A friend has just forwarded an extraordinary splenetic blog piece by the journalist Andrew Gilligan, who is apparently getting his knickers in a twist because the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, recently took a couple of bus load of supporters up to Leicester to help Labour’s by election candidate, Jon Ashworth win the seat. Rahman was of course expelled by the Labour Party after a pretty shoddy campaign of attrition — since de-bunked by the same NEC that disciplined him in the first place.
If memory serves me right, it was Gilligan who ran a very similar obsessive campaign of innuendo and half truth against Ken Livingstone, which was aimed at helping to hobble Ken’s chances of winning the Mayoralty last time round. When it comes to Leicester, I would have thought that the Labour Party, and Mr Ashworth in particular, owe Lutfur and his rather generous minded supporters a vote of thanks.
A quick Google trawl reveals an interest in Lutfur Rahman by Andrew Gilligan that verges on the plain weird. It is in fact difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of invective, so convinced is he that the mild mannered British Bengali who sports an armistice day red poppy in his official picture and who was an enthusiatic street party-er at the time of the Royal wedding, is some kind of Islamic fanatic. Reading through Gilligan’s eye popping claims about Mayor Rahman, one wonders if this is all true why Tower Hamlet’s mayor isn’t incarcerated in the Tower of London, positioned as it is on the edge of his domain?
Perhaps all of this hyperventilation wouldn’t count for all that much, except that the local Tories continue to fan the flames, while the Labour Party nationally and locally stays quiet as the Telegraph and the Mail claim that Tower Hamlets is in the grip of the Taliban. Much of this twaddle ends up on far Right web sites run by the BNP and the English Defence League; indeed the latter are threatening to march through Tower Hamlets in early September. So this makes it all really rather serious.
I can only guess that Gilligan feels that he has to lash out at Mayor Rahman because, as the bully he is, he knows Rahman can’t really fight back against the might of the Tory press. But I wonder if deep down Gilligan is also feeling just, well, a tad guilty for having been in the pay of the Iranian Government, who finance the propagandist Press TV who he worked for up until very recently? Could this go some way to explaining his mad one man mission against the Mayor?
Gilligan presented a fortnightly programme for Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language TV channel, at least until December 2009. However Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman revealed that Gilligan was still working for Press TV as late as May 2010, which was subsequently confirmed in an article by Gilligan rebutting Hasan’s accusations on his blog in the The Daily Telegraph. In the same blog however, Gilligan did confirm that he had indeed left Press TV on December of 2010 and attributed his decision to leave on the “Iranian shilling that was inconsistent with my opposition to Islamism.” He added that he had “not worked for Press TV since.”
In November 2008, Guardian journalist Dave Hill reported on allegations that Andrew Gilligan had engaged in sockpuppeting – creating a series of fake online identities to praise and defend his own viewpoints and stories featured in his columns. Gilligan denied these allegations, claiming that one of the online identities was his partner, but refused to expand on this further.
Mmmmmm. Whatever the motivations, one does have to wonder at the sense that Andrew Gilligan is trying to make out of all of this. And given his latest fulmination in the Daily Torygraph, can he please possibly explain what real Islamacists would make of Muslim Mayor Lutfur Rahman voicing his support for Ed Miliband in the video that accompanies Gilligan’s blog. Isn’t Ed Miliband Jewish?