“I don’t get why Biggs gets free promos off our money, when this money is actually from central government.”

This quote from a Tower Hamlets resident is typical of many comments the East End Enquirer has heard during the coronavirus pandemic.

OK, it’s the politest one that we could print. The others are more direct.

Free promos paid for by you

The free promo in question is the claim by Mayor John Biggs that he is the provider of a £10.5million fund to “protect vulnerable children and adults, homeless people and local families facing serious financial problems due to coronavirus.”

All very commendable. But not true. The money is from central government. So when we receive a press release with the headline “Tower Hamlets: Mayor agrees extra £10.5 million fund to tackle Covid-19” we recognise it for the total rubbish it is.

Does it really matter where the money comes from to fight Covid-19? Not really.

Does it matter when a minor politician in a dysfunctional borough tries to claim that the extra funding was down to him and the Labour Party? Absolutely.

Simply put directly-elected Mayor John Biggs is continuing the tradition started by his predecessor directly-elected Mayor Lutfur Rahman of using every available opportunity his position allows him for self-promotion on both a personal and political level.

Falsely claiming that “A new £10.5 million fund has been approved by John Biggs” is just that. False.

COVID-19: emergency funding for local government, top ten London boroughs

BoroughAmount
Southwark11,137,326
Lambeth10,703,342
Newham10,467,750
Tower Hamlets10,448,682
Hackney10,092,854
Lewisham9,598,134
Ealing9,568,038
Croydon9,420,138
Barnet9,417,728
Brent9,333,909
Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-emergency-funding-for-local-government

Fragile ego?

Did Mayor Biggs approve an increase in Labour councillors allowances to keep them all happy when last re-elected? Yes.

Did he approve this £10.5 million fund? No, because he had no choice. The funding was given to Tower Hamlets Council by the government. Read about it here: COVID-19: emergency funding for local government.

Why bother making false claims? Seriously, why claim that someone else’s initiative was yours? Is the Mayoral ego so fragile that any hint of help by the government will damage it?

Borough residents are dying of coronavirus. Many cannot bury their dead. Our society is turned upside down. An economic depression looms. Tower Hamlets will almost certainly suffer more after the pandemic than anywhere else because it remains poor. Residents still live in overcrowded houses. Children are brought up in poverty, all in the shadow of Canary Wharf.

Yet residents still have to endure this sort of petty party politics. And party politics it is because – shock horror! – the government is a Conservative government. Which is why Mayor Biggs cannot bring himself to admit what is true.

Big words aren’t clever

East End Enquirer editorial staff, every one them, are under strict instructions to not use big words unless there is no other choice. They don’t want to discombobulate you.

So it was rare for them to spend some time this morning looking for exactly the right word to describe the Mayor’s false funding claim.

Dissemble seems to be most appropriate. (Not to be confused with ‘disassemble’ which is what you have to do with Ikea wardrobes when you have that spare panel left over.)

dissemble
verb (used with object), dis·sem·bled, dis·sem·bling.
to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of:
1. to dissemble one’s incompetence in business.
2. to put on the appearance of; feign:to dissemble innocence.
3. Obsolete. to let pass unnoticed; ignore.
verb (used without object), dis·sem·bled, dis·sem·bling.
4. to conceal one’s true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically.

Source: Dictionary.com

As with Rahman, so with Biggs

Mayor Biggs also mimics his predecessor in other ways which may seem minor but may have significant consequences.

Why do residents need to see a photograph of the Mayor on council information leaflets? What is the point apart from more ego boosting? None.

Contrary to what he may think the Mayor’s photo seems to make it less likely that residents will read the information, often important information concerning the pandemic.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people pick up a council leaflet, see the Mayor’s photo and throw it straight in the bin. Because they assume it is party political nonsense, not neutral public information.

Maybe they are correct.

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