The weekend entertainment
Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
As South Shields councillor Ahmed Khan continues to stoke the fires of a self generated publicity campaign built around the dubious premise of privacy and confidentiality, we have to begin to wonder just how genuine his concerns are after making public so much information which ought to have remained within the confines of private organisations (but more of that later). His press campaign is now reaching fire storm proportions, and you have to grudgingly respect his ability to make best use of the press and media, especially as he has spent so much time attacking certain newspapers and individuals amongst them.
It is, of course, a classic reflex reaction of a politician caught in the glaring headlamps of publicity, bring out the mirror and deflect it all in the direction of your detractors, then use the age old ruse of answering a question with further questions. One can only hope two things (a) that all of this bravado is cheering him up, and (b) that the sunlight shines on him again and the public gain a deeper understanding of his real concerns about privacy and confidentiality.
The saddest part of this whole episode is tacitly acknowledged by Cllr, Khan in this Tweet, the negative publicity that he has generated could potentially put an end to many embryonic schemes to invest in South Tyneside and generate new jobs, just as those who may now have been driven to read the offending blog decide that there may be too much risk in dealing with South Tyneside Council or its members. This is the great tragedy, and not one that I would be willing to shoulder responsibility for.
The relatively small sum involved in tracking down and revealing the the name of the mystery blogger pales into insignificance compared to the value of potential jobs and investment lost, and that is something which we ought not to lose sight of. It is of far greater importance than clowning around creating a personal media makeover.
Further, as he revealed in yesterday’s Shields Gazette, South Tyneside Council has asked for a wide range of information from Twitter including personal computer records, e-mail addresses, subscriber and user names – telephone numbers, postal addresses, and even bank and credit card details – this suggests that they have someone working with or for them with a level of IT and technical expertise not hitherto available. We should remember that Twitter is doing nothing more than complying with its own Terms of Service within an area of jurisdiction covered by the 9th District Court of San Mateo California, terms which are available for all Twitter users to read, perhaps this is why Cllr. Khan decided not to contest the application (notwithstanding the costs involved.)
We have now seen a week of faux outrage, first of all over privacy and confidentiality, and secondly over the costs borne so far by the tax payer, without a hint in the media of the full back story of Cllr. Khan’s own privacy and confidentiality leaks and transgressions, or of his colourful record during his short term in office so far. The national and international media have shown no awareness of his ill judged protest against the Israeli incursion into Gaza when he arbitrarily encouraged South Shields Muslims to remove their children from school to join him at the Town Hall, nor have we heard about the massive costs initially borne by South Tyneside council tax payers in his doomed legal quest to overturn an election defeat, and they failed to describe him as an “overbearing bully”, as a District Judge did here when clearing him of an assault allegation.
The media in the UK can be very fickle, they can build up a star and cruelly knock them down the following month, they only need a little encouragement.
There will be tears at the end, the question is, who will play the clown?