, with a drag queen sending up audience and contestants alike. Paul O’Grady (now of Radio 2) used to compere here.
As I've never taken part in this strip night it is difficult to be too conclusive about that aspect although instinctively I agree with Parris description of "Mayor Rahman and his misery guts band of spoilsports." But where he is surely on to something is the broader point that the media (really, I suppose, the Evening Standard, since the BBC are hardly likely to) should have given Rahman far more scrutiny.
At least they have done a bit more recently. In today's edition they report the local Labour MP Rushanara Ali for Bethnal Green and Bow, saying of Livingstone's backing of Rahman:
"He should know better. He is a leading member of the Labour party with a high profile and coming into my constituency and the borough of Tower Hamlets and playing divisive politics, essentially, and not backing up your party at a very difficult time was a low point in his recent political activity."