Spiral Notebook: Misleading the way

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By Giles Broadbent

Aren't I (still) a naive fool? A release from Tower Hamlets Mayor's Office told the world: "Mayor Lutfur Rahman has announced that Tower Hamlets Council will be restoring every war memorial in the borough as part of the preparations for next year's 100th anniversary of the First World War."

I didn't investigate much further because we weren't running the story but that's a good thing, right? Unambiguous and purposeful.

Later on I received a letter from a Limehouse resident who said how embarrassed she was by the decrepit state of the St Anne's war memorial, especially when the sailors of HMS Tyne were present.

"Both my husband and I were dismayed. It seemed an insult to those young ratings," she said.

I passed on the good news that the mayor's crew were going to be out with scrubbing brushes, removing the offending algae and bring lustre to the names of the fallen. She was delighted.

Of course, that is not the case. What is actually happening is that Tower Hamlets Council is "listing" its war memorials - they are being "assessed and catalogued" so they will be "safeguarded".

In other words, someone will be in a warm office tutting, rather than out on the streets grouting.

I am forcefully reminded that there's an election next year and a clothes peg and a pair of tongs will be required to handle the resulting toxic emanations.

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